With the Academy Awards' big night upon us, it seems as good a time as ever to look back on the year in film. 2015 was a great one at the movies. It brought us everything from Marvel sequels to franchise reboots, quiet indie beauties to a galaxy far, far away. All of this makes it all the more difficult to actually rank the best movies of the year. Several of these could be interchangeable, but I am pretty decided on this group as a whole. So I will give it a go, my favorite movies of this year are:
10. Bridge of Spies
Spielberg is probably my favorite director of all time, so any film he makes is an easy contender for a Top 10 list. While I wouldn't stack this one in my list of his favorites, it is always interesting to watch what he'll do with historical material. With Hanks, another fav, and Rylance both at the top of their game, Spies makes for a taught and suspenseful Cold War drama.
9. Ex Machina
I would not consider myself a sci-fi geek, but Alex Garland's sleek and smart thriller about a research facility dedicated to synthetic and artificial intelligence is one of sci-fi's best in recent memory. With superb performances from Oscar Isaac (who is in everything), Domhnall Gleeson (REALLY in everything), and Alicia Vikander (watch for her to win Oscar next Sunday), Ex Machina will be a standout film in the genre for years to come.
I am almost afraid to even say anything about the plot of this one. Brie Larson gives a fantastic performance as the mother of a five year old boy (new comer and equally excellent Jacob Tremblay) in this emotional, suspenseful, and heart warming drama about the beauty of family and simplicity. This movie may also contain my pick for scene of the year.
7. The Martian
Ridley Scott needed a good movie. After a recent series of duds, The Martian is probably my favorite of his since Gladiator. Matt Damon is great as an abandoned astronaut who is forced to science the shizz out of his environment in order to live long enough to await any chance of a rescue mission. The movie is a gorgeous one to look at and would probably appeal to the widest amount of people of any on this list.
6. The Revenant
Alexander Gonzalez Iñárritu's grandiose epic about Hugh Glass, a frontiersman and guide, who is left to literally crawl back to life in the icy 1820s Dakotas is a marvel. The cinematography, specifically the opening scene, is some of the best you will find on screen today. The period detail and sweeping landscapes are beautiful and haunting. Additionally, DiCaprio and Hardy are both phenomenal in their roles. I wouldn't even say this is Leo's best, but he still deserves that Oscar! Full Review Here
5. Inside Out
Pixar Studios continues to prove why they out right own the American animated film world. In what I would consider their most "adult" story to date, Inside Out gives us a look at the developing emotions of an 11 year old girl through the lens of the emotions themselves. Great voice work, clever animation, and a thought-provoking third act leave us with one of the best Pixar offerings to date.
4. The Big Short
Adam McKay's smart, sizzling, and inventive look at the housing market crash of 2008 is easily one of the best of the year. Stand out performances from Bale and Carrell lead a great cast with an awesome script. Short is its own animal visually, creating a new hodgepodge of voiceovers, cameos, news footage, and stylization this is not quite like anything you've seen before.
Journalism can be a tough gig, straddling the line between news reporter and FBI agent. Few movies have captured that tension quite like this one. Spotlight tells the story of a special group of journalists at the Boston Globe who embark on a dark journey to uncover the corruption and scandal within the Roman Catholic Church. What follows is a tense procedural, bringing each cast member to the end of themselves. Keaton, Ruffalo, and McAdams each give top-notch turns as these truth-seeking writers.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I love Star Wars; always have. The year's most anticipated movie gets a high ranking from me for many reasons, but maybe none so strongly as that it lived up to more hype than just about any movie I can remember. JJ Abrams was able to anchor new characters who we are now invested in (for me, Rey in particular was the stand-out newbie) into a space saga we have loved for decades. While the story does get a little too close to Episode IV for my own personal taste, The Force Awakens was just about the best Star Wars we could have asked for. Full Review Here
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
Imperator Furiosa comes out on top of an impressive list of competitors. George Miller's return to the post apocalyptic world of Mad Max brought with it the wildest, most visually impressive movie of the year (and that's saying something this time around). Charlize Theron steals the show as a rig driver searching for redemption in a land sucked dry. When her path crosses with renegade wanderer Max Rockatansky, the race is on. This symphony of adrenaline-fueled automotive chaos is a master class on action films and boasts some of the deepest subject matter in any movie you'll find this year. Full Review Here
In conclusion, I got to see almost all of the movies I had interest in this year. There were a few I did not quite make it to, and there were some other big name movies I just did not care for. There were, of course, several contenders sitting on the fence that just missed the cut.
What do you think? Agree or Disagree? What is missing? What needs to be axed? Please chime in on the comments below!