I know that it’s a little late (2-3 months) for me to be posting my best of the year, but I deliberately held off making the list because I wanted to watch many of the later released films like Steve Jobs and Carol. Time went on and progress on my best of the year had been slowed down, but now I’ve finally completed it. I should mention that I haven’t watched every movie, so movies like The Hateful Eight and Room won’t make this list, though I’m sure that I would’ve included them in this list, had I watched them. And yes, I’m going to make a worst of the year list.
This movie proved to me that Marvel can do no wrong, at this point they could probably do a Howard the Duck movie and I’d be confident that it would be great. This movie doesn’t have an easy concept to adapt to the big screen but somehow they made it work. Paul Rudd made for a likable character, the supporting cast of Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena and Corey Stoll were also great. It was also a breath of fresh air from the ‘save the world’ type superhero movies and went much smaller scale and the movie really benefited from that. Ant Man is another solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and along with Age of Ultron, shows that Marvel are showing no sign of slowing down.
The Big Short
The Big Short didn’t have an easy task: it had to create a story about the collapse of the economy while making it entertaining and interesting for the general going audience, but this movie in my opinion succeeded at doing this. Director Adam McKay (Anchorman) made his directional debut in drama and seeing this makes me think that he might have more success in drama than comedy. The performances from Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and others added even more to the movie. As I said in my review, the film doesn’t always get it right as some of the details did get confusing but the fact that I understood some of the concepts showed how well written and directed this movie was. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers Age of Ultron is a movie that I’ve noticed get a lot of criticism. It’s been compared to the first Avengers quite of bit, and is often called lesser in comparison. In some ways I think that it is better than the previous movie. The characters are more developed (particularly Hawkeye) and the story does go bigger and does everything a sequel needs to do. James Spaders’ Ultron was a little divisive for some people but I actually thought that he made for a pretty entertaining villain. On its own I think Avengers Age of Ultron is a really good movie, whether you compare it to the first film or not. It’s not perfect, but neither was the original film. My trust in Marvel has not wavered after this movie, if anything it has been strengthened.
Mission Impossible Rogue Nation
The Mission Impossible Franchise has been on the rise ever since its third instalment. No one thought that Ghost Protocol could be topped, with its actions and particularly with the stunts. However Christopher McQuarrie has successfully created a sequel which in my opinion stands at least at the same level of Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise shows once that he can still be great in action films, his supporting cast also does great an Rebecca Fergusson was awesome in this movie (and will probably now be in more movies now). This movie has all the action you can hope for, a water scene, a motorbike chase scene, a car chase scene, and of course, Tom Cruise doing a risky stunt with the airplane. The Mission Impossible franchise is getting better and better the more the series is going on and I’m looking forward to see is get even bigger and better, it’s hard to imagine that happening at this point.
Despite a lot of hype, Steve Jobs didn’t get the acclaim that it deserved, both by the critics and the box office and I personally don’t understand why. The direction by Danny Boyle was excellent and stylish, working quite well for the movie. The cast also did quite well, Michael Fassbender was magnificent as Steve Jobs, and the supporting cast with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels were also great, they all added to this movie and had their moments. But what tied it all together was Aaron Sorkin’s excellent screenplay. The dialogue, the focus on three important segments of Steve Jobs’s life, everything was well put together. If you haven’t seen Steve Jobs, you really should, it is a dialogue driven movie so it’s not for everyone but even if you aren’t a fan of those types of movies I think this film is worth a watch anyway, it might change your mind.
10. Kingsman: The Secret Service
2015 was a big year for spy movies and in my opinion, Kingsman: The Secret Service was the best out of all of them. With Matthew Vaughn’s excellent direction, Kingsman ended up being one of the most fun cinema experiences I’ve had. The action was so well filmed by Vaughn, in particular the church scene which is completely insane and over the top and fun. The humour was so well put in, it poked fun at the spy genre while being a great one itself. The acting was also great, with newcomer Taron Edgerton impressing, Colin Firth showing that he can do action and Samuel L. Jackson having a ton of fun as an over the top villain. I heard that the sequel is being planned for a 2017 release and after seeing this movie twice, I’m looking forward to seeing it.
9. The Martian
Ridley Scott has been making some films that weren’t that good recently (take the Counsellor for instance) but with The Martian, he seems to have made a welcome return. It did do well at focussing on one character struggling to survive, which is no easy task. The cast was great, consisting of Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and many others but it really is Matt Damon’s show here, whether or not this movie would work depends on him. Damon pulls off an excellent performance just right for the film. Unlike a lot of isolated survivor films, his character is very likable and entertaining to watch, and Damon conveyed all of this in a great way. I don’t know if Ridley Scott will go back to making above average films and I don’t know how Alien: Covenant will turn out but at the very least we can say that The Martian is his best film in a long time.
8. Inside Out
Inside Out shows once again how great animated movies can be. It tackled a subject that I didn’t think a kids animated movie would tackle very competently: emotions. However this turned out to be one of the best written and smartest animated movies I’ve seen, I actually think this film was actually more suited to adults. I don’t know if there is any spin offs or sequels to the original movie being planned (nor do I think they are necessary) but in whatever case, Inside Out is quite an excellent movie on its own and one of the best animated films I’ve seen in a while.
Denis Villeneuve has proven with Prisoners, Enemy and now Sicario that he’s one of the best directors working today. Everything on the production value was perfect, from the excellent cinematography from Roger Deakins, to the soundtrack from Johann Johannson, and the action scenes so brilliantly filmed by Villenueve, everything is so well put together. The performances were also great from Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro (the latter being a particular standout). With a new film from Denis Villenueve coming out this year (as well as him directing the new Blade Runner), I’m excited to see much more of his work.
Spotlight was one of the best written films of 2015. The way that the dialogue was written, the way the film was paced, the way we learned information about the Boston Priest Molestation scandals at the same rate as the protagonists, everything was nicely strung together by writer and director Tom McCarthy. The ensemble cast consisting of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton and even more added much more to the movie. Now whether the movie deserved Best Picture or not, that’s up for debate. But ignoring the awards, Spotlight really is a great and important film by itself and if you haven’t watched it, you really should.
I’m not a huge fan of the Rocky movies, I’ve only watched the first film before Creed. I wasn’t particularly excited for this film, sure it had director Ryan Coolger, Michael B. Jordan as well as Sylvester Stallone returning to the role of Rocky but I wasn’t sure of what to expect. Creed was one of the biggest surprises this year. Although it had many beats from the original it did manage to add its own spin on the classic story and made it even better than the original (in my own honest opinion). Creed also had fantastic performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (the latter particularly giving an Oscar worthy performance), and their pairing is what tied the film together. I heard that there is going to be a sequel in 2017, I don’t see how they can top this movie, especially with rumours that Ryan Coogler won’t be involved. I think that Creed can stand on its own as a great movie, and one of the best of 2015.
Now these top 4 movies could honestly be put in any order, they are all 10/10 movies to me.
NOTE: My top 4 of the year had changed since I’ve made this list. Further below I will list the order.
4. The Revenant
The Revenant was one of the most intriguing cinema experiences I’ve had. As I said in my review, The Revenant is one of the best directed movies I’ve ever seen. Everything looked real and there were times when I could honestly not know how they managed to shoot certain scenes, take the bear attack scene for instance. Fantastic performances by actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter elevate this movie even further. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has proved along with Birdman that he is one of the best directors working today. I know that The Revenant has some divided people and to be fair, I know that this film isn’t for everyone. But even if you don’t like it, I hope you appreciate some of the strong aspects of the film. I know I gave The Revenant a 9 in my original review but months after seeing it, I have to say that it is a 10/10 movie.
Carol is one of the best romance films I’ve seen in a long time and director Todd Haynes crafted this entire film perfectly. First of all the setting is right from the 50s with great attention to detail, whether it comes to production design, costumes, you name it. However the excellent acting is the highlight of the film, with Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett shining and delivering some of the best performances of their career, and that’s saying a lot. The subtlety in their relationship is what makes the love story so great and along with the writing, both actresses convey that perfectly. Carol has unfortunately not gotten enough attention from a lot of people, especially when it comes to awards. If you truly appreciate film, I recommend checking out this movie.
2. Mad Max Fury Road
As I said in my review, Mad Max Fury Road is one of the best action movies of the decade so far. It blended in practical effects with minimal CGI effects and it was the perfect balance, not one moment did it feel overly fake or CGI. The action scenes were some of the best I’ve ever seen but it’s not just the action scenes that impressed me. The film can do so much with so little, it had a story but achieved it through visual means, not requiring a lot of dialogue to explain what was going on. It is one of the most visual immersive movies I’ve ever seen and it will be remembered for years to come. On a side note I know that some people are unhappy that this movie didn’t win Best Picture but I think I should say that it’s an achievement in itself that Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie that could be just considered a non stop action movie, was recognised by the Academy with a nomination.
1. Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Star Wars: The Force Awakens did what Creed and Mad Max Fury Road has done: create a new instalment in a franchise while making it a great movie on its own. The new cast with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and others show great promise and the next films look great. I will say that The Force Awakens is my third favourite Star Wars movie, in front of Return of the Jedi and behind A New Hope. The fact that The Force Awakens is anywhere near as good as the original trilogy is an achievement in itself. I am truly excited to see what these new Star Wars films have to offer in the years to come.
Now my top 4 of the year is as follows:
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Mad Max Fury Road
4. The Revenant
So what do you think of my picks for the best of the year? Do you agree with them or disagree with them? What are your personal picks?