Well, here we are! The best films of 2015. I've put this one off as long as possible, because I still (even now, as I type this) have no idea how I'm gonna order my top 3 films of this year. See the problem is there are 3 films that all deserve to be the best film, and they've all resonated with me equally. So, who's gonna get the top spot? Let's find out together, shall we?
As we did last year, we'll have a few honorable mentions, then, after counting down 10-4, I'm gonna hand out a few awards to films that didn't make the top 10 but I still want to talk about. But, before I get to the honorable mentions, I just want to say this: I've been doing this since 2013 and I can say without a doubt that 2015 was the best year I've seen for cinema in my short career of reviewing films. Yes, we got our fair share of bad films, as we do every year, but this year I had four (count 'em, four!) perfect 10s. That's almost double what I've had the last two years combined! (2 in 2013-Gravity and Her, and 3 in 2014-Boyhood, Whiplash, and Locke) While Whiplash still remains the best film I've ever reviewed (you can revisit that review here if you want) on my blog, these four perfect films give the other ones a run for their money.
One final note: I reviewed more films in 2015 than I ever have on the blog. The films that follow are, in my opinion, the "best" films of 2015. They are not listed in the order of my "favorites." When I review a film I try to take a look at the entire film and all its components, then maybe focus on one or two aspects of it. This is a hard thing to do, no doubt, and with every film I review I attempt to improve on this technique, but it's also why I feel I can call these films, in my opinion at least, the "best" films of the year. Wow were there a lot of commas in that sentence. I'm also really tired, as usual, so I apologize in advance for what will likely be my declining grammar skills as this goes on. I'm doing this whole list in an afternoon which is never a good idea, but it was the only way I could do it. Anyway, here goes nothing!
Honorable Mention: Creed
This film made the honorable mention list for one big reason: director Ryan Coogler. One of the bigger snubs in this year's Oscars, Creed is the brainchild of Coogler, who had to fight tooth and nail with a distributor weary to try to again revive the Rocky franchise after a disastrous 2006 attempt, to approve the film. Then he had to fight tooth and nail to get Sly to actually be in it. Fortunately for us, though, he succeeded at all of this. Now, his thank you from the Academy for all his work is ridiculous, as the one white guy in this whole film was its only nomination, but those awards don't matter anyway, right? The only thing that matters is this blog! Totally! Anyway, Michael B. Jordan is fantastic as the film's namesake, putting in a performance which landed on my top 10 list from 2015. (Which you can revisit here, or check it out if you haven't already!) But the story was a fun one, and kept me engaged from start to finish. Also gotta compliment the soundtrack. Awesome soundtrack here. But, if nothing else happens for this film, hopefully it gets Michael B. Jordan more work and hey! Maybe he'll actually be nominated for an Oscar one of these days!
Honorable Mention: Steve Jobs
I was really excited about this movie. A biopic about Steve Jobs, one of the most iconic figures in modern American history, directed by the great Danny Boyle and written by my favorite screenwriter in Hollywood in Aaron Sorkin, and starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, and Michael Stuhlbarg? There is literally nothing bad with what I just said. And if this were 2014 or 2013 this film certainly would've been in the top 10. But, apart from the glaring fact that 2015 was a ridiculous year for film, this film doesn't make the top 10 because when I left the theater, I basically said "ok" and moved on. You can argue that that is a limitation of the biopic genre itself, to which I'd say....correct. Which is why, for the most part nowadays, the big biopic gets made, gets a lot of nominations, and that's it. But, when you have this many other great films to talk about, the biopic is going to be shafted outside the top 10. However that's not to say Steve Jobs still wasn't anything short of excellent, because it was. It was the sendoff Steve Jobs deserved. But that's about all I can say about it.
10) The Revenant
I'm gonna try and keep it together for this one. Because right now this film is the favorite to win both Best Picture and Best Director, and once again Alejandro González Iñárritu does not deserve the award for either category. That said, this is still a great film. Featuring the best cinematography of the year from Emmanuel Lubezki, an Oscar-worthy performance from Leonardo DiCaprio, a strong supporting performance from both Tom Hardy and Domhnall Gleeson (who also had himself a great 2015) and a unique production cycle for the film as Lubezki insisted the film be shot only in natural light, there's no denying this film is great. But, at the same time, it is very overbearing and extremely dry. This is a film that does not appeal to anyone who does not have anything less than a major passion for cinema. It is a brutal watch, which really lowers the rewatchability factor and the memorability factor in the long term. This overbearing quality is the main reason this film is not any higher than 10 on my list, but the technical side and DiCaprio's performance kept it within the top 10. This film is a perfect example of "best' versus "favorite" for me, as this film likely wouldn't even crack my top 20 if I were talking about my favorite films of the year. And yet....here we are. Another Iñárritu film, another undeserving Oscar win likely on the way. But this one is even less deserving than Birdman: at least that film benefited from it's one shot sensation as well as its perfectly timed humor. Here, the natural light choice does add to the movie, but not enough to offset the fact that it feels like a gimmick to make the film appear more "important." Combine that with its totally dry experience featuring one character, and you have a very dense film. But I digress. Great film, but far from the best of the year.
Riding the performance of Saoirse Ronan, (can't believe I spelled her name right without even having to look at IMDB) Brooklyn is a wonderfully shot romantic drama featuring one of the best set designs and some of the best costumes of the year. It's based off a wonderful book, and it only cost $11 million to make. If nothing else, this film should stand as a testament to directors and production companies on how to properly spend your budget, because this film sure doesn't look like it cost only $11 million. On top of all of that, we also saw strong performances from the supporting cast, especially relative newcomer Emory Cohen. Domhnall Gleeson is also excellent as he's given the tough task of being "the other guy" so to say, but he did a good job with his relatively minor character. Ultimately, Brookyln is a rather safe film, but it's still a very enjoyable romantic film. Saoirse Ronan is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses in Hollywood right now, and this film is a major reason for that: she is the main reason it's on this list. Definitely the second best date night movie from 2015.
8) Straight Outta Compton
Gaaaaahhhh why didn't this film receive more love from the Oscars this year? We'll never know. But holy crap is this film terrific. While many of you might pass this one off since you didn't care for N.W.A., trust me: I never cared for them much either. I respect them immensely for the contributions they made to the music industry, but I would not listen to their music if I didn't absolutely have to. But, in my opinion, that really isn't the point of Straight Outta Compton. This film is more about highlighting the systemic racism that has been around in our country for decades, and the attempt to investigate why the black community feels the need to respond to this through music and protests. The film is about N.W.A. becoming a voice against the establishment and against the oppression this community has felt and still does feel today, which is why I think it is so important to watch this film. On top of its importance, you have great performances from the entire cast, led by O'Shea Jackson Jr.'s recreation of his father Ice Cube. On that end the three core members of N.W.A. (Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre) are all wonderfully recreated by 3 almost complete newcomers, which was a great choice by director F. Gary Gray. There aren't nearly enough black actors in Hollywood right now, and all 3 of these guys deserve a real shot after this film. I know there's a portion of this country that will cover their ears at even a mentioning of the phrase "systemic racism," but for the sane, open-minded individuals among you curious to further investigate why so many believe this is still a problem in this country.....this one should absolutely be on your list to see. "Yo, Dre, I got somethin' to say."
The best romantic film of 2015, Carol shows us the heartbreaking story of a female same-sex couple struggling to find acceptance in 1950's America. Carol is a fantastic film featuring some of the best acting of the year from its two leads in Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, as well as great set design, costumes, and cinematography. While I was distracted at points by said cinematography, Edward Lachman, the cinematographer, did create a very unique signature for the film. There was also a great and subtle score from Carter Burwell underneath this film, peaking at the emotional highs and lows of this film. A film which should've received a Best Picture nomination especially since there's only 8 films nominated in a field that could be 10, prepare for the ugly cry with this one. But this is definitely the best date night film of 2015, and if you're (hopefully) among the accepting crowd it is absolutely worth the watch. Even if you're not accepting, watch it just to see Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara be the gorgeous women that they are.
6) The Big Short
Man you know it's a good year for film when a film this good is only number 6 in my top 10. Geez. The Big Short is another bold undertaking from director Adam McKay, the man who brought us Anchorman, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys. This film tackles the 2007 housing crisis! Hilarious, right? Well, it actually is pretty funny, but it somehow manages to take a topic as dense as the housing crisis and explain to us commonfolk how this travesty happened. I loved it and was on board from start to finish. The film features a wonderful supporting cast led by Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt, but what really stood out to me was how well this film explained these complex financial processes and even did so in a humorous way. From Margot Robbie in a bubble bath to Anthony Bourdain in a kitchen of a renowned restaurant, this breaking of the fourth wall to deliver exposition contained not just some of the best moments of the film but some of the best moments of the year. However what's even more amazing is how, after all the humor of the first two acts and the lighthearted nature the film takes, once the crisis actually occurs the film takes a sharp SHARP turn for the serious, and ultimately leaves you very frustrated with Wall Street for allowing this to not only happen, but to already start doing it again. This is an eye-opening film, and certainly the most damaging film about Wall Street that I've ever seen personally. It's hard not to walk out of this film wanting to see some sort of reform on Wall Street.
5) IT Follows
AH I LOVE THIS MOVIE. I know this is my "best" films of 2015 list, but if it were my "favorite" films of 2015, this one would be right there with Mad Max for my "favorite" film of the year. But as is, it is a worthy beginning to my top 5 films of 2015. It Follows is the hero the horror genre needs. If you somehow don't know, I love the horror genre. But in recent years the genre has lost its way as it has reduced itself to nothing but lazy pop scares with very little creative ingenuity from a technical standpoint. I wrote an article on this genre, which you can revisit here so I won't bore you with the details, but It Follows laughs at the face of the horror norm and delivers a haunting thriller that has resonated (and terrified, I might add) with me as much as any other film has this year. The film rarely uses the pop scare, which means when it does (like in the snapshot above) it makes the pop scare that much more meaningful and terrifying. I watched this film on my laptop, and it was the first time. well, ever, where I found myself turning the laptop away at points and unplugging my headphones because I was so scared of what was about to happen. And this is coming from the guy who was able to watch the first Insidious (you know, the good one) by myself in the dark without waking up my light-sleeping roommate. On top of all that, the film features a strong performance from its first-time lead Maika Monroe. However what the film really needs to be commended for are the extras that embody the entity. These extras had to receive a lot of instruction to be able to terrifyingly recreate this entity that lumbers towards its victim at a maniacal and steady pace. It never stops. It is always walking. Straight. For. You. GAH it's so freaking original! The film also features one of the best horror film scores I've ever heard, as if everything else wasn't enough. In short, It Follows is easily the best horror film I've ever reviewed on this blog, and if you're a fan of this genre it's one that I cannot recommend enough. Juuuuuust maybe not watch it by yourself. You may find yourself looking over your shoulder for a few months.
4) Ex Machina
The first of my four perfect 10s, Ex Machina is the modern-day equivalent of 2001: A Space Odyssey. That's about as high a compliment as I can give for a film, I know, but Ex Machina resonated with me as much as 2001 did. It is the smartest film about AI since that film, offering a new and modern interpretation of what AI can do based on the advancements made in technology since, you know, 1968. Alex Garland's directorial debut is a phenomenal one as we witness a simple and yet elegant drama unfold in front of us between 3 characters performing the Turing test on Eva, which is masterfully acted by Alicia Vikander. On top of that, Domhnall Gleeson (again) and Oscar Isaac are phenomenal together as they tackle this very dense subject on screen. A film that had me totally engrossed from start to finish, Ex Machina is the best old-school sci-fi film we've seen in years. Oh, and on top of all of that, the effects are amazing as well. I mean look at that picture! The creation of Eva was a tedious one, and one which involved an immense amount of preparation from the makeup crew, the costume crew, the effects crew, and the actress herself. Just for the creation of Eva alone this film deserved to be in the top 10, but then when you have this thought provoking a story behind it and you better believe it's a perfect film and one of the best of the year. It's already garnering a strong cult following, and for obvious reasons. On another note, Alex Garland's next project is entitled Annihilation and revolves around biology. To say I'm excited for that one is an understatement.
The Best Comedy was....
As is the norm, and in particular since Edgar Wright didn't release a film, 2015 was a bad year for comedies. To me there were two true standouts in this genre from 2015: Spy and Trainwreck. I eventually settled on Spy because of the production value around this film, as well as the fact that there's some controversy surrounding the originality of Amy Schumer's humor at the moment. But mostly for the production value. And Rose Byrne. Actually mostly Rose Byrne, because she steals the show in this film and then some. Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Allison Janney and Jason Statham are also hilarious, but there's a certain.... elegance to Rose Byrne in this film. This is now two straight comedies she has stolen the show in between Neighbors and Spy, and I think it's in part because she's a great actress that has great comedic timing rather than the other way around. Anyway, I found myself laughing all throughout this film, and I also appreciated the fact that there was, you know, a plot to go along with it. There were twists and turns! Wow! Well that's more than can be said about most comedies nowadays. Paul Feig has been on a nice roll recently between Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy. Hopefully he keeps that roll going in the recreation of Ghostbusters.
The Best Summer Blockbuster Was....
Yup. Screw you haters. The definition of a summer blockbuster is a big mindless popcorn flick. That's what it is. And there was no better embodiment of the big mindless popcorn flick than San Andreas. It's a film that knows exactly what it is and thus never takes itself even remotely seriously all throughout the briskly paced film. But, on top of that, it's my best blockbuster of 2015 because of the care that went into making the film look as good as possible. The CGI effects are as real as it gets in films like this nowadays. The cinematography is actually kind of fun. There's even a great oner in the middle of an earthquake destroying LA that was actually one of my favorite moments of the year just for the amount of crap that happened during this single cut. And, on top of everything else, while this film stars The Rock being The Rock, there's also a badass female role that's really well played by Alexandra Daddario. Yes Daddario is absurdly hot, but she's not just here to be the hot chick. She's a resourceful boss of a character who saves the dudes with her on more than one occasion, showing that you can be the hot chick in the movie and still, you know,l do stuff. Yes it's sad that I have to actually compliment that, but for a summer blockbuster of all things to have enough of a brain to do that is particularly impressive. And yes I know the introduction of her character is her in a bikini for no reason but I mean you gotta start somewhere, right? Especially with Alexandra Daddario because if you look at her IMDB credit list she is almost ALWAYS the hot useless chick who's there only to be hot. And I mean The Rock takes his shirt off a few times for no real reason so that at least kind of evens out. Not to be overlooked, however, is an excellent performance from Paul Giamatti as well. But Giamatti does not take his shirt off. So if you were looking for a Paul Giamatti shirtless scene, you'll have to keep waiting. Anyway, I had an absolute blast watching this big stupid disaster movie in IMAX, and if you still think I'm stupid for saying it's the best summer blockbuster well then you have no soul. Or don't like fun. Or something.
The Best Action Flick outside the top 10 Was....
I was gonna call this the most underrated film of the year, but then I realized that's why I make my best films of said year that no one saw list. So instead, I created this best action flick category so I could again talk about The Man from U.N.C.L.E. First off, if you haven't seen this film but were all about Kingsman: The Secret Service, then HOLY CRAP WHAT ARE YOU STILL DOING HERE? GO SEE THIS FILM RIGHT NOW. Yes, Millennials, I get it: we all love Matthew Vaughn and Guy Ritchie is more known as the guy who directed the "fake" Sherlock Holmes films. But this film is SO much better than Kingsman it's almost unfair to compare them in the same sentence. And I liked Kingsman! But this film is.....it's just so sexy! It is so stylish and charming and oozing charisma with two male leads that are far more suave than Colin Firth and Taron Edgerton, and those two male leads also just happen to be Henry Cavil and Armie Hammer. Henry freaking Cavil and Armie freaking Hammer! Then this film also features a great performance from a badass and strong female lead in Alicia Vikander, and to top it all off the villain is an awesome and menacing woman played brilliantly by Elizabeth Debicki! Both of the females are also sexy and charismatic. I mean....look at that picture! Look at those sunglasses Vikander is wearing! Those are like the quintessential 60s sunglasses, and even though I know I'd look about as stupid as stupid could be wearing them, I want them! Ah! I want Cavil's suit! And Debicki's white and black dress! Who cares that this film doesn't have a plot: actually, that's another reason why it's far better than the plot of Kingsman: Thamuel L. Jackthon's plot to destroy the world made no sense the second you actually tried to think about it, and the film spent so much time focusing on it that it's impossible to, you know, not think about it. What's happening in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. again? Something about a nuke? Oh well who cares???? Ah! I know I'm spending a lot of time comparing this film to Kingsman, but I'm so mad that Kingsman made all the money and this film didn't because the marketing campaign for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. sucked. I hope the guy who decided this film should be targeted towards baby boomers and not Millennials was fired. Because that was a dumb idea, especially when this film was released two weeks after Mission Impossible 5, a film which made a ton of money off of, you guessed it! baby boomers. Nice one, marketing department. What a shame too because they want to make a franchise out of it but after this film didn't do so hot at the box office we'll see if it happens. But for once after such a great start I really hope they do! I want more Armie Hammer, Henry Cavil, and Alicia Vikander being sexy! There's no doubt this was the best action film of the year outside my top 10. Please....if you haven't seen this film yet and like action films PLEASE go see it.
The Best Sci-Fi film outside the top 10 was...
So I initially added this award solely so I could give it to Star Wars so people wouldn't yell at me, but then I realized.....there's a better sci-fi film out there than Star Wars that's not on my top 10. Ohhhh yes. While I wasn't as high on The Martian as others were, I can't deny that it was a great sci-fi film that actually talked about science and made science fun! I didn't think that was possible for me, but here it sure is. Featuring a great performance from Matt Damon, awesome cinematography, and a wonderful set design which must have been a challenge given the fact that this is another planet, The Martian was ultimately a great film. However it was too long for me and contained a very cliche third act, where all the gravitas and science (honestly) of the first two acts was left on the side of the road, for me to put this film in my top 10 list. However, in a year of (mostly) subpar sci-fi films like the disastrous Jupiter Ascending, The Martian was a standout film among a crowd that included the (now) second highest grossing film ever made. As much as I wanted to put Star Wars on this list, I just ultimately couldn't justify it. It's definitely high on my "favorites' of 2015, but "best" films of 2015 it is not.
The Best Sequel We Weren't Expecting to be Good Was.....
Oh hey look! Now I'll talk about that other action film, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation! I love this category. I love it because every year we are getting more and more high-profile sequels and remakes, and more and more they are terrible. But that also makes the ones that surprise us that much better, and the Mission Impossible series continues to surprise me. After a subpar original trilogy featuring a now hilariously dated first film, a pretty good, but still dated second film, and a terrible third film who's only saving grace was the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, this series has roared to life with two excellent sequels at a point where most franchises would just dig themselves further into the grave. But, after 2011's excellent Ghost Protocol, Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt, and he is as Tom Cruise as ever. However, what really makes this film are the actors around Cruise. Simon Pegg is awesome as Benji, Jeremy Renner and Alec Baldwin make what's usually mundane political affairs fun and exciting, and Sean Harris is a fun, but admittedly shallow, villain. (Man if this was the film where Hoffman was the villain than we'd have a film that would be a legitimate contender for my top 10) But the one who steals the show is the sexy and mysterious Rebecca Ferguson. Yes, she's the hot chick of the film, and there are definitely moments where she is very hot, but at the same time you know she could beat the crap out of you at any given moment, and she's actually given a lot to do here as her character has a wonderful "which side is she really on" kind of story that you legitimately can't answer until the end of the film. Picking a newcomer in Ferguson really helped add to the mystery, and I honestly did not know which side she was on for most of the film. On top of that, the action set-pieces in this film were amazing. Mission Impossible has figured out that no one really cares about the banter in between set-pieces, so the filmmakers make the pacing feel brisk to quickly get through the dialogue. But I even kind of enjoyed this part too. Oh, and Tom Hollander is having a blast in his role in this film. I can't help but love that. But if you've already seen The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mad Max and are looking for another great action film to watch, than MI 45 is the film for you. (Also don't hate me for not including Furious 7 in this list at all. It narrowly missed both this category and the Best Summer Blockbuster category in my book. Just wanted you to know that.)
The Best Animated Film of the Year Was....
Sorry, Inside Out fans, but there was a better animated film than that in 2015. Which is saying something because Inside Out is a fantastic animated film from Pixar and one of the best it's released in a while. But Anomalisa was better. I've talked about this film several times at this point, and I've said this before but I'll say it again: if you're looking for a great example of film as an art form, then Anomalisa is your best bet. Everything about this film is meticulously created and placed in its spot with a specific purpose, which made the film have a nightmarish production cycle. However, co-directors Duke Johnson And Charlie Kaufman (Kaufman also wrote the film) never compromised their artistic vision, much like another director on a film further down on this list. Staying true to form helped this film in a big way. The film is wonderfully voiced by David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, and I can't get enough of the wonderful artistic choice of having Tom Noonan voice everyone else. Ultimately this was a fantastic little film with stop-motion animation featuring a meaningful and very down-to-earth story that had me engaged from start to finish. If you're having a mid-life crisis, then this film is for you.
The Award for Film I Missed in 2014 and Watched Later and Realized It Deserved a Spot in Last Year's Top 10 Was....
I'm gonna start doing this for all my future best film lists that I may do. While I see a ton of films any given year, there's always a few I miss that are outstanding films. Last year, it was Locke. Locke is a great little indie film that debuted at a few film festivals and really nowhere else, which made it hard to actually find.....but holy crap am I glad I finally got to see it. Featuring Tom Hardy and ONLY Tom Hardy, he masterfully plays the character Ivan Locke, a man simply driving from point A to point B. Ya. How the heck can anyone make a film interesting where all the main character does throughout a 90 minute runtime is drive from point A to point B, right? Well, Steven Knight sure can, because holy CRAP does this film have a ridiculously engaging story and some of the best in-a-car shots I've seen in a film. Ha. But seriously, this film is amazing and asks Tom Hardy to talk to voices for 90 minutes and still make you feel for him. Which he of course does with ease. It is an extremely original concept and a bold undertaking, and I am so happy I made the time to see it in 2015. You should too.
So I've finally come to it. Alright, time to figure out what my top 3 films of 2015 were. I think I'll start with Room.
Room receives the distinct notion of having the best fictional story of 2015, hands-down. This film destroyed me. Featuring the best overall performance of the year from its female lead and an almost-as-good performance from its kid-actor Jacob Tremblay, Room is a powerful and engaging piece of cinema that respectfully looks at both a very dark part of the human condition, as well as unconditional love and the will to survive. I had the luxury of going into this film cold after somehow managing to avoid all plot synopses and reviews of it before my viewing. Boy am I glad I did that, as my first-time watching experience of this film was one of the best I've ever had. It was right on par with my first viewing of District 9 from back in 2009 which, fun fact, was one of the things that made me want to try my hand at reviewing films in the first place. But what's truly amazing to me is the second half of this film: I thought this entire film would be about Larson and Tremblay's experience in Room. So I figured there was no way the Room-less second half could be as good as the first half, right? Boy was I wrong. The second half of this film is why this is the third-best film of the year, as the psychological effects set in on our two main characters and they have to deal with figuring out how to live normally outside of Room. This is where Larson shows off her true acting talent, and why her performance is the best of the year. I ugly cried watching this film more than I ever have in a film before, and at various points throughout it mind you. It is an emotionally charged and powerful story. Be ready to ugly cry big time watching Room, however it is absolutely worth it.
From 2015's best fictional story in Room, to 2015's best nonfictional story. Spotlight. My pick for Best Picture this year is one of the most eye-opening films I have ever seen. Featuring a great ensemble cast led by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams, Spotlight flawlessly tells the story of the Boston Globe's Spotlight team uncovering the major sex scandal that rattled (and still is, for that matter) the Catholic church back in the early 2000s. First off, Spotlight is the best film about journalism since 1976's classic film, All the President's Men. Spotlight tackles its extremely controversial and still fresh subject matter with reverence and care, and you see this reverence from start to finish. Additionally, it has an incredible set design with most of it being shot on location for authenticity purposes. While I know that's usually not a big deal, here on location means at the Boston Globe, which one needs to remember is a still-in-operation paper. So you can't just "shut down the office" to shoot the scenes in the Globe. Anyway, most films like this would have an agenda. Like The Big Short, most historical dramas are created to make you feel a certain way by the end of the film about whatever the film is talking about. But, not only that, you know they are trying to make you feel a certain way. However that is not the case here. Here, the filmmakers essentially said, "here's the evidence, now you decide what to think." Even though this film has an extraordinarily important subject material, it never reminds you of this. It simply presents its story, and leaves you to formulate your own opinion about it. This is why Spotlight is so incredible. This is why it is respectful. And the final end card where the film presents you with all the cities that have had priest sex scandals be exposed at some point or another is devastating. This is extremely thoughtful and courteous filmmaking, which is especially needed in a film like this. This film ultimately resonated with me more than any other film this year because of my upbringing, but while I really wanted to say it was the best film of the year........... I just couldn't justify it over Mad Max. I couldn't do it.
1) Mad Max: Fury Road
It started as I was writing my initial paragraph way up at the top of this list. As I was talking about "best" vs. "favorite" film and looking at a film from an all-encompassing perspective, I simply could not justify saying this was not the best film of 2015. Yes, Mad Max does not have the best story of the year. That honor, as I said before, goes to Room and Spotlight. Yes, it's subject matter is not important or life changing. You're not going to get that in a post-apocalyptic film about people chasing each other in cars. But, because of the technical achievements of this film like the effects, the costumes, the makeup, the editing, the artful cinematography, the directing, and the acting.....Not to mention a perfect score from Junkie XL to accompany the entire film.....it's simply the best overall film of the year. Featuring a badass performance from it's strong female lead in Charlize Theron, we see Mad Max take a backseat in his own film. This is awesome because, fortunately, Furiosa is so well-written that I was more than ok with Max in the passenger's seat. But what really gets me is the creativity of this film. From the first glorious shot of the film featuring Mad Max overlooking a great and vast desert while eating a freshly-killed lizard, we are immediately immersed in this post-apocalyptic world from the mind of the film's master, director George Miller. The production of this film is also insane, featuring a 10+ year cycle that was derailed by the film's location being deemed too unsafe to film because of things like the Iraqi War. Damn. George Miller needs to be commended for not compromising on his artistic vision as the YEARS dragged on with no end in sight with the Iraqi War. Miller could've easily decided to go to the Australian Outback, or Death Valley in California, or even just used a sound stage in LA, but he knew that would make the film a less authentic one. Even after the film began shooting he experienced numerous problems, with the highlight being the film going massively over-budget. But Miller never compromised. Usually when a film has this rough a production cycle you get something like Fant4stic, but, in part thanks to Miller's refusal to compromise, what we got instead was hands-down the best film of the year. Well done, George Miller. If only the Academy weren't in love with Alejandro González Iñárritu. Man....Iñárritu will .be the first director to receive back-to-back Oscars in over 50 years, and Miller will be the second director to be snubbed as a result of it. I honestly don't know which scrub is worse: Linklater or Miller. (I STILL can't believe the Academy gave Iñárritu an Oscar for director AND gave Birdman Best Picture last year. Please don't make me say that again this year, Academy...)
I know if you emphasize story more than anything else you might have a bone to pick with me about saying this is the best film of the year, but that's totally ok. These top 3 films could've all been interchangeable, and Spotlight and Room are up this high because they contain the best stories of the year. (Both in the nonfictional and fictional realm too, I might add.) But at the end of the day, my conscious told me I had to give this award to Mad Max. This film sets a new standard for what we should expect from an action movie, and it really showcases what a talented director can do with a film when you properly combine CGI and practical effects. I think in 20 years, when we look back at the best film's of the 2010's, we will look at Mad Max to be well within the top 5. Even though it won't win Best Picture because it falls well outside the norm for the Academy on this award, I think in time we'll also look at it as one of the great snubs of this decade. Though hopefully it looses to Spotlight and NOT The Revenant. Anything but The Revenant.
Well, there you have it folks. My best films of 2015! I just wrote all of that in like 5 hours boy are my fingers tired. I just wanted to take a quick moment to thank all of y'all for your wonderful support. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: y'all are freaking awesome. Thank you so much for reading and I'll see you next time here on Enter the Movies! Now rest, my fingers.
https://cdn.amctheatres.com/Media/Default/images/maxresdefault.jpg (Mad Max)
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/X8s265xvf64/maxresdefault.jpg (The Revenant)
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/N-UEEPbj5hk/maxresdefault.jpg (Straight Outta Compton)
http://assets.rollingstone.com/assets/2015/moviereview/the-big-short-20151210/217786/medium_rect/1448398767/720x405-21626637065_987e23b3de_o.jpg (The Big Short)
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YtGs1d1SSOs/VTG-t78KZ_I/AAAAAAAABB8/O9lexki3x0s/s1600/It-Follows-Trailer-620x350.png (It Follows)
https://static-secure.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2015/1/21/1421844142951/alicia-vikander-ex-machin-012.jpg (Ex Machina)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/film/San-Andreas/sanandreas3-xlarge.jpg (San Andreas)
http://www.canyon-news.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/The-Man-from-UNCLE.jpg (The Man from UNCLE)
http://www.universetoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/The-Martian-4.jpg (The Martian)
http://cdn.movieweb.com/img.news.tops/NEmUfw0c3Rztpq_1_b.jpg (MI: 5)
http://cdn.movieweb.com/img.news.tops/NEql9YlPxdVuur_1_b.jpg (Mad Max)
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