10. Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max is a truly incredible movie to watch. We have been spoiled with so many unoriginal CGI filled blockbusters and Mad Max manages to outdo them by taking things to another level. It went all practical. Mad Max has made a lot of people’s top 10 lists not because it’s some avant-garde piece of work, it’s because it reminds us how fun movies can really be. The direction is phenomenal, the action is great and it’s very well paced. Of course the movie slows down for a bit but over all it’s really well done. It’s intense, full of fun action and for me the movie got better on repeat viewings. It’s even refreshing to finally get a badass heroine (and manages to give supermodels something to do) in movies as well. Mad Max’s only fault is that the script is just alright but for an action movie it’s beyond stellar and that’s what Mad Max’s goal was.
9. The Revenant
The Revenant is another movie that’s superbly directed and might be the most beautiful shot movie of the year, (it benefits over Sicario purely because locations) and it has my favorite soundtrack of the year. The movie does tend to suffer from some pacing and story problems but overall Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu manages to captivate audiences by his direction and great performances from the cast. But like I said it’s story & script is really weak and had those been better, the film would have been ranked higher but the end result really mesmerized me because of how well made it was and how beautiful everything was. Sadly the Revenant has polarized many but for me I liked the silent simplistic tone of Revenant. The Revenant reminds me of Terrence Malick’s older movies (which were awesome) and for anyone who was a fan of The Thin Red Line & Days of Heaven, then this movie is for you.
8. The Martian
The Martian, you can call it Ridley Scott’s comeback, Matt Damon’s comeback or the Golden Globe Winner for Best Comedy. I was afraid that the Martian wasn’t going to be that great. Damon who’s one of my favorite all time actors hadn’t had a good movie for a while, and it had been almost a decade since Ridley Scott made a good movie (American Gangster 2007). I was at a point where I had given up on Ridley Scott but the Martian brought back so much hope & joy. It’s very well written, it doesn’t tread into cliche territory or become too similar to movies like Gravity & Cast Away. It manages to have its own identity and it makes science really fun. Not only that it even makes you appreciate the life of an astronaut & Nasa even more than you should. Though the Martian has a dark sad concept, it’s very lighthearted and it kind of annoys me that film is more lighthearted than serious but I applaud it for the fact that it’s refreshing to have a nice feel good movie. It’s a fun ride but the beautiful thing about The Martian is that it’s a love letter to how great the human mind can really be.
7. Inside Out
It’s been so long since Pixar gave us an original movie that touched us. Inside Out gave hope that Pixar still isn’t out of the game (though The Good Dinosaur was awful) and I really loved the concept of Inside Out. It’s really unique, it’s a funny movie, the characters are top notch and the animation is astounding. My only issue that the film doesn’t maximize it’s concept’s full potential and sometimes goes into generic territory with its story but even then, Inside Out surpassed a lot of the other movies that came out this year with its wonderful storytelling. The one thing I want to mention, it’s probably one of Pixar’s most thought provoking movies ever and that’s a huge feat. Props to Pete Docter who I think is an incredible storyteller.
A lot of people doubted Creed before it’s release but I had faith that Ryan Coogler would do a great job because Fruitvale Station was terrific. But what surprised me was how terrific of a job he did. Creed is nearly as good as Rocky 1 but it’s the best directed movie in the franchise. Though a lot of my love for this movie comes from being a Rocky fan I still think Creed works on its own. Yes there’s a lot of homages. But out of all the throwback movies that came out this year, Creed is the best one and it’s the one that came from the heart. It was Ryan Coogler’s love letter to his father & their shared love of Rocky. Creed does have its moment of weak story development but it’s still different enough to have its own place in the Rocky series. Creed is more than boxing movie, it’s a father & son tale at the very core. It just happens to benefit from being in a beloved franchise. I’d even say it’s a good boxing movie to watch for anyone that’s a boxing fan (even though the fights & training montage aren’t as good as the others) and it’s a great drama that can get real emotional.
5. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
I think it’s a firm opinion that Rogue Nation is a great movie but I feel like it’s an oddity to have a franchise film in the top 10 but it’s because Rogue Nation is that good. It has one of the best pacing I’ve seen in an action movie in a long time and the action sequences are beyond fantastic and Tom Cruise still remains the badass Ethan Hunt. I would even say he’s even more likable in this movie (which is saying a lot). One thing I didn’t notice at first was how powerful the music was. Christopher McQuarrie’s direction is terrific and even though there are quarrels that the villain was weak and the third act was a letdown but on a second viewing it makes sense. Ethan Hunt and the villain are equally matched and that’s why the ending plays out like a chess game between two great minds and the villain himself actually has a motive that makes sense. We’ve gotten too many movies recently that bad guys that are bad just to be bad. Overall Rogue Nation is masterfully directed, it’s action sequences are astounding, it’s intelligent in its writing, Tom Cruise is exceptional and it manages to outdo the high expectations Ghost Protocol set (though I still think Ghost Protocol is better)
4. The Hateful Eight
The Hateful Eight has garnered a mixed reaction from the Tarantino audience. You either love or hate it. I’ll admit that it’s not one of Tarantino’s most original movies. It draws a lot of inspiration from older horror/suspense movies most notably The Thing (it even used recycled music from the Thing) but I would consider it one of the best adaptations I’ve seen of Ten Little Indians. The film is very slow in the beginning and it’s very long but once it hits the middle it kicks in and I absolutely loved the second half of the movie (once intermission completes) It got really intense, really funny and the dialogue was superb from beginning to end. The film only takes place in 3 locations and yet it manages to very entertaining. I also think Samuel L Jackson gives one of his best performances in years (even though it’s a lot of Sammy J yelling but we all love that don’t we!?) I wouldn’t say Hateful Eight is groundbreaking or anything but it’s a really fun movie and that’s what you expect from Quentin Tarantino. Not only that I feel the whole racism message is overlooked by many and that’s what adds a lot of gravitas to Hateful Eight. It’s a journey of 2 racists in a ****ed up world. I haven’t seen Tarantino have this powerful of a theme since Jackie Brown so nothing but props for Hateful Eight.
3. The Big Short
Big Short to me was the most thought provoking movie of 2015. It’s also one of the most confusing. I already had high hopes for it as it had 3 of my all time favorite actors in it plus an actor that I’m a huge fan of to begin with. So from the bat it has a dynamite cast. I wasn’t too sure if Adam Mckay could pull off a drama but he really exceeded my expectations. Not only is he an amazing comedy director, he’s generally a good director overall. The Big Short is cleverly directed, very well edited (might be the best edited movie of the year?) and still has the balance of proper humor I’d expect from Mckay and it’s awesome that he would give his friend from his comedy days, Steve Carell the lead role because Carrell is absolutely phenomenal in the role. Carrell not getting a nomination is ridiculous. The Big Short is a very depressing movie but it also has its lighthearted moments. The Big Short will confuse many but that’s the point. It was such a confusing situation and it’s ridiculous how the crooks of Wall Street get away with garbage like this. It’s a thought provoking movie that’s entertaining but at the same time promotes conversation & awareness.
Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy caught my attentions & Prisoners blew me away. Sicario solidifies Villeneuve’s place in upcoming film makers even though he’s a bit old and I will blindly see every movie he does now. I feel Villeneuve hit his best with Sicario. Sicario is a movie that really plays with you. It’s the most intense suspenseful movie I’ve seen all year and it’s disgusting that Benicio Del Toro & Emily Blunt aren’t being recognized for their subtle award worthy performances. Sicario is another movie that I thought benefitted from proper pacing and the film is so clouded in mystery that the last 30 minutes just blow you away. It’s a heartbreaking movie about a huge problem going on in America & Mexico but it also is a movie that plays with your morals & leaves you shaken towards the end. Just like The Big Short, this is another movie that will have audiences talking. Sicario is a very bleak film but it’s incredibly directed, the score is terrific, the performances are award worthy & it’s pretty much cinematography porn from Roger Deakins. I have nothing but good things to say about Sicario and just like Big Short, it’s a conversation provoker.
1. Beasts of No Nation
Man, Beasts of No Nation really blew me away. Cary Joji Funkunaga is done nothing but impress me so far and it’s great to see these new crop of directors in Ryan Coogler, Cary Joji, & Denis Villeneuve take Hollywood with storm because they’re all so amazing. They’re keeping real film making alive. Beasts of No Nation edged Sicario by a bit for me. It has all the great elements of Sicario but I feel the story was a bit more captivating. It’s literally one of the best coming age of films I’ve ever seen and Beasts of No Nation reminded me how powerful the voice of film can really be. Beasts of No Nation can be very brutal at times, but it’s a beautiful film. Tere are arguments that the film falls apart in the third act but I hate to be this guy, but I think anyone who says that is an idiot. The third act is perfection. It’s the right conclusion to Agu’s story and for a movie that had me in nothing but tears, it manages to get a smile out of me. Beasts of No Nation is a beautiful heartbreaking movie that brings so many emotions but it’s so incredibly well made that it pulls you in. Netflix should be honored to have this as their first movie because it is nothing short of spectacular.
Me Earl & the Dying Girl, Steve Jobs, People Places Things, Ex Machina, Straight Outta Compton, The End of the Tour