2015 IN FILM

Rankings of all the films I saw released in 2015.
  1. 1.
    "Mad Max: Fury Road" - ★★★★★
    The cinematic manifestation of the phrase "order in chaos," George Miller's new "Mad Max" movie is the most insane, imaginative and expertly executed action showcase the cinema has seen in years, perhaps ever. There's a unique purity of vision to "Fury Road", a true monument to the power of world-building right up there with the likes of "The Lord of the Rings" & "Star Wars". Never before has a franchise returned after so long a hiatus in such magnificent form.
  2. 2.
    "The Hateful Eight" - ★★★★★
    Tarantino is back with "The Hateful Eight" in a way we haven't seen him since "Kill Bill". Eschewing the dramatic weight that specifically characterized "Basterds" and "Django" frees Tarantino up to do what he's best at; Zany, colorful, fun. It is here Tarantino indulges all of his best, most trustworthy tendencies and produces something passionate and vital. A delicious feast of filmic riches. A testament to the power of a simple story with one of cinema's most powerful craftsmen at it's helm.
  3. 3.
    "The Revenant" - ★★★★★
    Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárittu's savage and hauntingly beautiful survival tale is the year's most visually spectacular cinematic experience. An icy plunge into the depths of the freezing north and the cold hearts of the various people who roamed it in the early 1800's. Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki uses digital technology to further push the boundaries of visual storytelling, delivering the greatest work of his considerable career. A brutal, powerful force of nature.
  4. 4.
    "Crimson Peak" - ★★★★★
    2015 has proven to be the year of real craftsmen at the very top of their form. Guillermo del Toro is one of the cinema's most celebrated world builders and this is his most intricately constructed, lovingly built film to date. The sets and costumes alone convey a compelling story. The lush cinematography plunges the viewer into an atmospheric tale of romance and dark secrets. "Crimson Peak" is a magical, engrossing experience, a potent argument for the unique transportive power of cinema.
  5. 5.
    "Ex Machina" - ★★★★½
    Simmering with a dark tension, "Ex Machina" is a grim reflection on the nature of humanity or, more accurately, personhood. It's a twisty thriller with Hitchcockian wit and the cool, steely aesthetic of contemporary British indie sci-fi. The performances of Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac anchor the film with a slow-burning passion and nuance. In a year packed with smart genre filmmaking, writer/director Alex Garland still makes his unique imprint on the movie landscape.
  6. 6.
    "Tangerine" - ★★★★½
    An ingenious and inspired work that boldly stretches the definition of "cinema" with electrifying results. Writer/director Sean Baker's vision plunges us deep into the colorful, grimy world of the streets of downtown Los Angeles. It's a sharp-witted comedy and ultimately warm-hearted drama, brought to life with lively and deeply-felt performances by actresses Mya Taylor and Kitana Kiki Rodriguez. "Tangerine" is a filmmaking landmark, not to be missed.
  7. 7.
    "The Martian" - ★★★★½
    Ridley Scott throws his hat into the growing pool of space epics with "The Martian", reinstating a sense of swashbuckling fun into the cosmos. An all-star cast and a witty screenplay make this the crowd-pleaser of the year. Ridley Scott's spectacular visual sensibilities are put to splendid use here, bringing the landscapes of Mars to life with a thrilling tangibility. A blast from start to finish, the best traditional blockbuster of the year.
  8. 8.
    "Carol" - ★★★★½
    Measured and nuanced are terms that quite well encapsulate director Todd Haynes slow-burn love story, featuring the trials of a blossoming lesbian romance against the repressed backdrop of 1950's New York. What "Carol" excels at is visualizing the visceral experience of falling in love. In a time where so little could be communicated openly, this story of love finds deeper meaning and emotion in the briefest glance, the slightest touch, the smallest breath. A masterclass in cinematic intimacy.
  9. 9.
    "Inside Out" - ★★★★½
    Child-geared cinema has long struggled to engage it's audience in meaningful ways without stopping to condescension. In this regard, "Inside Out" is a smashing success and a worthy addition to the legacy of Pixar. What begins as a clever storytelling trick blossoms into a meaningful commentary on childhood and the pain of personal growth. As sweet and empathetic as one could ever ask a film to be.
  10. 10.
    "What We Do In The Shadows" - ★★★★½
    Charm and fun abound in this Kiwi, vampire-themed faux-documentary from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. "What We Do In The Shadows" works so marvelously because it knows exactly what it wants to be and executes it's unabashedly goofy premise with an unexpected degree of confidence and charisma. True entertainment, pure and simple.
  11. 11.
    "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" - ★★★★½
  12. 12.
    "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2" - ★★★★☆
  13. 13.
    "Furious Seven" - ★★★★☆
  14. 14.
    "It Follows" - ★★★★☆
  15. 15.
    "Insidious: Chapter 3" - ★★★★☆
  16. 16.
    "Cinderella" - ★★★½☆
  17. 17.
    "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" - ★★★½☆
  18. 18.
    "Spectre" - ★★★½☆
  19. 19.
    "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials" - ★★★½☆
  20. 20.
    "Jurassic World" - ★★★½☆
  21. 21.
    "Tomorrowland" - ★★★½☆
  22. 22.
    "Ant-Man" - ★★★☆☆
  23. 23.
    "Avengers: Age of Ultron" - ★★★☆☆
  24. 24.
    "The Green Inferno" - ★★½☆☆
  25. 25.
    "The Divergent Series: Insurgent" - ★★½☆☆
  26. 26.
    "The Wedding Ringer" - ★★☆☆☆