Better Than All The Rest (The Best Movies of 2015)

I hope you’ve figured out the inside joke.

With 2015 at an end, there’s no better time to take a look back at the films this year and pick 10 of the best (as many others have done). If you are curious, I already did so once before near the middle of the year. You can see for yourselves how many films from that list remain on this one. Just to make it fun/challenging for me, I have provided roughly 100-word reviews of each (of course links to full reviews will be provided). For those wondering why The Revenant and The Hateful Eight are not on this list, I will not be able to see them until 2016.

1. Spotlight (review)

A team of journalists from the Boston Globe are tasked to investigate allegations of sexual assault against the Catholic church. This film is as much about the investigation as it is a character film. The characters are well-developed and interesting and the story is strong and engaging despite the dark subject matter thanks to the script. The plot flowed nicely and was driven by the great script and all of the performances. A lot of the actors had a chance to shine, most notably Mark Ruffalo (Michael Rezendes) and Michael Keaton (Walter “Robby” Robinson). The film captured the essence of Boston admirably.

2. Steve Jobs (review)

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) and company get ready to unveil the first Macintosh in 1984 and then the iMac ten years later. This is much better than the Ashton Kutcher led “Jobs”. Fassbender doesn’t look like Jobs at first but with the progression of time and personal experience, he becomes the person we know today. Being that this is an Aaron Sorkin scripted film, there is a lot of quick dialogue but all of the actors are up to the task here. Fassbender is excellent here but everyone else are good as well and acting nominations are inevitable. The film was also beautifully shot with its evolving style.

3. The Martian (review)

After astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left behind on Mars, he must use his smarts to survive while a plan is devised to bring him home. The film is available to combine multiple genres successfully while never taking itself too seriously. Despite this, it is essentially a survival story which is compelling to watch thanks to Damon’s performance. The Earth scenes are also compelling thanks to smart dialogue and excellent supporting performances. The space and Mars visuals were also well done and the film’s running gag was pretty funny. The story just flows nicely that you forget the 2+ hours flying by.

4. Ex Machina (review)

Coder Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) is unknowingly selected for an unorthodox experiment. This experiment is to administer a Turing Test on his boss Nathan’s (Oscar Isaac) new AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander). This is a very beautiful film which is very subtle with it’s sci-fi elements so it is never overly flashy. The plot is driven by dialogue between its three complex main characters. The film definitely puts you through a roller-coaster of emotions. It really spoke to what it really means to be human and the ethics involved with life. The special effects involved with Ava were excellent.

5. Room (review)

Held captive for years, Joy Newsome (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) finally escape allowing him to experience the outside world for the first time. The film is told mostly from Jack’s perspective so this innocence help us deal with the film’s rather dark subject matter.  The story follows Jack’s evolution his view of the world changing from what he’s known all of his life within what he called “room” and what he is now experiencing for the first time. The cinematography helped bring this perspective to life and the film brought you through a range of emotions like no other film has done.

6. Inside Out (review)

Riley is a young girl who has been guided all her life by her emotions, joy, sadness, anger, fear, and disgust. Her world changes when her parents decide to move cross-country which causes stress causing Joy and Sadness to be swept away leaving her other emotions to deal with it. The world the filmmakers have created is expansive as it is complex and beautiful. This and the way it manages to play with your emotions is amazing. Her emotions are manifested as original characters who are well-written and well-voiced. Their interactions are also very entertaining to watch. I would have liked more.

7. Turbo Kid (review)

In the future, a young man called “The Kid” (Munro Chambers) is a scavenger obsessed with a superhero known as “Turbo Rider”. When a girl named Apple (Laurence Leboeuf) is taken he must face to forces of evil in order to save the girl of his dreams. This film has a very distinctive style, similar to 80’s sci-fi/action films. The film’s story doesn’t make much sense but is very self-aware of this and also takes advantage of that fact. The film is also very violent but it does it in a tasteful way. It’s just a fun, mindless B-movie and also Canadian which I appreciate.

8. The Gift (review)

When married couple Simon and Robyn (Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall) run into Simon’s former schoolmate Gordo (Joel Edgerton), things begin to turn for the worst. A film which could have been cheesy and predictable ended up not. The story was done in a more original way full of unpredictable plot twists. The plot was driven by well-written, complex characters. Suspense was present throughout and was heightened by the script, camera work, and the soundtrack. The film was scary without being bloody or overly violent. The film stayed interesting with great performances by everyone but most importantly Edgerton. The story keeps you hooked until the end.

9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (review)

Thirty years after the defeat of the Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the First Order. When a young duo comes across a droid containing the location of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), they join forces with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) to get this intelligence to the resistance. This film is more like the first three films than the last three. This film brings back what made those great like a story and characters with action and effects being secondary. The effects which appear are more subtle. The older characters from previous films return but take a backseat to newer ones. It built anticipation for what is to come.

10. The Big Short (review)

Four outsiders foresaw the collapse of the global economy and had an idea, “The Big Short”. The film contains a lot of complicated subject matter and it knew that while approaching it in an interesting way. It brought up things I didn’t know and explained some of them. The film follows a series of interwoven stories involving these outsiders which were compelling and entertaining. It was great at exploring big banks and financial firms and capturing the effect the crisis had on regular people. The film was also led by a smart script and great performances especially from Steve Carell.

So that’s 2015 and I’m already looking forward to what 2016 has to offer. If you are interested, I made a calendar with the 2016 movie releases which I’m looking forward to. Don’t fret because I will update it when something new and interesting comes along.

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