Top 25 Films of 2015 – The Final List

It took until 2016 to get this list done, but that’s the price of being thorough…and loving movies.

I released a list at the end of the summer and another before the holidays. Of course, studios waited till Christmas and after to release some of the most anticipated films of the year. Just in time for the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees, here are my Top 25 – The films I liked, really liked, and loved.

25. Carol

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 3.58.38 PM

It’s elegant and shot beautifully. Cate Blanchett has the title character but Rooney Mara is the one you’re invested in. I would have loved to see this film shot decades ago with Audrey Hepburn in Mara’s role. Kyle Chandler’s classic look would have fit in nicely. Also enjoyed the appearance from Cory Michael Smith who is currently The Riddler on FOX’s Gotham. It’s fitting.

24. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MI Rogue Nation 2015

It was a strong year for blockbuster franchises. There are two more represented further down this list. The Mission Impossible series seems to get better as time goes on and fortunately for them, Rogue Nation hit theaters before Spectre did with a similar plot and much better execution. 

23. Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation 2015

Idris Elba seems to show us in everything he does that he is one of the best actors of our time, and this Netflix Original film gets him closer to the acclaim he properly deserves. Beasts of No Nation is also a milestone for Netflix that shows they should be taken seriously as a film studio and not just for television…Just try to avoid the string of unfortunate Adam Sandler flicks they will be putting out for a while.

22. Creed

Creed 2015

Creed is a very good sports movie. It reminded me a lot of the first Rocky film. I love how they filmed the fights and Sylvester Stallone deserves every “best supporting actor” nomination he gets. We’re reminded how great an actor he is, and how awesome a character Rocky Balboa is in this film. Michael B. Jordan is certainly in store for big things and this film is a clear sign of that. I just wished they held back on the cheese factor of a certain training scene and that his “big opponent” was a much more memorable character. 

21. Trumbo

TR_08395.dng

The acting in Trumbo is outstanding. The hype was real regarding Bryan Cranston’s performance. Both Helen Mirren and John Goodman play their parts very well. The correlation between how members of the American communist party were treated and some of our society’s current issues today strikes a chord. I just wish I hadn’t seen so many of the big scenes in the trailer already and that the directing was better.

20. The Big Short

The Big Short 2015

The more I think about The Big Short, the more I think I liked it. Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are all awesome in the film and it’s incredibly smart. Hamish Linklater is also an excellent complement, similar to his role in The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams. The constant explaining of every economic term (which might have been necessary) gets distracting and the comedic approach takes away some of the necessary emotional investment. Had I not seen 99 Homes, I probably would have appreciated this film a lot more while watching it. 

19. 99 Homes

99 Homes 2015

Like The Big Short, 99 Homes takes place during the financial and housing crisis but it’s way much more of a punch to the gut. You get the perspective of people who lost their homes from the crisis, and it’s even more of a thriller because you have no idea how these people will react to those who have to break the news to them. Michael Shannon is also as good as anyone in supporting actor categories from this film.

18. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton 2015

The music, the acting, the “Bye Felicia” scene…

Straight Outta Compton was an awesome biopic and it told a story that I think a lot of younger hip hop fans needed to hear, considering how influential members of NWA really are to the genre. The only reason I don’t have it ranked higher is because it did feel long by the end. 

17. Love & Mercy

Love and Mercy 2015

Love and Mercy was another biopic (also with Paul Giamatti as a jerk manager) that I enjoyed, but this one stuck with me a lot longer after. Paul Dano is great as young Brian Wilson and for once John Cusack is a lot less “John Cusack”-ish than he is in most of his roles. Elizabeth Banks also gives one of the more underrated performances in film from this year. If you’re like me, you probably listened to “Pet Sounds” for a week after seeing it.

16. The Walk

The Walk 2015

I’m a little disappointed The Walk isn’t getting more chatter during awards season. Obviously I think there are better films, but Robert Zemeckis did a brilliant job utilizing 3D, especially for the climax of the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ben Kinglsey were both remarkably charming as well. 

15. The Hateful EightHateful Eight 2015

It’s not Quentin Tarantino’s best, but “Not Tarantino’s Best” is still better than most. The second half of the film was up there with some of his most entertaining…and bloodiest. For me, this was Walton Goggins’s coming out party on the big screen. Loved him in Justified and The Shield. I think it’s obvious Tarantino did too.

14. Mississippi Grind 

Mississippi Grind

It was too appropriate that I watched this film while waiting to hear my lottery numbers called. Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn has the All-American Asshole role down between this and Bloodline, yet knows just how to make you feel for him. Sure, Ryan Reynolds plays another good-looking fast talker, but his whole “who, what, and why” deal keeps you as intrigued as the constant gambling…which is enough drama by itself. 

13. Ex Machina

Ex Machina 2015

This was a big year for all 3 stars of Ex Machina. Oscar Isaac continued his path to Pacino-status with his roles in Show Me A Hero and Star Wars, which Domhnall Gleeson also stars in (as well as Brooklyn and The Revenant). Alicia Vikander has a good chance of getting both Best Actress and Supporting Oscar nominations for her roles in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. Her character, Ava, still haunts my dreams as well. It’s an unreal suspense film. 

12. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I can’t recall a time where I’ve seen two actors be so natural interacting with each other for a film. That’s all this film is…a long weekend conversation from Bloomington-Normal to Minnesota and back, with honest thoughts and feelings. I’m happy to see Jason Segel is getting some acclaim as well for his portrayal of David Foster Wallace.

11. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs 2015

Yes, I’m a HUGE Sorkin fan, but I found the approach to this biopic to be incredibly original. It wasn’t your typical “start-to-end” story, but just 3 different periods in time and how each person has evolved in that time. It also helps that everyone involved nails it with their parts, especially Michael Fassbender.

10. Brooklyn

Brooklyn 2015

If anyone is challenging Brie Larson for Best Actress, it’s Saoirse Ronan. She and Brooklyn do an amazing job of making you feel all the emotions you can muster. It also helps that two of my TV crushes, Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity Smoak, Arrow) and Jessica Paré (Megan Draper, Mad Men), have solid roles in the film. The contrast in two worlds during the 1950s and how Eilis (Ronan) evolves is what makes the film.

 

09. Inside Out

Inside Out 2015

A movie about feelings makes you feel feelings…and even more than the typical Pixar feelings (which is saying a lot, considering the first 3 minutes to Up). It also helps that they casted all the right people for all the right feelings.

08. The Martian

The Martian 2015

I came across a Facebook friend listing his “Top 10” and he said he hadn’t seen The Martian because “It looked like Castaway in space.” He is very wrong…unless he values Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Jessica Chastain, and Kate Mara to all be a volleyball named Wilson. There’s also a Lord of the Rings reference that probably won the film “Best Comedy” at the Golden Globes by itself. 

07. The Revenant

The Revenant 2015

I have a very difficult time seeing anyone other than Leonardo DiCaprio winning Best Actor at the Oscars. Maybe Bryan Cranston, but Leo will be SO pissed if he doesn’t because of everything he went through for this film…It’s pretty evident.

06. Room

Room 2015

The Best Actress category at any awards show is Brie Larson’s to lose because of Room. Jacob Tremblay is amazing as well…just be prepared to have your heart strings pulled hard.

05. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2 hour long roller coaster of action, explosions, and rock’n’roll. I don’t recall taking a breath between the start and end. The twisted and beautiful mind of George Miller is on full awesome display. 

04. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015

I think we all have our personal movies that connect with us in more ways than most and matches our personalities. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was that movie for me, my favorite from the summer. There’s also something about Nick Offerman as a sociology professor, robe-wearing, cat-obsessed dad that still tickles me funny.

03. Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies 2015

Bridge of Spies is about as good a film as you could ask for from a combination of Steven Spielberg and the Coen Brothers…I was pleasantly surprised to see that the latter wrote the movie once the closing credits rolled. It was all meant for someone like Tom Hanks to lead in. There is one scene toward the end that I found to be as powerful as any in 2015. 

02. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars- The Force Awakens

The best way I’ve heard The Force Awakens described is that it hit all the right spots in all the right ways…It really did. Nostalgia and newness brilliantly combined. Fantastic well-timed humor that the past films lacked. If you waited for something to disappoint you, you’d only be disappointed by the fact that you’re still waiting. It’s also the only other film, besides #1, that I went back to see in the theater again and appreciated more for it.

01. Spotlight

Spotlight 2015

I really don’t think there was a better performance by an ensemble this year. It was a refreshing take on journalism, not over-glorifying the industry but simply presenting how a paper goes about getting a story. All the comparisons to All The President’s Men are warranted. I will also stump hard for Mark Ruffalo getting Best Supporting Actor recognition, even when the category is heavy enough as is. 

 

What does your list look like? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter

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Top 20 Movies of 2015 So Far (Part II)

“So Far” because The Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Joy and Carol have yet to hit theaters. Once I get those in, I’ll have an updated final list.

“Part II” because I published a list at the end of the summer. Just 4 movies from my original Top 10 are still there and 2 don’t even crack the Top 20. 

With just a little more than a week left in the year, here are “The Best…so far.”

20. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MI Rogue Nation 2015

It was a strong year for blockbuster franchises. There are two more represented further down this list. The Mission Impossible series seems to get better as time goes on and fortunately for them, Rogue Nation hit theaters before Spectre did with a similar plot and much better execution. 

19. Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation 2015

Idris Elba seems to show us in everything he does that he is one of the best actors of our time, and this Netflix Original film gets him closer to the acclaim he properly deserves. Beasts of No Nation is also a milestone for Netflix that shows they should be taken seriously as a film studio and not just for television…Just try to avoid the string of unfortunate Adam Sandler flicks they will be putting out for a while.

18. Creed

Creed 2015

Creed is a very good sports movie. It reminded me a lot of the first Rocky film. I love how they filmed the fights and Sylvester Stallone deserves every “best supporting actor” nomination he gets. We’re reminded how great an actor he is, and how awesome a character Rocky Balboa is in this film. Michael B. Jordan is certainly in store for big things and this film is a clear sign of that. I just wished they held back on the cheese factor of a certain training scene and that his “big opponent” was a much more memorable character. 

17. The Big Short

The Big Short 2015

The more I think about The Big Short, the more I think I liked it. Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are all awesome in the film and it’s incredibly smart. Hamish Linklater is also to be an excellent complement, similar to his role in The Crazy Ones with Robin Williams. The constant explaining of every economic term (which might have been necessary) gets distracting and the comedic approach takes away some of the necessary emotional investment. Had I not seen 99 Homes (see further down), I probably would have appreciated this film a lot more while watching it. 

16. Trumbo

TR_08395.dng

The acting in Trumbo is outstanding. The hype was real regarding Bryan Cranston’s performance. Both Helen Mirren and John Goodman play their parts very well. The correlation between how members of the American communist party were treated and some of our society’s current issues today strikes a chord. I just wish I hadn’t seen so many of the big scenes in the trailer already and that the directing was better.

15. 99 Homes

99 Homes 2015

Like The Big Short, 99 Homes takes place during the financial and housing crisis but it’s way much more of a punch to the gut. You get the perspective of people who lost their homes from the crisis, and it’s even more of a thriller because you have no idea how these people will react to those who have to break the news to them. Michael Shannon is also as good as anyone in supporting actor categories from this film.

14. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton 2015

The music, the acting, the “Bye Felicia” scene…

Straight Outta Compton was an awesome biopic and it told a story that I think a lot of younger hip hop fans needed to hear, considering how influential members of NWA really are to the genre. The only reason I don’t have it ranked higher is because it did feel long by the end. 

13. Love & Mercy

Love and Mercy 2015

Love and Mercy was another biopic (also with Paul Giamatti as a jerk manager) that I enjoyed, but this one stuck with me a lot longer after. Paul Dano is great as young Brian Wilson and for once John Cusack is a lot less “John Cusack”-ish than he is in most of his roles. Elizabeth Banks also gives one of the more underrated performances in film from this year. If you’re like me, you probably listened to “Pet Sounds” for a week after seeing it.

12. Ex Machina

Ex Machina 2015

This was a big year for all 3 stars of Ex Machina. Oscar Isaac continued his path to Pacino-status with his roles in Show Me A Hero and Star Wars, which Domhnall Gleeson also stars in. Alicia Vikander has a good chance of getting both Best Actress and Supporting Oscar nominations for her roles in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina. Her character, Ava, still haunts my dreams as well. It’s an unreal suspense film. 

11. The Walk

The Walk 2015

I’m a little disappointed The Walk isn’t getting more chatter during awards season. Obviously I think there are better films, but Robert Zemeckis did a brilliant job utilizing 3D, especially for the climax of the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ben Kinglsey were both remarkably charming as well. 

10. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour 2015

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I can’t recall a time where I’ve seen two actors be so natural interacting with each other for a film. That’s all this film is…a long weekend conversation from Bloomington-Normal to Minnesota and back, with honest thoughts and feelings. I’m happy to see Jason Segel is getting some acclaim as well for his portrayal of David Foster Wallace.

09. Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs 2015

Yes, I’m a HUGE Sorkin fan, but I found the approach to this biopic to be incredibly original. It wasn’t your typical “start-to-end” story, but just 3 different periods in time and how each person has evolved in that time. It also helps that everyone involved nails it with their parts, especially Michael Fassbender.

08. Inside Out

Inside Out 2015

A movie about feelings makes you feel feelings…and even more than the typical Pixar feelings (which is saying a lot, considering the first 3 minutes to Up). It also helps that they casted all the right people for all the right feelings.

 

07. The Martian

The Martian 2015

I came across a Facebook friend listing his “Top 10” and he said he hadn’t seen The Martian because “It looked like Castaway in space.” He is very wrong…unless he values Jeff Daniels, Donald Glover, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Michael Pena, Jessica Chastain, and Kate Mara to all be a volleyball named Wilson. 

06. Room

Room 2015

The Best Actress category at any awards show is Brie Larson’s to lose because of Room. Jacob Tremblay is amazing as well…just be prepared to have your heart strings pulled hard.

05. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road is a 2 hour long roller coaster of action, explosions, and rock’n’roll. I don’t recall taking a breath between the start and end. The twisted and beautiful mind of George Miller is on full awesome display. 

04. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 2015

I think we all have our personal movies that connect with us in more ways than most and matches our personalities. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was that movie for me, my favorite from the summer. There’s also something about Nick Offerman as a sociology professor, robe-wearing, cat-obsessed dad that still tickles me funny.

 

03. Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies 2015

Bridge of Spies is about as good a film as you could ask for from a combination of Steven Spielberg and the Coen Brothers…I was pleasantly surprised to see that the latter wrote the movie once the closing credits rolled. It was all meant for someone like Tom Hanks to lead in. There is one scene toward the end that I found to be as powerful as any in 2015. 

02. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars- The Force Awakens

The best way I’ve heard The Force Awakens described is that it hit all the right spots in all the right ways…It really did. Nostalgia and newness brilliantly combined. Fantastic well-timed humor that the past films lacked. If you waited for something to disappoint you, you’d only be disappointed by the fact that you’re still waiting.

01. Spotlight

Spotlight 2015

I really don’t think there was a better performance by an ensemble this year. It was refreshing take on a journalism, not over-glorifying the industry but simply presenting how a paper goes about getting a story. All the comparisons to All The President’s Men are warranted. I will also stump hard for Mark Ruffalo getting Best Supporting Actor recognition, even when the category is heavy enough as is. 

 

Stay tuned for the final list after Hateful Eight, The Revenant, Joy and Carol are released. Till then, let me know what your favorite films from 2015 are on Facebook or Twitter.

Movie-Inspired Halloween Costumes 2015

Coming off of New York’s Comic Con Week, and with it being the middle of October already, there’s no better time than now to begin planning your Halloween costume. Although all ideas kinda suck now after seeing the guy who built his own 9.5 foot Iron Man “Hulkbuster” suit at NYCC…

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.53.26 AM

We’re not worthy.

My own personal Halloween costume history is exactly why I needed a list like this. I haven’t dressed up in 3 years. The last time I did, I was Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens from Justified on FX…and nobody got it. My attempt at Mad TV’sDrunk Kenny Rogers” in college was a valiant effort, but I could use something relevant and awesome this year for much needed ice-breakers.

For my own benefit, and likely yours, let’s take a look at the movies this year that offer the BEST costume ideas for October 31st.

Mad Max: Fury Road

If you follow this site, then you know that we’ve talked A LOT about Fury Road this year. One of the best films of 2015, a fun way to compare pro athletes, and an EASY resource for costume ideas. We thank the beautiful twisted mind of George Miller for making these possible.

‘Mad’ Max Rockatansky

Tom Hardy Mad Max

Mad Max Mask

Very obvious choice and not a shabby one at that. You could go with the updated Tom Hardy uniform featuring the classic football right shoulder pad, a sweet military-esque jacket with a dirtied up thermal. Or you can go “Blood Bag Max” with his prisoner mask and chain trailing behind you.

Furiosa

Furiosa

Charlize Theron rocked it as Furiosa and so can you if you’re willing to buzz your hair. If you choose to, you get my full support and can blame me for it if you get any flack.

Warboys & Immortan Joe

Warboys

You can either assemble your super pale crew, take your shirts off, and CHROME UP

…or be the scariest looking person at your party. I doubt you’ll regret either choice.

Bonus points if you can pull this off, flames and all.

Mad Max Guitarist

Ex Machina

Ava

Ava Ex Machina

This costume would take some creativity, but I would dub you the winner of your costume party if you could pull it off. Ex Machina was an early candidate for one of the best films of the year, incredibly suspenseful, and Alicia Vikander became my newest Hollywood crush thanks to her performance as Ava and again in Man From UNCLE. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Avengers

MARVEL'S AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Dressing up as any of the Avengers (Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye) will be relevant every year, especially going forward as the heroes continue to mesh in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You’ll be getting ahead of game if you can dress as Cap or Tony Stark facing off for Civil War. Highly recommended for any “group” costume.

Ultron

Ultron AOU

If the “Hulkbuster” costume is possible (from the top of the post), then so is Ultron. Bonus points if you can pull off the red lights for eyes and James Spader voice of evil.

The Vision

The Vision

Wanna steal the show this Halloween? Do like Paul Bettany and be The Vision. Is it me, or was Vision the ultimate one-upper in Age of Ultron?

Ant-Man

Scott Lang / Ant-Man

Ant-Man

Marvel surprised several doubters who didn’t think Ant-Man would work in a stand alone film. Paul Rudd, Michael Pena and some hilarious writing set the film apart from the other Marvel installments. Commemorate their achievement and throw on the Ant-Man suit, while also preparing for his appearance in the upcoming Civil War. 

(Pym Particle Shrinking Capabilities Not Included)

Inside Out

Inside Out characters

Need a group costume? Boom! You can get out the body paint, wigs, and FEELINGS dressed as Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), and Anger (Lewis Black).

Jurassic World

JW Raptors

I’ve been very vocal with my disappointment in Jurassic World, HOWEVER…

Imagine someone dressed as Chris Pratt’s character with a whole gang of stuffed raptors attached to them. Or you can dress as raptors with the rest of your friends. Simply…raptor squad!!!

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

90’s hip hop seems to be making a huge comeback with today’s culture, and I love it. Any group willing to rock the chains, flat billed hats, white sneakers and curls at a Halloween party would be on a different level of badassery.

The Martian

The Martian astronauts

My biggest takeaway after seeing The Martian was “Damn, Astronauts are cool again!” The suit may get warm, the helmet could be a little bit of a nuisance, but your space related pick-up lines would be EPIC!

Note: All the ones I found on Google had to do with Uranus. So please Tweet me some better ones.

Spectre

Spectre Bond

I think it’s ALWAYS acceptable to SUIT UP like James Bond, but if you’re someone who needs an excuse…SPECTRE HITS THEATERS IN A FEW WEEKS! If you couldn’t tell, I’m a little excited.

The End of the Tour

David Foster Wallace

Jason Segel

Perhaps not something that many would get if you felt compelled to throw on a bandana, a pair of glasses, avoid shaving for a few days, and go 90’s grunge with your getup. I, however, would greatly appreciate anyone who enjoyed Jason Segel’s performance as David Foster Wallace as much as I did and decided to go out as the excellent writer on Halloween.

The Peanuts Movie

Peanuts Movie

If there was ever a time for you and your friends to dress up as Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Snoopy and company, this Halloween would be as good as any. The Peanuts Movie will be out the next weekend and you’ll probably have The Great Pumpkin special on ABC recording on your DVR anyway.

Star Wars Episode VII: 

The Force Awakens

Clearly the most anticipated film in years is around the corner, and we’re all dusting off our lightsabers from our formative years. I can’t wait to see this year’s crop of costumes representing both older characters and new!

Han Solo & Chewbacca

Han and Chewie

Amazing how Chewie hasn’t aged a day, isn’t it? If you plan on going out as this dynamic duo, please have a decent Wookie call. If you don’t, then don’t bother.

Rylo Ken

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.24.47 PM

Just like you and I, Rylo Ken is a HUGE Fanboy/Fangirl for Darth Vader. Who doesn’t want to see a broadsword lightsaber fight in the middle of their Halloween party?

Captain Phasma

Captain Phasma

Get ahead of the game and get well acquainted with the next “Boba Fett” type character for the Star Wars franchise. Captain Phasma, played by Gwendoline Christie (aka Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones), only gets glimpses during in the trailers we’ve seen, but JJ Abrams can’t help but rave about the new Star Wars baddie.

Rey & Finn

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 12.37.55 PM

Meet “The Resistance”. It’s not totally clear what their backgrounds are, but Rey and Finn will likely be getting lightsabers and possibly their own “couple” hashtag after the first screening of Episode VII. Be careful with that “couple talk” though…You never know where story arcs will go with Star Wars characters.

Poe Dameron

Poe Dameron

Oscar Isaac’s new character has a Han Solo shine to him but more importantly, YOU GET TO DRESS UP AS AN X-WING FIGHTER!

Did you get some ideas for Halloween from this post? Do you have some better ones? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook

My 10 Favorite Movies of 2015, So Far

It’s hard to put together a “Top 10” when we’re 7 and a half months into the year and Oscars season hasn’t hit. I’m also not the one handing out any Golden Globes or Academy Awards, so that’s why I prefer saying “Favorite” when putting this list together.

Honorable Mentions

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland was a refreshing original from Disney that we hadn’t seen in a while that doesn’t have “PIXAR” all over it. In a world (voice-over guy voice) when franchises and sequels rule all, director and writer Brad Bird told a story that combined a mixture of our fascination with the future and a deep seeded love many of us may have from our very first visit to Epcot at Disney World. George Clooney and Britt Robertson play characters who shine for their innovative minds, while Hugh Laurie antagonizes with some of the bleakest/best lines of the movie:

“There are simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starving – how is that even possible?!”

I also enjoyed the hat-tip to old animated Disney character names with Keegan-Michael Key as “Hugo” (Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Kathryn Hahn as “Ursula” (The Little Mermaid).

Child 44

Child 44

Not too many people liked this movie, but I did. Tom Hardy reunites with Gary Oldman for the first time since Dark Knight Rises and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. They are two of the better actors in the business and it shows in this film. The story is incredible. The film opens with a line that is repeated throughout, “The is no murder in paradise.” Russia banned this film because of how it portrayed its citizens who live in fear of their government. I won’t get into real global politics, but imagine a world where a serial killer can roam free because law enforcement isn’t allowed to admit there is a problem. This film frustrates the viewer because of that, but the dodging and weaving Hardy must execute is what makes the movie fascinating to me.

People Places Things

People Places Things

You know how awkward and painful The-Breakup is? People Places Things took the subject of breaking up and made it suck WAY LESS. When Jermaine Clement isn’t voicing over super annoying horses on a beach with Hannah Davis, he’s a terrific indie comedy actor. On top of being “Weekend Fun” Dad of the year, Clement’s character is a graphic novelist whose art serves as interludes for the story. Regina Hall (Scary Movie) and Jessica Williams (The Daily Show) give excellent supporting performances and so do the kids, Aundrea and Gia Gadsby.

The List

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron

Age of Ultron List

Avengers: Age of Ultron wasn’t great and wasn’t even the best Marvel film of this year…but it didn’t have to be. I understand Joss Whedon really beat himself up over the pressures of making a follow up to the first Avengers flick, but his final product was exactly what I wanted. James Spader NAILED IT as Ultron, and it was so creepy how the robot featured his mannerisms. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and its timeline of films are basically a long TV series of epic 2 hour episodes. The ongoing story evolved well in Age of Ultron, and we got all the action, witty banter, and intros to new characters that we needed…before things get really hairy in Captain America: Civil War. 

9. Ant-Man

Ant Man 2015

I had some personal investment in Ant-Man, because I wanted it to surprise people for how good it could be. After opening weekend, there was much chest-pounding and “Told ya!” from me and I am totally shameless about it. The Ant-Man story in the MCU has been rearranged, as Hank Pym was the one who originally assembled The Avengers in the comics and also created Ultron. The film was also more of a “changing of the guard” than an origin story, as Hank (Michael Douglas) was passing the suit on to Scott Lang (Paul Rudd).

Rather than be an action film with some comedy, Ant-Man was a comedy with plenty of action. I LOVED that about the film. I died laughing every time Michael Pena was on screen and I appreciated the fact Paul Rudd didn’t have to try being someone else (like Chris Pratt had to for Jurassic World ). It was a fun one-off movie that still moved the Marvel story along and concluded with an awesome scene after the credits.

8. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION

The latest in the Ethan Hunt/IMF saga did not disappoint. Rogue Nation continued the fun-spy-stunt vibe that many of us loved in Ghost Protocol, but established itself as its own film more than a sequel. Tom Cruise may be a crazy person in real life, but on the screen he is good an action star as any. This installment didn’t really force a love story on you either but more of a mutual respect between Hunt and MI6 agent Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), that may or may not have led to some natural attraction. Faust was a badass character in this film too.

07. Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

I walked out of the theater with one thought: “Helluva story.” The NWA biopic directed by Friday director F. Gary Gray grabs a hold of the viewer, gets the head bobbing/toe tapping, and reminds many of us (who grew up or lived in the era that revolutionized hip-hop) of what was going on in the streets. It’s a long film, but it’s almost like 3 different stories mashed into one following Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. I do feel that the stories regarding Ice Cube and Dr. Dre were cleaned up a little because they were producers on the film, but that was expected.

Oshea Jackson Jr. playing his father felt perfect and both Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre) and Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E) gave excellent performances. You really do get chills when both Snoop Dogg and Tupac are introduced. And of course Paul Giamatti settles in fine as his now typical a-hole manager role.

6. Love & Mercy

Love & Mercy

Speaking of Giamatti a-hole manager roles…Love & Mercy edges out Straight Outta Compton for me because Paul Dano gives one of the definite Oscar-worthy performances from this summer as a young Brian Wilson. I do recommend listening to Pet Sounds before watching the movie, and then become amazed at how wrong Wilson’s father and Mike Love were about the album when the Beach Boys originally recorded it. The process Wilson goes through composing his music makes you say “Wow” out loud.

My one fear going into the theater was John Cusack mailing in another gig where he seems like “John Cusack as John Cusack…as (insert historical figure)”. Nope. I actually forgot at times that it was Cusack as the older version of Wilson. I also have to say that Elizabeth Banks pulls off one of the more powerful scenes as someone standing up to a threatening jackass bully like Giamatti’s character. I may have slow clapped as it happened.

5. Ex Machina

Ex Machina

Ex Machina is one of the great surprises of 2015. Throughout the entire film, you are so unsure as to when something is going to go wrong and who is really in control. The robot, Ava (played by Alicia Vikander), has you on a string and you can’t do anything about it. Oscar Isaac’s performance adds to the suspense like a time bomb waiting to explode. Then, when the credits roll at the end, you have no idea if you should be afraid of the technology you rely so much on (i.e. cell phones, Google, EVERYTHING). A movie that makes you question such things, because they are sort of plausible, is undeniable as a great thriller.

4. Inside Out

Inside Out

Dammit, Pixar…You made us feel feelings again, which I guess is expected in a film LITERALLY about feelings. Inside Out  really is the emotional roller coaster that it’s advertised as. It is casted masterfully for each of the different character “feelings” in young Riley’s (Kaitlyn Dias) head. The two characters that felt dead on to their real-life counterparts were Sadness (Phyllis Smith) and of course Anger (Lewis Black). What made the film this good though, was how it reminded the viewer how important and natural each of your feelings can be, no matter your age. High five for deep overall messages, Pixar.

3. The End of the Tour

The End of the Tour

The film is based on a 5-day interview between Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) and author David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) following the release of ‘Infinite Jest’ in 1996. The reason I hold this film in such high regard is because it felt like the most honest interaction between two people given their statuses and positions. Their humor, insecurities, competitiveness, and self awareness hit home with me, and Segel captured that the best as Wallace. It’s also funny now that movies taking place in the 90’s can now be considered period pieces and I giggled every time Segel asked for a Diet-Rite.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is the fastest 2 hours you’ll ever experience in a movie theater. Once the vehicles, spawned from the sick and beautiful mind of George Miller, hit the desert road, your breath is held for the remainder of the ride. Visually, it was like nothing I had seen before. It was pure action, adventure, and horror. You also didn’t have to see any of the other films to pick up on Fury Road. Charlize Theron kicked everybody’s ass as Furiosa. And who doesn’t love an army of hell-bred maniacs being led by a Heavy Metal guitarist whose axe shoots real flames out of it?

1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Use this one)

Naming something #1 says a lot about whatever it is you are actually ranking. When you you make the proclamation though, you stand by it (like when you rank 40 different pizza places and everybody loses their minds in the comments section).

As of August 15th at 5:34 PM CDT, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is my favorite movie of 2015. I laughed, I connected, I cried, I laughed again, and repeat. I wanted Earl (RJ Cyler) to be my “coworker”. I wanted to hangout with Rachel (Olivia Cooke) and talk about how awesome Hugh Jackman ALWAYS is as Wolverine. I was Greg (Thomas Mann) in high school, to an extent, and I wanted to tell him things don’t turn out so bad. The supporting cast is incredible in this film as well with Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Jon Bernthal, Molly Shannon, and the dude who plays Earl’s brother (Bobb’e J. Thompson). 

It’s also a film about kids who love movies. I love movies. Weird how someone would relate with something like that, right?

Have a favorite film that didn’t make the list? What does your “Favorite 10” look like? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter.