It always surprises me when I look back each year and realize how many movies I watched. This year, I saw exactly 80 2015 releases. Whoa. When did I find the time? As always, it was tremendously difficult to narrow down my favorites to the final 10. Even then I found myself swapping positions numerous times. So here, finally, are the best of 2015 along with a few honorable mentions.
“Inside Out” – An animated film equally effective for children and adults. Don’t tell me you didn’t shed a tear when Bing Bong you know what.
“It Follows” – No horror film makes my Top 10 this year, but “It Follows” came extremely close. Who cares that the story didn’t make sense entirely? In horror, it’s all about the vibe, and this one definitely hit the mark.
“Carol” – Simple, yet elegant. This tale of forbidden lesbian love was brilliantly acted and shot.
“Ant-Man” – Marvel goes small, both in size and story, and the result is a surprisingly fun time with a lesser known superhero.
The Top 10
No. 10 – “Steve Jobs”
I’m not as enamored with the man as his hardcore fans, but this biopic certainly made me more intrigued by his myth. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle break Jobs’ life down to three definitive moments; the way they intertwine key people in his life into these moments is genius. Michael Fassbender may not look like Steve Jobs, but he certainly convinced me that he was him.
No. 9 – “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”
Tom Cruise is simply the man. The mega star delivers yet another adrenaline rush of a film, this time supported by a fantastic female counterpart played by Rebecca Ferguson. I hope this franchise never ends.
No. 8 – “Spotlight”
I love films about journalism. I love to feel like I’m joining the hero in a quest to sift through the b.s. and uncover the truth. “Spotlight” and its stellar cast including Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Mark Ruffalo give us a throwback film that really gets your brain going. Why aren’t there more like this anymore?
No. 7 – “Room”
What an intense psychological thriller. A woman and her son are held captive in a tiny shed for years. When they finally escape, they have to learn to cope with the real world. Brie Larson is fantastic as the mother but the true star is young Jacob Tremblay. Just nine years old, he’s my current pick for Best Actor.
No. 6 – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Seventy-year-old director George Miller delivers one the best action films. Of all time. His refreshing use of practical effects is a feast for the eyes and Charlize Theron’s Furiosa is one of the most memorable heroines ever. I’ll be watching this one over and over again.
No. 5 – “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
Welcome back! After three forgettable and overly convoluted sequels, J.J. Abrams relies on fresh faces and fanboy nostalgia to give “Star Wars” fans that warm and fuzzy feeling. All is right with the Force once again.
No. 4 – “Creed”
Similar to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Creed” takes a decades-old franchise, borrows many of the same notes from its original film and uses new talent mixed with old to deliver a fresh take on a classic. Director Ryan Coogler teams up once again with his “Fruitvale Station” star Michael B. Jordan and while both are excellent, it’s Sly himself who steals the show.
No. 3 – “Sicario”
Why aren’t there more people talking about this? Perhaps it was released too early? It’s a shame because director Denis Villenueve (“Prisoners”) once again delivers a powerful and engrossing thriller with exceptional performances. “Sicario” is the most haunting, scary and suspenseful film of the year.
No. 2 – “Straight Outta Compton”
Don’t you love it when a film you’ve been so hyped up to see not only meets but exceeds your expectations? While many may feel that way about the new “Star Wars” film, that’s how I felt about the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” It was so much fun to watch the backstory of my favorite rap group of all time and in a way that was so entertaining. This film is straight up dope.
No. 1 – “The Hateful Eight”
I just watched this film last night and it shot to the top of my list. “The Hateful Eight,” director Quentin Tarantino’s most polished work to date, is an engrossing mystery with all the fixings. There was absolutely no doubt that it deserved my top spot.
So what were your favorite films of 2015?