It’s that time of year when we count down our favorites by curating lists, starting with our favorite movies! This past year proved to be a grand success for the film industry’s fickle box office with blockbusters like, the highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to the action-packed Avengers: Age of Ultron and the family-friendly Inside Out.
This year really packed a punch with audiences. And with awards season right around the corner, our writers weigh in on the year’s best by sharing some of their favorites from 2015. Did your favorites make the cut?
Johnny Cash: American Rebel
Meg Quinn: I’m a big documentary lover, country music lover, and have semi-recently taken an interest in music documentaries, so this one about Johnny Cash was essentially made just for my enjoyment. That’s not to say that I just loved it because of its subject matter—it’s a really well done film. Covering the span of Johnny’s life and including interviews by well-known musicians and some of his family, I ended up learning things about him that I never knew, and I thought I knew his whole life story. When that happens in a documentary, I’m immediately in love.
Chris Hill: The best movie that I actually saw this past year has to be Antman, mostly because I’m a comic book guy. Also, because I thought it was one of the most different Marvel movies in quite some time. Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas captured the main characters wonderfully and the humor was on point. Additionally, it fulfilled a dream of mine to see all the original Avengers on the big screen.
Janna Jeffrey: Brooklyn, for all intents and purposes, is a small movie. It isn’t big or flashy or loud—just the opposite, and rightly so. It tells the story of a young Irish immigrant woman’s transition to life in America in the 1950s in a beautiful way. Saoirse Ronan is relatable and moving as Eilis, and meshes very well with her other costars—specifically Emory Cohen as Tony, the Italian plumber who takes an interest in Eilis once she arrives in New York. The story is rich and fulfilling, and Eilis’s character arc is incredibly satisfying. It’s wonderful to watch her on her journey. The film has a lot to say about family, about love, and about home—all things I could personally identify with. And yes, it made me cry! Brooklyn is a small, quiet, and beautiful film, and it’s the movie from 2015 that has remained most on my mind as the year comes to a close.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Alex Keobke: The film was an absolute visual spectacle that truly needed to be seen on the big screen to fully experience. The atmospheric score only helped bring together a picture that captivated your attention from the very start. Tom Hardy is one of the best actors in Hollywood, and showed yet again that he is capable of being a strong leading man. Combined with an outstanding performance by Charlize Theron and you have an audience left wanting more. The film also absolutely shows the vision of director and creator, George Miller and that only further adds to the enjoyment of the film.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
DeShawn Blankenship: This movie is, in a single word, wonderful. Every single element of Star Wars that was missing from the last trilogy is stronger than ever in this edition. The space battles and the locations harken back to the old films while being fresh. Remnants of the Empire are everywhere, even though it has now morphed into the First Order. Han Solo, Chewbacca, Leia Organa, and Luke Skywalker all feel like old friends that we’ve waited ages to see again. This film wastes no time reminding us of the world we’ve entered. This movie is both an homage to the original films and original fans and a passing of the torch to new generation of heroes and fans as well. Everyone should see it at least once, and more than that if possible. And bring tissues. You will need them!
Elizabeth The: Pixar can do no wrong, and Inside Out is their best offering yet. First of all, you have two of my favorite comedians, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling, lending their voices to Joy and Disgust, along with Phyllis Smith (from The Office) absolutely nailing it as Sadness. The spirited, colorful characters and the intricate animated world of the mind are all outstanding features of the film,but what really makes Inside Out stand out is its presentation of the important message of how embracing your spectrum of emotions is healthy and necessary to the human experience. Be free to be happy, sad, angry, fearful, and disgusted, because that’s what it means to truly live.
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Nicole Drum: I really tried to pick a brainy movie for this, but kept coming back to Avengers: Age of Ultron. The reason is simple: There is just so much about the movie that could have gone horribly wrong. Instead, it’s a movie that is just another stop in the great Marvel cinematic universe adventure ride that actually comes across as a nuanced, thought-provoking cautionary tale about what happens when technology is just too good. That, and Ultron looked awesome. It is just such a good film!
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II
Andrew Rogers: It was a phenomenal finish to a series that remained true to the books all the way through. Jennifer Lawrence especially delivered a spectacular performance in it and, hopefully, the film will get some recognition during award season to commend the team that put the four films together so seamlessly.
Katherine Hernandez: Mockingjay Part II was the perfect ending to the Hunger Games franchise. It completely showcased all the parts of the book that I wanted to see on screen, and added some nice depth to certain scenes. I also wept through most of the last half of the film, and though that isn’t necessarily what made the movie great, I appreciated it because I cried through most of the second half of the book too.