2015’s best films

The top five movies of the year so far

As we hurry toward the end of 2015, we conclude a year that is best described as “meh.”

Although financially no year in Hollywood history has been better, thanks to films like “Furious 7,” “Jurassic World” and “Mission Impossible,” there were very few truly great movies. This was doubtlessly the Year of the Franchise Cash-In. Even Marvel, usually a reliable source of good, fun action, pushed out “Ant Man,” and Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” is making exactly zero waves and is poised to become the prestigious studio’s first flop.

However, all that is not to say that there were no great movies this year. The really good movies, while fewer in number than last year, were as good as they have ever been. There were signs of real innovation and the specter of new ideas in Hollywood’s best and brightest.

So, while 2015 was no 2014, or even 2013, there was enough good to make this year, if not a memorable year, at least a year worth revisiting. So with that, here are the top five best films of 2015 (Excluding December releases)

5) “Spy”

Melissa McCarthy is one of the funniest people acting today, and brought her charming brand of comedy to the spy genre in one of the funniest spy spoofs since “Austin Powers.” Committed to focusing on the spies who weren’t James Bond, the film follows McCarthy’s character who works a desk job with the CIA as the support coordinator of Agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law). When he goes MIA, she is forced into the field with a quirky supporting cast and wonderfully hilarious gags abound. Jason Statham plays what is essentially a caricature mocking the exact kind of character he plays in “Furious 7,” and his bits are easily some of the funniest.

4) “The Martian”

Matt Damon continued to make his case for being one of the best leading men in Hollywood today in this brilliant piece of science fiction. Based on a novel by the same name, “The Martian” follows an astronaut stranded on Mars and the efforts by his support staff, both in space and on Earth, to rescue him. Damon demonstrates throughout the film his remarkable ability to carry a scene single handedly, and takes one of the most challenging roles in recent memory and completely aces it. Even with nobody to play off of, Damon is able to showcase his character and personality. Add onto his magnificent performance some of the best special effects of the year and a compelling, tightly written script and you have one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory.

3) “Inside Out”

The best Pixar movie in years–perhaps ever–is also their most innovative, and represents a bold step for the most consistently great studio in the world of animation. A family movie without a villain is already a radical departure for the Disney/Pixar writers, but making a story focused entirely on the emotions of a single, perfectly normal girl was a stroke of genius. By personifying the emotions that exist within all of us, Pixar was able to evoke the magic they first captured in “Toy Story,” and tell their marvellous coming-of-age tale while teaching a wholly original message that, to my knowledge, any family movie has ever tried to teach. The lessons Riley (voiced by Kaitlyn Dias) and her dominant emotion, Joy (voiced by Amy Pohler) learn over the course of this masterpiece are lessons that I believe are relatable both for the target demographic and adults alike. Who hasn’t felt like they didn’t belong, a stranger in a strange place? “Inside Out” is a movie that everyone should see at some point in their lives, and is an essential addition to Pixar’s library.

2) “Ex Machina”

Coming seemingly out of nowhere, “Ex Machina” managed to thrust itself into a year oversaturated with sequels and big-budget action flicks to develop one of the most engaging hits of the year. The film, which follows many tried and true tropes in sci-fi about artificial intelligence and the nature of life yet manages to spin them in creative and compelling ways, should already be considered for inclusion into the pantheon of great science fiction films. It’s reliance on ideas, and story over visual effects, deserves a lot of praise when this could easily have been a CGI swamped mess of an “I, Robot” ripoff. “Ex Machina” was able to carve its own little niche in this year’s hits, and gained a flood of critical approval for its engaging script and compelling imagery. Definitely a must-see.

1) “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Nobody expected a “Mad Max” sequel to be the most visually stunning, pulse-pounding, heart wrenching, thought-provoking and overall fantastic film to come out this year, but “Fury Road” became just that. It is hard to imagine another film that can have better action than all the other big-budget flicks that came out this year, while also maintaining one of the most engaging and interesting stories in the post-apocalyptic genre. The fact that so little is actually said between the characters lends the film the aura of a legend, a timeless story that can and will be enjoyed for years to come. The story of Max, Furiosa, Nux and the evil Immortan Joe is one that resonated with audiences this year, drawing near universal praise from all corners of the moviegoing world. “Fury Road” tells the story of the greatest journey for the greatest hero of the greatest movie of the year, surprising and delighting it’s way into the hearts of millions.

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