Sean’s Ten Favourite Movies of 2015

Since today is New Year’s Eve, it seemed like a good time to count down my favourite movies released in 2015. I still have lots to watch (Hateful Eight, you’re next!) so I don’t pretend this list is comprehensive, but it’s a damn good start.

10. What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows is such a crazy, what-we-do-in-the-shadowsbizarre comedy that I had to love it. It’s irresistible. There are so many great characters on display, a bizarre mix of humans, vampires, and werewolves, and their interactions with one another killed me. With laughter.  From start to finish, What We Do in the Shadows gave me scene after scene of amusement, from a bat fight to a werewolf showdown to one of the most awkward town dances imaginable.

9. The Martian

INTRO-2_20thCenturyFox_TheMartianThe Martian occupied a strange position for me. I absolutely loved the book, to the point I was worried the movie would fall short and disappoint, but I still felt optimistic that Ridley Scott and crew would pull it off. Well, there’s no doubt now – they pulled it off and then some. The Martian is a fantastic piece of film that captured the book even better than I hoped. It’s got a little of everything (comedy, drama, scifi, thrilller, even a hint of romance) in perfect balance, in a film that is so beautiful to watch it makes you want to visit Mars even after all that happens to poor Mark Watney.

8. Spy

Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy always make good stuff together, and Spy is their best to date. As great as McCarthy is, Spy is not just about her, and the great performances from the entire ensemble are what makes Spy one of my favourite movies of 2spy-DF-04541_R2_rgb.0015.  McCarthy owns the screen when needed but steps back in order to give everyone their moment to shine, from Rose Byrne to Jude Law to Miranda Hart, and Jason Statham is especially memorable as the boneheaded spy who wants to use every action movie cliche in the book, to hilarious results.

7. Creed

Creed brought back Rocky, one of my most beloved franchises, in the best possible way.   It’s a creed-finalposter-frontpagefresh start with a new boxer, Michael B. Jordan, carrying the torch.  But at the same time, it forges strong connections to the existing franchise, with Jordan playing Apollo Creed’s son and Rocky being brought in to train the son of his best friend and biggest rival.  The atmosphere was perfect, the nods to the past were wonderful, and the story made us cheer again for a new underdog, feeling familiar while also opening up a whole new world of possibilities.

6. Kingsman: The Secret Service 

In a year where Marvel released two more superhero movies (and Fox gave us one that we are desperately trying to forget), Kingsman: The Secret Service is mykingsman-movie-review-the-secret-service favourite comic book adaptation of 2015.   Who knew that Colin Firth could be such an action hero?  His character’s last stand at a Kentucky church is one of the best action scenes in recent memory, and the symphony of exploding heads at the end is absolutely masterful.  Style and excess abound in Kingsman and I’m looking forward to more of the same in 2017, when the sequel is released!

5. Bridge of Spies

Is it just me or did Bridge of Spies fly WAY under the radar?  I heard almost nothing about this movie from anyone, which is shocking for a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom bridge of spiesHanks, or written by the Coen Brothers (and Bridge of Spies is all three)!  And this is not just any movie.  It’s incredible.  I was captivated from start to finish by this cold war story that eschews stereotypes and in doing so gives us a much richer experience than I ever could have expected.  Nothing is black and white, everything is a shade of grey, especially the Russian spy being bartered (Mark Rylance), who is one of the most upstanding individuals you will ever see on film (especially when in any other movie he’d be the bad guy)!

4. Mad Max: Fury Road

I’m glad to see Mad Max: Fury Road getting so much love, both upon release and as we all reflect on the best of 2015.  Mad Max is my favourite action movie of the year by far.  Mad Max gave us something so original, frenetic, and crazy that it almost blew my mind.  Visually, Mad Max was spectacular but the story and characters were what lifted this movie above the pack. FURY ROAD Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron give particularly memorable leading performances, while Nicholas Hoult and Hugh Keays-Byrne both give us bizarre yet believable supporting turns that increase the crazy factor immensely.  Mad Max never stops, not even for a second, and it’s a hell of a ride!

3. The Revenant

Speaking of non-stop treks through desolate wastelands, The Revenant is next on my list of file_611355_revenant-trailer-home-640x320favourites.  But I would not call The Revenant an action movie – it’s more of a slow burn revenge story as bear attack survivor Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) chases his son’s killer (Tom Hardy, who’s awesome again, this time in a supporting role).  And while the midwest winter is harsh, Hugh Glass’ surroundings are absolutely beautiful.  For my money, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki gave us the most visually stunning movie of 2015, and that’s high praise given the next two on the list are also brilliant in that regard.

2. Ex Machina

Ex-Machina-Cast-Wallpapers (1)As is probably evident, 2015 gave us a wide variety of excellent movies, and my favourites were all unique in some way.  And “unique” is the best way I can think to describe Ex Machina.  It’s a seemingly serene, beautifully shot meditation on what it is to be alive for much of the movie, and yet the whole time your brain is waiting for things to turn ugly.  Because it’s inevitable that they will, and yes, they do.   Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander all deliver incredible performances, playing so well off each other that it’s easy to suspend any disbelief we may otherwise have had.  Ex Machina is spectacular from beginning to end, and most importantly, it puts very difficult questions to us, through the protagonists, that we will ultimately have to answer.

1. Anomalisa

Unique in every way, Anomalisa is head and shoulders above the rest of the movies I saw this year, and without question my favourite of 2015.  Everything in Anomalisa serves a purpose, everything has meaning, everything anomalisais a potential clue to our struggling protagonist of the hidden problems that he’s facing.  Charlie Kaufman’s writing is sharper than ever and Duke Johnson’s animation is stunning and absolutely essential to the story.  Anomalisa is pure cinematic brilliance, and I hope all of you are able to experience it for yourselves (as it’s open in select theatres, expanding to a wider release in January).  Of all the movies I saw this year, Anomalisa is the one that still sticks with me months later, and I don’t expect to shake it anytime soon.

Happy New Year, and please let me know in the comments what your favourites were in 2015!

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37 thoughts on “Sean’s Ten Favourite Movies of 2015

  1. jhubner73

    Great list. I’ve been pretty absent in the cinema this year, so I feel like a hermit looking at the ones you’ve seen. Loved Ex Machina and Fury Road. Really excited to see Anomalisa and The Revenant. Your description of Bridge of Spies makes me a little more interested to see it. I knew with Spielberg directing a Coen Brothers script it couldn’t be terrible, but the not what you’d expect aspect makes me excited to check it out. And I feel ashamed for not having seen What We Do In The Shadows. Damn ashamed.

    I loved It Follows, though it seems that it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Sean Post author

      If you like Flight of the Conchords (or Eagle vs. Shark), you will love What We Do in the Shadows, and Bridge of Spies is definitely worth watching.

      I haven’t seen It Follows but it looks truly creepy!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. jhubner73

        I do love Flight, Eagle vs Shark, and pretty much anything Jermaine does. I will watch it this weekend.

        It Follows is creepy and just really well made. Oh, I really liked The Guest, too. Not sure if that was 2015 or 2014.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. jameshaseltine

    Can’t believe so many people have seen The Revenant already!! Stupid UK releases schedule. It’s fine when we get Star Wars a day early, but H8ful, Revenant, and Anomalisa months later is not acceptable! I NEED CINEMA! Other than that tiny rant, great list, especially the inclusion of What We Do in the Shadows

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Sean Post author

      Yeah Star Wars was a surprising exception. Most of your releases are delayed a while and that makes no sense. Hopefully that improves as global box office numbers become more prominent.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Cassandra

    Great list. Just saw Ex Machina last week and was surprised how much I liked it. Looking forward to Anomolasia.

    I would put in a pitch for The Hateful Eight. Just saw it in 70mm on the Road Show this week, with intermission, programs and all. It was a great movie-going experience. Classic Tarantino.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Sean Post author

      I wasn’t expecting much from Creed but it really brings a breath of fresh air to the franchise. Probably the best soft franchise reboot I’ve seen.

      By the way, your book is amazing, I couldn’t put it down! Is there a good spot to post a review?

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  4. Salty Popcorn

    Good list Sean, I really need to see WHAT WE DID IN THE SHADOWS, we don’t get AMONALISA until later in January but am seeing it in the next week or two, THE MARTIAN was ruined for me because the book is so exceptional it made the movie look like a bit of a comedy that didn’t take the original material seriously but I did enjoy it, love seeing SPY in your list – was so surprised how much I liked that one. MAD MAX for me is so overrated I am surprised it has been so popular, CREED was awesome but just got edged out of my TOP 20 and the only films we have in common in our top 10 is EX MACHINA and KINGSMAN – both pieces of brilliant cinema and 6 more days until LEO GETS AN OSCAR releases in Australia 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Courtney Small

    Funny enough I had What we Do in the Shadows in the number 10 spot on my 2014 year-end list. Such a fun flick. Solid list of films, we share a few of the same choices. I still need to see Spy, Bridge of Spies and The Revenant (really looking forward to this one, it opens in Toronto next week).

    All the best for 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  6. Prudence

    I am so happy to see What We Do in the Shadows on your list! It didn’t make it to our collective top ten list because I was the only one who saw the movie in our group. But we might do a notable movies post and I’ll probably sneak it in there because it such a fun and hilarious movie. And the special effects were pretty amazing too which proves that you don’t need expensive, fancy CGI stuff to make it work. And Fury Road and The Revenant were absolutely relentless. I loved both of em. And Ex Machina is amazing as well. The ending just floored me. And it has one of my favorite movie scenes this 2015: Oscar Isaac doing some disco dancing. Haha. I am excited to see Anomalisa. It sounds crazy weird, in a good way.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. fragglerocking

    so far have only seen ex machina, and sorry, the special effects were all cool, but I didn’t find any of the characters sympathetic, and the ending was a bit predictable so it gets a meh from me. Looking forward to most of the rest when they come to sky 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  8. J.

    A great list there. Unfortunately I haven’t been to the cinema much at all this year (nor have I sat down to watch much at home!), so haven’t seen any of these!

    The Martian, The Revenant and Mad Max were already high on the list, but there’s a few others here I need to add!

    All the best to you guys for the year ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  9. kmSalvatore

    what a list… well i think i have 3 or 4 of those on my list, and then there was 1 or 2 i still haven’t heard of.. but again thats Rochester,NY….a bit slow. thanks for the break down, if it wasn’t for you guys id probably see ..maybe 1. so.. HNY

    Liked by 1 person

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