Kingsman: The Secret Service
There was no shortage of spy movies in 2015, with movies like Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Spectre, Man from U.N.C.L.E, and the aptly-named Spy all finding various levels of critical and commercial success. Added to that list is Kingsman: The Secret Service, a comic-book adaptation that boasts some of the best action seen all year.
It Follows is a love letter to the horror films of old, with its slow-paced narrative and attention to detail. The story itself is quite simple, almost deviously so as we follow a young woman who is followed (read: haunted) by a shape-shifting entity. What sets the movie apart from others of its kind is its production values, and its haunting soundtrack by video game composer, Disasterpeace.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Serving as both a sequel and a soft reboot to the franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road was one of 2015's standout action films. It stars Tom Hardy, who replaces Mel Gibson in the titular role, and he is supported by a talented cast that includes Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz and Charlize Therone, who pretty much stole the show as Imperator Furiosa.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Avengers once again assemble in this sequel to the 2012 summer blockbuster, which was itself a culmination of the various movies that made up Phase One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time around the heroes must fend off an artificial intelligence bent on bringing about the extinction of the human race.
Chris Pratt proves his star power once again in Jurassic World, after breaking out last year with the success of The LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, both of which were featured on my 2014 favorite movies list. The movie broke all manner of records upon release, besting the Furious 7 to become the highest grossing film of the year, a record it might soon have to relinquish to a certain movie further down my list of favorites.
Disney and Pixar have hit another home run with Inside Out, an animated film that explores the complexities of human emotions and the human mind through the eyes of a little girl. The movie features exceptional animation as well as a talented voice cast that includes Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith and Bill Hader.
Ever the fan of psychological horror films, I had rushed at the opportunity to watch Goodnight Mommy after I'd heard it was being compared to the likes of It Follows and The Babadook. But nothing could've prepared me for the pure mindf**kery of this Austrian movie that follows the misadventures of a pair of twins, as they suspect their mother of having been replaced by a complete stranger during facial surgery.
Dope is one of those few oddball movies that does not fall into the confines of any particular genre. It is a comedy, drama, and an art film rolled into one. The movie tells the story of an unlikely trio of close knit friends in high school, who through a series of unfortunate circumstances find themselves in possession of a sizable amount of drugs for which they must assume distribution duties.
The Martian was one of the few surprise hits this past year, although truth be told, many had already anticipated some level of success for the movie, given its source material. The movie works because it is not afraid to be different from others of its kind, just like I'd detailed in this review.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
J.J. Abrams delivers once again with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latest installment of the science fiction franchise that has now spanned five decades and seven movies. This newest episode is arguably the best one of the bunch, even though many have chosen to find fault in the similarities it shares with prior episodes. Still, there is no denying that the franchise is back with full force. I mean, the box office numbers speak for themselves now, don't they?
And the winner is...
Mad Max: Fury Road
It was a close race this year. My choice for favorite movie could've easily gone to Star Wars, especially since it had the advantage of a recent release, as opposed to Mad Max that came out months ago. But therein lies the very reason I have chosen to give this year to Mad Max, the fact that I have seen it several times and the movie remains just as mind blowing as it had been on my first viewing. I'll be going to see Star Wars again soon though, preferably in 3D, so who knows, I might just feel inclined to revisit this post then.