By Sean Gardner
I can’t believe 2016 is here already. 2015 was a good year for movies. There were some really fantastic films. I made a list a few months ago of my favorite films of 2015 up to that point. All of those films are on this list. I have simply added a few that I saw and thoroughly enjoyed in the months following that post.
Before I begin the actual list, I acknowledge that I have yet to see Black Mass, The Revenant, Sicario, Crimson Peak, Spotlight, Pawn Sacrifice, Bridge of Spies, Legend, and Trumbo. I just don’t have the time or the money to see every movie that I would like. So if one of those movies does not show up on this list, know that it is not because I did not like it, but that I just never got around to seeing it. Therefore, this is a list comprised only of movies that I have seen and about which I can make a fair judgement. As with all my other lists, these films are in no particular order.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I loved this film probably more than any other this year. It is a perfect continuation of the Star Wars saga. It expertly combines the old with the new, and it gave us fans what we wanted: an epic adventure with lots of action and no Jar Jar Binks.
Similar to The Force Awakens in that they are both the 7th film in a franchise, Creed taps into the magic of its predecessors to create something that fits within the franchise but also stands on it’s own. Ryan Coogler is becoming a force to be recond with in Hollywood. Michael B. Jordan turns in his best performance of his career, and Sylvester Stallone is the best he’s been in years.
Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller blew me away with the stunning visuals and wall to wall action in Fury Road. Miller expertly combines practical and computer generated effects. What Fury Road lacks in story and character development, it makes up for with a high octane, fuel spewing car chases and explosions.
Beasts of No Nation
This film did not get as much love from the Golden Globes as I was hoping for with only one nomination for Idris Elba. Nonetheless, Beasts of No Nation was the most powerful film I saw this year. It is heartbreaking. It is gritty and dirty and scary; much like being a child foot soldier in an African civil war.
Joel Edgerton’s while in a supporting acting role, is the true star of The Gift. It is his debut as a writer and as a director and he gives a stellar performance in his role. The Gift is suspenseful and creepy without getting too weird. You may have missed it because it was in theaters for such a short time, but I think it is the hidden gem of 2015.
Another one you might have missed is Ex Machina. With only three characters and intense dialogue, it is more of a claustrophobic stage play than a motion picture. It has deep philosophical themes that will keep you thinking long after the movie has ended.
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Rarely do you come across a fifth installment in a franchise as good as Rogue Nation. Tom Cruise just keeps getting better and better in these types of roles. I still can’t believe he actually was strapped to that plane when it took off. Also, the motorcycle chase scene is one of the best moments of the entire Mission: Impossible franchise.
One of the main reasons The Martian made it to this list is that I was just so relieved to finally see a good Ridley Scott film. After a three or four misses in a row, Scott is back in a big bad way with this film. I was surprised at how funny and optimistic Matt Damon’s character was and I think that is one of the reasons The Martian worked so well. It could have been super dark and depressing but Damon’s wit made it one of the most fun films of 2015.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
The over the top action, on the nose dialogue, and borderline obscene amounts of propriety turn the spy genre on its head in Kingsman. It is similar to Wes Craven’s Scream in that it is a spoof that belongs to the genre it is spoofing. Matthew Vaughn proves himself as one of the best young directors in Hollywood with his adaptation of the Mark Millar comic.
After re-watching Inside Out recently, I think it is a little bit overrated. I was hoping for it to be funnier and to grow on me, and to be honest I don’t think it will be mentioned 10 years from now as one of Pixar’s best. However, it is charming and emotional (pun intended), and is a truly original story with strong characters. The fact that it is also so true to life in so many different ways, helps keep it on my list of favorites from 2015.
Well there you have it. Like I said earlier there are plenty of movies that I did not see this year that I wanted to, but that’s how the cookie crumbles as it were. Thanks for reading and let me know your favorites of 2015.