Parring down this massive list of 368 movies into my favorite list of just ten is a scary thought. So I determined that I would have to do at least a Top 20.
Naturally, I’ve removed the ability for the #ReWatch365 movies to make this list. This is truly my favorite of the new movies I’ve seen this year.
I will make a separate Top 10 for the movies released in 2015, and those will be based on the quality and my personal tastes (coming soon).
In an attempt to differentiate from the 2015 Best Of list, this list will feature the movies that really spoke to me, ones that gave me a feeling that permeated quality, and filled me with personal substance. Yeah, intense.
But first, here are some Honorable Mentions from the #DLMChallenge 2015 (The ones in bold nearly made the list):
I Know That Voice! || Top Five || It Follows || You’re Next || The Naked Gun || Close Encounters of the Third Kind || Whiplash || In Time || The World According to Garp || Mad Max: Fury Road || The Five-Year Engagement || Warrior || Trick ‘r Treat || The Fisher King || The Taking of Deborah Logan || Supporting Characters || Saturday Night || The Cobbler || The Perfect Host || Ant-Man || Trainwreck || The Fighter || Mr. Nobody || Bernie || Love Potion #9 || 48 Hrs. || Cheap Thrills || Obvious Child || In Bruges || What We Do in the Shadows || Go || Unfriended || Exit Through the Gift Shop || Staten Island Summer || The ABCs of Death || Straight Outta Compton || Secret of Kells || Antarctica: A Year on Ice || The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) || Castle in the Sky || FAQ About Time Travel || My Neighbor Totoro || First Blood || ParaNorman || Nausicaa: Of the Valley of the Wind || Insidious || Re-Animator || The Final Girls || The ABCs of Death 2 || The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard || Slumdog Millionaire || Insidious 2 || Back in Time || Nightwatch || Big Hero 6 || Calvary || The Raid: Redemption || Creed || The End of the Tour || Bad Santa || Good Night Mommy || Song of the Sea || A Christmas Story || Star Wars: The Force Awakens || Amélie || Contact
Here are my Top 20 of the #DLMChallenge 2015!
20. I Am Chris Farley –>
Chris Farley was one of my favorite actors growing up. He embodied the “overweight silly kid” approach I employed as a child and made a living off of the persona. It was heartbreaking to hear that in December of 1997, he inadvertently took his own life. He lived so hard and so fast that I suppose it was only a matter of time.
This documentary embraces the man whom everybody loved, even when he didn’t necessarily feel it. He was alone and in pain, and never got his chance to bounce back on his feet.
The only thing I’d be afraid of, if he were alive today, would be his likely involvement in Adam Sandler’s recent ventures. Then again, Farley brought the best out of Sandler, so maybe it would have been okay. We will never know.
I would definitely loved see his version of Shrek though.
19. The Fly (1986) –>
I’d heard of this film and its plot, seen clips, and watched nearly every parody of the classic teleportation scene there could have been– And yet somehow, I’m only now seeing this classic David Cronenberg film.
I’m a huge fan of how this movie doesn’t waste any time. It cuts right to the chase and never slows down, adding to the unnerving series of events that unfold after Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis meet.
The two played so well off each other, it’s no wonder they dated after. Goldblum is electric walking the fine line between campy and creepy, never truly jumping off to either side.
The ending is sad but necessary. I am in a definite need to see other Cronenberg films now. Bring on Scanners!
18. The Brass Teapot –>
There will be a lot of fantastical films on this list.
And if I had to make a Top 10 list of Juno Temple movies, I’ve seen enough this year to do it.
I love Juno Temple. Full Stop. and I love the premise of this movie:
A young couple hard on cash, “uncover” this Brass Teapot that when someone who’s touched it gets hurt, the Teapot magically spews cash. The harder the hit, the better the payout.
It’s a peculiar premise, but it really works. Temple and her husband (played by Michael Angarano) have great chemistry and the film really takes the premise to heights never imagined.
17. The Voices –>
Another peculiar premise comes from 2014’s The Voices. Ryan Reynolds is electric as Jerry, a simple man with a complex mental disorder. His schizophrenia comes into play when his pets (both voiced by Reynolds himself) influence his decision making– a modern day equivalent of the Angel and Devil on one’s shoulders.
Soon the evil side takes over and he ends up killing people. It’s played for laughs and it’s a super fun movie. The ending credits are something to marvel as well.
If you liked dark comedies, then look no further for one of Ryan’s best roles to date (come on, Deadpool!).
16. The Guest –>
Speaking of disturbed individuals, Dan Steven’s role as The Guest is one that will captivate you and leave you on the edge of your seat.
A military man comes into a small town in order to honor his best friend and fellow serviceman’s last request, by paying respects to his survived family. However, things get weird and soon creepy as The Guest stays for an extended period of time.
The movie is a rollercoaster- slow to climb (but the view is great), then when you hit that peak…
…non-stop until the end of the ride.
15. Nightcrawler –>
Another magnetic performance comes out of Jake Gyllenhaal in 2014’s Nightcrawler. Dan Gilroy takes on the dark underbelly of news photography and shows a seedy, desperate, and disturbingly motivated man worm his way onto the scene.
Louis Bloom makes money in any way possible. When he begins to fixate on the “exciting” profession of freelance news photography, he delves deep into its unethical crevices and soon reaches new lows of moralistic integrity.
Rene Russo, Bill Paxton, and newcomer Riz Ahmed don’t get enough attention either. Watching the horrific events unfold through their eyes is also a marvel.
Gyllenhaal was robbed of a nomination for Best Actor in the 2015 Oscars. Here’s hoping he’ll get his chance sooner rather than later.
14. The Night Before –>
Normally I’m a fan of Seth Rogen films. And I also dug 50/50 from the same director Jonathan Levine (which also featured Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt). So I carried a lot of baggage into the viewing of The Night Before.
Regardless of those preconceived notions, I was nevertheless impressed with this holiday film. It was the funniest movie released this year, and the funniest film for me in the #DLMChallenge. Well, at least I had laughed the most with this film.
The trio of Rogen, Gordon-Levitt, and Anthony Mackie truly had chemistry and their friendship felt real.
It also helped my enjoyment that the film winked and nodded to many Christmas classics of yesteryear. Now I love referential material, but still the film stood on its own legs.
I will undoubtedly watch this every Holiday season now.
13. They Live –>
Social commentary, when done right, is a powerful tool of the filmmaking process. A film that can take a silly or unrealistic premise and still root itself into the real world surrounding it upon release is proof of a talented crew and a deft filmmaker.
But when said film’s stance still holds up nearly thirty years later, it’s truly the work of a visionary. John Carpenter nails the mindless consumption of media even today and the companies who tailor it to ensnare en masse.
I hope that one day we can break free from that sort of consumerism and relive the creative freedoms we once enjoyed. Well, at least it makes for a killer movie.
12. God Bless America –>
When I tell people how much I loved God Bless America, people think I’m kidding. The reason? Because it’s directed by Bobcat Goldthwait. They assume that his old Police Academy/stand-up persona is the person helming the film. What they don’t know is how sharp and apt Bobcat is when behind a movie like this.
Another social commentary, a cousin of They Live, God Bless America takes the media craze behind families like the Kardashians, and show like American Idol and parodies them to a fine point. Many people fantasize about a world without the spoiled and desparate for fame, but Bobcat takes that fantasy to a new level and plays it out for our enjoyment.
Biting social commentary has never been this well executed. No pun intended.
11. The Martian –>
One of the first movies I had read first, The Martian hardily grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let me go. I read the book (borrowed from fellow sci-fi nerd, Spencer) in about six hours total, a record speed I never thought possible with my usual speed of reading.
So when I finally got a chance to see this sci-fi journey play out on the big screen starring Matt Damon and a stellar cast (and directed by Ridley Scott no less), I was there opening night.
It was nice to see how the screenwriter Drew Goddard and Scott had adapted the film to fit into over two hours. A large part of the journey had to be parred down for that restriction, but the film never strayed too far from the book like most other adaptations are explained to me as doing.
The Martian is one of the better sci-fi films of 2015.
10. Shut Up and Play the Hits –>
This documentary on the short-lived life of band LCD Soundsystem surprised the shit out of me. Firstly, I had only begun to truly listen to their music this year. My friend Mike had tried to get me into this band a few years back, but this year it connected with me on a deeper level.
The film follows James Murphy, singer and creator of LCD, as the band performs their final show at Madison Square Garden in 2011.
James Murphy has a penchant for marvelous lyrics and each song’s performance fit beautifully into the narrative of the surrounding interstitial elements, from the days leading up to the event, to the somber notes after the show.
The scene where James stares at his warehouse of musical instruments is a haunting image of a man being torn from his love, but on his own terms.
9. The Iron Giant –>
Brad Bird’s animated classic The Iron Giant is one that I had put off for quite sometime. So thankfully, the #DLMChallenge gave me the opportunity to finally witness the magic of this endearing film.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this film is an American equivalent of a Hayao Miyazaki film- It wears its heart on its sleeve, embodies the resplendent joy of a child, and tells a touching tale of a boy and his robot.
P.S. I also love anything that features Christopher McDonald. Ever since Happy Gilmore, I’ve been a massive fan of his.
Brad Bird, I cannot wait for your return to animation with The Incredibles 2.
And how about that Mondo art, huh?
8. Inside Out –>
These segue’s are lining up tremendously. Inside Out is one of Pixar’s best films to date. I cannot decide which I like better, and the Top 4 for me will always be in constant rotation (Toy Story 3, Inside Out, Wall-E, and The Incredibles).
Inside Out spoke to me in an inventive way. It took the concept of emotional instability (thankfully in an expected mind of a child and not an adult) and created a smart and funny way to explain these mood swings.
Pixar always hits home with emotions whether it be the opening of Up, or the end of the aforementioned Toy Story 3, they know how to play with our heartstrings.
Inside Out also boasts one of the most eclectic, yet perfectly selected casts compared to all of their previous efforts. With Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, and Richard Kind, the characters shine.
This will most certainly win the Oscar for Best Animated Picture of 2016, guaranteed.
7. Steve Jobs –>
Having never seen the masterpiece that is the Ashton Kutcher-starring Jobs, I can easily say that Steve Jobs is the better of the two. Michael Fassbender, with a bold take on the man himself, made us believe he was the man even though he looks nothing like him.
Aside from the stellar performances across the board (Jeff Daniels, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen among more), the thing that really allowed this film on my Top 20 was the captivating structure of the film. Each act was its own product launch. One from the Apple II era, one for the Newton, and one for the iMac. With each era, comes a new understanding of the man behind the biggest technological company of our time and his faltering relationships with those whom surround him.
Michael Fassbender has an Oscar nomination coming to him, but will he win?
6. Predestination –>
Predestination isn’t the only time travel film on this list– it couldn’t be because time travel is one of my favorite sub genres of Sci-Fi.
This film is so intricately intertwined that I wouldn’t be able to discuss it without spoiling something of significance regarding the film. But I will say this: It’s a must watch. Whether or not you like where it goes narratively, it has to be seen. I don’t think it received nearly enough attention when it was dumped in U.S. theaters in January of last year.
Ethan Hawke and Noah Taylor are amazing, but Sarah Snook is one to watch. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her.
Let’s discuss this when you watch it, yes?
5. About Time –>
Told you! Time travel is always up there on my lists of anything (like ‘Who is your favorite President?’ ‘Lincoln because he was in Bill and Ted’). I love the Back to the Future series and almost included the documentary of that film, Back in Time, on my Top 20.
My friend Mike (whom also shared LCD Soundsystem with me) let me borrow Love, Actually many years back and it was a wonderfully surprising and touching film I had dismissed as a simple romantic comedy.
So naturally, I was optimistically looking forward to his more recent film, About Time. Now, I’m not usually a fan of Rachel McAdams, but she shined in this poignant tale of a man (wonderfully played by Domhnall Gleeson) who, thanks to his DNA, can time travel. In fact, all of the males in his family can.
Bill Nighy plays his father, and some of the most heartbreaking moments in the film come from their interactions.
A must see for fans of romantic comedies, Love, Actually, and well-told stories. So yes, this probably includes you, Reader.
4. The Nightmare –>
What can I say about this film? It’s the best documentary of 2015, and likely one of the best in quite some time.
It plays like a narrative feature, and is shot as such. I’d love to work with the cinematographer on literally any project for I’m sure he could even make growing grass mesmerizing.
The Nightmare is a look on the phenomenon called “Night Terrors” where people wake up paralyzed in their own beds, seeing strange visitors around them, all the while unable to even scream.
The film is shot with reenactments that look as though they were ripped straight out an A Nightmare on Elm Street sequel that never was.
I’ll be keeping an eye on this director (Rodney Ascher, Room 237).
3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl –>
I almost didn’t get a chance to fit this in my #DLMChallenge. My friend Brandon had been telling me that I needed to see this film. When I finally got around to it…
…I, I couldn’t believe how seducing it would become. The film feels like an emotional mash-up of Diablo Cody-esque dialogue, with the story of something like 50/50 or The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
The cast is relatively unknown, but not for long. Soon they will be big stars for their talents are certainly not something to scoff at.
Every time there’s a film on the topic of cancer, especially one with children, it hurts me deeply. But Dying Girl gave me hope and joy for the spirit of future fighters in the cancer war, and I’m not sure that was the intention.
But I will say this: Narration has never been more evil. Well, since Dear Zachary.
2. Ex Machina –>
Released in April, yet still standing today, is the delicately crafted sci-fi film from Alex Garland, Ex Machina. Best enjoyed as a warning for the repercussions of a not-too-distant reality, Ex Machina is one film we will look towards when it hits and it will simply say: I told you so.
If we are unable to learn from this film any lesson, especially one where we assume the capabilities of God himself, then we are a doomed species. It does make for great storytelling though.
Newcomer Alicia Vikander fooled me with her mechanical, yet human performance of the android, Ava.
Oscar Isaac probably has his best role to date as the tech company CEO, Nathan; and that’s saying quite a lot.
Haunting and Frightening, Ex Machina is one of the best sci-fi films ever made. Yeah, I know, lots of hyperbole today.
1. Hector and the Search for Happiness –>
As soon as I viewed this film in July, I knew. It was #1 of this challenge. I kept thinking “Surely another would come along and take its crown,” but alas, no such thing had happened.
Hector and the Search for Happiness is the visual depiction of my own current journey in life. While I never assumed to be happy in my current professions in the first place, Hector follows a similar discovery of what makes him and others happy.
Of all of the films on this list, Hector is the one I think of the most. Its message and execution of that message are what still resonates with me to this day.
Simon Pegg has range of which many people are simply unaware. And to not mention the rest of this momentous cast too would be a disservice to them.
While her role is comparatively small, Rosamund Pike glows as the wife who is stuck between Hector and his singular journey, uncertain of the outcome. And featuring the much-needed supporting efforts of Stellan Skarsgard, Togo Igawa, and Christopher Plummer; Hector is a character study of which we all embody at one point or another within our lifetime.
It just happened that I watched it during my own self-journey.
Alright, let’s hear it. Any of you out there in #DLMChallenge land or otherwise have their Top __ films? Any of you disagree (or hopefully agree) with my choices?
I want to hear it all! Sound off in the comments below! And be sure to keep any eye for my Top 10 of 2015! Coming soon to a blog near you! I-uh, mean this one. This blog.