So this is pretty late, but I was waiting until I had seen more 2015 films (especially Bridge of Spies—by far the film I want to see most because of my love for Spielberg and Hanks but haven’t yet); unfortunately, I’m just not sure when I’ll see all the ones I’ve been meaning to, so, out of the films I’ve seen, these are my favorites.
Also, these are all films that were officially released in 2015 (so American Sniper doesn’t count, although it would probably be #7 or 8 if it did).
Top Ten of 2015 – Films
- The Revenant, by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. Hands down the greatest film of 2015 that I’ve seen. Really the only way I can think to describe it is “beautiful.” The cinematography, the music, the lighting, the acting, the directing, the costumes—it’s all so incredibly well-done and just looks amazing. It’s also extremely brutal, and usually I don’t like films quite this explicit, but how it was done was so raw and visceral and real it worked so well, and I didn’t dislike the brutality at all—if anything, I liked the film more because of it.
- Mad Max: Fury Road, by George Millar. This is the most re-watchable film of 2015 for me, and such a surprise. I didn’t see it until about 3 months after it had come out, just because I was never 100% sold on it. The first trailer was one of the best trailers I’ve seen, but all the hype made me want to watch it less, coupled with the fact that after watching the first Mad Max for the first time I didn’t absolutely love it as many people seemed to. However, I finally watched it and was just blown away (and I’m so glad I did decide to see it in theaters). Again, like The Revenant (though in a very, very different way), it was beautiful—the cinematography, the editing, the stunts and visual effects… Also, Charlize Theron & Tom Hardy were great. I really hope George Millar wins the Best Director Oscar.
- Inside Out, by Pete Docter. Not my favorite Pixar film, and I actually didn’t like it as much as everyone else seemed to, but I can’t deny it was an amazingly-done film, and I did still really enjoy it.
- Sicario, by Denis Villeneuve. After seeing Prisoners and Enemy I knew that Villeneuve was a great director, and this film really solidified that. It looked great, was acted great, and was just directed really well.
- The Martian, by Ridley Scott. I’d have to watch this movie again to really be 100% confident that it should be right here and not lower on my list, as I didn’t like it as much as everyone else seemed to the first time I saw it (just in the sense that it’s not the greatest film ever or anything), but it was a great movie and very enjoyable. I think the biggest reason I didn’t enjoy this more was because of how much I loved the novel (which will definitely take a spot on my top 10 books this year) and how much was cut from the film. Which makes sense—it was completely necessary. So I think that now, knowing that it’s not a word-by-word copy of the novel, I’ll like it even more, as just thinking about it over the past few months has made me like it more. I’m also just so incredibly happy and excited that Ridley Scott has made another great movie—and another Sci-Fi one at that.
- Ex Machina, by Alex Garland. A really, really great film. Is it the best film of all time, or the greatest science fiction movie? No, but it is really, really good. And the acting is just incredible. Alicia Vikander really should have been nominated for this film, but I haven’t seen The Danish Girl so I guess it’s possible she was better there (though hard to believe because of how great she was here).
- Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, by J.J. Abrams. Another film that I didn’t like as much as everyone else. It was good, certainly, but I didn’t absolutely love it. I don’t know, I think this is another one I have to see again, because I was expecting it to be incredible and original and…it wasn’t. It was great, yes, but had so many beats from the original trilogy. Which, I think knowing that now, I won’t mind as much when I re-watch it, but it just wasn’t what I expected or wanted initially, hence some disappointment that I think will go away after re-watching it. But I do have to say, man Harrison Ford was great. He really was Han Solo again.
- The Hateful Eight, by Quentin Tarantino. This was a good movie, but again, a little disappointing to me. But that has nothing to do with the film itself, simply my feelings toward Tarantino films in general. I think he’s a brilliant director, but half the time I just don’t think he’s for me. Like I said with The Revenant, I usually don’t like super-explicit violence, and that’s what really hurt this movie for me, because I didn’t think any of it was necessary (contrasted to Revenant where I thought it was). But that’s just me, and I understand that’s just me, and that aside, it was a really good film. I would also say that, out of every movie in 2015 (followed closely only by The Revenant), this is the one movie that is absolutely necessary to see in theaters. Or at least, the Roadshow Edition. Because man, that was truly a film experience. The amazing overture at the beginning, the intermission, the 70mm film—it was just all so incredible that I’m really glad I went and saw it that way. I also just love how they give you a program–it’s a small thing, but adds to the experience.
- Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, by Christopher McQuarrie. And now we’re getting to the films that most likely wouldn’t be on this list if I had seen more movies. I mean, it was good, and I definitely enjoyed it, but it wasn’t amazing or ground-breaking really. But hey, it was another great Mission: Impossible movie, and I enjoyed it. Since I still need a 9 & 10, I’d go with this.
- The Peanuts Movie, by Steve Martino/Crimson Peak, by Guillermo del Toro. Yeah, I’m surprised I’m putting these on the list, and together at that. They’re just two very different movies that I liked and didn’t like for different reasons. Peanuts really surprised me. I was expecting it to be okay at most, but I ended up really, really liking it. It’s not an amazing film by any means, but it is charming and I love the classic movies/comic strips, so I’m sure nostalgia had a play in it. Crimson Peak, on the other hand, more disappointed me than anything, because I was really, really looking forward to it. And it disappointed me even because of how incredibly beautiful the film was shot and looked. The haunted house was amazing, the ghosts were fantastic, the costumes and cinematography were great…I just wasn’t as invested in the story and characters as I was hoping, and I really don’t like Charlie Hunnam. I keep hearing he’s good in Sons of Anarchy, but after this and Pacific Rim, I’m definitely not a fan. I still love del Toro, though, and I still can’t wait to see what he does next, hopefully with his signature visuals but also with a more fleshed-out story.
Other films I’ve seen this year (no particular order): Avengers: Age of Ultron (I liked it more than most people seem to, and I liked it more than Peanuts/Crimson Peak and more than Rogue Nation, but that’s just my being a fan of Marvel/comics, as it wasn’t as good of a movie), Ant-Man (it was pretty good), Cinderella (again, pretty good, though Maleficent was better), Paper Towns (a letdown compared to the book, which itself wasn’t all that amazing), Minions (big letdown, but also still kinda fun), Jurassic World (again, another movie I liked a lot more than a lot of people I know, and is the second-best Jurassic film, after Jurassic Park in my opinion), The Good Dinosaur (a slightly disappointing Pixar film, but man is that dinosaur adorable), Tomorrowland (I really enjoyed most of this movie, and actually it’s probably tied with Crimson Peak, but it was also a bit disappointing since it’s Brad Bird).
Top films I want to see (that I can remember, at least, and in no particular order): Bridge of Spies, Straight Outta Compton, Dope, Trumbo, Carol, Joy, The Big Short, Room, Creed, Spotlight, Concussion, In the Heart of the Sea (only because it’s Ron Howard), Quay (ordered it from Amazon a couple days ago; can’t wait for it to arrive so I can see how Nolan does a Documentary Short), Steve Jobs, Spectre, The Danish Girl, Legend, Black Mass, Knight of Cups, The Walk, Pan, Southpaw, Fantastic Four (just to see how bad it actually is), Jupiter Ascending, Beasts of No Nation, Focus, Mr. Holmes (I have it on Blu Ray, but haven’t gotten around to watching it), Chappie, Dark Places, Tangerine, Blackhat, The Visit… Probably more.