With the year at an end, it’s time to reflect on the various cinematic experiences we got this year. Offering arguably one of the most unique rosters for a top film, 2015 is certainly a year to remember. Crossing all genres, styles, and filmmaking techniques; these five films are some of the best to grace the big screen. Whittling this list down took a bit of time and sadly left a plethora of fantastic films in the honorable mentions category. Some of the most notable honorable mentions include The Martian, The Danish Girl, Bridge of Spies, Sicaro, and Creed; with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Inside Out.
5) What We Do In The Shadows
What do you get when you cross vampires, werewolves, apartment living, and New Zealand? One of the best comedies to come out this year and a new found respect for those who have to live with vampires. From one of the minds who created HBO’s Flight of the Conchords, this dark comedy is both incredibly clever and very funny. Actors Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi steal the show as vampires Vladislav (or Vlad “The Poker” if you’re feeling formal) and Viago. The sharp dialogue, fantastic costumes, and unique characters give What We Do In The Shadows a certain uniqueness. It’s a film that doesn’t just rely on the characters being vampires for humor, but the fact that they are all awful roommates with one another. What We Do In The Shadows shouldn’t be perceived as just another movie poking fun at the vampire genre, as this mockumentary offers far more than just that.
4) The Revenant
The Revenant is a film that is both horrifying and beautiful at the same time. Oscar-winning director Alejandro Inarritu brings to life a fantastic revenge story that realizes the harshness of the American Frontier during the 1820’s. Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of his best performances in his career despite having a minimal amount of lines throughout the course of this film. Backed by a fantastic supporting cast and some of the best cinematography I have ever seen, The Revenant is truly a standout film. From the blend of surrealistic dream sequences to the edge of your seat bear attack, you may not see another blockbuster movie like this in a long time. The Revenant is a complex film that will not answer all of the questions up front, letting you the audience deduce the greater messages behind it all.
3) The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino has done it once more, with this mystery/western hybrid. Harkening back to the days of old, if we consider 60 years back old, The Hateful Eight is a love letter to the classic western genre. Instead of an action fueled ride such as Django Unchained, Tarantino provides a far more slow-burning story. Characters are developed, the dialogue is exactly what you’d expect from one of Tarantino’s movies and the plot is genuinely engaging. Coming in at close to three hours, no part of the film feels wasted or inconsequential. The Hateful Eight will keep you guessing until the guns are finally drawn and blood has begun to spill.
2) Ex Machina
This may surprise a few, but Ex Machina is one of the best science fiction movies to come out in the past few years. Taking a more realistic and human approach to creating artificial life; Ex Machina is about human nature just as much as it is about machines. Directed by Alex Garland, this film’s far more haunting tone allows it to truly stand out among others. Alicia Vikander gives the robot Ava layers of dimension that only get better as the film rolls into the third act. Oscar Issac portrays the eccentric and dangerous CEO Nathan perfectly while Domhanll Gleeson stands in for the rest of us viewers as naive worker Caleb. Ex Machina also boasts great cinematography and editing; that help conveys the cold emotion of the characters. It’s a sci-fi movie I wouldn’t skip
1) Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road is like nothing we have seen in filmmaking in a long, long time. It’s a gut-wrenching, visceral explosion of raw emotion; that hides layers upon layers of subtext throughout this wild ride. Directed by Geroge Miller, Fury Road is one of the best action movies to be every made and will live on cinema history. Acting as visual storytelling personified, Mad Max: Fury Road is a far more complex movie than one might expect where a flame-throwing guitar is part of an action scene. Discussing topics such as religion, idol worship, greed, war, and female empowerment; Mad Max: Fury Road doesn’t just point out these issues, but dives head first into them. Hardy does a fantastic job portraying the world-weary warrior, but this is clearly Charlize Theron’s movie. Furiosa is one of the best action characters to ever be put to screen and Theron offers just enough depth to the character that allows her to always be intriguing.
The stunt work alone in Mad Max: Fury Road puts it near the top, as Miller shows what a seasoned master can do with a 150 million dollar budget. The vibrant colors and wild music help contrast the harsh world perfectly, giving the movie a generally surrealistic feeling. Everything is thrown into chaos here and at the end of it all one of the best action movies ever made was produced. You may not see another film like this until Miller’s next Mad Max, but until then I will be content witnessing this movie over and over. Mad Max: Fury Road is the best film of 2o15.
What do you think about this list? In your opinion, did we get it right or wrong? Comment and tell us your thoughts.
A recent graduate of Arcadia University, Collin MacGregor is a freelance video editor and writer. He covers video games, television, and film for The Nerd Stash. Collin currently is the head film/television reviewer for the site.