There is a thought that it might be more fitting to give movie awards after enough time has passed to see how the films have resonated artistically and in culture. So, as we're a year removed from 2015 and I've had more time to catch up on more movies from that year. I've also had a chance to see how these movies have sat with me, what I tend to re-watch, and what might have dropped in my original top 15 from January.
1. Star Wars Episode VII
It's a fun movie. It doesn't stop getting fun for me and it has made its way into my rotation of "throw something on" movies. It has some issues in it, R2-D2 wakes up seemingly only when it's nice for the plot, but some of the other issues people have are what I really like. I like that Rey has unknowingly trained herself to be a jedi because of the difficulties of hunting for scraps on a desert planet or that Kylo Ren looks goofy because not all villains have scarred up faces or look like master race wet dreams.
2. Kingsman: The Secret Service
In many places it's listed as a 2014 movie even though it was released in the UK and US in January 2015. This new look at spies is practically a James Bond origin story packed with edgy comedy and violence. It's bold and fun and is easily one of my most re-watched movies of the year. Matthew Vaughn strikes again.
3. Straight Outta Compton
The best musical of the year! It's a crazy story of success through ingenuity, freedom of speech, complex race relations (white kids listen to them and love them, white adults fear them) and Easy-E's tragic downfall. This is an exciting movie to relive the music of my youth and to learn some of the harsh stories behind it.
This is probably the best made movie of the year and I'm shocked it didn't get as much buzz or award nominations. It's packed with great performances and it stunningly beautiful. The only thing that keeps me from re-watching it on a regular basis is the starkness of the violence that is also incredibly shot.
5. The Martian
I read the book just before the movie came out and really enjoyed the movie even if I had mispronounced everyone's names in my head.
6. Mr. Right
Very little seen Max Landis written movie that is probably his most entertaining story of secret agents living in the real world. Fun and charming, half of the work to make this a top five movie for me was from the actors Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick who keep the comrom ruse up for as long as they can.
7. Mission Impossible Rogue Nation
I used to cringe seeing Tom Cruise in movies until the last few year when the quality of the movies he was in have become much better than the purely blockbuster bait that were the majority of the movies he was making. This seems to fall in a blockbuster equation, but the level of entertainment and movie-making is high enough that it has found a place in the rotation of movies I put on when I can't decide on something new to see. It's no Oscar movie, but it has fun storytelling and exciting action.
8. The Hateful Eight
It's not the best Tarantino movie but it seems to me to be under the radar in its ambition to have complicated characters. The three protagonists of the movie are a racist, an abuser of women, and a racist. It's brutal and comical in its brutality. It shapes a parlor mystery that creates a broader world and greater harshness outside of the parlor than Hitchcock movies like Dial M For Murder or Rope.
9. What We Do in the Shadows
This is one of the funniest movies from 2015, and innovative in the urban fantasy genre. It's a mockumentary and a found footage film with glimpses of special effects that are grander than other horror or suspense movies. This movie certainly raised my expectations for director Taika Waititi's next project, the new Thor movie.
10. The Man From UNCLE
This was a pretty great year for spy movies. This might be third on my list as far as spy movies from 2015, but it's incredibly re-watchable and might have the best action set pieces of any movie this year. It shares a few scenes and themes from other Guy Richie movies, but they still work for me.
This movie probably wins the award for how well it ages on multiple viewings. I think the first time I saw it, I was put off that some of the dialogue wasn't as witty has I had hoped and the final scene of enlarging children's toys was a little hokey, but it really does have beautiful action, and inventive scenes utilizing a smaller scale. It is also a return to some of the earlier Marvel movies where the stakes of the movie weren't over the destruction of earth but managed to maintain entertaining suspense.
12. Top Five
Very funny comedy that shows off artistry in its direction and cinematography. The comedy is edgy although some of the jokes seem like they came just a little late to be unique to this film. This movie makes me hope for more Chris Rock written and directed projects. This movie has a Woody Allen nature to it but with the self awareness and bite of Chris Rock.
This was the Oscar winner, I shied away from it for a while because I'm not one to typically elect to sit down and watch a heavy drama for fun. It turns out it's beautifully shot and conveys a great story of teamwork in journalism with the message of righting personal wrongs of the past.
14. Green Room
Home Alone in a Neo Nazi club, the story jumps genres and challenges the actors. The creative story and twists entertain despite dog attacks and speed metal.
15. Man vs. Snake
It's a fun video game documentary that turns into a touching story of a relationship between a man and his supportive girlfriend, and the competitors around him that call him a friend.
16. The Big Short
Although some of the scenes feel as though they drag on and the dialogue gets a little too cute at times. It's a bit of an entertaining text book on the housing crisis and certainly is a good reference before buying a house to make certain you are not getting the wrong kind of loan.
This didn't do especially well with critics saying that it was made for baby boomers rather than kids of today. I think after the cynicism of our most recent election, a movie with a message of hope and dreaming for a better tomorrow despite people peddling fear, is exactly what the younger generation of today just might need. The ending really makes me well up and gives me a rush of motivation.
18. In the Heart of the Sea
The story about the inspiration for Moby Dick this movie falls in the recent genre of "holy crap, did you see the water," movies of recent years. It's a big budget historical drama, but it leans heavily on creative shots of action that are just stunning.
19. People, Places, Things
Another Jemaine Clement film, this one is more down to earth than What We Do in the Shadows. Touching story of a single father with his own personal problems, this film merges graphic novel with film and is far from a comic book movie.
20. Ex Machina
This was one of the best concepts and most mysterious movies of the year, but it felt like it could have been bigger. It's great that it was the first glimpses of Alicia Vikander that I was aware of. She won an Oscar for The Danish GIrl in 2015, yet I still had no trouble putting two other movies of hers from that year on this list. Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac didn't get enough of each other in sci-fi movies in 2015 as they were both also in my #1 movie of the year, The Force Awakens.