It’s that time of year guys, the year’s almost up and 2016 is just around the corner but what a year for film 2015 has been, with some lows and some stratospheric highs, especially in runaway box office successes, and speaking of box office success, The Force Awakens is out and is raking in the money at the moment. Anyway pretty much all of 2015s’ theatrical releases are out so I think it’s time to continue to look back on the year that was and here are my top 10 picks for the year.
Steve Jobs – 7.5/10
Although not particularly deep, this biopic on the late Steve Jobs directed by Danny Boyle is full of life and some great drama, offering an insight into the mind of Jobs, played fantastically by Michael Fassbender, who is supported by some great performances from Kate Winslet and even Seth Rogen, the plot feels a tad repetitive but for what it’s worth, it manages to tell an interesting story based on real events, with some dramatic, creative licence of course.
2. Straight Outta Compton – 8/10
F Gary Grays biopic chronicles the origins and rise of the notorious hip group, the NWA, the big personalities in the group and the reasons why they came together and as it turns out, the true story actually makes for an interesting and compelling drama as it turns out though some parts were understandably dramatised or tweaked for the film. And with some great performances in the film from the actors, they really embody the rappers that they portrayed down to inflection and cadence in speech which was something quite interesting to watch.
3. Mad Max: Fury Road – 8/10
George Miller just went ahead and did it, knocking it well out of the park with the continuous action sequence that is Fury Road, but describing it like that is doing a bit of a disservice as the film has some nice slower dramatic moments that pair up well with the frenetic and exciting action, made well with some excellent use of practical effects for the stunts and some great CG. The performances aren’t necessarily the focus of a film like this but they’re good nonetheless, Charlize Theron especially as Furiosa is great, as is Tom Hardy, ever the stoic, dominating physical presence and if you don’t really care about the drama per se, there’s plenty of action to make up for that.
4. Jurassic World – 8/10
I just have to give credit to Jurassic World, an absolute monster hit that took everyone by surprise with its monumental box office figures and opening weekend figures but money aside, it was just very…. good, good for a Jurassic Park film at least which has been a hard thing to say, if you’re comparing each sequel before World to Jurassic Park. The doubters were proved wrong for the most part and World provided what fans wanted, a film that references the original but doesn’t completely re-hash, bringing new technology and ideas to the scene while being an entertaining romp with some fun action and set pieces and a pretty terrifying new dinosaur.
5. Inside Out – 8/10
Pixar did it again with a pretty awesome set up and premise for an original film, a great set of characters and a fun, entertaining story that brings a new idea to life with an interestingly thought up and created world, Pixar again brings the emotion, drama and humour and melds it together as Pixar does best and the result is a fantastic new entry in their film repertoire.
6. Sicario – 8/10
Tense. That’s a very short and fairly apt description of the atmosphere of Sicario, a fantastically crafted thriller with some great, interesting characters and an engaging plot chock full of engrossing and gripping moments that work in a more covert style and some brilliant cinematography, not having to rely on flashy e.g. all out shoot outs. Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro deliver some pretty fantastic performances and on the whole, the cast is on their A-game.
7. Kingsman: The Secret Service – 8/10
Kingsman is just a joy to watch, a superbly entertaining and well crafted spy thriller with a fantastic set of fun characters, great dialogue, great humour and fantastic set pieces, the sarcastic, often dark humour underlining the film really makes for a fun watch and Matthew Vaughn again knockes it out of the park with another comic book film adaptation. Coupled with some tense and thrilling set pieces, Kingsman is a great thrill ride from start to finish with great pacing, characters and an awesome plot.
8. Ex Machina – 8/10
Speculative sci-fi done right, Ex Machina is a captivating small drama with extra layers to it and more than meets the eye, with some brilliant performances from its main cast, especially Alicia Vikander, though everyone is great, the plot is nuanced enough to feel not quite like anything you’ve seen before despite some familiar themes and ideas and with some excellent use of atmosphere building in its music, it’s a surprisingly tense and engrossing affair.
9. The Martian – 8.5/10
Exploring the human condition and the will of a person to survive… on Mars, with that person being Matt Damon/Marc Watney, what could be better? The Martian is an excellent piece of sci-fi with a surprisingly filled out and entertaining story that really shouldn’t be as good and entertaining as it is, with a stellar cast and some great performances, from Matt Damon especially, there are very few dull moments present here. And coupled with some fantastic visuals and cinematography from sci-fi guru Ridley Scott who returns to some of his best work with a great, engaging and engrossing plot and moments that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
10. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens – 8.5/10 (my pick for favourite film of 2015)
The latest film in the Star Wars franchise is a blast (pun intended), it’s a fun thrill ride with a great set of new and iconic, beloved characters and a story that is a tad derivative but still great nonetheless, the film brings the great idea of duality and shades of grey regarding the dark and light side and force users back to Star Wars in Kylo Ren and Finn among some other new interesting ideas and themes. The action and set pieces are a fantastic and it’s a visual feast, easily the best looking Star Wars film to date and one of the most entertaining, emotionally engaging and engrossing in the franchise.
And I feel like as there were some good films this year that didn’t quite make my list, I still want to list leave a mention to a few of them.
Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant Man, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, It Follows, Dope.