2015 was a great year for movies all the way around; from new blockbusters, the continuation of favorite franchises, to indie films, animated standouts and beyond. While there are a bunch of new movies that have come out recently that might have made this top list for you and most likely me as well, The Revenant… cough cough! I am sticking to the movies I have personally seen myself this year. Hit the jump to check out the list and let us know your favorite movies of the year.
Before we jump into this Top 10 I want to mention some sure standouts that mostly likely would have been on this list and others in big talks, but my movie nerd self has yet to see them… These include: The Revenant, Spotlight, The Hateful Eight, Room, Joy, Carol and Brooklyn.
10. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his co-worker Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Critic: “Poignant without being melodramatic, overflowing with unforced charm, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl holds a unique appeal that’s certain to last.”
9. Inside Out
Growing up can be a bumpy road, and it’s no exception for Riley, who is uprooted from her Midwest life when her father starts a new job in San Francisco. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley’s mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. As Riley and her emotions struggle to adjust to a new life in San Francisco, turmoil ensues in Headquarters. Although Joy, Riley’s main and most important emotion, tries to keep things positive, the emotions conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house and school.
Critic: “In execution, Pixar’s 15th feature proves to be the greatest idea the toon studio has ever had: a stunningly original concept that will not only delight and entertain the company’s massive worldwide audience, but also promises to forever change the way people think about the way people think, delivering creative fireworks grounded by a wonderfully relatable family story.”
8. Love and Mercy
In the 1960s, Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson struggles with emerging psychosis as he attempts to craft his avant-garde pop masterpiece. In the 1980s, he is a broken, confused man under the 24-hour watch of shady therapist Dr. Eugene Landy.
Critic: “In essence, we get to study Brian’s break with sanity and his eventual healing, but by keeping the focus tight on these two moments, the film becomes emotionally exhilarating.”
Adonis Johnson never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born. However, boxing is in his blood, so he seeks out Rocky Balboa and asks the retired champ to be his trainer. Rocky sees much of Apollo in Adonis, and agrees to mentor him, even as he battles an opponent deadlier than any in the ring. With Rocky’s help, Adonis soon gets a title shot, but whether he has the true heart of a fighter remains to be seen.
Critic: “By the time Coogler wraps things up, his film manages the difficult trick of looking back with earned nostalgia and standing alone as a genuinely strong dramatic piece.”
6. Bridge of Spies
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union captures U.S. pilot Francis Gary Powers after shooting down his U-2 spy plane. Sentenced to 10 years in prison, Powers’ only hope is New York lawyer James Donovan, recruited by a CIA operative to negotiate his release. Donovan boards a plane to Berlin, hoping to win the young man’s freedom through a prisoner exchange. If all goes well, the Russians would get Rudolf Abel, the convicted spy who Donovan defended in court.
Critic: “Gifts of civility small and large mark Steven Spielberg’s latest film, a deeply satisfying Cold War spy thriller that feels more subdued than usual for the director-even more so than 2012’s philosophical Lincoln-but one that shapes up expertly into a John Le Carré-style nail-biter.”
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
An apocalyptic story set in the furthest reaches of our planet, in a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, and almost everyone is crazed fighting for the necessities of life. Within this world exist two rebels on the run who just might be able to restore order. There’s Max, a man of action and a man of few words, who seeks peace of mind following the loss of his wife and child in the aftermath of the chaos. And Furiosa, a woman of action and a woman who believes her path to survival may be achieved if she can make it across the desert back to her childhood homeland.
Critic: “There is nothing easy or predictable about what George Miller delivers with Mad Max: Fury Road, a stone-cold action master class, beautiful and brainy and startling in the ways it throws off the current definition of the blockbuster.”
After rising through the ranks of her male-dominated profession, idealistic FBI agent Kate Macer (Emily Blunt) receives a top assignment. Recruited by mysterious government official Matt Graver, Kate joins a task force for the escalating war against drugs. Led by the intense and shadowy Alejandro, the team travels back-and-forth across the U.S.-Mexican border, using one cartel boss to flush out a bigger one.
Critic: “The opening of Sicario unfolds at such an anxiety-inducing pitch that it seems impossible for Villeneuve to sustain it, let alone build on it, but somehow he manages to do just that. He’s a master of the kind of creeping tension that coils around the audience like a snake suffocating its prey.”
3. The Martian
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. Millions of miles away, NASA and a team of international scientists work tirelessly to bring “the Martian” home, while his crewmates concurrently plot a daring, if not impossible, rescue mission. As these stories of incredible bravery unfold, the world comes together to root for Watney’s safe return.
Critic: “It takes a genuine master craftsman to take something as complex and difficult as this and make it look easy, but it also takes an artist with a great ear to take something as dense with exposition as this is and make it practically sing.”
2. Ex Machina
Caleb, a 26 year old coder at the world’s largest internet company, wins a competition to spend a week at a private mountain retreat belonging to Nathan, the reclusive CEO of the company. But when Caleb arrives at the remote location he finds that he will have to participate in a strange and fascinating experiment in which he must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl.
Critic: “It plays like Frankenstein meets Blade Runner via Hitchcock haunted by the ghosts of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, in a film that’s both highly literate and steeped in tense cat-and-mouse chills. Thematically epic – it demands to be seen at least twice and should fuel hours of debate – structurally it’s as lithe as Ava’s perfect mesh frame.”
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren and the First Order. When a defector named Finn crash-lands on a desert planet, he meets Rey, a tough scavenger whose droid contains a top-secret map. Together, the young duo joins forces with Han Solo to make sure the Resistance receives the intelligence concerning the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi Knights.
Critic: “It must have seemed like a nearly-impossible task when JJ Abrams and his collaborators set out to bring “Star Wars” back to life, but they’ve more than done it. They’ve made something honest and beautiful and, above all, fun, and I find myself energized by the movie and by the promise it represents.”