Alas, 2015 is coming to a close. There were four films that grossed over $1 billion worldwide, and plenty of actually decent films this year. It was tough to narrow it down to a Top 5, but here’s my take on the year (with a couple honorable mentions):
Honorable Mention: Ant-Man – Who knew a Marvel film could be this fun? Taking a cue out of the first Iron Man film, Ant-Man follows Scott Lang who plays the titular hero, trying to help Hank Pym stop Darren Cross (aka Yellowjacket) from selling the Ant-Man and Yellowjacket technologies to Hydra.
While behind the scenes drama with a director change and worries that a B-level superhero getting his own movie (a la Iron Man), the film didn’t disappoint, with great action, CGI, and a leading man in Paul Rudd. 7.5/10
Honorable Mention: Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – In a year full of reboots and long awaited continuations, the newest Mission: Impossible might be the best yet. When Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) finds out that the Syndicate is real, it is up to him and the rest of the recently disbanded Impossible Missions Force to take them down.
While 2015 has been the year of the spy movie (The Man from UNCLE, Mission: Impossible, Hitman: Agent 47, Transporter Refueled, and Spectre, just to name a few), Mission: Impossible was probably the most fun (even though Spectre was a bit better overall). Fast paced, hit with the usual humor and action, the film succeeded in all the right places. 8/10
5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – As already stated, 2015 was a year full of comebacks (see Terminator: Genisys and Jurassic World). It seems only fitting that the year ended with the return of the biggest film franchise of all time: Star Wars. This time, we get to see Rey, Finn and BB-8 trying to take down Kylo Ren.
The series is back in full form under the helm of J.J. Abrams, who reduces the amount of lens flare in the movie, and brings a film full of action, humor, and Han Solo (Harrison Ford). The film sets up a great trilogy, and is already on track to continue to break box office records. 8.25/10
4. Spectre – While it might not be as good as Skyfall, James Bond is back again in Spectre, a film that still ranks among one of the top Bond films to date. Daniel Craig suits up again in what might be his final performance in a film that pits Bond against Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), someone who claims to have been behind many of Bond’s former attacks.
While Spectre might be a tad long (running at 148 minutes), the film ties up many loose ends from the Craig era, and adds a lot of depth and backstory to the agent we didn’t know too much about. 8.5/10
3. The Martian – Mark Watney (Matt Damon) needs saved. When the rest of Ares III presumes Watney is dead, they take off back to earth. The only problem, Mark is alive. He has to find a way to survive on Mars for a few hundred days before help arrives.
With an all-star cast including Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig and more, The Martian is up for a few Golden Globe awards and is definitely one of the best survival films in the past few years. 9/10
2. The Big Short – Adapted from Michael Lewis, the genius behind Moneyball, comes The Big Short, a film detailing the financial crisis from 2007-2010. Starring Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Christian Bale, and Brad Pitt, the film is two hours of fun with breakout performances from each star.
The Big Short is full of scheming and snarmy characters, brought to life by Adam McKay’s strong script and directorial effort. There is so much attention to detail in the film with sharp dialogue and the same glow that made Moneyball a successful film. 9/10
1. Spotlight – The 2001 investigation of the Catholic Church’s priests in Boston comes to light in the film based off the series of stories the team did in 2003 that earned them a Pulitzer Prize. Led by Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton), his staff works many angles of the story to figure out what is actually going on in their own backyard.
Performances by Keaton and Mark Ruffalo have already been met with universal acclaim, with the whole cast (including Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and Stanley Tucci) all carry the film to great heights. The film is dark, poignant and shows how great the Spotlight team is to the Boston community. 9.5/10