As a person who gets to attend press screenings for almost every major and minor release out there I get to see way too many movies. You’re thinking that sounds awesome, but it can be a horrible burden. Do you know how many bad movies come out in a year? Do you know how bad mediocre movies get when you have to watch so many of them? It’s not always fun.
Thankfully for you I’ve made this list. It’s much like Megan, Nick and Alec‘s lists, all of which have many great films on them, but mine is more right because my opinion is the most rightest of them all. While 2015 may not go down in history as the best year film ever had there was definitely greatness.
I’m not going to talk about the Academy’s snubbing here because it’s been done to death. Just know that this is probably the best film of the year. While I’d give my vote for an award to Boyhood simply because of the achievement there for sheer emotional power, direction and acting it is definitely Selma. As I said in my review, it isn’t just that the movie is fantastic it’s that it came out at just the right time. It’s message is so spot on and so powerful during year where racial issues have come to the forefront that it’s hard to imagine another movie coming out with better timing. If you see one film from last year it should be Selma.
Read our Selma review here.
Guardians of the Galaxy
I was shocked and appalled that both Nick and Alec left Guardians of the Galaxy off their best of list. James Gunn made a science-fiction masterpiece that not only grabbed an audience, propelled an actor to stardom and re-invigorated Marvel’s look on film, but also was just too much damn fun to walk away from. It also proved that Marvel’s got some serious balls. Taking an completely untested, back burner comic book and blowing it up onto the big screen is a massive risk and it worked. Not just because it had Marvel before it, but because it was damn good. For big movie spectacle you couldn’t do any better than Guardians this year and big movie spectacle isn’t actually that easy to pull off. This was a great film in a year where many blockbusters failed to meet their potential at all. Transformers, I’m looking at you.
Read our Guardians of the Galaxy review here.
What’s left to be said of Boyhood? Should we ramble on about how it’s stunningly and perfect captures growing up over the past two decades? Maybe we should just sit in awe of Richard Linklater’s audacity to actually film and put this movie together. I’m not sure there’s an American male on earth who wouldn’t be pulled into this film. If you still think Boyhood‘s main concept is just a gimmick you need to sit down and watch this film. It is magic on (digital) celluloid.
Read our Boyhood review here.
I’ve already gushed about why The Babadook is one of the more important films this year in terms of the film industry, but here’s why it deserves to be on every top list there is: it’s the best horror film to land this year. Actually scary, edge of your seat, care about the characters horror. That’s not just rare in a given year, it’s rare in the genre itself. It must also be said that Essie Davis’ portrayal of a mother cracking under stress would be instantly nominated if this had been in any other genre. It is a flawless performance only ignored because the film it took place in wasn’t the right “caliber” of movie to be considered for awards. It is beyond annoying that horror still sits in the corner when so many masterpieces exist in the genre.
Read our The Babadook review here.
Whiplash would be on this list even if the film was just two hours of J.K. Simmons staring at the camera, yelling and throwing things. A masterful performance of scary, yet motivating rage is going to net him an Oscar easily. It isn’t just that, however. As Nick pointed out the film is a musical triumph, but what really stand out is just how well it delves into its themes of motivation, influence, inspiration and passion. The film is often said to be very dark, but it’s underlying themes deal with what makes us great. I had not expectations for the movie going it and walked out realizing I had seen one of the best films of the year.
Read our Whiplash review here.
I am still upset that his is not a Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law movie, but putting my disappointment aside it is very clear that Birdman is a great film despite that. Let’s move past the stellar performances and the single shot direction. I’m just going to say one thing: the score. Jazz drumming had quite a year with Whiplash and this score. Antonio Sanchez’s score is all drums, and it is possibly one of the most original and perfectly done scores in years. The Academy disqualified it from contention because they’re idiots, but you can literally close your eyes and enjoy this film for that drum score alone.
Read our review of Birdman here.
You will either love Inherent Vice, hate Inherent Vice or turn Inherent Vice off halfway through. If you’re me then you loved it. I’m a sucker for film noirs and Paul Thomas Anderson getting his hands on the genre and then turning it on his head is basically the best thing that has happened since The Big Lebowski. The film itself is a convoluted, over-plotted, hilarious cluster-fuck, but that just makes it all the more brilliant. Of all the movies released this year I will probably rewatch this one more than any other. It is so dense and there is so much to pick up that you just have to.
The Raid 2
Dat final fight scene. If there is a better action director out there than Gareth Evans then the world is near an end because it literally can’t get more exciting without everything blowing up. The Raid 2 proves that Edwards can handle anything. Taking the kung fu action of the original and extending it out into an action packed drama that concludes in the greatest fight I’ve ever seen. This isn’t just a must see for fight movie fans it’s a must see for everyone ever. In the future we’ll look back and ask ourselves why no one could top this film.
Read our The Raid 2 review here.
Edge of Tomorrow
If Edge of Tomorrow is a surprise to you on this list it really shouldn’t be. Despite not being the biggest summer blockbuster it is easily the most creative and has basically appeared on everyone’s top lists under the “Why the hell didn’t you see this?” category. Seriously, why the hell didn’t you see this? If it’s because you’re tired of Tom Cruise it shouldn’t be. This is Cruise back on his A game. If it’s because it keeps changing its name? OK, valid argument, but I’m telling you no matter what it’s called it is still some of the best sci-fi you’ll see in a while. A rose by any other name, right?
Read our Edge of Tomorrow review here.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
I actually try to dislike Wes Anderson films. The hipster aesthetics and adherence to his unique visual style just screams to be hated. I can’t though and Grand Budapest may be his best film yet. Hearkening back to The Royal Tenenbaums, Grand Budapest is both visually compelling and emotionally stunning. It’s definitely Anderson’s most adult film. While I could talk endlessly about his framing and direction (he’s one of the few auteurs in mainstream cinema) what really stands out about the film is its darker undertones. There’s an actual punch to this one and he handles it… well, exactly like you’d expect Wes Anderson too.
The LEGO Movie
I’m not even sure if The LEGO Movie was my favorite animated film of the year (both How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6 were on par), but the complete and total ignoring of it by the academy has my indignation at an all time high. Much like most of the population who hadn’t played any of the LEGO videogames, and thus didn’t know the writing was sharp and clever, the Academy clearly assumed that because it was a branded film it sucked. If they weren’t so busy being racists this would be the clear and final nail that everyone was yelling about. I loved this movie, but my righteous indignation is the reason it makes this list over the two others mentioned.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
How the hell are we not talking about this movie more during awards season? When it came out it was all the buzz, but that was near the beginning of the year and Hollywood has such a short memory. What they should be remembering is that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes wasn’t just a technically fantastic movie it was a emotionally powerful one too. Hitting on complex subjects such as inequality, racism, power and fear the movie does what all great sci-fi does and made us look inward. Unlike the first film of this rebooted timeline, which was all that bad, Dawn is an emotional and directorial masterpiece. It turns talking monkeys into social metaphors, and Andy Serkis once again shows us that CGI performance can often be more powerful than anything else we see on screen.
22 Jump Street
With a year pretty devoid of truly legendary comedies I find it hard to believe everyone forgot about 22 Jump Street. Maybe if The Interview hadn’t become an international political issue we’d still be talking about it. Not only was 22 Jump Street hilarious it was a needless sequel that actually worked. Bringing back Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, who have some of the most surprising comedic chemistry together ever, the movie was basically the funniest thing all year. I challenge you to find a moment you laughed harder then when Tatum finds out Hill slept with Ice T’s daughter. The movie basically took what made the original so great and turned it up to 22.
Read our review for 22 Jump Street here.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
When talking about Guardians of the Galaxy above I may have mentioned that Marvel’s style was getting stale so it’s a testament that even stale Marvel is in my top 15 for the year. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was everything that is so great and so generic about Marvel all at once. A massive film with repercussions that shook the MCU (unlike Iron Man’s latest outing) it was action packed, and full of charm. While it lacked a truly special feeling like the action films on this list I still can’t deny it was easily some of the most fun I had in the theater all year. Sure it felt kind of the same, but when it comes to Marvel then they can keep on copy pasting all they want.
Read our Captain America: The Winter Solider review here.
Oh look, one of my favorite films is one I Kickstarted. So what? It’s my damn list. Fine, Veronica Mars wasn’t the best film of the year, but it was definitely one of my favorites. Almost perfectly bringing back the same feel and tone of the TV is actually quite a feat for a movie and this one nailed it. Not to mention it BROUGHT BACK VERONICA MARS! If anything this should be on more top lists simply because of the revolutionary way it came about. I understand why it was forgotten by plenty when discussing the year in film, but its release was actually pretty damn important.
Read our review of Veronica Mars here.