Best Movies of 2015

I don’t know if you guys enjoy end of the year lists as much as I do but it s always fun to see both the highlights and lowlights of the year of movies.  Next week we will dive into the low but today let’s talk about the best of the year! I ended up doing a top 15 because I had 15 films I felt were worthy of a shout out.

15. When Marnie was There-

when marnie9Studio Ghibli’s beautiful final film is a magical realism story of a family rescuing a girl from deep depression.  Lush, beautiful animation with incredible sound design and an emotional core that stayed with me long after I saw it.

14. Testament of Youth-

testament-of-youth-posterAn underrated film about a woman in World War 1 in Britain.  She starts out with idealism and through working as a nurse she see’s the reality of war including getting to serve the enemy for a time. Moving, beautiful and fine performances from all involved including Alicia Vikander.

13. Creed-

creed3Creed is a wonderful boxing movie and a great Rocky movie to boot.  Michael B Jordan brings heart as Adonis Creed and Sylvester Stallone is wonderful back as Rocky.  The boxing scenes are shot seamlessly and it’s a story that will make you want to cheer.

12. The Rewrite-

rewrite 7If you love old school romantic comedies then hunt down The Rewrite.  It’s the kind of movie I haven’t seen made for so long.  The kind of thing Nora Ephron used to write.  With a terrific cast starring Hugh Grant, Marissa Tomei, JK Simmons, and Alison Janey, we get great writing about work, books, teaching, movies, writing and more.  May be the movie from 2015 I rewatch the most because I loved it so much.

11. Mad Max Fury Road-

mad maxOne of the most insane experiences I had at the theater this year.  I felt exhausted after the intense experience but in an exciting way.  It was something I had never seen before and the apocalyptic battles were so well done.  I loved the strong female characters and the fact they weren’t pandered too.  They were just cool characters no girl power slogans required. Way out of my comfort zone but a great film.

10. Freetown

freetownOne of the best faith based films I’ve ever seen.  Freetown tells the moving story of a group of missionaries who must be smuggled out of Liberia to Freetown.  It is not a film of dogmatic, preachy like many faith based films.  Instead it has characters that struggle with doubt under extreme pressure and stress and their faith helps them survive.  Well made, acted and a good story make it a film I think anyone can respond too.

9. The Good Dinosaur

good dino23The second film from Pixar for the year was an emotional heroes journey of young Arlo trying to conquer his fears and find his way back home.  I found the old fashioned Disney feel to be refreshing and something we haven’t seen from Pixar yet.  The animation was stunning and I loved the relationship between Arlo and Spot.

8. Brooklyn

Brooklyn6The moving story of an Irish immigrant in 1952 who tries to make a home for herself in Brooklyn.  It really asks the question of ‘what is home?’ and I loved seeing the immigrant journey play out.  The performances are great, it looks beautiful and it was a sweet, old fashioned story you don’t see from Hollywood every day.

7. Paddington-

paddingtonPaddington is probably my biggest surprise of 2015.  I thought it was going to be a big stinker from the trailers but I ended up loving it.  The journey of Paddington being left on the train station was surprisingly emotion and yet funny and sweet at the same time.  The performances from Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville and Julie Walters were so lovely and all the details like the sets and design of Paddington were wonderful.  Most CG/Live action hybrid films are awful (think Smurfs, Yogi Bear) so that makes Paddington even more of an achievement.

6. Cinderella

cinderella 2015Cinderella gave me hope for the Disney live action remakes.  As a Cinderella aficionado I loved just about everything in this film. Lily James and Cate Blanchett are great and I loved the message of kindness and courage.  The sets, art design and costumes were top notch.  I liked they changed a few things from the cartoon but nothing that fundamentally altered the story.

5. The Peanuts Movie

peanutsThis is how you do an adaptation of a beloved franchise! I was so worried this would end up like The Smurfs but I was completely charmed by The Peanuts Movie.  I loved seeing Charlie Brown gain the confidence to talk to the Red Haired Girl.  I loved Snoopy and the Red Baron.  I loved all the other characters and the fact they stayed innocent and sweet.  I loved the hybrid animation and how it looked both rich and flat at the same time.  The voice acting was perfect and music worthy of Peanuts.

4. The Martian

martianI loved both the book and movie of The Martian.  My favorite thing about both was what a nice guy Mark is- a lesser author would have made him all brooding and conflicted.  Instead we get someone we want to see succeed and cheer for.  Matt Damon is great as Mark and I loved seeing him tackle each challenge that came his way.  Ridley Scott does a great job capturing the red planet and the entire cast does a magnificent job fleshing out characters out of small parts.  It’s a movie that will make you feel fantastic

3. Spotlight

spotlight5The movie that inspired me the most in 2015.  You’d think the story of the investigation of the Catholic priest molestation scandal would be depressing but while it is certainly sobering I left the theater wanting to do something for my fellow man.  It was empowering and so well acted/written.   It’s as close to a perfectly executed film as I saw all year.

2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

force awakens posterThe most anticipated film of 2015 lived up to the hype.  Some say it is the best Star Wars film ever.  I don’t know if I’d go that far but what a great return to form for a galaxy far, far, away.  I loved all the new characters and how they meshed with the old.  I loved the grittiness and some of the storylines we’ve never seen in a Star Wars film.  I’ve seen it twice and each time walked away with a huge smile on my face. Great performances from all involved and a tremendous job by JJ Abrams as the director.  It was the movie that entertained me the most so it gets 2nd on my list

  1. Inside Out

inside out3Pixar made not only my favorite film of 2015 but one of the best animated films I’ve ever seen.  I was so moved by both Riley’s and Joy’s journeys as they figured out what happiness and sadness mean.  The world building was brilliant the heart was beautiful, the humor worked perfectly.  I loved the animation and the ending gets me every time.  A perfect film in my eyes that I like more every time I see it.



23 thoughts on “Best Movies of 2015

  1. Great list! I would say that I pretty much agree with most, if not all, of this list. I still have yet to see Brooklyn and Martian, but still. Yeah, I definitely agree with Good Dinosaur at least being in top 20, but probably not top 5, for sure. As for your number 1 and 2 spots, I’m trying to debate of I agree with that, or ifnI would switch them around. Well, one way or the other, great list! I honestly hope that Inside Out ends up winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature even if people like the Lawn Gnome would disagree (no offense Lawn Gnome). Anyway, great review once again! Oh, by the way, I’m curious are you planning to see say Alvin & The Chipmunks 4 or Daddy’s Home either toward the end of this year, or the beginning of next year?

      1. Not Inside Out, Good Dinosaur! Wow, what is wrong with me today! Grrrrrr!

    1. I actually might see Daddy’s Home. I think it looks funny but I might just see Star Wars again. We’ll see

  2. If there had been anything other than Inside Out in the number one spot, I would have questioned if it was really Rachel writing this. 😛 Great list! You’ve included several solid films, including some of my favorites, from this year.

    1. Thanks! I just really loved The Rewrite that it was part of the reason I made it a top 15 to include it.
      Paddington US release date was January 16, 2015 so counts

  3. Great list! I really enjoy reading over people’s top movies of the year. It shows people’s individuality and yours was very unique. As I expected, there were several animated titles. Nice to see some love for The Good Dinosaur.

    P.S. I assume you haven’t watched Anomalisa yet. I just saw it a couple days ago and I wrote a review. I’m really curious to hear your take. I wasn’t nearly as enthused about it as the overwhelming critical acclaim it has been getting. It’s definitely interesting though.

    1. Oh I will check it out. I’ve been a little uncertain if I’d see it because of the strong nudity but I will definitely read your review. It comes to Salt Lake Jan 22nd and I didnt want to wait that long for my list. That and havent seen the Revenant yet. Caught most everything else.

      I agree about others lists. I love hearing what stood out to different people. Next week worst of year!

  4. Nice list 🙂 It’s always interesting to see different reviewer’s perspective and the defining things that made their best movies list. You really love your animation movie huh 🙂 I think its a pretty strong year for animation, I fell in love with Inside Out. and I haven’t even seen Anomalisa( some people say it kinda dwells too much in its own self importance) and Paddington!! Brooklyn was a fantastic choice also. I’m almost done with my list!!

    1. Thanks! It is at heart a Disney blog so animation is my first love but Brooklyn was one of the big surprise of the year. I loved it. Anomalisa is one I am struggling with because it looks amazing but the adult content may be too much for me. We’ll see. I’d say it was a strong year for animation. No doubt.
      Looking forward to your list!

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