Top 20 Movies of 2015

2015 is officially over, so it is finally time to talk the best movies of the year. I think overall it was a pretty good year in movies. Lots of great movies with great performances and directors. There are so many quality films to talk about, so I’m going to go over the twenty best movies of the year. These movies may not be the movies that sweep the Oscars. They may not be your favorite or what you think are the best. These are purely from a movie fanatic’s perspective, and the movies that really hit the right notes and rubbed me the right way made the list. The list combines what I liked most with what I think is the best to make the top twenty. First of all, I just want to mention that there are movies that won’t be making the list simply because I did not get a chance to see them. I really want to see them, and I know they will make some noise come award season, but unfortunately, I did not get a chance to check them out in 2015. I will mention them just because of what I’ve heard about them, and if you have seen them, you may be thinking that they deserve a spot on the list. Those movies include Dope,The Revenant, Room, Brooklyn, and Carol. All of these are films I’m expecting great things from, but unfortunately won’t get spots on this year’s list due to limited releases or my inability to get to the theater. Let’s get rolling with the list. I’ll start off with some honorable mentions, then we will get into the twenty best movies of 2015.

Honorable Mention: Furious 7

I had such a great time with this movie. I was actually a big fan of the whole series, especially since the rebirth of the fifth movie Fast Five. It had such a touching goodbye to Paul Walker, and it wasn’t the typical “turn your brain off” action movie. I could see my brain on and still have an awesome time with this movie.

Furious 7

Honorable Mention: It Follows

It Follows was one of the most surprising movies of the year. It was a horror movie that I actually didn’t find very scary, and it payed homage to my favorite horror movie, John Carpenter’s Halloween. It was different and refreshing, and in a world of generic money grabbing horror movies, It Follows stands out.

It Follows

Honorable Mention: Entourage

This movie takes a lot of heat from critics, but it’s actually a genuine good time. Whenever you’re with these four characters you feel like you’re part of the gang. I thought this movie was super funny and rewatchable. There weren’t too many very funny movies in 2015, but Entourage gave me some great laughs and a great time.


Honorable Mention: Black Mass

When I first heard about Black Mass I thought it was a sure Oscar contender. Is it the best picture of the year? No, but Johnny Depp gave an incredible performance, and with Depp on a cold streak, it was nice to see him back in a good movie. I honestly don’t think Depp has been this good since 2003 in Pirates of the Caribbean. Give it a look before award season because I can see at least a nomination for Depp.

Black Mass

20. The Gift

The Gift kind of came out of left field for me. I knew what I was getting into, and I loved the trailer, and in Joel Edgerton’s debut directing a feature film, he really knocks it home. Jason Bateman gave an awesome performance along with Joel Egerton who has become one of my favorite actors to watch. The Gift really makes you think about how you’ve treated people in your life.

The Gift

19. Spy

Up until Spy, I was not a fan of Melissa McCarthy. I almost didn’t even want to see Spy, but I’m so glad that I did. Spy was absolutely hilarious and turned me around toward Melissa McCarthy, and I’m actually very excited to see what she will do in Ghostbusters this coming year. I loved Spy, and it might have been my favorite pure comedy of the year.


18. Avengers: Age of Ultron

This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. The trailer looked so dark, and it really made me question if Ultron was going to be able to be defeated. While Avengers:Age of Ultron was hilarious and I really had a fun time with it, it didn’t quite hold up to my expectations, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my expectations were ridiculous. It was still a good movie that I hd a great time with.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

17. Ant-Man

Ant-Man was a whole new take on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It might have been the most fun movie of 2015, and I loved Ant-Man. I thought the casting choice of Paul Rudd worked perfectly for the movie and Evangeline Lilly was phenomenal. I also have to mention Michael Peña in the movie. He absolutely stole the show and was so funny. I really enjoyed Ant-Man, and it holds its own in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


16. Mission:Impossible Rogue Nation

One of the most successful action franchises was back this summer and it absolutely delivered. Tom Cruise proved exactly what we already know, and that is that he is one of the most committed action stars on the planet. He was actually on that plane! Rebecca Ferguson was awesome in this movie, and I’m so excited to see her return for the sixth movie. Christopher McQuarrie will also return to direct the sixth movie, and Rogue Nation proved that the Mission:Impossible franchise is more alive than ever.

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

15. The Big Short

When I first saw the trailer for this movie my face lit up. So many actors I love with Adam McKay behind the film. I love how he worked with Steve Carell in both Anchorman films, and he has proved to be one of the strongest comedic directors in the business. I didn’t quite know how he was going to pull off a drama like this, but he did it. There are still funny moments surrounded by amazing performances, and I expect to see The Big Short to see some action come the Oscars.

The Big Short

14. Steve Jobs

I was so excited to see Steve Jobs, and it really delivered. I heard a lot about how fans were bored and didn’t know why the film only portrayed three events in Steve Jobs’ life, but it worked so perfectly for the movie and those three scenes depicted the character so well. I also heard a lot about how Michael Fassbender did not look like Steve Jobs. That was a total non-issue for me. I can easily see Fassbender walking home with the Best Actor Oscar. Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen were both fantastic in the movie, and Aaron Sorkin delivered another masterful screenplay.

Steve Jobs

13. Straight Outta Compton

This was one of the biggest movies of the year, and for good reason. Everyone gave such great performances in this movie. Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E gave incredible performances, and with Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson on the screen, it felt like a young Ice Cube was actually on the screen. Paul Giamatti gave a phenomenal performance, and I would love to see this movie make some noise come Oscar time.

Straight Outta Compton

12. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl really surprised me! I didn’t expect to like it as much as I actually did. It was actually very good movie. Olivia Cooke is amazing, Thomas Mann is amazing, RJ Cyler is amazing, and Nick Offerman killed it. It was such a different take on the coming of age tale, and this movie really touched me the right way.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

11. Bridge of Spies

Anyone who says Spielberg doesn’t have it anymore is dead, dead wrong. From the first shot, it’s obvious it’s a Spielberg movie. Tom Hanks gave such a great performance. I think the end of the world will come before we see a bad performance from him. Also, Mark Rylance was absolutely amazing in this movie. I want to see him nominated for Best Supporting Actor so badly. It may have been missing the special Spielberg magic that Jaws, E.T., or Jurassic Park brought to the table, but I still loved Bridge of Spies.

Bridge of Spies

10. Kingsman: The Secret Service

The trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service was fantastic, and I was so hooked. Collin Firth hadn’t proved to be an action star, but he was so great in the movie. Sam L. Jackson was fantastic, and Taron Egerton proved he is a budding star. He was so great and likable in the movie, and I can’t wait to see what the world has in store for him. This movie does an amazing job of paying homage to classic spy movies, and while it knows exactly what it is, which is a relatively unoriginal spy movie, it is a fresh take on the genre and does it in such a new way. It is also so gritty and uses its R- rating to its advantage. There is a scene where Collin Firth is killing people in a church, and I’m pretty sure I loved it more than I ethically should have.

Kinsman: The Secret Service

9. Ex Machina

Ex Machina astonished me. I loved Ex Machina. It’s such an original take on the science fiction genre with some of the best performances of the year from really just a cast of three in Oscar Isaac, Domhall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander. All three were amazing. The effects were perfectly seamless, and I am praying that this movie gets some love awards-wise.

Ex Machina

8. Sicario

After talking so highly about Ex Machina it’s hard to believe I have eight movies ranked higher, but Sicario was amazing. Emily Blunt is one of my favorite actresses in the business today, and she was fantastic. I would love to see her be nominated for Best Actress and Benicio del Toro getting a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Both were absolutely great. It was also one of the best directed movies of the year, and Denis Villeneuve is a director to watch in the future.


7. Inside Out

What can I say about Inside Out? It was probably my favorite Disney Pixar film since Toy Story 3. It can make you laugh and cry, and it has such a great premise. As always, the animation from Pixar is second to none, and the voice acting is great from actors and actresses like Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, and Phyllis Smith.

Inside Out

6. The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight went through so much controversy, and overcame all of it to be one of the best movies of 2015. When you go to a Quentin Tarantino movie, Quentin Tarantino is the star. You don’t go for the actors, and in the case of The Hateful Eight, you don’t even go for the premise. You have to figure it out when you get into the theater. Quentin Tarantino shot the movie in 70mm film, and he used the same exact lenses used to shoot 1959’s Ben-Hur. Complete with an intermission and an overture, The Hateful Eight delivers awesome performances, and while it isn’t my favorite Tarantino movie, it is still a hit. A review is coming soon for this one.

The Hateful Eight

5. Spotlight

Spotlight had some of the darkest subject matter of the year, and you’ll feel like you need a bath after this one. It really shines some light on the good that news reporters can do when they simply do their job. Spotlight has incredible writing and performances, and it blew me away. I’m actually expecting Spotlight to nab multiple awards.


4. Creed

There are so many things Creed could have been. It could have been a poor sequel to a well received franchise. It could have been a generic cash grab, but Creed was one of the best movies of the year. It is right there with the original 1977 Rocky, and Michael B. Jordan has become one of my favorite actors. He has such a bright career ahead of him. Ryan Coogler does an incredible job directing this movie, and Creed has some of my favorite fight scenes ever to be in a movie! Sylvester Stallone was awesome as Rocky again, and this is his baby. I would love to see Stallone get nominated for Best Supporting Actor. It may not happen, but it would be well deserved.


3. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road is, in my opinion, the best action movie since The Dark Knight. If I had to pick one word to describe this movie, it would be “awesome.” Tom Hardy was great as the classic Max, and I can’t say enough about Charlize Theron as Furiosa. She stole the show. Mad Max: Fury Road also has some of the best action I’ve ever seen in a movie. A 70 year-old George  Miller directed this. The same guy who did Happy Feet. I absolutely adored Mad Max: Fury Road. The guy on bungee cords shredding the electric guitar with flames coming out to power the big rig is enough of a reason for this movie to be in my top three.

Mad Max: Fury Road

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens proved that Star Wars is back. J.J. Abrams, who initially didn’t want to take on the franchise, did such a phenomenal job with the movie. He brought in amazing characters and an amazing story with awesome special effects. He set Rian Johnson up for success so well in Episode 8, and this move revitalized the franchise. This movie may have even been my favorite of the year.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

1. The Martian

The Martian was a return to form for Ridley Scott and Matt Damon gave one of the best performances of the year. It was so funny, and I connected to the character so well, and on top of The Martian being so well made, it entertained me as much as well as almost any other movie this year. It was so funny, and had such great effects. It felt like I was watching a bio-pic of one of the coolest men to ever walk the face of the earth. It was incredibly well written, and it’s a movie I can’t see getting old. I’m so excited to pick this one up when it comes to stores, and I really hope it picks up a few awards. It definitely deserves it.

The Martian

Well, those are my top twenty movies of 2015. What are your favorites of the year? Comment and let me know! It’s not an easy thing to do because there are movies that I’m partial to, so I had to come up with a list that reflects what I thought as far as how well a movie is made and how much I enjoyed it. Overall, I think it was a good year in movies, and I’m super excited for 2016. I’m a little bit disappointed about the lack of Oscar worthy movies I saw this year, but the blockbusters were enough to make it a good year! Please let m know what your list is, and as always, thank you and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

PHOTO: MovieFone

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]