In my opinion, 2015 wasn’t a strong year in film. Much of my favorite films list was influenced by the awesome experiences I had watching films in theaters with a great crowd of fans. Nevertheless, here are my top ten favorite films of 2015.
10. Sisters – This opened the same day as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so going into it all I thought about was watching TFA afterwards. Those thoughts were hampered a bit as Sisters was able to hold its own as a refreshingly fun comedy. It earns its place on my top ten films list mainly because it does not patronize its female leads, played by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It presents them as fun, a bit over the top but ultimately relatable. The plot is thin, but unnecessary anyway as the enjoyment of the movie comes from Fey and Poehler’s interactions.
9. Kingsman: The Secret Service – I almost forgot this was released in 2015, as it came out in January. Colin Firth and newcomer Taron Egerton star in this wonderful satire of British spy movies. Samuel L. Jackson steals the show as an over-the-top villain. Firth does many of his own stunts, which include impressive work in a massacre at a church that became an instant classic scene thanks to Internet praise. This underrated gem deserves more recognition from film fans.
9. Creed – The Rocky film series spinoff stars awesome actor Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Creed, son of boxer Apollo Creed, once opponent of Rocky Balboa, reprised by Sylvester Stallone. Balboa must train Adonis, who aspires to be a fighter on his own terms and escape the inevitable legacy set by his father. Creed echoes the best parts of previous Rocky movies, and will leave viewers on the edge of their seat rooting for Apollo’s victory. Stallone’s role recently won him the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe. I am hopeful the Creed series will continue with another film.
8. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – A small independent film I discovered while browsing Redbox, this film tells the story of a high school senior who can’t find his place in life, his best friend, Earl, with whom he films their own versions of classic films, and a girl from his class he is forced to hang out with after she is diagnosed with cancer. I was astonished at how real and moving the performances and script were. The scenes where the film parodies are featured will make any true movie geek smile. An under the radar gem that is definitely worth checking out.
6. Raiders! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made – This documentary, which premiered at the 2015 SXSW film festival (where I got to meet the cast and crew), is the true story of a group of kids who, in the 1980’s, set out to film their own adaptation of Raiders of the Lost Ark shot-for-shot. The film is lovingly nostalgic and will remind film fans of their childhood.
5. The Walk – An amazing movie that is best experienced in IAX, it is the true story of Phillipe Petit, played by Joseph Gordon Levitt, who in 1974 wire-walked illegally between the World Trade Center towers. The movie follows the documentary about the event Man On Wire very closely, and perfectly complements it. Director Robert Zemeckis uses 3D to his advantage, and the scene of the primary wire walk is astonishing to behold on an IMAX screen.
4. The Hateful Eight – Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film, a western set a few years after the Civil War, has all the great elements expected of s great Tarantino film: amazing dialogue, character actors, superb cinematography, a Golden Globe winning score and tons of cursing and violence. All of it is breathtaking, especially in the roadshow edition, which includes an overture and intermission and was released on 70mm film in select theaters. Seeing it in the roadshow edition was a unique film experience in today’s digital age, and is a format more directors should return to embracing.
3. What We Do In The Shadows – This New Zealand mockumentary about the daily-or should I say, nightly- lives of a group of vampires is one of the most quotable and hilarious movies I have ever seen. It may be funnier if you are a fan of classic horror films already, but is definitely not a requirement. Everyone can find something to love about its quirky cast of undead vampire roommates, and will be able to rewatch it again and again and find new bits of humor every time.
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – If was a true joy going to see this on opening night with s group of avid fans who, like me, have been patiently waiting for director J. J. Abrams’ entry into the Star Wars canon. As he did with the 2008 Star Trek reboot, he reinvigorates the Wars film series and Lawrence Kasdan’s script treats its characters with love and a sense of honesty and true to heart realism not seen in many films nowadays. The returning cast and new actors both equally shine and help make this film deserving of being the top grossing film of all time.
1. Love and Mercy -This biopic of Beach Boy musician Brian Wilson will forever hold a special place in my heart. Aside from being an amazing, unconventional biopic with an awesome soundtrack consisting of wonderful Beach Boys tunes, I got to first see or at SXSW with Wilson himself, star John Cusack and director Bill Pohlad in attendance, which made the movie more special to me. Wilson’s story is depressing and inspiring, and will make both music fans and those who have never heard of him appreciate the struggles he has had to overcome in his life.