So 2015 has been over for sometime now and I thought to myself, I never actually got down to making a list of my favorite movies from last year. Now there were A LOT of great movies that came out last year but for me it has to boil down to the Top 10. So without further ado, here are my Top 10 films of 2015.
Quite possibly the most entertaining film about finance ever made, The Big Short focuses on the 2008 financial crisis with pin-point accuracy. Adam McKay, whose resume includes comedies like The Other Guys and the Anchorman movies does his best work yet directing a cast of Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. The subject-matter is undeniably complex but McKay, through his sharply funny screenplay and exceedingly unconventional filmmaking techniques keeps the film engaging and mostly accessible throughout. The end result is a smart, enthralling and riveting tale of greed and power.
After years of making one dud after another Ridley Scott finally returned to form through the genre he has always excelled at. Anchored by a charming and entertaining central performance from Matt Damon, The Martian emerged as his best work in quite some time. It’s a wonderfully optimistic film that, despite being full of tension and suspense, never forgets to be a funny and straight-up enjoyable picture. It’s a celebration of the human spirit and the most ‘feel-good’ movie of the year.
In a year that was full of big budget blockbusters, it was nice to see a film as small and full of heart as Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Featuring revelatory performances from Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and R.J Cyler, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a beautiful, charming, and heartbreaking coming-of-age film that wonderfully balances comedy with tragedy and was by far one of the most emotionally involving films I saw last year. Also, best use of Brian Eno’s The Big Ship in any film ever.
Ryan Coogler’s Creed, is a film I would never have expected to be as good as it actually turned out. The seventh film in the Rocky franchise is actually the best one yet and feels both fresh and nostalgic. Ryan Coogler’s direction gives the film a uniquely visceral and gritty feel while Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone give knockout performances. Stallone in particular, is in spectacular form reprising the role that made him what he is today.
After 2013’s abysmal Jobs it was evident that we needed a movie that did justice to the legacy of Steve Jobs and Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin did just that with last year’s Steve Jobs. Sorkin’s spitfire script is undoubtedly the main attraction and makes the film move like a bullet, but Michael Fassbender’s layered and commanding presence as the Apple founder is also mesmerizing to watch. Add to that: Danny Boyle’s solid direction and a trio of great supporting performances from Jeff Daniels, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen and you’ve got yourself a biopic that engrosses and electrifies in equal amounts.
It would be wrong to say that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was anything less than the most anticipated movie of all-time and riding on these unimaginably high expectations, J.J Abrams and Lawrence Kasden forged an alloy between the old and the new and delivered a film that was both nostalgic and wonderfully fresh. The stunning visuals, great new characters and a story with genuine heart and emotion ensured that Star Wars was finally back and this one was truly a force to be reckoned with.
Understated in it’s ambition, yet so very powerful in it’s impact, The End of the Tour is one of 2015’s smaller films that really, really moved me. It’s a mature investigation of the human condition and what it means to be famous and is driven by two fantastic performances from Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg, especially Segel who is in the form of his life in a soulful and incredibly measured performance as late author David Foster Wallace.
Never since Steven Soderbergh’s Traffic has a film gone into the depths of cartel trade quite like Sicario does, but Sicario isn’t just a gritty exploration of cartel trade, but also a film with a very unique and shady moral conscience that keeps us thinking every step of the way. Offering a devastating and chilling look at the war on drugs, Sicario is one of the most gripping and richly atmospheric films of the year that’s powered by phenomenal performances from Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro, Roger Deakin’s eye-popping cinematography and Denis Villenueve’s steady hands behind the camera.
Hot off the heals of Birdman, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu returned after nearly one year with The Revenant, an immersive, starkly beautiful and haunting survival epic cum revenge tale. It’s a film that’s lyrical, visually astounding and unflinching that challenges the boundaries of cinema. Leonardo DiCaprio nails the most challenging role of his career and gives a performance of stunning physicality as 19th Century fur-trapper Hugh Glass who goes after Tom Hardy’s villainous Fitzgerald on a quest for redemption. The Best Actor Oscar may finally have his name on it.
Tarantino’s latest film, his second western in a row is arguably his most densest film yet. Shot in glorious 70mm film, the film unfolds almost like a stage play and is extremely entertaining despite its three-hour run-time because the trademark Tarantino dialogue, crazy over-the-top violence and colorful characters never let it get boring. It’s also wickedly funny with a fantastic cast and an intricately woven, jigsaw puzzle plot that keeps you guessing right up to the bloody, brilliant end.
There were a lot of great films this year, but no film even came close to matching the sheer ferocity and dynamism of Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller brought new life to his long dormant franchise in the best way imaginable and this is a film that’s thrilling, exhilarating, breathtaking and exquisitely made. There’s almost a measure of controlled chaos to the entire film, which, along with it’s use practical effects not only sets it apart from modern-day blockbusters, but stands as something they should all strive to be. Fury Road is an action behemoth, a visual spectacle and a work of art.