2015 was a weird year for movies. While some great films were released, many felt that 2016 offers a much better slate; especially in the comic book genre. Other than the return of Star Wars and Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s survival epic, The Revenant, consumers generally were not waiting in line to get into theaters. Instead, movies that were support to headline the year fell flat as Avengers: Age of Ultron disappointed and opened the door for DC’s Cinematic Universe. Another movie that disappointed was Steve Jobs. I loved the film but general audiences agree that it was boring and had horrible pacing. The biggest flaw of the movie though was the casting of the title character. Michael Fassbender is very deserving of the recognition he is getting, but while watching the film views only see him as a second choice. While Kutcher’s flop killed the majority of the hype for this movie, the revolving door of the cast was the nail in the coffin. With proven A-listers Leo DiCaprio and Christian Bale both signed on and dropped out of the lead role at different times, one can only think the studio settled with Fassbender.
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
Starting off the list is the 2015 reboot Mad Max: Furry Road. With non-stop action and perfect use of the antihero, George Miller brought his 1979 hit back to life. I thought the use of practical stunts really increased the quality of the movie. In this day in age, action films that limit the use of CGI get a higher score in my book. Another factor that made the film special was the dialogue, or lack thereof. The body language and facial expressions of Tom Hardy brought depth to the film. It is becoming clear that with Hardy less is more (See Dark Knight Rises.) The biggest flaw in the movie was that Charlize Theron outshines Tom Hardy. It felt like it was her movie, so since it is unclear if she is returning for the sequels I am very concerned.
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I give Star Wars: The Force Awakens a slight edge because it played the long game with the first film in their reboot. Like I said in the review, JJ Abrams PERFECTLY introduced the new characters to us. Excitement remains for the sequels because despite the fact that we don’t know anything about them, we are heavily invested in them. The Star Wars franchise continued the trend of finding no name actors and turning them into stars. I have nothing but high expectations for Daisy Ridley and John Boyaga. Also, while setting up for the future, we got the chance to go on one last adventure with our favorite smuggler. While many fans dislike the ending, both parties, us and Ford, finally got closure for the beloved character.
Our spoiler-free Review of the 2015 Hit:
3. The Big Short
The Big Short and The Revenant are neck and neck in my book. I give the slight edge to The Revenant because of how unique it is, compared to the overdone condoning of the corruption of Wall Street. While liking The Big Short, I simply couldn’t ignore the fact that this appears simply as Bale and Pitt’s response to DiCaprio’s Wolf of Wall Street. I did prefer this version though, because it was more about the process on Wall Street than the greed and excess of wealth in 2013 black comedy. The surprise cameos were a really nice touch and made the movie a lot easier to understand. Steve Carell continues to surprise as he shifts towards drama. As a fan of The Office, I am pleasantly surprised as his career continues to elevate.
2. The Revenant
Next on the list is The Revenant. While I enjoyed the movie a lot, I find the process in which the movie was made to be more entertaining than the film itself. From filming in natural light, I still don’t think people realize how hard that is, to the physical toll the film took on the actors, The Revenant is simply one of a kind. While I think Leo should win best actor by a landslide, I don’t think this film is the best of year
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I think Spotlight was the best movie of 2015 by far. The story was exceptional, and it was so culturally relevant that people should see it. Next, the cast was exceptional. Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams all had the performances of their lifetimes. Michael Keaton was great as usually, not knocking him but he didn’t take his performance to another level like he did in Birdman. Biggest shock for me was Liev Schreiber; he has a mediocre career at best yet answered the bell as Martin Barron. Spotlight has by far the smallest box office of any film of the list but the film is more of a piece of art than it is made for entertainment.
Honorable Mentions:The Martian, Creed, Steve Jobs and Bridge of Spies