Best Films of 2015

I could go on forever about why I think Australia is the luckiest country in the world but living in this great land does come with a terrible first-world price… getting movies later than in the U.S.

I have held off my “Best of the Year” list until the end of January simply because there were so many movies that the rest of the world were raving about that hadn’t been released in Australia until now (or in the last month) such as Room, Spotlight, The Revenant and The Hateful Eight. And because I delayed making my list, I have managed to see three of these four films but I still haven’t seen Room. I’m not going to be able to see Steve Jobs, Anomalisa or Brooklyn until February, so I can’t say whether or not they would’ve made this list. Further I haven’t had the chance to see Ex Machina, Sicario, Beasts of No Nation, etc.

But of the films I have seen that were released in 2015, these were my favorites…

(And I couldn’t agree with any of the voices in my head on a ranked list so this will be an alphabetical order of my 9 runner-ups followed by my #1 pick)

Creed

I don’t think anybody could have expected the seventh Rocky film to be compared in quality to the first. In my opinion it surpasses the original. Creed defied expectations with Ryan Coogler’s brilliantly reflective script of the original Rocky. Michael B. Jordan gives a truly underrated performance to partner beautifully with that of Sly Stallone’s dramatic comeback.

Creed‘s excellent script and brilliant performances paired to create one of the best sports films of recent years.

Inside Out

Pixar realised that the best way to depict someone’s mind set going through childhood is to literally show their mind set.

Inside Out proved exactly what Pixar are capable of. And that is extremely well crafted, timeless, ageless and flawless animated films that can touch on an emotional level that the average Disney film doesn’t seem to consider.

An incredibly creative and enjoyable adventure with an extremely powerful moral and some real emotion. Literally.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

When the director of Kick-Ass is given a script that resembles a healthy combination of James Bond and Men in Black, we get Kingsman: The Secret Service, an action-packed spy film with style. The story is ridiculous, the action is way over-the-top and the thought that there is a sim-card that turns the world to fight itself is far-fetched… but Kingsman: The Secret Service knows all of this!

Matthew Vaughn got a hold of the movie rights to the graphic novel written by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar and did the right thing. He didn’t say “This needs to be a serious character study”. He didn’t say “I need to make this a drama”. And he certainly didn’t say “I need to make this realistic”. He said “This story is about over-the-top gentleman spies who butcher the countless villains put in front of them in the most creative and badass ways and that’s how I’m gonna make the film”.

I love films that know exactly what they are and Kingsman: The Secret Service knows exactly what it is; an exciting action-comedy movie about spies in England who can plow through a whole gang with an umbrella. And the scene in the church is absolutely amazing.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Speaking of films that know exactly what they are…

When 2015 kicked off and all the film buffs were already talking about the new Star Wars which wouldn’t come out until the end of the year, I don’t think anyone would’ve guessed that Mad Max: Fury Road would be ranked among the best action movies ever made.

George Miller directs Mad Max: Fury Road with the same attention to detail that he did with the originals except now he has a budget, a crew and a world of technological advances so much larger than before.

He crafts a simple-to-understand 2 hour car chase with a fine script, a heart-pounding soundtrack, a great cast, an army of rusty cars and explosions galore to meet those aforementioned automobiles. Mad Mad: Fury Road is action gold that never stops to give you a chance to breathe and constantly reminds you how lucky you are to have water.

The Martian

Matt Damon got his own personal rescue team in the midst of WW2 in Saving Private RyanThen he got the same treatment in Interstellar. And now he’s got himself another one next door on Mars.

Ridley Scott’s return to form is presented to the world of cinema in a neat little bow known as The Martian, a brilliantly written and directed sci-fi epic where Matt Damon plays the most likeable character of 2015 who is stuck in the most terrifying situation in 2015 in cinema.

Everything about The Martian just screams out wholeness with it’s well rounded and very well crafted story, Matt Damon’s brilliantly comedic and unrelenting performance as Mark Watney and Ridley Scott’s long awaited return to great directing.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was one of the two films I managed to see at the Sydney Film Festival and I swear that everyone in the cinema was crying at the end of this movie except me. I was just on the verge.

I saw the trailer reappear on Facebook after seeing the film. The first comment was “It’s just gonna be like every other teen movie”. Oh boy were they wrong.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a completely unique and brilliant coming-of-age film that contains a lot more value than the trailers indicate. With very enhanced use of the “indie film” look to accompany the great performances of Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler and Jon Bernthal. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl ranks alongside the crème de la crème of high-school movies.

Spotlight

I saw this film only yesterday and I can safely say without a shadow of a doubt that everyone in the theater was completely floored by Spotlight.

Spotlight is a drama following The Boston Globe‘s “Spotlight” team of journalists as they investigate the now-famous and appalling cases of widespread abuse of children by Catholic priests.

Tom McCarthy’s excellently subtle directing allows an all-star cast with a (stand-out performance from Mark Ruffalo) to present a story that is as constantly shocking as it constantly intriguing.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

I think I can safely say that the recent Star Wars was the most anticipated and feared movie of 2015. Many fans were expecting a masterpiece while many were expecting another Phantom Menace. Luckily we got the former.

J.J. Abrams directed Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens with as many similarities to the original Star Wars as possible and I couldn’t have been happier. He followed the same structure as well as the same quality and style.

The original Star Wars used unknowns as it’s main cast and so has The Force Awakens, bringing out great performances from Daisy Ridley and the partially known John Boyega and Oscar Isaac as well as bringing forth the absolutely evil Kylo Ren played by a magnetic Adam Driver.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens satisfied millions of viewers (including myself) by presenting an original yet classic tale of good and evil behind the massive nostalgia bomb it dropped on Star Wars fans.

The Walk

One of the more underrated films of 2015, The Walk is excellent.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent as the high-wire madman Philippe Petit. Robert Zemeckis brings out the most of a limited script with his brilliant directing. This is a very easy film to enjoy as well as being a very hard one to watch – I’m talking about the height scenes.

The Walk is a very entertaining biopic of an artist and an interesting and well executed heist film.

And now that I’ve named my 9 runner-ups, my favorite movie of 2015 is…

BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR: The Hateful Eight

For about two weeks, the very judgemental voices in my head were arguing over whether the best film of the year was Mad Max: Fury Road or The Force Awakens. And they continued to argue until the overture for The Hateful Eight began to play. Then they just became silent…

I’ve begun to see a pattern. Whenever Edgar Wright or Quentin Tarantino release a film, that film will always be my favorite for the year. And there is no exception with 2015.

I couldn’t express in words how powerful The Hateful Eight was to me in my review but placing it as my favorite of the year should express it enough. The Hateful Eight is a lot more than a film… it’s an experience as is every other Tarantino masterpiece.

With the best dialogue that modern cinema can offer, colorful characters with brilliant performances wrung out by Tarantino, one of the most haunting and epic soundtracks over known in film (thanks to Ennio Morricone), a 3 hour runtime which never feels too long and the director’s mastery of the art of suspense, The Hateful Eight is definitely my favorite movie of 2015.

Now you could berate me about why The Revenant wasn’t here or why I should’ve named Mad Max: Fury Road the best of the year OR you could contribute to the conversation by leaving your favorite movie of 2015 on the side and don’t forget to follow my Instagram page for movie posters.

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