Ah, the list no one has been waiting for.
Here are the past few years lists, as a refresher:
2013: 5. Despicable Me 2 // 4. 12 Years a Slave // 3. Prisoners // 2. Mud // 1. Gravity
2014: 5. Nightcrawler // 4. Cold in July // 3. The Raid 2 // 2. The Guest // 1. Whiplash
Like past years, there are still some movies that I haven't seen that I want to - The Revenant and The Hateful Eight aren't really in wide release until 2016, so I feel alright leaving them off for now. Others I haven't seen but want to include Steve Jobs and The Martian, which I just couldn't get around to catching. Down below, you can see the top 5 movies I saw in 2015. However, I'd like to highlight some other movies first.
The Worst Movie of 2015
Surely there were worse movies than San Andreas that came out in 2015, but I normally avoid movies I really don't think I'm going to enjoy. I didn't see The Cobbler or Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Out of everything I personally saw, this one was the worst. Not even The Rock's charisma could save this stupid CGI filled mess. The plot makes absolutely no sense (having a state rescue worker basically bail on everyone he's supposed to be saving, steal a helicopter and go to save his family instead), the CGI is dreadful and everyone other than The Rock sleepwalks their way through the movie.
The Best Surprise of 2015
Trailers can be deceiving. The trailer for The Gift makes it look like a run of the mill, "Halle Berry-esque" forgettable thriller. It was anything but. Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton sizzle on screen, and Edgerton shows his directing chops.
The Worst Surprise of 2015
How did this movie suck? How? You've got Craig back for what could be his final Bond movie. Sam Mendes returning after the amazing Skyfall. Christoph Waltz as the villain. HOW COULD THIS SUCK? Spectre was embarrassing. Save for one great action scene on a train, the rest of the movie was a mess, and just edged out Minions for the biggest dashing of my expectations in 2015.
Here's this year's list.
5. Me, Earl & The Dying Girl
The indie festival darling about a high schooler who reluctantly spends his time with a girl diagnosed with cancer captured my heart unexpectedly. The cinematography is amazing, the script is tight and there isn't one weak link in the cast. My wife cried during the entire movie, so beware.
4. It Follows
I'm not a huge horror movie fan, but I decided to check out It Follows based on it's very strong reviews and Maika Monroe (who I liked in The Guest). It became my favorite horror movie in a long, long time. The basic story is that people contract an "STD ghost" that basically follows you until you either pass it to someone else, or it kills you. It comes in many forms, and there's no way to stop it. It's a delightful throwback to 80's horror and it's easy on the jump scares, which is a fantastic change of pace.
3. Straight Outta Compton
As a rap fan, I was very excited about seeing a biopic on a group that really shaped 'reality rap' as we know it today. I was also nervous, because historically, rap themed movies haven't been good (take Notorious, for example). Straight Outta Compton not only lived up to my expectations, it far surpassed them. Everyone put on amazing performances, but Ice Cube's son, O'Shea Jackson Jr. stole the show.
2. Inside Out
Pixar's recent trend of pumping out guaranteed money making sequels bothers me a bit, so I was pretty excited to hear that they were putting out a movie in 2015 that was based on a new intellectual property. When I read the logline, I wasn't immediately sold, but boy was I wrong. Pixar did what many thought was impossible - they made a movie for parents and teenagers explaining emotions, a movie that kids would also enjoy (even if they'd never be able to understand it). The voice acting was top notch and the comedy bits were laugh out loud funny.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
When it was announced that Mad Max was getting a reboot, I'll admit - I wasn't excited. For every amazing reboot (21 Jump Street), there are 10 terrible ones (Fantastic Four, Total Recall). It was to be directed by 70 year old George Miller, who directed the original Mad Max...Babe: Pig in the City, and Happy Feet. I'm sure you can understand why some people were a bit nervous. What I saw on screen, however, was a masterfully crafted action movie, a movie that so perfectly blends CGI with practical effects that leaves you in awe of what you're seeing unfold. Mad Max: Fury Road was objectively the best action movie in 2015.
Honorable Mentions: The Gift // Beasts of No Nation // Kung Fury // Kingsman: The Secret Service // Sicario // Ex Machina