Top 15 Films of 2015 – Allen’s Picks

I know what people say: “Lists of anything are dumb. How can you take something as subjective as movies and rank them in order?” Well, that’s kind of the beauty of it: no one list is definitive. If anything, putting out one’s favorite films only reveals the taste of said person. Also, it gives a nice little look into the past year, kind of like a cinematic yearbook. There’s always a gem or two (or three) that slips under the radar, and rummaging through the endless lists of various writers can – at the very least – provide some suggestions for the pictures you may have missed.

Like every year, 2015 offered a wide range of theatrical experiences. From sci-fi adventures to penetrating documentaries, there was something for just about everyone. Looking through my list, a couple of things stand out. First, this has been a good year for strong female characters. Of the fifteen main entrees, about two thirds include a central female protagonist. Obviously, there’s still a long road to go when it comes to gender equality in the industry, but hopefully, this points to things moving in the right direction.

Second, there have been a LOT of good movies this year. The list of titles I have for my honorable mentions is actually longer than the official fifteen. Any of the ones here are worth your time. And this doesn’t include all the documentaries, indie films, and foreign films I haven’t been able to see yet. In other years, I would put my honorable mentions section at the very end. This time, I think it would be nice to switch things up and put them first. With that said…

Honorable Mentions:

3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets
Best of Enemies
Far From the Madding Crowd
Peace Officer
What We Do in the Shadows
Steve Jobs
It Follows
Going Clear
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
Slow West
When Marnie Was There
Beasts of No Nation
White God
We Are Still Here
The Peanuts Movie
The Wolfpack
Bridge of Spies
Shaun the Sheep
Goodnight Mommy

Now that we’ve taken care of that, let’s jump into the nitty gritty, shall we? Here are the fifteen movies that stuck with me the most in 2015:

15) Spotlight

Not since All the President’s Men (1976) has a movie captured the journalistic process as well as Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. This is a boots on the ground, getting your hands in the mud kind of a procedural. McCarthy traces the path that a group of reporters at the Boston Globe took to expose a child molestation scandal by a local Catholic Archdiocese in the early 2000s. What they didn’t anticipate was how large the scandal and cover-up actually was. Everyone is in peak form here, including Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo. This is one of the best ensemble pieces you’ll find in any year.

14) The Gift

What a fantastic feature-length debut for writer/director Joel Edgerton. The actor-turned-filmmaker shows no signs of inexperience in this dark, twisted, and mysterious thriller. Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall star as a couple that run into an old acquaintance (Edgerton). But what starts out as awkward pleasantries quickly turns into a morbid tale of secrets and lies. Edgerton shows a mastery of tone, deliberately peeling off layers until all is revealed. The disturbing final ten minutes lasted with me for days.


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Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

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