I have yet to see Alejandro Innaritu’s release, The Revenant, but I’m sure it would have made it on this list somehow. It has been a great year for movies, and these are my picks for the best movies of 2015.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: The Hateful Eight, Tangerine, Force Majeur, Paddington, While We’re Young, Slow West, Ant Man, Housebound, The Diary of A Teenage Girl
19. Kingsman: Secret Service: This movie had everything you’d expect from a spy movie, but it was funnier than it needed to be separating it from the Bond franchise. It also had one of the best action sequences of the year set in a church.
13. Bone Tomahawk: I had no expectations coming into this film. I knew it was a Western with horror elements, and boy is this movie brutal. It has some of the most memorable death scenes and it is entertaining throughout. Biggest surprise of the year.
12. Steve Jobs: I am a huge fan of Danny Boyle and I love what he did with this “biography” that captures Jobs in three pivotal moments in his life that take place right before the launch of new products. Michael Fassbender does a fantastic job as Jobs and he continues to be one of my favorite actors working today.
11. Phoenix: This is an exceptionally beautiful movie with quite possibly the best ending to a film that I have seen this year. Phoenix takes some elements from Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, but it manages to take that idea and turn it into something emotionally deeper.
9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: I am not the biggest fan of Star Wars, and I only saw the original trilogies recently and I finally understand the hype. I was unfortunate to have started with the prequels long ago, but I will say that Force Awakens is at least as good as The Empire Strikes Back and A New Hope if not better in my humble opinion.
8. Anomalisa: Charlie Kauffman has been the brain behind some of my favorite movies: Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Being John Malkovich. Anomalisa is a different beast that is very unsettling since it is a stop motion animated film which was made specifically for adults and explores loneliness, relationships and what is means to be human in our mundane modern world.
7. Room: Brie Larson continues to be one of the most promising actresses with her follow up to last year’s Short Term 12; she brings the same depth into this role as she did in Short Term 12. This film also has one of the best child performances I have ever seen. This tale of a mother and a son living in the most horrifying situation is an emotionally devastating piece of cinema.
5. Spotlight: I love a well made procedural movie and Spotlight takes its time developing its plot as we follow the Spotlight team from Boston Globe investigating a child abuse case in relation to the catholic church. Every actor gives a great performance including Mark Ruffalo who stands out among the ensemble.
4. The Lobster: The weirdest movie of 2015 tells the story of Colin Farell’s character in this somewhat dystopian future that prohibits being single. He gets sent to this hotel and is given 45 days to find a suitable partner, and if he fails to do so he will get turned into an animal of his choosing, I can’t make this stuff up. The first half of this movie is hilarious while the second half is darker and more contained in its humor and the film plays on societal norms when it comes to relationships .
3. Sicario: Denis Villeneuve is one of my favorite directors working today, and I have loved all of his films and Sicario is no exception. This movie is intense and thrilling throughout. Benicio Del Toro owns this movie while Emily Blunt gives a great performance.
2. Ex Machina: I have seen this movie four times and it is a well crafted sci-fi that is absolutely gorgeous and atmospheric. Oscar Isaac stands out as the mad scientist, but the other two performances are great as well. It has my favorite scene of this year involving a dance number.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road: This movie blew my mind when I first saw it in theaters and it exceeded all my expectations. It is a non stop action packed vehicular chase movie that fails to run out of steam. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are great together and this is one of the best if not THE BEST action movie ever made.