2015 was a phenomenal year for motion picture! Box office records were broken as Jurassic World became the fourth highest-grossing film in the country and the world. Star Wars: The Force Awakens became the highest-grossing film in the country, and the third, overall, in the world (both movies have grossed over a billion dollars). But more importantly, this year exhibited films of prominence. I saw pictures in 2015 that not only earned a spot on my annual Top Ten List but a place on my list of favorite films of all-time. Every emotion was tapped, from excitement to horror, to extreme joy, to utter sorrow. It was a year that reminded us why film is so important. Here are my Top Ten Films of 2015:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road: Mad Max: Fury Road is not only the best movie of the Mad Max series, not only is it the best film I’ve seen this year, but it is also one of the greatest action movies I’ve seen—ever. This is one of those films that I couldn’t wait to write about, but deep down I know, no matter what I write, it will never fully explain how truly powerful this movie is. Fury Road is unlike anything I’ve ever seen on my journey through cinema. It was something I’ve never experienced before and doubt I will ever experience again. The two hours that I sat in that theater, on edge of my seat while my hands latched to the armrests, I was filled with joy and excitement that I haven’t felt in a long time. I was transformed into a kid; experiencing an action movie for the first time and even now, months later, that rush of excitement is still alive in me.
2. The Revenant: Let me answer your question, the question I've been asked more than any other this year. "Will Leo get his Oscar?" If he doesn't, chances are he never will. This beautiful movie, follows a spiritual journey, lead by spectacular performances (Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Will Poulter), and masterful cinematography. It is as beautiful a movie, more than one can ever imagine. Possibly one of the most breathtaking pictures ever made. This movie is what filmmaking is all about.
3. Room: The Academy Award snub of the year was leaving nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay’s name off of the Best Actor in a Lead (or Supporting) Role category. This emotional, gut-wrenching film is driven by top-notch performances from Brie Larson (who will most likely walk away with an Oscar in February) and Tremblay. There is one scene, which may be one of the most intense scenes I’ve ever witnessed, where I felt my heart beating out of my chest. This picture puts viewers through hell and back, but still reminds everyone that love conquers all.
4. Sicario: Sicario is easily one of the smartest pictures of the year. I sat there in awe as the end credits began to roll; I was amazed at what I just witnessed—it moved me. It challenged me emotionally and intellectually. It forces audiences to look in the mirror, to show us something we might not be very proud of. It’s a smart film that looks stunning but has an extremely emotional tone, with hints of dread and hopelessness.
5. Inside Out: Inside Out is an incredibly beautiful picture, both visually and thematically. It explores emotions in such a way that even adults will be touched. The extremely complex film is one of the best of 2015 and one of greatest animated movies ever made. It brought me joy, sadness, anger, and fear, making it the emotional roller-coaster of a lifetime.
6. Spotlight: At a time when newspapers are closing, and print readerships are down, Spotlight couldn’t have arrived at a more pivotal time. The film, from director Thomas McCarthy, is truly a love-letter to the art of journalism. It will inform and stun viewers, and though the compelling picture will have the audience chatting as the leave the theater, the end credits will leave everyone stunned, angered, and saddened in silence.
7. The Martian: The Martian is a dazzling science-fiction film that packs an emotional punch. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed again. Like how The Social Network made computer programming feel like an exciting heist, Ridley Scott’s latest film does the same for plant science and engineering. Then when the movie reaches its climax, it shows the entire world worrying about one man’s life. At a time when things seem so divided, this message couldn’t be clearer.
8. The Hateful Eight: The latest picture from master storyteller Quentin Tarantino, is more than just an excellent film—it’s a sensational experience. The three-hour-plus epic, filmed in “glorious 70mm,” feels like a stage play, as we watch these extraordinary characters interact. The overture and intermission only heighten this marvelous experience, which is all complimented by an Oscar-deserving score from legend Ennio Morricone.
9. Cartel Land: This harrowing documentary is not for the faint-hearted, and though at times it isn’t easy to watch—it’s spellbinding. The movie focuses on vigilante groups in the US and Mexico, who’ve decided to take a stand against the Mexican cartels. But, as these groups rise to power, we learn that they might not be the heroes we imagine. This Oscar-nominated film is a memorable, but devastating portrait of corruption.
10. Unfriended: A truly clever, extremely entertaining, and interactive movie plays with horror stereotypes, and at the same time, talks about a major issue with our society—cyberbullying. That real-life issue is scarier than any horror movie, and this film sheds a light on that. A great “gimmick,” a fun ride, and a memorable experience; it’s just a great movie that I can’t stop talking about.