I traveled a tonne in 2015 and saw a lot of films. It was a great year from my perspective. Five 4-star films and the best animated movie of the decade by far. Max Max Fury Road was the most critically acclaimed movie of the year and won Six Oscars. (Insert gif of the Joker saying “Six!”). The movie relied largely on practical (as opposed to special) effects. I really liked it but I did not find it to be the best of the year.
All that said, I did not see my #1 pic until a couple of years later.
Films I Saw in 2015: 51
Top 10 Critically Acclaimed Films
(Source : criticstop10.com – a site that take a weighted average of about 800 lists, 350 of which are considered “Top Critics”)
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Inside Out
- Ex Machina
- The Martian
Winners of The Major Oscar Categories
Best Picture Spotlight
Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Best Actress Brie Larson, Room
Best Supporting Actor Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Best Supporting Actress Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Best Director Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
Original Screenplay Josh Singer & Thomas McCarthy, Spotlight
Adapted Screenplay Adam McKay, The Big Short
Best Animated Feature Inside Out
Top Grossing Movie: Jurassic World (Domestic )
The Force Awakens (Worldwide)
(Box Office Mojo, the source of my data here, recently changed how it ranks the #1 movie of the year. It used to be the highest grossing film released in the year. Now it’s the movie that grossed the highest within that calendar year, regardless of date of release).
Really Good Films from 2015 You May Have Missed:
Spotlight (few have seen this despite the fact that it won Best Picture)
Movie from 2015 to avoid at all costs:
50 Shades of Grey – proof that a movie can have copious sex and nudity and not be in the least bit sexy or interesting
Hot Pursuit – confession, turned it off after about 45 minutes
Concussion – Will Smith can’t do accents.
Sar Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens, Ex Machina, Brooklyn, Sicario, Southpaw
Here are my Top 10 films of 2015
10. Straight Outta Compton
The story of NWA with O’Shay Jackson Jr. playing his father (Ice Cube). There is a scene where Ice Cube is on a school bus scratching out lyrics and they drive by a white college, students with their collars popped listening to Tears for Fears. At they moment, the movie parodied me. Its insightful, well-acted and an Oscar nominated script.
9. The Revenant
Another successful paring of Leo and Tom. Leo won his long awaited and yes, overdue, Oscar here, more for what he put into the role. The Revenant is unflinching and original and at times hard to watch. Alejandro Inarritu had a rare repeat as Best Director and the great Emmanuel Lubezki won his third straight Oscar for cinematography.
8. The Martian
An extremely entertaining sci-fi film. Matt Damon plays a botanist on a Mission to Mars. He finds himself stranded, no crew, no water, no way to communicate. The movie cuts between his isolation and the technical and political problems created by his attempted rescue. I did not see this until well after its release but it’s a Top 10 selection without question.
Arguably the best thing Sly Stallone has done since the first Rocky movie in 1976. An elegiac tale of an aging Rocky Balboa taking the son of his former rival and friend, Apollo Creed, under his belt. It was a breakthrough role for Michael B Jordan. Sly was a heavy Oscar favourite but ultimately lost to Mark Rylance.
A lesser movie would have ended with mother and son reunited and free. But Room is not so much a movie about captivity as it is a movie about what happened while Ma and Jack where held captive and their adjustment to life outside “room”. It’s a brilliantly written, emotional entertaining movie. In a lesser year, it could be a #1 pick.
5. Mad Max Fury Road
Winner of six Oscars and the second most critically acclaimed film of the decade so far. Mad Max Fury Road is a wild ride. It took me a bit to warm up to this film but it is a rare combination of visual effects, acting and story that Action/Sci-Fi rarely sees as a genre. Three more are in the works.
4. The Hateful Eight
A blood-soaked, profane tale of bizarre characters in impossible situations. In other words, Tarantino. Clocking in at nearly three hours, it’s a commitment but worth it. The 221-minute extended version has been broken into four-part series for Netflix. Shot in 70 mm, it was best seen on the big screen but it does translate well to TV. Pay some attention to Ennio Morricone’s Oscar winning score.
3. The Big Short
The funniest and scariest movie of the year. Also one of the most purely entertaining films of the decade. The Big Short tells a pretty true story of the mortgage meltdown that nearly collapsed the American economy. (The movie even tells you when it taking creative liberties). It makes the strong case that the entire problem was not so much corruption as it was pure stupidity and incompetence. Steve Carrell’s best work and an Oscar winning script.
2. Inside Out
As they did with previous outings “Up” and “WALL-E”, Pixar created not only a wildly original movie, but one so good adults and children can enjoy it equally while on entirely different levels. The antagonist in this film is the sub-conscious of a 12-year-old girl, whose family has just moved across the country. And as she leaves childhood and establishes a new life, she has to establish new memories. The voice over work of the five emotions (Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear and Disgust) inside young Riley’s head are all spot-on perfect. Rarely is a film this entertaining, moving, funny and insightful at the same time.
I grew up and still am Catholic. I went to a Catholic grade school, all boys Catholic High School, was an altar server and very involved in my church. I knew many priests and never once had a bad experience. Many in fact provided some of the best influence in my life. Unfortunately, sadly and maddeningly, thousands cannot say the same thing. While this movie is the story of the Boston Globe uncovering the depth and rot of the sex scandal and cover-up in the Boston Archdiocese, what makes it great is the in-depth, near documentary look at the process, the roadblocks and how a group of reporter (most of them Catholic) put the pieces together. The movie, like the story it follows, goes after the system, not the faith. And its pretty close to perfect.