Best of 2015: The Movies That Defined The Year

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It has come that time of year again where we are asked to disclose our best of the year and as usual it was very difficult to narrow it down. As a matter of fact, this will be the first year that I have a tie for the first place slot in movies because I just couldn’t bring myself to pick one over the other. I’ve never done that in the decade of my life I’ve been doing this, but it was too hard this year.

I’ve also included a look at the best tv shows of the year and the best video games of the year in subsequent posts. So, without further ado, my best in entertainment of 2015 and a little section by my children for their favorite movies. I hope you enjoy!

Best Films of 2015

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10. Room
Every time I think of the sequence when Brie Larson sees her son, after helping him escape the room they’ve been trapped in for years, I get a bit emotional. It’s something so heart wrenching that imagining it is more than enough. However, ‘Room’ is not satisfied with that. It wants to know how difficult it is to live after escaping. That’s what makes this movie so great.

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9. The Big Short
Easily, one of the most important movies of the year. This extremely entertaining look at the Wall Street destruction of our country is both a laugh out loud hilarious satire and a sharp as nails drama about how the banks cheated the American people.

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8. The Hateful Eight
It rightfully feels like every time Tarantino makes a movie it is an event. Tarantino’s writing is so fresh and different from every other thing you will see on any given year that it’s impossible not to take notice. ‘The Hateful Eight’ is no different. It may not be as powerful or important as his previous work, but it is certainly as entertaining. I was especially happy to see the wonderful Walton Goggins in such a predominant role.

7. Creed
The biggest and best surprise of 2015 was how truly fantastic the latest ‘Rocky’ sequel was. I must admit I expected it to be decent, considering it was made by the talented Ryan Coogler, but I didn’t expect such a moving piece of work. This movie got everything right that made the original great and also delivered its own unique vision. I hope Sylvester Stallone wins the Oscar for his performance here. Unforgettable.

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6. Inside Out
This movie may be at number 6 right now, but I can easily see it squeezing into my best of the decade. Only time will tell, but this film is so deep and magical that it transcends genre. The characters are some of the best in Pixar history and the tale of adolescence my be the most powerful to ever be put on the big screen. We forget how difficult growing up is and how important it is to understand bittersweet. Pixar reminds us with grace, laughs, and wonder. Thank you.

5. Steve Jobs
It is sad that this movie did not catch on with mainstream audiences. I think so many people are conditioned to expect a cradle to the grave biopic that when something unique comes along they steer clear. Which is sad because this film is so brilliantly written, directed, scored, and acted that I found it completely captivating. Each chapter is shot differently, scored differently, and even filmed slightly different. The feeling changes as the movie progresses and Fassbender gives Jobs a complete arc. This is one of the best biopics in recent memory.

4. Bridge of Spies
It really seems like Spielberg can do no wrong lately. In fact, every one of his films this decade have been in my Top Ten and some may even make my best of the decade. His skill as a storyteller is just so effortless now that it’s impossible not to sit in awe. From the opening to closing scene of this movie you are encapsulated by the tale. The score is amazing, the performances are Oscar worthy, and the writing is top notch by the talented Coen Brothers. However, the most important thing is how well this movie shows us the reason why America is great. We see diplomacy as entertainment and are reminded of the importance of our judicial system. It is our right to a defense regardless of position that makes this country special. Knowing that is so important in this day and age.

3. Sicario
This film is actually a perfect companion piece to Spielberg’s film. Spielberg shows us what American justice should look like in ‘Bridge of Spies’ and ‘Sicario’ shows us what the flip side of that can look like. The film paints a vivid picture of the horror that resides across the Mexican border and then what laws we feel like we must break in order to combat these horrors. It creates a difficult conflict inside the viewer, but should result in an understanding of how far we have gone past the ideals of justice in order to combat these new world atrocities. America’s war on drugs is not working and the result of that failure is ‘Sicario’. Behind Roger Deakins brilliant lens and Emily Blunt’s powerful performance is one of the most important films of 2015.

2. Spotlight
This movie is likely going to win the Oscar for Best Picture this year and nobody should be upset by that. This is a brilliantly written procedural that digs deep into the city of Boston and it’s willful ignorance to the horrors of Catholic priests. The facts were there forever, but it took a brilliant group of journalists to uncover them and face the villains down. Some of those journalists finding out that they were complicit in ignoring the problem is part of what makes this movie so powerful. This is not a movie you will be able to shake off and certainly one you should not miss.

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1. The Revenant & Star Wars: The Force Awakens
For the first time in my career, I could not decide my number 1 film. I have made fun of people for this before, but truly understand how they felt now. These two films are completely different experiences, but represent such brave and revolutionary filmmaking that I can’t say one is better than the other.

‘The Revenant’ is the best movie of its kind since ‘Apocalypse Now’. The horrors of the American frontier are so vividly on display that you can feel them under your skin. The juxtaposition of beauty and brutality is expertly captured by some of the finest cinematography in the history of film. Also, DiCaprio’s performance is a revelation of pain, suffering, resilience, perseverance, and finally depressive vengeance. He conveys all this with barely any dialogue and in some of the most difficult weather a human being could imagine. This movie is unlike anything you have ever seen and the dedication that it took to get us this masterpiece is something that hardly ever comes along.

The same can be said for ‘Star Wars’, but on a different side of the coin. Director JJ Abrams was given the biggest franchise in history and told “we spent 4 billion dollars kid. You better not fuck this up!” The level to which he succeeded is a testament to just how great a filmmaker he is. There are so many unforgettable scenes in this movie that it would take forever to write them (the first flight of the millennium falcon possibly taking the cake). The new themes by John Williams are instant classics. The old characters are used in such perfect ways that it’s hard to imagine another version. The new characters are so good that you can imagine the whole thing without any of your old favorites (which is kind of unbelievable). Yet, the thing that puts it so high on my list is the way Abrams uses everything at his disposal to help the audience feel the force in an almost spiritual way. I’ve understood the force, but I never felt it until this movie. That is a feeling I will never forget.

The Best of the Rest

11. Carol
12. Ex Machina
13. The Walk
14. Love & Mercy
15. Mad Max: Fury Road
16. Straight Outta Compton
17. Cinderella
18. Mission Impossible 5
19. The Martian
20. It Follows
21. Predestination
22. Brooklyn
23. Jurassic World
24. Beasts of No Nation
25. End of the Tour

 

BONUS *******Young Critic’s Top Ten Lists********

Nastassia Ligon’s Top Ten (Age 13)

10. Spectre
9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
7. Straight Outta Compton
6. Sicario
5. The Hateful Eight
4. Inside Out
3. It Follows
2. Ex Machina
1. The Revenant

Jolie Ligon’s Top Ten (Age 13)

10. Age of Adaline
9. Inside Out
8. Tomorrowland
7. Furious 7
6. The Walk
5. Cinderella
4. Spy
3. Jurassic World
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
1. Trainwreck

Hayden Ligon’s Top Ten (Age 10)

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
9. Tomorrowland
8. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
7. Goosebumps
6. The Martian
5. Furious 7
4. Room
3. Inside Out
2. Jurassic World
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Nathan Ligon

Film / Theater / Music Critic at Red Carpet Crash
The son of Executive Producer Jon Ligon, Nathan has spent his life in the company of filmmakers and some of the best musicians in Dallas, TX. He has since become a highly viewed critic and short filmmaker for Red Carpet Crash and Shot & Cut Films.
Nathan Ligon
2 Comments
  1. January 2, 2016
    • January 2, 2016

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