Top Ten Best Movies of 2015

With the year of 2015 officially over, it’s time to exam the “best” and “worst” movies that of that year. Indeed, there was a lot of movie releases seeing in 2015. In total, I’ve personally seeing (and reviewed) over 68 new movies in 2015, some that were very recognizable, while others were “sleepers” that flew underneath the mainstream radar. There were also a lot of movies that made big money at the box office in 2015 as well as some that gained critical praise from both critics and moviegoers.

I’ve already posted my list for Top Ten Worst Movies of 2015 and now I’m ready to share with my list for what were the best movies of the 2015 year. But before I begin with number 10, take a look at some honorable runner-ups that almost made it on my top ten best movies of 2015.


Runner-ups

(click on the picture for the review)

 

FURIOUS 7

One last ride and a bittersweet goodbye

SPY

The spy that made me laugh

THE GIFT

A solid psychological thriller

CINDERELLA

Traditional, but still magical


AND NOW….MY TOP TEN

 

10: American Sniper

Rating: 4.3 Out of 5

Review: American Sniper Review

This movie was tricky for me to place in my 2015 movies. Yes, the movie was first technically released on December 25th, 2014, but in limited theaters only. However, the movie wasn’t released nationwide until January 16th, 2015. So which one is it: 2014 or 2015? To me personally, I consider American Sniper to be a 2015 release as most moviegoers saw the movie in 2015 (including myself) as well as majority of its box-office success.

As for the movie itself, I personally liked it. This theatrical biopic, directed by legendary film director Clint Eastwood, told the story of Chris Kyle, the most lethal American sniper in U.S. history. The story was indeed palpable, portraying Kyle’s harsh life that he endured during his time of service in both the “Theater of War” and on the “Homefront”.  The psychological damage of experiencing such events was also a poignant notion to tell in the movie, glimpsing a small window (albeit a theatrical one) into the lives of some of our service men. Perhaps the best part of the movie comes from Bradley Cooper’s quality performances as the titular Chris Kyle, creating a powerful moving character from the film’s onset to its heartfelt conclusion.

9: Jurassic World

Jurassic_World_Rexy_2

Rating: 4.4 Out of 5

Review: Jurassic World Review

I might get some flack for having this movie on my “Best movies of 2015” list, but dammnit it’s my list. After the two mediocre sequels to 1993’s Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the franchise, was a rousing return to the world of dinosaurs. Yes, it was a somewhat of a retread from the first film and somethings that were illogical (Claire Dane’s character run in high heels throughout the movie), but it was great popcorn fun. It had some great dinosaur action sequences, impressive visuals, and further proved that actor Christ Pratt can handle being in a “Leading man” role. And admit it, you cannot deny that nostalgia feeling of hearing John William’s score from Jurassic Park being played in the movie and the awe-inspiring presentation of a fully functional dinosaur theme park. The park is indeed open and (thanks to director Colin Trevorrow) Jurassic World was a great summer blockbuster movie.

8: The Hateful Eight

Rating: 4.4 Out of 5

Review: The Hateful Eight Review

Eight strangers, who are completely different, are stranded inside Minnie’s Haberdashery with their own deceptive backstories to tell and director Quentin Tarantino is the best person to tell that story in the movie The Hateful Eight. The feature, which almost didn’t see the light of day, was ambitious (as are all Tarantino’s films) with his unique signature style of filmmaking that consists of an interesting story, intriguing characters, great performances from a talented cast, and solid R-rating nuances. Critics loved it, moviegoers loved it, and I certainly did. Indeed, The Hateful Eight was one of the last movies of 2015, a perfect way to close off the year with such a great western mystery of dubious duplicity.

7: Steve Jobs

Rating: 4.4 Out of 5

Review: Steve Jobs Review

The quote “Think Different” was Apple Inc.’s (known then as Apple Computer Inc.) catchy slogan from 1997 to 2002. It would seem that director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin took that slogan into account when crafting their biopic film Steve Jobs. In a nutshell, rather than presenting the movie in a traditional chronological order, the movie was uniquely designed during three time periods (each one taking place prior to a launch event to one of Job’s computers). Boyle’s direction for the film was ingenuous, Sorkin’s writing was witty and sharp, and the acting talents from actor Michael Fassbender (and his extremely talented ensemble) were great to watch on-screen.

6: The Martian

Rating: 4.5 Out of 5

Review: The Martian Review

The simplistic survival story of man vs. nature has always been a commonly used narrative in both literary and theatrical forms. Toss into the mix the vastness of space and the isolation on the red planet of Mars and you have The Martian. Based on the book of the same name by Andy Weir, The Martian was a well-received movie by moviegoers and film critics alike. Director Ridley Scott and A-list star Matt Damon (and a terrific supportive cast) help chart a course through this space odyssey, filling the feature with humorous moments, dramatic scenes, and enough scientific nuances that didn’t make you want to scratch in confusion. In a cinematic age “page to screen” features films, The Martian was a movie done right in both entertaining and respecting its source material.

5: Creed

Rating: 4.5 Out of 5

Review: Creed Review

We all thought that Rocky “the Italian Stallion” Balboa was a retired movie character, ending his presumably final chapter in the 2006 film Rocky Balboa. It was until Creed came out and pulled the iconic character (and Stallone) out of retirement to guide the wayward, headstrong Apollo Creed’s son (Adonis) in his father’s footsteps. This spin-off tale succeeded as it reengaged audiences with the famous movie franchise, while also modernized the story for new viewers to appreciate. It wasn’t a remake of the classic, but rather a continuation to the character of Rock and new story found in Adonis. Creed was well-directed (thanks to Ryan Coogler), well-acted from both Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone, and executed with great theatrical entertainment finesse. In the end, Creed hits its target with a punch of boxing-action, another jab of nostalgia, and an uppercut hit of dramatics / heart.

4: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Rating: 4.5 Out of 5

Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

It’s true…. all of it. The Dark Side. The Jedi. They’re real”. It’s virtually impossible to deny the truth that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one of the most anticipated movies of 2015. With so much inherit hype from its millions of fans worldwide, this new sequel to the long-running series was met with high expectations from moviegoers everywhere. And, despite some minor quibbles, the movie delivered on meeting those same expectations, shattering box office numbers left and right. The Force Awakens, the seventh episodic feature film in this space opera adventure saga, was a resounding (and nostalgic) way for fans of the series (and new ones) to return to this cinematic universe. Director J.J Abrams did an exceptional job with the movie, introducing new characters, old veterans, and more practical world-building (no over usage of CG effects like in the prequel saga) in its making. Can’t wait for Episode VIII.

3: Ex-Machina

Rating: 4.5 Out of 5

Review: Ex-Machina Review

Just because a movie doesn’t rack in millions at the box office, doesn’t mean it’s not an extremely well-done feature film. While many moviegoers witness the rise and fall Tony Stark’s evil A.I. robot (Ultron) in the superhero blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron, first time director Alex Garland delved deeper into the psychological event horizon of artificial intelligences in the movie Ex-Machina. Considered to be a “hidden gem” of the 2015 movies, Ex-Machina was a high-brow sci-fi film that told the story of three people: Ava, a complex and enigmatic female A.I. robot, Nathan, Ava’s ambiguous modern-day Prometheus / Frankenstein creator, and Caleb, an individual who’s caught in the middle of the two. Actors Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander did incredible work in their performances as these three characters (a crucial part of movie’s undertaking) as well as Garland, who spun quite an intriguing A.I. tale from start to finish. Smart, sophisticated, and hauntingly beautiful, Ex-Machina is truly a standout movie.

2: Inside Out

Rating: 4.5 Out of 5

Review: Inside Out Review

With the exception of 2012’s Brave, Pixar Animation Studios hadn’t created an original feature film since 2009’s Up, opting to produce their movies from established franchises cannon with sequels (and a prequel). It was a breath of fresh air for Pixar when their movie Inside Out came out, breathing new life into the studio as moviegoers everywhere followed the emotional journey of the young adolescent Riley and the five emotions that control her actions.

The animation for the movie was great and the various lands within Riley were very imaginatively creative. The voice acting was top-notch with each character being brought to life with their almost real-life counterpart. There’s also plenty of humorous scenes in the movie and that feature is not riddled with unnecessary “pop culture” frivolities that so many other recent animated kids movies do. The story was original and solid and very emotionally dramatics, hitting several poignant touching moments of tenderness that would make even the most harden viewer shed a tear. The movie just feels genuine and your inner emotions feel that too. I’ll admit that I do tear up a little at the end of the movie (honestly). Also, (with the movie being a kid’s movie in all), Inside Out lays the groundwork for parents to have open dialogue with their children on discussing / expressing their emotions as well as growing up during a child’s adolescent years. (which is I think is great).

All in all, Inside Out was a tremendous heartfelt and gorgeous movie to watch and experience. It proved that Pixar Animation Studios is still the best at developing great animated films, weaving their signature touch of drama, humor and quality storytelling into their CG rendered world.

1: Mad Max: Fury Road

Rating: 4.6 Out of 5

Review: Mad Max: Fury Road Review

So who could beat out Apollo Creed’s son, the founder of Apple, the Indominus Rex, astronaut Mark Watney, and five imaginary emotions. Two words…Mad Max.

No one really expected that this movie to exploded in the way that has done. Simply forecasted as an another “reboot” movie from Hollywood, Mad Max: Fury Road definitely proved that wrong. This fourth cinematic chapter of Max Rocktansky revitalized the franchise, dusty off its cob webs from Beyond Thunderdome, and returned with a full-throttle ferocity of action-packed goodness.

Mad Max creator, George Miller, returns to the series after 30 years and surely makes a dramatic entrance with Fury Road fully realizing Miller’s vision of a post-apocalyptic wasteland that’s filled with warlords, crazy men, various insane vehicles, and the legendary “Road Warrior”. The spirit of the past Mad Max movies was indeed captured in Fury Road, keeping the feature driven by its action and less focused on its narrative’s world building. The cinematography for the movie is breath-taking, with guttural punch of action that will satisfy any adrenaline junk as well as its usage of practical effects and stunts. Even the music (scored by Junkie XL) fits perfectly with the movie as well as the imaginative costume designs.

The choice of Tom Hardy as the successor to Mel Gibson was a brilliant move as Hardy easily steps into the “Road Warrior’s” boots, but also creates his own identity of the iconic movie character. He’s surrounded by other great actors including Charlize Theron (who was excellent as Furiosa), Nicholas Hoult, and Hugh Keays-Byrn.

Fast pace and adrenaline pumping, Mad Max: Fury Road is truly a rollercoaster ride of a movie and is one of the best examples of both an action movie and of a perfect summer blockbuster. And it is for that reason why Mad Max: Fury Road is my #1 movie of 2015. What a lovely day, indeed.

 


 

And so that’s my top ten “best” movies of 2015. There were some movies that I didn’t get to see (Brooklyn, Spotlight, Carol, The Big Short, The Danish Girl, etc..), so (naturally) I can’t critique them and pass my movie critic judgement on them. However, I do plan on seeing them in the coming months. So what do you guys think? What were your “best” movies of 2015?

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