2015 was a good year for movies. Great movies popped up in every genre, and managed to entertain and move moviegoers everywhere. While there were disappointments and straight-up terrible films too, this list is not about those titles. This top 5 celebrates the movies that grabbed my attention, sparked my imagination and made me come back for more. Without further ado, let’s get started.
5. Ex Machina
This brilliant directorial debut of writer/screenwriter Alex Garland is filled to the brim with ideas. But its greatest feat is that it uses plenty of scifi tropes and subverts them in a clever way. Ex Machina is a film that constantly keeps you guessing and slowly peels back the layers of its characters, building tension as it moves along. The setting, design and score are all just as well-thought out, which makes Ex Machina a film that fires on all cylinders and offers an enveloping, cerebral and thrilling experience.
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
J.J. Abrams’ go at a Star Wars film was supposed to wash away the stink of the prequels, but it accomplished far more than that: it both offered the same sense of adventure and magical sci-fi fantasy as the original trilogy did, while updating the franchise with modern sensibilities. The Force Awakens is a fast-moving and fully entertaining ride because of it, offering moviegoers great action, intriguing characters, a familiar yet engaging plot and surprising amounts of humor. A good time all around.
3. Steve Jobs
A traditional biopic this Danny Boyle movie is not. What it is, is a cleverly constructed film that uses three key launch events to bring characters together and have them map out a life through Aaron Sorkin’s meticulously crafted dialogue. A terrific cast makes everything shine and when there are moments that are downright intense and pregnant with tension, you know you are watching a character piece that’s a great accomplishment. Steve Jobs is marvelous cinema, even if you’re not all that interested in the real-life figure before seeing the film.
2. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Grade A entertainment, that’s what Rogue Nation brings to the screen. It’s a movie that’s expertly paced and speeds along while it cleverly intertwines amazing setpieces, clever dialogue, restrained character moments and humorous instances. The plot – about Tom Cruise and company having to put a stop to a terrorist organization – is not original by any stretch of the imagination, but the way the creative team has tackled it is near perfect. This is an example of a film with flawless execution, and its surprises, thrills and heart are downright enthralling.
Visceral. That’s the word that best describes Denis Villeneuve’s latest feature. From the outset it creates a powerful mood and palpable atmosphere that draws you into the nasty and lewd world of Mexican crime cartels and the people taking them on, and because of it the movie really hits home. Sicario isn’t an easy movie to watch; it’s occasionally gruesome, always morally and emotionally complex, and it ends on a similarly though note. But that’s ultimately why the film is so thought-provoking and why it’s one of those movies that really stick with you. Add to that the craftsmanship that clearly went into every aspect of the making of this film, and you end up with 2016’s best movie.
That’s my list but what’s yours? Be sure to let me know by leaving a comment with your thoughts and movie picks.