Best of lists are always a subjective lot. They usually result in howls of protest or some kind of comment similar to, “____ is not on the list and therefore it is garbage” or “How in the world you have ____ on that list?” But they’re fun to make because they usually tick somebody off or create some kind of debate. The following is a list of the best movies of 2015 – that I have seen, mind you. If you see any glaring omissions such as ‘Creed’ or ‘The Martian’ it’s because I likely have not seen it yet. So before cursing me out, inquire in the comments about anything not listed and I’ll tell you. Then you can curse me out.
This list is in no particular order:
Bridge of Spies – It’s been somewhat of an off time for Steven Spielberg. I’d go so far as to say he hasn’t made a really good film since ‘Munich’ in 2005 (Lincoln was good but really not as great as everybody says). But he’s redeemed himself with Tom Hanks and ‘Bridge of Spies.’ Although it was marketed as more of a fast paced thriller, the film moves methodically, but is never boring thanks to stand out performances from all involved, particularly from Mark Rylance as Rudolph Abel. He will likely get Oscar consideration and it would be well deserved. Definitely worth seeing.
Sicario – When you’re getting ready to watch a movie about violent Mexican drug cartels, a happy go lucky experience is not expected and that was certainly the case with this film. But it is impossible not to look away but it is so compelling. The entire cast is great. Emily Blunt has received much of the attention for her strong performance but it was Benicio Del Toro that delivered a powerhouse performance. His performance is quietly subtle at first but when he becomes the focal point, he owns every scene he is in and several times will leave you speechless. Riveting stuff from him and a taut well directed thriller.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – Well, duh. Of course this is going to be on the list. I won’t get into the details. Let’s just say this movie made me fall in love with the Star Wars franchise again and getting George Lucas as far away from it as possible was a great thing. Hats off to JJ Abrams who did an amazing job.
The Gift – I loved this movie. I honestly had not even heard of it until I saw it on iTunes. Written and directed as well as one of the co-stars, Joel Edgerton in his directorial debut scores a home run. Simon and Robyn Callum (played by Jason Bateman – who just keeps getting better as an actor – and Rebecca Hall) are a married couple who relocate from Chicago to Simon’s hometown in a suburb of Los Angeles. A high school classmate Gordo (Edgerton) begins showing up the movie goes on from there. What sounds like the typical stalker turned psycho movie is anything but. That’s why it was so great. Just when you think you have figured something out that fits in with the cliche these types of films rely upon, Edgerton goes in a different direction and the result is disturbing and will make you think. If you haven’t seen this, go ahead and rent it.
Spotlight – This movie surprised me. I was expecting something along the lines of ‘All The President’s Men.’ But it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t like ‘The Paper’ either. With an ensemble cast that includes Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schrieber, Spotlight is a thriller but one that doesn’t rely on anything contrived to make it more “thrilling.” ‘All The Presidents Men’ went there with made up elements that did not exist in real life. In one scene ‘Deep Throat’ tells Bob Woodward that his and Carl Bernstein’s lives were in danger and it was never said. In Spotlight, there’s none of that. It really just tells a story about investigative journalism and what a slog it can be. However, director Tom McCarthy makes it very compelling. The movie moves along briskly despite being over two hours long.
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation – This series has maintained a level of excellence ever since horrid second installment was erased from our memories. Director Christopher McQuarrie, well known most for being the writer of ‘The Usual Suspects’ doesn’t have a long list of directing credits. After he wrote ‘The Usual Suspects’ he directed ‘The Way Of The Gun’ which was not great, but not as bad as critics said. It would be 12 years before he directed another feature film and it was 2012’s ‘Jack Reacher.’ So for him to come into the Mission Impossible series and do as well as JJ Abrams (Part III) and Brad Bird (Part IV) is an accomplishment. It is a fun, exciting film to watch.
Mad Max: Fury Road – This is just a crazy, fun, action filled spectacle that should not be missed under any circumstances. Just get the popcorn and other snacks out, hit play and enjoy the ride.
There you have it. Let me know if there is anything you would add or if you disagree with any these.