The Best Movies Of 2015

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It’s my favorite time of year and my favorite review to write – MY FAVORITE MOVIES (OR FILMS) OF 2015!!!! This year was a solid year, especially in the genre films department. Now I have a couple of disclaimers.

  • I go see at least three or four movies a month, but it’s hard to catch everything. So films on other peoples’ lists like Straight Outta Compton, Room, and Carol won’t be on the list.
  • I really wanted to see The Revenant, but it won’t be out until a week after the new year, so it’s unfortunately not a contender.
  • There are a few movies you’ll see on this list and think, “Hey, why didn’t you review or mention this?” It’s because I either saw them before I launched this blog or after they were released on video.
  • A grade doesn’t mean I have to rank an A+ over an A. There’s even a movie I gave an A+ that’s not on the list at all!

On that note, I have some honorable mentions that didn’t make the cut, but are still worth mentioning:

  • Beasts of No Nation (the only A+ movie not on the list) was a beautiful and harrowing war film about innocence lost, featuring Idris Elba’s finest performance to date.
  • Creed restored my faith in the Rocky franchise, thanks to Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.
  • The End of the Tour is the best road trip movie I’ve seen in the last few years and featured Jason Segel’s finest work.
  • Ex-Machina was a disturbing and suspenseful sci-fi thriller that had great commentary on objectification.
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service – was the best spy movie I saw in a year loaded with spy movies, and featured one of the most innovative and memorable fight scenes to date.
  • Trainwreck was a very funny and surprisingly dramatic comedy that introduced me to the talented Amy Schumer.

And now let’s get down to it! My top 10 favorite films of 2015 are:

10) It FollowsIt Follows may have the ridiculous concept of a dark sex comedy, but it’s also a very disturbing commentary on teen sexuality and a strong message to young kids about safe sex.

9) Sicario – Perhaps the darkest and most nihilistic movie on my list, Sicario shines through the darkness, thanks to Denis Villeneuve’s visceral direction and powerful performances from both Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro. This is one cartel thriller that isn’t for the faint of heart.

8) The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino’s newest Western is also not for the faint of heart, but still an absolute blast. Part murder mystery and part classical Western, Tarantino’s beautiful direction brings out the best work from its cast, particularly Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins.

7) Love & Mercy – I hate music biopics, but Love & Mercy is more of an engaging psychological study of a broken man than a generic Brian Wilson biopic. Paul Dano plays young Wilson with frenetic energy while John Cusack portrays the older fragile version of Wilson in this unique music film.

6) Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – Thank you, J.J. Abrams, for giving us a great Star Wars movie for Christmas. New and old blood, nostalgia mixed with more character-driven storytelling, Star Wars ranks among the best Star Wars installments to date.

5) The Martian – Ridley Scott returns to form and directs the year’s most optimistic movie featuring this year’s most likable protagonist, Mark Watney (Matt Damon in his best performance). This is a survival sci-fi tale that will have viewers laughing while engaged in science and disco music.

4) Steve Jobs – Director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin crafted the best film that no one saw this year! Shame on the film goers for skipping a visionary fast-paced biopic, featuring a brilliant performance from Michael Fassbender as the titular character.

3) Spotlight – Likely this year’s Best Picture winner, Spotlight is a gripping and important journalism piece that follows people (not heroes or villains) and their struggles writing an investigative piece on molestation in the Catholic Church. Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel MacAdams all deliver standout performances as our protagonists.

2) Inside Out – Pixar is back with the very beautiful, funny, and emotional Inside Out. Director Pete Docter (Up, Monster’s Inc.) continues to combine basic genre formulas with innovative storytelling in the form of an animated film. In this case, a disaster movie with insight on emotions.

1) Mad Max: Fury Road – What a film! WHAT A LOVELY FILM! That’s the fanboy part of me talking, but the reason why Mad Max is #1 is because George Miller rebooted his own franchise and topped his previous installments. Between the action sequences with stuntmen and reliance on basic props for visual effects, we rarely get an action movie with as much effort put into it as Mad Max: Fury Road. Also, I can’t remember the last time I saw an action movie that treated an ensemble of female characters as powerful people and passed the Bechdel test. These reasons are enough to please all film goers and not just action fans.

Thanks a bunch for reading this countdown! At the bottom, tell me if you agree or disagree with my list. Also, what was your favorite film of 2015?

 

“Spectre” (plus a little side note on two other movies)

As much as I admired “Casino Royale” (2006) and “Skyfall” (2012) either altering the gun barrel sequence or saving it for the end, I was ecstatic to see “Spectre” begin with this sequence again. I knew right away I wasn’t in for an ambitious Bond film like the two previously mentioned, but a fun spectacle. And that’s okay, too!

“Spectre” follows Daniel Craig as Bond, who has gone rogue for the third time (he first went rogue in “Licence to Kill” (1989) and again in “Quantum of Solace” (2008)) to track down and kill a terrorist with a personal connection to him named Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz). It’s that simple, but much better than it sounds.

“Spectre” features some of the greatest action sequences in the history of the franchise that are some of the highlights in the movie. This includes a very impressive long take that follows Bond on a mission, a semi-meta car chase, and a frenetic fight scene between Bond and a silent assassin played by WWE’s Dave Bautista.

Don’t let me give the impression this is a mindless action tale like “Quantum of Solace” was, because it’s not. We get a lot of tie-ins to the previous Craig Bond movies that work well and some slick visual storytelling reminiscent of “Skyfall” (Sam Mendes returned to direct after all).

Perhaps the greatest scene is a very tense and shadowy introduction to Oberhauser, which might be the greatest villain introduction ever put on film. It uses darkness and silence for tension, and Waltz once again provides a wonderfully villainous performance.

Of course this movie isn’t perfect due to an annoyingly melodramatic theme song by Sam Smith, a rushed romance, and a subplot featuring commentary on surveillance, that doesn’t always mesh with the main story. But I was able to forgive these flaws since “Spectre” was a damn near-masterful generic Bond movie.

Grade: B+

Quick Note – I did see “Steve Jobs” and “Beasts of No Nation” over the last few weeks. Due to some delays and problems with my hand, I wasn’t able to get these reviews up in time, but I would definitely recommend both! “Steve Jobs” is another masterpiece for Danny Boyle, while “Beasts of No Nation” proves Cary Fukanaga is one of the most artistic rising directors in the industry. Both movies get an A+.