2015 was a good year for movies. We were treated to two Pixar films, a new Star Wars, a new Mad Max and a new Jurassic Park among others, but what were the ten best films of last year? I hear you asking – never fret, I’m here to make your mind up for you.
10: Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
A nice throwback to old-school sci-fi was what awaited audiences going to watch Ex Machina. It’s full of fine performances, great visuals and an interesting plot. It’s not perfect, but I probably liked Ex Machina a little less than most.
What I said in my review: Ex Machina is a dark film that suffers from perhaps too much detail, and some particularly slow-moving scenes. It is a smart sci-fi however, that does its best to subvert its plot, despite (for me) feeling a tad predictable with its ending. Watch it for its cinematography, effects and Alicia Vikander’s performance.
9: Sicario (Denis Villeneuve)
Surprisingly funny, Sicario is a hard hitting crime thriller from the same director that brought us the fantastic Prisoners. Sicario isn’t quite as spectacular however, with confused character development and a slightly uneven tone. Despite this, the acting, cinematography, suspense and violence are all spot on throughout.
8: Shaun the Sheep Movie (Mark Burton & Richard Starzak)
Great fun for adults and kids, Aardman are at it again with Shaun the Sheep: Movie. Shaun and his pals are friendly, funny and a joy to watch. With fantastic animation, a nice plot and a great sense of humour (that is more low-key than other Aardman films), Shaun the Sheep Movie is a great family film.
What I said in my review: Wonderfully animated, Shaun the Sheep is an enjoyable, friendly film made for families, but sure to entertain the little ones. Despite its low-key humour it is a pleasant watch and it retains Aardman’s sense of humour and unique vision of the UK.
7: The Good Dinosaur (Peter Sohn)
While not quite vintage Pixar, The Good Dinosaur tells a moving tale of family, friends and overcoming one’s fears. It’s funny throughout and features a good cast, but the most impressive aspect of The Good Dinosaur has to be its animation. The detail in this film is without par – it truly is an outstanding achievement of the form.
6: Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow)
Jurassic World is the kind of film that transports you back to your childhood. Filled with nods to Jurassic Park, World is a hugely enjoyable film from start to finish. It’s not perfect, but it is a great ride that everyone should take. I’m excited about the future of the Jurassic franchise, because with Chris Pratt as lead and Trevorrow directing, the future looks strong.
What I said in my review: A fun, well made blockbuster for the whole family to enjoy. While it outstays its welcome just a little bit, Jurassic World is the best dinosaur movie since Jurassic Park. With great acting, special effects, cinematography and a fun plot, this film is easily recommendable, just not as good as the original. It is missing Spielberg’s directorial touch, but with Colin Trevorrow, the franchise is in great hands.
5: Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughn)
Whilst 2015 saw the release of the much anticipated Spectre, only one spy movie made its way onto my top ten list – the ultra-violent, ultra-ridiculous Kingsman: The Secret Service. With a stellar debut lead from Taron Egerton alongside amazingly good turns from Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson, this movie had everything. Sure it’s vulgar, but you will definitely have a great time with this one.
What I said in my review: Kingsman: The Secret Service is full of neat nods to the spy genre and the films, TV shows and books that have preceded it, and then throws blood on them. Its action scenes are great fun, and the effects are quite stunning at times. Unfortunately the plot feels a little over-done on occasion, the length of the film is a little bloated and for the life of me, I don’t understand why Mark Strong does a dodgy Scottish accent. However, you will have fun with this film – lots of it.
4: Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (J.J. Abrams)
Probably the biggest film release since Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, The Force Awakens wears its inspirations on its sleeve. Thematically very similar to the original movie, The Force Awakens does a very good job at introducing us to a whole new generation of Star Wars characters. It’s fun, light-hearted, beautifully shot and contains more than enough great special effects – practical and CGI. While there were a couple of moments that didn’t sit particularly well with me, it comes easily recommendable. It’s a new Star Wars film, and it doesn’t suck.
3: The Martian (Ridley Scott)
A hugely enjoyable sci-fi survival adventure. It’s smart, slick and surprisingly very funny, with a brilliant ensemble cast featuring the ever enjoyable Matt Damon giving perhaps his best performance to date. If you’re after something feel-good, then The Martian comes very highly recommended indeed. Plus, it’s beautifully shot too.
2: Inside Out (Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen)
If The Good Dinosaur wasn’t quite vintage Pixar, Inside Out certainly was. Hugely reminiscent of Monsters Inc. and lovelier to boot, Inside Out is a quality film for the whole family to enjoy. The idea behind the film seems unlimited in its bounds for inventive, smart, funny or moving situations; indeed, Inside Out is the smartest film to come out of Hollywood for a long time – a real winner on every level.
What I said in my review: Despite covering some familiar ground, Inside Out is a quality movie. With it, we find Pixar back at their best, with a high-concept film that works on almost every level. I would’ve liked the film to be a bit longer, but what we’ve got is smart, funny, moving and just generally very, very good. Pixar know how to make a film for everyone to enjoy.
1: Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)
Mad Max: Fury Road is a stellar movie. It’s exciting, violent, a huge amount of fun and gorgeous. It’s a bonkers film, yes, but it is ridiculously good entertainment. I mean, what other film last year gave us a blind, bungeed, flame-spewing electric guitar playing zombie-like guy?
What I said in my review: Mad Max: Fury Road is, as the name suggests, mad. This is a film full of excitement, adrenaline and striking visuals, backed up with some fine acting. The lead performance from Tom Hardy is a little strange, but you can overlook that as this is one great action movie, one of the best for a long time – it’s perhaps just a tad too over-the-top for some though.
So there you have it, my personal top ten films of 2015. Have I missed anything out? Should the order be completely different? Or have I offended you so deeply with this list that I should just stop writing opinions forever? You can tell me in the comments.