THE499’s Top 10 of 2015

This article will be slightly longer than our usual pieces because there were so many good films in 2015, but we will be sure to litter it with lots of nice pictures and videos to hold your attention. Blake and I will be giving you our individual top 10’s so I hope you read both but if you are only interested in one you can scroll on.  Thank you so much for reading for this last month and we will be continuing to write for the foreseeable future so stick around and bring some of your friends along!

Jesse’s Top 10 for 2015

Looking back, 2015 was a great year for film and I had a blast starting this site while learning more about cinema.  My top 10 is ordered by the movies that surprised me, delighted me and gained my affection and obviously as the movies that I think were the best of the year.  I toiled over the top 4 particularly but in the end my resolve is strong.

Honorary Mention:

Steve Jobs, Kingsman, Selma, The Hateful Eight, Room

Movies I haven’t seen that would probably bump something off this list:

Carol, Brooklyn, Youth

10. The Big Short

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This film was surprisingly funny and really caused me to care about its characters.  It is such an important film for our nation.  It is going to start conversation and inform people of the corruption in our economy and hopefully spark some change.  It has some faults but they don’t come close to scraping the value of this film.

9. The Martian

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Ridley Scott knows how to make good movies but also makes a lot of bad movies.  This is by far one of his best since Alien or Blade Runner.  The man just knows how to do space.  This film is smart, doesn’t slow down for its audience and challenges you to think.  Many want to compare this film to Interstellar or Gravity but I truly believe this is a superior film. It is by far the most optimistic film of the year with maybe one of the more terrifying plots.  It makes my top 10 because it can blend those natures.

8. Macbeth

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Something about the way Justin Kurzel (director, writer) won me over from the very first shot in this film.  The more I dwell on this adaptation I think of how amazingly edited it is to reflect the mind of Macbeth and the monologues were some of my favorite scenes of the year. Michael Fassbender continually amazes me with his talent and how deep he gets into his roles.  I was lucky to catch a showing of this film in Cincinnati but it was produced through Amazon video so watch for that!

7. White God

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I struggled to not put this higher on my list because this movie is not only a creative masterpiece but also an incredible allegory to prejudice and racial oppression. As a satire it is so powerful and uses some of the best animal acting in a movie.  This movie will move you.  Also they released 250 wild dogs on the streets of Budapest for this film. If that doesn’t intrigue I don’t know what will.

Streaming on Netflix

 6. It Follows

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This retro horror could be my favorite horror film in the past 5 years.  This movie, along with The Babadook, (streaming on Netflix) gives a warm bloody hope for horror films which have been abysmal of late.  A unique quality to this film is its inspiring sense of dread.  The creature that follows moves so slowly and eerily building true tension, which is lost in the world of jump scares and found footage films today.

5. Beasts of No Nation

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Beasts of No Nation holds no punches.  This is not an easy watch, it is relentless and heartbreaking.  It is a piece on Child Soldiers in West Africa, uniquely though it does not give a context.  Told through the eyes of the child Agu it bears no need for political concerns, as these things would not concern a child.  Abraham Attah in his first acting performance (he was cast right off of a futbol field, with absolutely no training) gives one of the most compelling child acts I have ever seen. It is wonderfully shot by Cary Fukunaga who adapted the screenplay, directed and was the director of photography for the film.

Streaming on Netflix

4. Spotlight

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When you talk about the great films of year, Spotlight is in everyone’s mouth.  It’s a fantastic film and I would argue a perfect one as I would change nothing in the movie.  The reserved acting and incredibly smart and well-paced screenplay makes this movie stand out.  It also has elements of a thriller. I was on the edge of my seat the whole movie. For more information you can read our review! Spotlight Review

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Now comes controversy.  Yes, I was most excited to see this movie this year and yes I enjoyed it immensely.  But I was not surprised by this movie.  It was nostalgic but overwhelmingly safe, which I believe was necessary to reinvigorate this series and I applaud Abrams for what he accomplished.  As a movie this needed to bring something new to the table which it does in a sense, specifically with Kylo Ren, and I believe we will get something new in the future but for now we just get a wonderful picture of why we love the Star Wars universe.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road

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It was so hard for me not to immediately slap this at number one.  This movie went leaps and bounds beyond any action movie in the past decade and I would argue it to be the best in that time period.  This movie is absolutely perfect; it is a 10/10 and here is why.  This movie uses incredible practical effects, wonderful storytelling for such a simple premise (the entire movie is a car chase), it is redeeming to women who have been consistently exploited by the movie industry and it is relentless with its face melting action.  It creates cultures, and brings true character to this mad mad world. It breaks the foundations of action films today and we won’t see another film like this for a long time.

1. Ex Machina

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Wow, wow, wow this movie absolutely stole my affection, attention and it surprised me even more.  The character interactions in this movie are simply enthralling and its easily one of my all-time favorite Sci-fi movies. It’s almost Shakespearean screenplay is incredibly intelligent and gripping.  It has true discord but and you simply cannot decipher who to trust, not even after the end of the film.  Oscar Isaac, Domnhall Gleeson and Alice Vikander are simply stunning as a triangle of tension. My favorite scene from all of 2015 is from this film and it absolutely solidified it as the best film of the year.  It is bizarre and slapped right into the tension to knock you off your feet.

Alex Garland with his directorial and writing debut, Ex Machina, is going to have a hard time topping this but I hope that he does.

Streaming on Amazon Video

Blakes Top 10 for 2015

I think I saw fewer movies this year than I ever have before. That’s largely in part to moving to a different city and having to redeem and manage my time more appropriately. All that aside, I loved a lot of the movies I saw this year, though, nothing I enjoyed as much as last year’s Whiplash or Blue Ruin unfortunately. This list isn’t necessarily my opinion on the “best” movies of 2015, just my favorite ones that I saw. They’re in no particular order and they all would fall between 7 and 10 on my rating scale. Most of them are on Netflix and I encourage you to watch them if they sound interesting.

Selma 

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Selma was wide released on January 2nd, 2015 so it barely sneaks into my list, but it’s a fantastic movie. Something that struck me about Selma was the way it tore down our tendency of hero-worship towards Dr. King. David Oyelowo shows us a sometimes weak and insecure but always-courageous civil rights leader.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

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If this movie had come out when I was in Jr. High I would have watched it hundred times the weekend I rented it. Kingsman is an outrageously fun story of a young ruffian (Egerton) trained up to be a secret agent by a clandestine, paramilitary organization. The cast is great and the film doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s a great time (probably not for your kids).

It Follows

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It Follows was making the film festival circuit for almost a year before it’s wide release in the U.S. How it took so long to be picked up commercially is a mystery because this film is excellent. It’s original to the genre and blends that originality with some hallmarks of 80’s horror, chiefly the score and the use of sex as a plot device rather than it being outright gratuitous.

The Gunman 

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If you’re a movie snob you can skip this one. If you want to see Sean Penn muscly and veiny beyond reason, this is for you. This movie feels like an old school action film at its core and that might be what I like about it the most. The good guys win, the bad guys die gruesomely, and Idris Elba is clutch. If you’re just trying to “Netflix and chill” by yourself, this one is a good one.

Streaming on Netflix

Mad Max: Fury Road

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By use of practical explosions and real cars Fury Road makes car chases cool and exciting again. Venturing back into the world of Mad Max with Tom Hardy at the helm didn’t hurt it either. This movie was so fun in the theaters I felt like I could feel the heat off the screen like the pyrotechnics at a Rob Zombie show.

Slow West

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I love a good Western and this one surprised me because it doesn’t really feel like a classic western and I loved it all the same. Visually, it was the most beautiful, shot-on-site film of the year (this was largely due to it being shot in New Zealand). I’m also a sucker for Fassbender and Mendelssohn in anything. Additionally it has a lot of really interesting and compelling imagery that my wife happened to pick out that I missed.

Streaming on Amazon Video

Inside-Out

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I’m a sucker for a decent Pixar movie that blends creativity with story. Inside Out slightly lacks on the latter but excels in the former. While it wasn’t as visually attractive as Pixar’s other offering of 2015, The Good Dinosaur, it was far and away more enjoyable. It has great humor, voice acting, and fits well into the backdrop of other Pixar cannon.

Straight Outta Compton

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Another one that isn’t for your kids, Straight Outta Compton showcases the rise, fall, and legacy of N.W.A. during the late 80’s. Since it’s a biopic the story doesn’t present anything that is remarkably creative (other than what was omitted from history) but it’s shot well and the music is off the chain. Not to mention the excellent performances given by the three leads in each of their first leading roles.

Beasts of No Nation

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Beasts of No Nation was one of the hardest for me to sit through this year because it shows so much of the reality of evil in the world. I was shocked to look up Abraham Attah and see that he’d never been in another film. This one made my list simply because it made me feel. Not great feelings, but feelings. If you can stomach the harshness of reality, it pays off with a tear-jerking redemptive ending.

Streaming on Netflix

The Force Awakens  

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I don’t need to justify this to any of you. You know why it’s on the list.

Honorary Mention:

Age of Ultron, Jurassic World, Hateful Eight (if you need to know why it’s not on my list wait for my review)

Movies I haven’t seen that would probably bump something off this list:

Ex Machina, Spotlight, MacBeth

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3 thoughts on “THE499’s Top 10 of 2015

  1. A little late to the party, but I hope that’s okay! These lists are interesting and I respect picking The Gunman, not for its artistry, but for its ability to entertain. Those films definitely get skipped over by so many people just because they’re not to “Oscar standards”. I enjoyed the writing and I’m excited to follow this blog and read future posts! Keep it up!

    Like

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