Year in Review: The 10 best films of 2015

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Image: Warner Brothers

It has been an absolutely legendary year for film; definitely one for the record books. Now we have the tough task of giving you the best 10 films of 2015.

There were so many great films that it’s been hard to whittle it down to 10. But this year, I have another Vancity Buzz reviewer joining me to give me his personal 10. So maybe a few films will get the love they deserve.

Both of us agreed to give our individual lists and it’s been fun to see some of the overlap and where our tastes differ.

So without further ado, here are each of our top 10 lists with a brief explanation on why they made the cut. We also included a few of our guilty pleasures and some of the films we disliked. By all means give us your top 10 picks in the comments below, and remember – ART IS SUBJECTIVE.


Dan Nicholls’ picks

10. The Hateful Eight

TheHatefulEight

Image: Entertainment One

An operatic western that is at once tense, hilarious, and repulsive. The blood flows as freely as the words in Quentin Tarantino’s verbose tale of anger and backstabbing. Despite the extreme violence, it’s impossible to look away.

9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars #7

Image: Disney

The year’s most joyous and eye-popping spectacle on the big screen. An immense pleasure to watch from beginning to end, The Force Awakens earns a confident spot in the pantheon of great Star Wars movies. What prequels?

8. What We Do In The Shadows

What-We-Do-in-the-Shadows

Image: Paladin Pictures

No other movie made me laugh as hard as this New Zealand mockumentary about a group of vampire roommates. A movie that knows how to have fun with its subject matter without going over the edge to reach an easy laugh.

7. Bridge of Spies

Image: Dreamworks

Image: Dreamworks

An ode to the films of a bygone era, where heroes could be genuinely good people and morally upstanding characters were played without a hint of sarcasm. An impeccably crafted Cold War drama starring a cinematic legend directed by one of the medium’s true masters.

6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

6. Brooklyn

vcb_toptenmovies2015_dannicholls_number6

Image: Fox Searchlight

Two movies about coming of age that hit me squarely in the soft spot of my heart. Imperfect characters learning about the hard truths of life while discovering who they want to be in this world, these two films would make an ideal double feature.

5. Spotlight

Spotlight

Image: Entertainment One

This movie hits you like a gut punch from a boxing glove filled with rocks. An ensemble picture in the truest sense of the word, where ego is pushed aside and righteousness permeates the warriors fighting an uphill battle in the name of what is right.

4. The Revenant

20th Century Fox

Image: 20th Century Fox

Brutal but beautiful, uncompromising but rewarding. Alejandro G. Iñárritu follows the best film of 2014 with an astonishing display of filmmaking craft at its peak potential. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy give it everything they’ve got and leave every last drop of their collective blood, sweat, and tears up on the screen.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road

Image: Warner Brothers

Image: Warner Brothers

What more can be said about George Miller’s astounding achievement? The year’s best surprise and the best summer movie that isn’t even what you might call a “summer movie.” Everything in front of and behind the camera all works together to serve the most exciting singular vision of the year.

2. Sicario

Image: Lionsgate

Image: Entertainment One

This film shakes the morality tree and watches the branches all begin to break and fall. The most gorgeously photographed film of the year featuring some of the best acting of 2015, Sicario will leave you with hard questions without any easy answers that linger in your brain for days, weeks, and months after you see it.

1. Steve Jobs

Image: Universal Pictures

Image: Universal Pictures

No other film this year captivated me in the same way that Steve Jobs did. The film is a majestic dance between performers working at the top of their games, guided by Danny Boyle’s unobtrusive direction. The dialogue is sharp and incendiary but never overindulgent. More than any of the other memorable films on this list, Steve Jobs is the one that sunk its claws into me the deepest.


Honorable Mentions: The Martian, Carol, Inside Out, Ex Machina, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Straight Outta Compton, and Room

Guilty Pleasures: McFarland USA, Unfriended, and Cop Car

Worst films of 2015: Jupiter Ascending, Chappie, Terminator: Genisys


Trevor Dueck’s picks

10. Carol

carol-image-rooney-mara-cate-blanchett

Image: Entertainment One

Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara are absolutely superb in this film. It’s a true love story that will see its own share of love as we enter the award season. I didn’t know what to expect with this one but I was pleasantly surprised. Besides the phenomenal acting, I really appreciated the beautiful cinematography. It jumped into my top 10 at the last minute.

9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Image: Disney

Image: Disney

I find that some people have either loved or hated this film. Put me in the love category. Maybe it plays to my fanboy ways, but I loved how J.J. Abrams brought us back to a galaxy far, far away that didn’t include Jar Jar Binks. Episode 7 was very fun and reminded us why we love going to the movies. It has a billion reasons to make my top 10. Now let the hate flow through you.

8. Steve Jobs

Image: Universal Pictures

Image: Universal Pictures

You don’t have to be an Apple nerd to enjoy this movie. Finally we get a thoughtful and entertaining biopic on the late Steve Jobs. Michael Fassbender is marvelous as Jobs but the supporting cast in Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels is also top shelf. The way the film was shot by having all the drama take place back stage before a big Apple launch was a creative way of telling the story of the former CEO. I also really dug the soundtrack.

7. Sicario

Image: Lionsgate

Image: Entertainment One

As good as Emily Blunt is, Benicio Del Toro is an absolute tour de force. This is such a provocative story that’s so full of intensity that it kept me engaged from the very beginning. By the end of the movie I wasn’t sure whose side I was on. You’ll definitely ponder the morality of it all. This was just a fantastic film directed by a Canadian in Denis Villeneuve.

6. The Hateful Eight

Image: Entertainment One

This is another one of those films this year that got mixed reviews. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Quentin Tarantino but his dialogue has now entered into the realm of cinematic poetry. The film reminds me of some of his early work like Reservoir Dogs. Although there isn’t a lot of action, it presents itself like a stage play on screen. However, when the violence did come, it came with a vengeance. The Hateful Eight has such a spectacular cast led by a very strong performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh.

5. The Revenant

Image: 20th Century Fox

Image: 20th Century Fox

The word haunting comes to mind. This needs to be seen on the big screen. For those of us who live in British Columbia and Alberta, you will immediately recognize the wilderness. Leo DiCaprio gives another fantastic performance that will be hard to ignore come Oscar time, and Tom Hardy deserves the same accolades. The film was shot using all natural light, and Alejandro González Iñárritu did a masterful job of directing this period piece on the wild frontier.

4. Ex Machina

Image: A24

Image: A24

Director Alex Garland is quickly becoming one of the premier writer and directors in the science fiction genre. Ex Machina came out in the early part of 2015 to great reviews but many thought it would fizzle out as the year went along. However, the film showed up on Netflix and quickly became one of the most talked about movies of the year. The performances of Oscar Issac and Alicia Vikander were amazing, and I swear Domhnall Gleeson has been in every great film of 2015.

3. Spotlight

Image: Open Road Films

Image: Entertainment One

This is an absolute power house of a film. You’ll be saddened by the truth of what the Boston Globe investigative journalists uncover. It’s a true story that you wish wasn’t. It’s an all-star cast where every actor has a part to play that helps elevate this film to one of the year’s best. There is a reason why Spotlight will be nominated in many different categories, and you’ll surely see it on most top 10 lists.

2. The Martian

Image: 20th Century Fox

Image: 20th Century Fox

Another movie where Matt Damon needs to be saved… again. This time he’s a scientist and is trapped on Mars. He has to survive while NASA tries to decide the best way to rescue him. This was one of the best films of the year and has become another Ridley Scott masterpiece; something we haven’t seen from him in a while. This film had me from the opening scene and onwards to the stars.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

Image: Warner Brothers

Image: Warner Brothers

Easily one of the most enjoyable films of 2015. Director George Miller blew me away with his visuals and storytelling. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron were stellar, and if you ask most people, Mad Max was one hell of a ride. No matter what film I saw this year, they weren’t nearly as shiny and chrome as Fury Road.


Honorable mentions: Creed, Brooklyn, Bridge of Spies, The Walk (IMAX), Room, Straight Outta Compton, Love and Mercy and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Guilty Pleasures: The Visit, Turbo Kid

Worst Films of 2015: Furious 7, Terminator: Genisys, Fantastic Four


 

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About the authors

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Trevor Dueck Lover of film. I rate them with cute little raindrops. I'm also always on the lookout for interesting stories and experiences. Lover of talk radio and podcasting and occasionally host them. I do like writing about many other devious things. Favourite films of 2015 so far are "Ex Machina" and "Mad Max: Fury Road."
@TrevDueck
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Dan Nicholls Born out of the prairies and driven to a love of film at a very early age, Dan has been writing about movies online and in print for over half a decade. He currently resides in the west end of Vancouver and doesn't get outside nearly as much as he should.
@dannicholls

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