I held out to put my list for a few films and I had yet to see that would have – and did – make it. So, forgive me for putting out the list late.
So, there were some great films that came out this year. The list really ranges all over the place, so you’ll see a wide array of titles, and even some surprises. But, of course, this is my list and my opinion so your list might be different, obviously, it is okay.
The list will have the films in alphabetical order, just to be fair, and because I really don’t want to go through the trouble anymore of picking a number one because it would be really tough. First let’s start off with the film that I didn’t get around to watching, whether it’s because I missed out when it was in theaters, or because they were only in theaters in my area for a short time, or because they were on a very limited release (I’m looking at you The Reverent) then we’ll move to the films that just missed the list, honorable mentions and then the big one.
Movies I Missed That I Wanted to Watch
A Girl Walks Home Along At Night
Beasts of No Nation
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
REC 4: Apocalypse
While We’re Young
Z for Zachariah
Just Missed The List
American Ultra (PalmStar Media/Circle of Confusion/Lionsgate/The Bridge Finance Company/Likely Story/FilmNation Entertainment)
Bridge of Spies (Dreamworks/Amblin Entertainment/Fox 2000 Pictures/Participant Media/Reliance Entertainment/TSG Entertainment/Marc Platt Productions)
Chappie (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Media Rights Capital/Simon Kinberg Productions/LStar Capital)
In the Heart of the Sea (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Imagine Entertainment/Spring Creek Productions)
Joy (Fox 2000/Annapurna Pictures/Davis Entertainment/TSG Entertainment)
Krampus (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)
Legend (Universal Pictures/Cross Creek Picures/Working Title Films)
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trails (20th Century Fox/TSG Entertainment/Temple Hill Entertainment)
Run All Night (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Vertigo Entertainment)
Southpaw (The Weinstein Company/Escape Artists/Fuqua Films/Riche Productions)
Trainwreck (Universal Pictures/Apatow Productions/Denstu)
The Good Dinosaur (Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)
The Night Before (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Point Grey Pictures/Good Universe)
Victoria (Adopt Films/Radical Media/MonkeyBoy/Deutschfilm/Westdeutscher Rundunk)
[Wild (Fox Searchlight/Pacific Standard)]
Wild is technically a 2014 film, but I didn’t watch until after I put out my list and the second week of January, but it’s such a great film to not mention on a best of lists.
A Most Violent Year (A24/Participant Media/Before The Door Pictures/FilmNation Entertainment)
Two of the best working today in Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain led this drama that is a one of those films that simply relies on the actors delivering and that is what A Most Violent Year does.
American Sniper (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow/RatPac-Dune Entertainment)
Clint Eastwood directed and Bradley Cooper-led film about the true story, well depending on who you ask, about one of most deadly snipers in Navy SEAL history Chris Kyle. The film is put on the shoulders of Cooper who handles it perfectly.
Black Mass (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Cross Creek Pictures/Free State Pictures/Head Gear Films)
While the film was just okay, it’s the performances that elevated the film enough for me to make Black Mass enough to pop in the list. Even if you didn’t like the film, you have to give credit to the awesome performance by Johnny Depp as James “Whitey” Bulger and Joel Edgerton.
Crimson Peak (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures)
Being a huge fan of Guillermo del Toro, I was looking forward to watching Crimson Peak especially knowing how del Toro put into the film. Actually making Allerdale Hall and making actually come to life is what made Crimson Peak work so well.
Focus (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Zaftig Films/Kramer & Sigman Films)
Focus was rather surprising to me. The trailers really didn’t do too much for me and I thought the film looked rather boring to be honest. But, let this be a lesson boys and girls, sometimes a good or descent movie can have a crappy trailer. I did love the first half much more than the second half, especially with a standout scene that involves an unrecognizable BD Wong.
Goosebumps (Sony Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation/Village Roadshow Pictures/Columbia Pictures/LStar Capital/Original Film/Scholastic Entertainment)
I wasn’t really expecting much from Goosebumps, but I was highly surprised to how good it was and how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t just a fun family movie, it was just a fun movie all around.
Inherent Vice (Warner Bros./IAC Films/Ghoulardi Film Company/KVH Media Group)
Paul Thomas Anderson adapted Thomas Pynchon’s novel of the same name and it was, well, interesting. The crime comedy drama gave some standout performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, and Katherine Waterston, but it is rather interesting story and how it plays out is all over the place.
It Follows (RADiUS-TWC/Animal Kingdom/Northern Lights Films/Two Flints)
I’d only heard some good things about It Follows before I actually watched the movie, and it is one of the rare cases that I didn’t watch the trailer and went in completely blind, so to speak, and I’m glad I did. It Follows felt like an old-school horror film that relied more on playing with your senses and paranoia than with gore and cheap thrills.
Pixels (Sony Pictures/Columbia Pictures/Happy Madison Productions/1492 Pictures/China Film Co.)
I know, I can’t believe it either, but Pixels was damn enjoyable. I didn’t think I would like it to be honest, and while it wasn’t perfect and some things felt forced or just didn’t work (like some casting), Pixels was filled with great stuff and the heavily promoted Pac-Man chase was much more fun to experience as a whole sequences. Also, I was surprised by how the special effects worked and they didn’t cut corners.
Spotlight (Open Road Films/Participant Media/Anonymous Content)
Focusing of The Boston Globe when they uncovered the huge scandal of child molestation and the cover-up by the Catholic Church in Boston, the film was jam-packed with a great cast and equally great performances by the cast that highlighted by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Brian d’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci. There was something so simple about the film, yet so special to experience.
Straight Outta Compton (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/New Line Cinema/Cube Vision/Circle of Confusion)
Straight Outta Compton surprised a lot of people and rightfully so as the film came out a lot better than what people were suspecting. Filled with great performances by Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, O’Shea Jackson Jr. playing his father Ice Cube, Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller, and the standout in Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, the film is easily one of the best of the year, but honestly was a bit too long for my own liking, and I’m the last person to complain about a film’s length.
The Gift (STX Entertainment/Blumhouse Productions/Blue-Tongue Films/Huayi Brothers Media)
Joel Edgerton steps behind the camera for this one, making his feature directorial debut, but also playing one of three main characters in the film. The Gift may be one of the overlooked films of the year, but the film does have some great moments of suspense and mystery and an ending that I didn’t see coming.
Sicario (Lionsgate/Black Label Media/Thunder Road Pictures)
Director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins put together this great tense, dark and unapologetic film about the war on drugs on the border between the U.S and Mexico. However, the standout in Sicario was definitely Benicio Del Toro.
Spectre (Columbia Pictures/MGM/Eon Productions/B24/Danjaq)
In what could be Daniel Craig’s last James Bond film, and director Sam Mendes’ last one as well, Spectre has a lot of things working for it, but it did fail to really capitalize on what Skyfall did before it.
Steve Jobs (Universal Pictures/Legendary/Scott Rudin Productions/The Mark Gordon Company)
Danny Boyle directed this interestingly laid out biopic about former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, played by Michael Fassbender. The film is blocked off in three different parts, set right before the launch presentations of three different products Jobs was a part of (none of which were the IPhone’s and IPods by the way). While the film lost some steam by the end, the performances made the film worthwhile, especially a standout scene between Fassbender and Jeff Daniels in the middle of the film.
The Big Short (Paramount Pictures/Regency Enterprises/Plan B Entertainment)
Tackling the housing and financial crisis in 2005 to 2007, The Big Short is filled with great performances by its ensemble cast and directed by Adam McKay – yes, that Adam McKay – the film really puts you in there. Sometimes, it gets a little too technical that you feel like you’re going crazy and lost, but that’s kind of the point.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (Warner Bros./RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Wilgram Productions/Davis Entertainment)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. could have been a movie that got lost at the wayside, and while some will say that’s true, Guy Ritchie’s spy film worked on a lot of levels for me. It had some great and funny moments and the opening action scene and last chase scene were great fun to watch along with the performances by Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, and Alicia Vikander.
Best/Favorite Movies of the Year
Ant-Man (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Motion Pictures)
Ant-Man has gone through a lot. Originally it was going to be part of Marvel’s Phase 1, but got pushed back until now. Then it took a big hit in losing long-time attached director and fan in Edgar Wright. However, Peyton Reed and the cast were able to still bring a great Marvel film to the fans.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios)
Even I can admit that Age of Ultron wasn’t perfect, but there was still a ton of to be had with the massive sequel. Joss Whedon was able to keep most of the craziness from going off the rails and let’s face it, Age of Ultron was probably one of the most comic book-y movies we’ve seen.
Brooklyn (Fox Searchlight Pictures/Wildgaze Films/Parallel Film Productions/Irish Film Board/Item 7)
A great film – also based on a novel – that tells the story of an Irish immigrant played by Saoirse Ronan that comes to America and finds love and a new life, but her past and love for her former home comes back to her, which leaves her to make a decision to accept her new life, or old one. I ended up loving this film more than I thought I would. It’s a beautiful story and told in such a way that anybody can connect with it.
Creed (Warner Bros./New Line Cinema/MGM/Chartoff-Winkler Productions)
Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone’s performances in Creed are one of the best aspects of the film. The film wasn’t a cheap way to get to make more films with Rocky Balboa, the film was treated with respect to the films that came before, but was also a great standalone film.
Dope (Open Road Films/Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions/IamOTHER Entertainment/Revolt Films)
I didn’t really expect much from Dope, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well handled the film was and the great performance by breakout star, Shameik Moore. It’s one of films that keeps you on your feet with comedy and big dramatic moments.
Ex Machina (A24/Universal Pictures/DNA Films/Film4)
Alex Garland, the writer of films like 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and Dredd, finally steps behind the camera and what a way to make his debut. Garland tackled A.I. in a different take and the way they approach the story and theme was great to see unravel. Plus, Ex Machina has great performances by Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac, but an even better one by a standout performance (maybe of the year) by Alicia Vikander.
Furious 7 (Universal Pictures/Original Film/Media Rights Capital/One Race Film, Dentsu/Original Film)
James Wan stepped into some big shoes replacing Justin Lin, and while mostly known for his horror films, Wan completely fit into the world. Furious 7 also had some troubles along the way and felt more powerful for some with of course the death of Paul Walker during production. The film paid nice tribute to Walker and the character at the end of the film.
Inside Out (Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar Animation Studios)
Damn you, Pixar! How is it that one studio has their hands on all of your pulses and always find a way to make us either cry or tear up? I haven’t decided where Inside Out falls on my favorite Pixar films list, but it’s definitely up there. I mean, they made a movie about feelings. FEELINGS!
Jurassic World (Universal Pictures/Legendary Pictures/Amblin Entertainment)
Let’s face it, this probably shouldn’t have worked, and while some will think that it didn’t, I thought Jurassic World worked at just the right amount of levels for me to thoroughly enjoy it. Also, what’s not to love about seeing giant dinosaurs back on the big screen?
Kingsman: The Secret Service (20th Century Fox/Marv Films/TSG Entertainment/Cloudy Productions)
Kingsman: The Secret Service is definitely one of the biggest surprises of the year, and probably surpassed many people’s preconceived notions of the film. I mean any movie that can make Colin Firth into a badass spy should work right? Also Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle was probably one of the coolest villains of the year. But for me, what made Kingsman a standout was the awesome and chaotic church fight scene. Seriously, that scene was a thing of beauty.
Macbeth (The Weinstein Company/DMC Film/See-Saw Films)
Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard absolutely nail down the performances of arguably one of the most well-known literary figures and plays. Justin Kurzel brings a fresh, dark, gritty, and visually compelling adaptation and different approach to William Shakespeare’s play. Macbeth is one of those films that probably won’t grab you at first, but hits you very later on.
Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow Pictures/Kennedy Miller Productions)
What a lovely day, indeed! Mad Max: Fury Road was essentially one long chase scene and while it did slow down a bit – rightly so – I freaking loved every minute of it. The impressive action sequences, the score, and the two main leads of Hardy as Max and Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa. Definitely one of the best films of the year and probably one of, if not, the best action film of the year.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Fox Searchlight Pictures/Indian Paintbrush)
Based on the novel of the same name, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a film that hit me hard. I loved the book and I loved what they did in the film. They were able to recreate some of humor and managed to keep the spirit of the novel, but also do their own thing which was great to watch. It’s definitely one of the best dramas of the year.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Paramount Pictures/Bad Robot/Skydance Productions/TC Productions)
2015 was a good year for spy films, and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation may have been one of the best of the year. Like the Fast & Furious films, it’s a little hard to believe that the Mission: Impossible films keep getting better with every passing installment. Tom Cruise still feels like he’s on top of his game and with a standout performance by Rebecca Ferguson, Rogue Nation ups the ante on the series.
Room (A24/Element Pictures/No Trace Camping/Film4)
Room might be one of the best dramas of the year and one that came out of nowhere. Two of the best performances of the year go to stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who give heartbreaking and heartwarming performances in a film that isn’t always easy to watch. Do yourself a favor and watch this as soon as possible.
Spy (20th Century Fox/Feigco Entertainment/Chernin Entertainment)
Melissa McCarthy had some misfires going on there, but thankfully she came back to form with Paul Feig – of all people – with this awesome take on the spy genre. Melissa McCarthy is as funny as ever and Jason Statham gives a gut-busting performance
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Walt Disney Studios/Lucasfilm/Bad Robot/Truenorth Productions)
Out of all the movies that came out this year, this one was the most unpredictable. It could have been great or it could have been bad. Thankfully, J.J. Abrams put on a hell of a movie that makes a great addition to the Star Wars franchise. The new characters were great, the movie was a ton of fun to watch, and more importantly it was just fun.
The Final Girls (Stage 6 Films/Groundswell Productions/Vertical Entertainment/Ulterior Productions)
I honestly didn’t think I would have loved The Final Girls as much as I did. I thought the meta horror comedy would have some great moments, and while it does, it was the other big story in the film between Max (Taissa Farmiga) and Nancy/Amanda (Malin Akerman) that really stuck out and got to me. I didn’t imagine that I’d get emotionally invested in a horror comedy, but lo and behold I did.
The Peanuts Movie (20th Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios/Feigco Entertainment)
Yet another film that probably shouldn’t have worked and people had their preconceived notions on it, but The Peanuts Movie was damn enjoyable. Sure it wasn’t done in the traditional style that we all know and love, but the film didn’t add any pop culture references or pop songs. It stayed true to its roots and reminded you why you love Charlie Brown and the whole Peanuts gang.
The Hateful Eight (The Weinstein Company)
While the final product is still a little iffy for me, one of the reason The Hateful Eight is on the list is for the characters, setting, and production design. The cabin – Minnie’s Haberdashery – was a great looking aspect to the film and just a confined space for all these characters that it elevated the film much more. As for the characters, Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins are the highlights of the film that keep the slow burn mystery drama film in tact.
The Martian (20th Century Fox/Scott Free Productions/Genre Films/Mid Atlantic Films)
Based on the novel of the same name, The Martian was every bit as good as the novel, and maybe even more. Matt Damon is tremendous as the lead and Ridley Scott was able to make us feel like we were really on Mars and we can really sense the dread that Damon’s Mark Watney felt, but there was also beauty behind everything that was being filmed.
So what are some of your favorite films of 2015?
Here’s to another great year in films!