Best and Worst films of 2015

At last, we are here again with everyone’s top ten favourite and least favourite films of the year, so its time for my own!

Now I should say right now, this is my personal opinion (as are most of my individual reviews!) and I certainly get the most flak around this time of year!
But I would also like to mention I have not seen many bad films this year, in fact I only saw 56 films (that’s twenty or thirty less than normal!) so my desire to watch bad films that I would not like was pretty limited.
What I mean to say is, there are only three films on this entire list I can qualify as bad, as films I hated. Naturally they are at the bottom. But seventy percent of the bottom ten aren’t bad at all! I really mean it, so please don’t get too offended by some of my decisions.

Most of my lowest rated films this year come from my rental list!

This year was highly anticipated but also a little lukewarm for me. Avengers Age of Ultron was disappointing, Jurassic World was good but not great, Spectre was especially mediocre. In fact, compared to their performance last year Marvel Studios haven’t done very well!

Anyway, the main list is of films I saw in theatres in 2015 in descending order. Following it is a secondary list of all the new films I saw from previous years in descending order.

So starting at the top, my Film of the Year is…….

01. Mad Max: Fury Road

What a day, what a lovely day!!
Mad Max: Fury Road, from trailer to final product, had me completely sold. A simple story packaged in an old school, grunge-style gasoline fuelled action movie, a direct testimony to what action films used to be in the age before computer generation and wire-work. Outside of the awesome visual, soundtrack and design is a rich world just wanting to be explored, as well as a quotable script. Far, far from mediocre!
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02. Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Compared to Mad Max, Birdman is a fascinating exploration into the seedy reality of movie and theatre life. Michael Keaton returns at his very best, along with some clever, clever camera work weaving a near seamless “continuous take”, the film is dreamlike and richly implemented.
With clear digs at problems with modern film-making, as well as film critique, journalism and a heavy focus on self-worth and redemption, Birdman is a fascinating and compelling experience.
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03. Whiplash

Whiplash is a short but excruciating experience, some of the most intensive moments I have experienced in cinema, watching Miles Teller wince, sweat and bleed under J.K Simmons definitive role that won him an Oscar. I have little to no interest in drumming (although I do love Jazz) yet this film captured me and would not let go!
If you want a hard as nails, intense and gritty drama with awesome performances and that doesn’t outstay its welcome, Whiplash is it. Well deserving to be at the top of my list.
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04. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Breaking records even before it released, it is a no-brainer that JJ Abrams resurrection of The Franchise that began all Franchises would be on the top of this year’s list. By no means a perfect film (it is a soft-remake of 1977’s Star Wars) it is perhaps the most lovingly constructed homage and sequel to the original trilogy one could have hoped for.
Bridging the gap of thirty years, welcoming new fans and respecting the concerns and reluctance of existing fans, Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought excellent new life to the series and may even have inspired Hollywood in general once again.
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05. Black Mass

Much like Whiplash, Black Mass is a hardball crime thriller that for one reason alone you should see it: Johnny Depp, acting. That’s right, Depp is back in this based off true events thriller, and it is as black and grim as the title might suggest.
It isn’t just Depp’s performance though, in fact the entire cast delivered great performances here.
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06. It Follows

For me, it is practically unheard of that a comedy or a horror could get this high on a list (at least a horror not directed by Guillermo Del Toro) but It Follows was perhaps one of the most unique and masterfully done horrors yet, breathing new life into a dying genre that has relied solely on painfully bland jump-scare tactics. It Follows is creepy, intense and new, and despite my low expectations, the film rose far and above them.
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07. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Despite Tom Cruise constantly hammering in the fact that “he isn’t too old yet”, the Mission Impossible films have been incredible from start to finish (almost) and Rogue Nation provides pulse pounding thrills and one particularly excellent motorcycle chase! On paper it sounds generic, with the trailer is looks generic, but all together it is an awesome ride of action spectacle.
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08. Inside Out

Disney Pixar’s animated metaphysical dive into the subconscious has audiences split, myself included; I spent a long time deciding if I even really liked it. It is a marvel and unique specimen in the Pixar library and only Pixar could have delivered it as well as they did; it is incredibly challenging and incredibly poignant to older audiences.
While this film may get a free pass from being just that, it is also wonderfully animated, voice-worked and scored.
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09. Ex Machina

From the very beginning of the year, Ex Machina was one film I missed in theatres but refused to miss from the year. Its lacklustre trailer had put me off; feeling tonally off and vague, but Ex Machina is actually one of the most intellectual and smart science fiction thrillers made in a long time. With a narrow, self-contained scope, the film delves into the usual deep questions about artificial intelligence but in a new, modern way. Oscar Issac’s performance is especially complex and very compelling.
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10. Bridge of Spies

Just barely getting into my top ten, battling the likes of Big Hero 6 and The Martian on equal footing, Bridge of Spies is as most Spielberg films are, excellently made. As a clever, witty and also bleak wartime spy drama based off real events, it does not leave its audience out in the cold (it puts lead star Tom Hanks in the snowy Russian winter instead!) it is accessible and lovingly shot, while Hanks as always delivers a likable and sympathetic performance as an every-man forced into world-changing events.
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Big Hero 6 (2D)
The Martian (2D)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2D)
Jurassic World (2D)
Ant-Man (2D)
Everest (3D)
Legend (2015)
John Wick
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2D)
Shaun the Sheep Movie
Kingsman: Secret Service
The Visit
Crimson Peak
Run All Night
Hitman: Agent 47

10. Sicario

This is by no means a bad movie. There was a lot riding on Sicario. After Denis Villeneuve’s incredible debut Prisoners, everyone was excited to see Sicario. A lot of people gave Sicario a free pass because they under-appreciated Prisoners. But as someone who did under-appreciate the previous film, I did not find Sicario as good; it was bleak and unrewarding and ultimately felt irrelevant.
Critics love Sicario, and while good at what it does (a harrowing look at the seedier world of Mexican drug cartels and hitmen) it does nothing with the excellent female lead of Emily Blunt, who gets dragged around like baggage. Nothing occurs with merit or value, and the film leaves you drained and exhausted.
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09. American Sniper

Again, not a bad film. Clint Eastwood directs gorgeous films, and emotion-driven films every time. But in today’s open minded society one can feel that American Sniper is not grey enough in its opinion of what the war was about. Based off the autobiography of the legendary sniper that the film’s Bradley Cooper (excellently) portrays, I felt there was little room for debate: the enemy were inhuman monsters. It also failed to deliver perhaps the real battle, PTSD, as importantly as it could have, focusing more on the war than the terrible aftermath…
Just a little more understanding and a little less gung-ho mentality would have elevated American Sniper far into the top half of this list.
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08. Sinister 2

Again, Sinister 2 is by far a bad film. In fact in terms of horror sequels it is actually very good! But Sinister was one of those films that never asked for a sequel, and honestly remains one of my favourite horrors of recent years, and its sequel feels a little dry of ideas.
It is over-complicated in its explanations for its predecessor’s mythology, and weakens the entire franchise as a result. It does try to explain everything in a logical manner at times, yet the scares are too deliberate now, too forced and too contrived, lacking the original’s grungy, brutal spontaneity.
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07. San Andreas

Watch things blow up, watch hundreds or even thousands of people die. Watch as Dwayne Johnson, playing a rescue helicopter pilot, blindly ignore all of these people just to rescue his wife and daughter.
Sure, San Andreas is a natural disaster movie and shouldn’t be under too much criticism, it is entertainment, but honestly this film is pretty stupid. The visuals are excellent, and for once we have a lead actor who looks like he could rescue you from a tidal wave or a sinking building (I’m looking at you, 2012) but the plotting is old hat and stale. The moments of spectacle are contrived and overblown.
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06. Minions

Minions is exactly the sugar-fuelled madness you’d expect from a film based entirely around Despicable Me’s little inhuman and warbling yellow buddies. While cute and colourful, Minions strongest asset is that its SHORT; any more of this and audiences over the age of eight would be climbing the walls. Sandra Bullock, virtually the only voice actor with real material to work with, was irritating and just… loud.
Minions was kinda fun at the time, but since they hi-jacked Despicable Me 2, I don’t think they ever deserved their own movie. Unless you want to buy more merchandise.
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05. The Legend of Barney Thomson

I am a little sad to put Barney Thomson this low down on my list. It isn’t an awful film by any means and I am sure it is “a Marmite movie”. Set in Glasgow, Scotland, staring Emma Thomson and Robert Carlyle, there’s a lot to like in the film, but it feels like a one-note Scottish Tarantino movie; there really isn’t anything beyond “lackey freaks out when he accidentally kills someone” again and again. It feels repetitive and doesn’t have enough material.
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04. Fast and Furious 7

Yeah. Give me your hate. Go on. Go down to the comment section and tell me how AWESOME this film is.
Honestly, the Fast franchise died after part four, and no one agrees with me. Furious 7 is the total accumulation of the nonsense this franchise has become. I lose arguments because all my reasons for disliking it are the same reasons people love it. It is the first time this franchise has forgotten it is about CARS.
With a ridiculous plot that could have been for a GI Joe movie, and a baddie who can apparently teleport across the globe at will (and this being acknowledged in the main plot!) excessive action and needless, NEEDLESS fight sequences that have nothing to do with anything. How Michael Bay films get all the bashing and films like this get a free pass I have no idea.
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03. Fantastic Four (2015)

While Fant4stic is a terrible, terrible piece of film-making, I still feel very bad for it. The amount of ire this film has attracted from bandwagon jumpers and raging comic book fans and movie fans is unfair when you consider the toxic relationship between director Josh Trank and studio 20th Century Fox.
Without a plot, character development or any soul at all, the film is the definition of what’s wrong with Hollywood; when the Rights to property means more than creative expression and good business sense. Fant4stic is a terrible movie and a lesson that executives should heed.
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02. Terminator: Genisys

With Fant4stic an example of Hollywood relying on Rights acquisition over creativity, Genisys is easily the definition of what’s wrong with Hollywood’s reliance on remakes and reboots and franchises. Genisys is a painful experience, not only with Die Hard 5 levels of incompetent action direction, but also in its total disrespect for the cinematic titans that came before it; literally erasing two of Hollywood’s ground-breaking movies from their own franchise, to replace it with an asinine splurge of jargon exposition, zero chemistry, zero intensity and embarrassing comedy.
On top of all this, a marketing campaign that spoiled not only the whole film but the film’s only original twist. On not just the trailer, but the poster too!
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01. Pixels

Pixels perhaps collected as much hatred and ire as Fant4stic, to the degree that championing lead star Adam Sandler famously appeared physically and mentally drained in front of press. But Pixels deserves most, if not all, of its disgrace.
In an age of geek culture being stronger than ever, with science fiction, comics and fantasy genres dominating all media, what makes more sense than a film that begins with stating how all video gamers are losers and morons. A world where aliens attack us with video games and there’s literally only three people who can play games.
For a comedy, it isn’t funny, at all. Pixels may be as bad as Terminator Genisys, but at least Genisys isn’t old and obsolete.
Read the Review


And for every other film I saw this year for the first time but wasn’t released this year:

Rentals 2015

01. The Philadelphia Story
02. Gone with the Wind
03. Horror of Dracula
04. Spring Breakers
05. Locke
06. Boyhood
07. The World’s End
08. Mama
09. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
10. 22 Jump Street

21 Jump Street
Mad Max (1979)
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Paranormal Activity 3
Paranormal Activity 4

Yeah, Paranormal Activity 3 and 4 were the bottom scorers in the whole year, each with a measly one cup o’ cocoa out of five!

I am looking forward to 2016’s wealth of films, the gears of comic book adaptations are now in full swing and we are getting more and more every year. 2016 in this regard has: Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, Captain America: Civil War, Dr. Strange, and of course the very intriguing (for good or ill) Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Outside of comics we have the Warcraft video game adaptation, TMNT 2, Pixar’s Finding Dory, Kung Fu Panda 3, ZootopiaStar Trek BeyondThe Jungle Book “live action” remake and The BFG!

Less appealing films include… the Ghostbusters all-female reboot, a sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (not directed by Burton but with a returning cast) Independence Day 2: Resurgence, The Huntsman: Winter’s War (Snow White and the Huntsman’s unnecessary prequel) and the first sign of Disney milking the Star Wars brand with the first anthology film Star Wars: Rogue One, which is here because it is directed by Gareth Edwards…

And there you go! See you all in 2016, where I will be intending to watch a lot more than 56 films!

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