It always takes some time to feel ready to post the best movies of the year. While I get to the Oscar nominees pretty early, there are the dozens of fantastic smaller and ignored films that take some time (and are still coming to DVD or Streaming). There are many left on “to see” list of 2015.
This year saw some real entertainment from Hollywood and fewer of the super depressing films they’ve made in recent years. So with no apologies for getting it all wrong, here’s my Top 20 for 2015.
- Room – A masterpiece. The 1st half is some of the best film making in years.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Not the greatest Star Wars or greatest movie or believable plot, but one I enjoyed so incredibly much, it goes here out of joy and gratitude.
- Inside Out – Speaking of “joy,” nearly perfect Pixar.
- Mad Max: Fury Road – If you thought it was just a film about a group that drives one way and then drives back, you didn’t get it. It may be the best big-budget woman’s movie of the year and has overlooked brilliance by Nicolas Hoult as Nux.
- The Martian – Loved the book. Loved the movie. It is pure audience pleasing entertainment. That’s true of 4 of my top 5. I kind of like that. I still go to the movies for populist escapism sometimes.
- Carol – Acting and the style more than the other pieces.
- The Revenant – Acting and the cinematography more than the other pieces.
- Anomalisa – Still not sure I understand it, but it surely kept me fascinated.
- Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – How does Tom Cruise still do it?
- Ex Machina – Needs another visit I think. So original and compelling.
- Creed – Surprised me a lot how much I liked this.
- Beasts of No Nation – So disturbing in parts, it is hard to watch, but two completely snubbed acting performances in Abraham Attah and Idris Elba.
- The Big Short – I’m betting I wouldn’t like this as much if I saw it again. Acting was tremendous.
- Chi-Raq – Sort of same commentary as The Big Short.
- The Avengers: Age of Ultron – I like superhero movies done well. Expect Deadpool to be in my top 20 next year.
- Spy – You didn’t go see this. You really should watch it. You will thank me.
- Ant-Man – Paul Rudd can do wonders.
- Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem – Troubling Israeli film that sticks with you.
- Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – And they left a ton out of more disturbing stuff from the masterful book.
- Mr. Holmes – Ian McKellan is the best.
As for the other Oscar Best Picture nominees, Brooklyn was so beautiful and well-acted, but kind of obvious. Bridge of Spies was vanilla and slow, but wow Mark Rylance. Spotlight was very well made, but didn’t have the energy and suspense of a film like All The President’s Men – a film of the identical genre.
If you just want a good movie to entertain you for the night, you’ve got animation (3), Science-Fiction (2, 4, 5), spy thriller (9), spy comedy (16), superhero (15, 17), and sports (11). Let a movie just entertain and even inspire.
If you want a quality drama to make you think, Room is stupendous, but Ex Machina is a great think piece too.
Oscar picks next weekend.