Best Films of 2015 (As of Right Now)

Every year around November I have to meticulously plan my time spent with other human beings, because so much of my life becomes dedicated to watching movies. I don’t know exactly where the compulsion comes from, other than maybe the belief that I can’t be an authority on which films are good unless I’ve seen them before 99% of the general public.

So off to the theater I have been going, and I need to be honest about something: until a few short weeks ago, I was convinced 2015’s crop was a dud. I saw many excellent films, but not a single truly great one. Even now, I think only one movie has convinced me of its classic status after only one viewing. Overall, I guess I can say 2015 was a decent year in film. I’d say at least the first six or seven films in my list are excellent-to-great, and a good number after that are well-made and entertaining, even if they come short of greatness.

This year (2015), I’ve seen only 54 movies that are Oscar eligible. Of course, that number will go up in the coming weeks, as I catch up on some Redbox releases and as a few indie movies finally make their way to Kentucky (I’m looking at you, Anomalisa!). But for the most part, I’ve seen all the movies that matter, since the Oscar nominations came out today and everything that’s excluded from them seems to be put on the back burner for a month or so.

Nevertheless, before I share my absolutely-not-definitive rankings of 2015 films I’ve seen, let me share a little bit about my process.

I generally don’t see movies that get bad reviews, and I almost never see movies that get universally awful reviews. A few years ago, women at my church convinced me to watch Fireproof after almost a year of avoiding it. It was unintentionally hilarious and I rather enjoyed laughing, but it also marked the occasion of me professing to never again bow to the pressure to see a movie I wouldn’t want to pay money to see anyway.

Now, I’m no prude, and I like to think I’m not so snooty that I won’t watch a good entertainment (I mean, I loved Spy). But when a move has a 34% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I’m probably not going to like it, and trying to convince me that it’s a good movie because it espouses a Christian worldview will not change that. So, no, you will not find War Room on this list. Let the hate mail rain down upon me.

Without further ado, here’s the list of every movie I’ve seen in 2015.

  1. The Revenant
  2. The Big Short
  3. Spotlight
  4. Sicario
  5. Mad Max: Fury Road
  6. The End of the Tour
  7. Creed
  8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  9. Best of Enemies
  10. Inside Out
  11. Slow West
  12. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  13. Room
  14. Stanford Prison Experiment
  15. Steve Jobs
  16. The Martian
  17. Woman in Gold
  18. Ex Machina
  19. Danny Collins
  20. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part II
  21. Bridge of Spies
  22. The Gift
  23. Brooklyn
  24. Spy
  25. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  26. Love and Mercy
  27. While We’re Young
  28. Pawn Sacrifice
  29. Carol
  30. The Walk 
  1. SPECTRE
  2. Trumbo
  3. The Hateful Eight
  4. He Named Me Malala
  5. Phoenix
  6. Amy
  7. Avengers
  8. Southpaw
  9. Trainwreck
  10. Infinitely Polar Bear
  11. Cop Car
  12. Far from the Madding Crowd
  13. I’ll See You in My Dreams
  14. Bone Tomahawk
  15. Tomorrowland
  16. Jurassic World
  17. Testament of Youth
  18. What Happened, Miss Simone?
  19. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
  20. Holmes
  21. Kingsman
  22. Clouds of Sils Maria
  23. Time Out of Mind
  24. Irrational Man 

 

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Oscar Nominations 2016 – Reaction

I’ve never understood why, every year and without fail, one comes across so many articles called something like “Biggest Oscar Snubs.” Actually, I do. It’s called click bait, and I usually fall for it despite my profound disagreement with whatever is in the article.

See, I have a problem with any list of, say, “ten actors who got snubbed at this year’s Oscars.” At least as far as acting nominations go, only five slots are open to the myriad actors and actresses eligible for a nomination in any given category. For someone to get “snubbed,” one is basically suggesting that Individual A deserved—indeed, was a lock for—a nomination, and instead was passed over for Individual B. Of course, all of our opinions are subjective, and maybe our favorite performance wasn’t honored with the recognition we think it deserves. But that doesn’t mean the Academy just arbitrarily nominated some hack instead. Everyone who received a nomination in the major categories today was forecasted to at least be a dark horse. You aren’t going to find anyone who is absolutely undeserving of recognition, even if that means one of your favorite 2015 performances or films was left out.

Look, I’m sorry if you personally thought Johnny Depp deserved a nomination for Black Mass, or even if you want to argue that Adam Sandler’s performance in Pixels changed your life. This does not change the fact that critics guilds and prior awards shows (like this week’s Golden Globes) help forecasters determine which individuals are most likely to receive a nomination.

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