This list is running a little later than usual due to an extra long holiday this season, not to mention catching up on a few films I wanted to see before finalising my choices. 2015 saw the return of more than one franchise after a long hiatus, there were some interesting smaller films in there as well so as usual there wasn’t a shortage of gems to find.
After much thought and procrastination, here are my personal favourites for 2015, I maintain my reluctance for ranking them any further than a top ten cut off, so here they are in alphabetical order….
Michael Keaton delivered a mesmerising performance in Birdman, the dark comedy about an artist haunted by his 1990’s franchise successes trying to find new life in art through a Broadway show. The film is packed with other great performances including Emma Stone, Edward Norton and Zack Galifianakis. It questions modern living, modern movies, with eccentric writing, great sets and direction. It’s on offbeat unhinged film that shouldn’t be missed.
Cobain: Montage of Heck
The authorised documentary from Brett Morgen is an immersive look into the life of Kurt Cobain. The documentary is packed with archived footage and new interviews which look back to his beginnings and rise with the grunge band Nirvana. It uses animated sequences to depict the sensibilities and tone of various aspects of his life.
Creed came out as a quasi-continuation of the Rocky series centred around the new main character Adonis. Michael B. Jordan is going to be fine after the disaster that was Fantastic Four with an excellent performance here, finding great onscreen chemistry with Sylvester Stallone as the aging Rocky. Filled with drama, and excellent boxing scenes this film deserves every reward coming its way.
Last year writer/director Alex Garland brought us the brilliant sci/fi film Ex Machina, starring Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander. This film is sci/fi at its best as it explores sophisticated philosophical notions of humanity, natural instinct, and the ability to play god. It takes these ideas and bundles them in an entertaining and accessible way that results in a brilliant viewing experience.
Apologies to the dinosaurs but Inside Out was the Pixar film of 2015, it sees the animation studio return to form in a spectacular fashion with the multilayered film that is visually dazzling and packed with humour that works on various levels making for a wonderfully fun film. Following a decline in quality of some previous releases from Pixar it was great to see them return with such a great film.
Mad Max: Fury Road
This film was a well anticipated release and nicely positioned in the block buster season but I’m not sure anyone quite expected something this good. Mad Max really challenged the action film genre and set a new bar to aspire to reach. It’s full of brilliantly crafted action storytelling, great sequences and characters in what was a thoroughly enjoyable time at the movies.
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl
The Way, Way, Back, Stand By Me, Almost Famous, I love a great coming of age tale and 2015’s Me, Earl and the Dying Girl filled this spot for me. Like all good coming of age tales it’s the characters that are the most important and here they are well written, with a great script and emotive drama that makes for an adorable film.
Sicario features great performances from Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro in this intense look at an escalating drug war taking place on the United States/Mexico border. It features well-crafted direction from Denis Villeneuve and tense action sequences that round out the film so well.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2015 was always going to be a huge deal in movies, not only did it feature the return of this beloved franchise, but the return of Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford to the series. JJ Abrams cranked up the nostalgia factor and put together a hugely enjoyable film that in no uncertain terms delivers a clear message, Star Wars is back!
Ridley Scott films have been hit and miss in recent years to say the least, but 2015’s The Martian is thankfully a return to form for the director. The production values are brilliant, and his command of the camera is strong however where The Martian elevates itself from some other recent Scott films is with character and script. All of these elements are strong and deliver an entertaining, and engaging sci/fi film. It’d be great if some of these better attributes hang around for his next Prometheus/Alien film…..
2016 – Most Anticipated
Now to wrap things up with some of my most anticipated films of 2015, keep an eye out for the following;
X-Men: Apocalypse – It’s Bryan Singer, it’s X-Men, what else do you need?
Untitled Bourne Sequel – Matt Damon returning to the action spy series, couldn’t be more excited, I love this franchise!
Everybody Wants Some – Richard Linklater doing a spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused? Count me in.
Star Wars: Rogue One – It’s Star Wars….
Lastly a huge thank you to everyone who followed and supported us in 2015, it was a massive year for AccessReel and we look forward to bringing you more content and screenings for the rest of 2016!