Here it is, my end-of-year list for 2015. Amongst big sci-fi movies, small indie dramas and hilarious summer comedies, there has been a lot of good stuff, so let’s look at the top 10 best movies of 2015.
(Disclaimer: This is a list based on my personal opinion. The ranking is not entirely in accordance with the rating I have given, and please don’t be angry if you disagree, but do make your own list too!)
Mad Max: Fury Road, Room, Bridge Of Spies, Amy, The Martian, Spy, Beasts Of No Nation
Spotlight isn’t a big blockbuster full of fast-paced drama and thrills. It’s an intelligent, patient and extremely intriguing story with one of the best screenplays ever written, and a whole host of excellent performances.
Following the story of a group of journalists from the Boston Globe who uncover a scandal surrounding Catholic priests molesting young children, Spotlight is a truly fascinating film from start to finish. It not only tells the story so well from a historical perspective, but gets under your skin by slowly increasing a real sense of dread and despair as more and more is discovered about this scandal.
With top-quality performances from the likes of Michael Keaton to boot, Spotlight is a hugely impressive film, and one that shows that great storytelling is still present in Hollywood.
9. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
This franchise just keeps getting better and better! In 2011, Ghost Protocol impressed so many people with its high-octane thrills, but in 2015, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation went one better and gave us an exhilarating action story coupled with fantastic intelligence and brilliant acting.
It’s a film that proves that Tom Cruise is still the best when it comes to action heroes, but the film also gave us the breakthrough performance of the brilliant Rebecca Ferguson. She was stunning in Rogue Nation, and played a spy with mysterious allegiances so well, and I’m delighted that she’s going to be around for the sequel in 2017.
What’s more is that Rogue Nation has the best car chase I’ve ever seen, as well as some other astonishing action set-pieces, but what really hits home how good the film is is that its story is so well-written, unpredictable and clever, and proves that blockbusters don’t have to be dumb, and can still be a hell of a lot of fun.
8. The Walk
The Walk hasn’t been a popular presence on many top ten lists for 2015, but I beg to differ. The story of Philippe Petit, the man who walked across a tightrope between the Twin Towers, was one of my favourite movies of the year.
A relatively simple and easy-going film it may be, but the light-hearted and positive atmosphere really made me smile. I can’t say I saw another film that had me grinning as much as The Walk did this year, and that’s something truly special that can’t go unnoticed.
Beyond that, it’s thrilling story of determination and dreams, and is consistently enjoyable from start to finish. What really stands out, however, is the astonishing finale, where we see Petit crossing the rope. With vertigo-inducing top shots like the one you see above (especially in IMAX), it’s a spectacular sequence, both with nail-biting tension and serene moments of reflection that made me fall completely in love with The Walk.
7. The Lobster
Ah, here’s a film you might not have seen this year. The Lobster, an independent British/Irish collaboration about a dystopian world where single people must find a partner within a set time, or be outcast into the woods and turned into an animal (of their choosing).
Seriously, I’ve never seen a weirder film than The Lobster, but it was so amazingly bizarre and uniquely strange that I couldn’t help loving every second of it. A dark comedy that’s at times intense, and at times side-splittingly funny, maybe it’s an acquired taste, and may prove too weird and almost incomprehensible for some.
However, I thought it was brilliant. From the disturbing deadpan delivery of all the dialogue to the eerie direction by Yorgos Lanthimos, watching The Lobster was an absolute treat that I won’t forget in a long time.
6. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I’m delighted to say that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is amongst my top ten films of 2015. The most anticipated film of all time was not a disappointment for me, and brought a classic saga roaring back to supremacy.
The Force Awakens was arguably the most entertaining movie of the year, with non-stop action, witty and fast-paced dialogue, the likes of which we’ve never seen in a Star Wars film, but also a clever story with strong emotional drama surrounding the fascinating new characters, and the returning original trilogy stars.
Also, the performances in the film were incredible. Daisy Ridley and John Boyega gave performances way above the quality of anything we’ve seen in the Star Wars saga, and they really proved that, beyond being a wonderfully enjoyable blockbuster, this is simply a properly good film, and it’s fantastic to know that the saga is back on track.
5. The Revenant
My pick for the most impressive work of art of the year goes to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant, a thrilling story of revenge, and an even more thrilling visual spectacle.
Following the intense tale of a man left for dead in the wilderness following a bear attack, the film is simply relentless. Leonardo DiCaprio gives an astonishingly physical performance in the lead role, showing more emotion through his wheezes and grunts than many others have done in entire films this year, and that alone was incredible to watch.
But along with the intense story and the mind-blowing central performance, Iñárritu’s direction, coupled with Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography, was absolutely beautiful. Using only natural lighting, the film had a really gritty, but hugely realistic feeling. It’s a magnificent film, and although it’s without doubt a tough watch, I came out the other side hugely impressed.
4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
This is the point in the list where I’d like to restate that it’s based on my personal favourites of 2015, not just what was generally considered the best, and that’s why The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is at fourth place.
I recognise that the film was a bit slow-moving, and criticised for being based on only half a book, however I can’t say that I’ve had a more engrossing cinematic experience over the last twelve months, and that’s what made it such a spectacular finale to a thrilling series in my opinion.
I have loved every Hunger Games movie so far, but the high stakes of Mockingjay – Part 2 made a particularly special watch. Telling every single detail of this enthralling political thriller so well, I was at times mesmerised by the movie, and it provided a hugely satisfying conclusion to the series, as well as gave me a thoroughly entertaining and intriguing film to watch.
3. Inside Out
Inside Out was the success story of the year. Pixar, struggling over the last few years with mediocre sequels, returned to the big time with their best film in six years.
A brilliantly original concept centring around the emotions inside a little girl’s head, Inside Out was not only intensely emotional (I was in floods of tears on more than one occasion), but it had such incredible intelligence and heart that made it an enthralling watch, taking on a very complex and abstract concept, and succeeding with a film that’s both hugely impressive from a cinematic standpoint, and still a perfectly wonderful family film that will move you in ways that you’ve not seen from Pixar in a long time.
2. Kingsman: The Secret Service
All the way back in February 2015, a random spy parody called Kingsman: The Secret Service was released. Now, though, it’s credited as one of the best Bond spoofs of all time, whilst also being praised for being a simply brilliant film in and of itself.
With a heap of brilliant performances from the likes of Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and newcomer Taron Egerton, all of whom managed to pull of intense action as well as hilarious comedy, Kingsman was such a fun film to watch, thrilling me every moment of the way from start to finish.
Matthew Vaughn, meanwhile, gave one of his most impressive directorial showings by giving Kingsman a fast-paced energy to it that not only made it even more exciting, but a hugely likeable film to watch. It all comes to a head in one astonishing sequence in a church (which I won’t spoil), but if you’ve seen the film, you know what I’m talking about. Seriously, Kingsman was a delight: funny, exciting and original (in a parody-ish way), and that’s what puts it in second place for my list of the best movies of 2015.
1. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
So here it is, my pick for the best film of 2015: Me And Earl And The Dying Girl.
Often overlooked by critics at the time of its release, the film is a beautifully emotional tale with wonderful heart and soul, telling the story of three teenagers’ friendship growing despite the opposition of one’s life-threatening disease.
However, as they remind you in the film itself, it’s not a normal Fault In Our Stars story. It’s not a romance, and it’s not preachy, it’s simply a film that shows you how wonderful people can be. With some of the most likeable characters ever put on screen, coupled with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s amazing directing, Me And Earl And The Dying Girl is such an amazing film that you really have to experience.
In general, it’s a comedy, but there are moments when its emotional power is really overwhelming, but believe me: it’s a film like no other in 2015, and that’s why it’s the best.