No seriously, I watched 189 movies this year. Don’t worry, the first page is just a Top 10 list.
This year, I was inspired by one of my best friends to watch 200 new movies, either from 2015 or just ones I’d never seen before. I came pretty close.
Now before you comment and tell me to spend my time doing more productive things, please note that in 2015 I also finished film school, did my duties here, freelanced a bunch, and started working for a site you might have heard of once or twice. And hey, you should give a challenge like this a shot! It’ll really broaden your horizons as you dig into the depths of Netflix, while cementing whatever film preferences you already have.
Now, I know nobody wants to read through a list of almost 200 films, so I’ve put that on the second page just for proof. Check it out if you want — I did rank all 80 2015 films I saw. In the meantime, here’s the list you (might) care about:
I’m not just including this because Jake Gyllenhaal was snubbed for Nightcrawler last year (but he totally was!). It’s here because I’m a sucker for single-parent stories — gotta love us children of divorce. Southpaw is a fantastic, emotional story disguised as a Rocky-like. For as many blows as Gyllenhaal struck in the ring, this movie struck personal chords with me. Wow, that was sappy.
9. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Remember when I said I finished film school this year? Queue the similarities between my life and this indie flick. The in-jokes for film buffs were aplenty, and I appreciate that Greg (the “me” in the title) stayed a douche through and through — you have to admire a film that doesn’t bend to convention. It’s touching, it’s funny, and it won a ton of prizes as Sundance. What more do you want?
8. Love & Mercy
Brian Wilson’s life is a very sad tale, and I’m so happy that people can use this movie to understand the pain he endured. Seeing some of America’s greatest tunes come together in the studio is a treat for music buffs too. Take Paul Dano and John Cusack’s performances, add some beautiful sound design, and you’ve got a winner.
7. Bridge of Spies
You really can’t go wrong with Spielberg. I don’t know how much of Bridge of Spies is historically accurate, but even it’s only 50%, that’s still one hell of a roller coaster. If you avoided this one for fear of rote courtroom drama, don’t worry: there’s plenty of World War II espionage going on to keep you engaged. And it’s all sold perfectly by Tom Hanks.
6. The Martian
No, I didn’t read the book. Sorry. Regardless, the story of Mark Watney is worth experiencing. Like Interstellar last year, The Martian brought the wonder of space back to the silver screen — I found myself gazing in awe more than once. It may not be the best “we need to save Matt Damon” movie ever, but it’s still one of my favorites of 2015.
5. Straight Outta Compton
So Bridge of Spies may not be 100% accurate, but Straight Outta Compton definitely left some stuff out. Even so, music history buffs like myself will love seeing (most of) the story of NWA. The fight to say what they wanted to say, to escape their less-than-safe neighborhood, to become more than just local MCs — this is worth watching. And it doesn’t feel one bit like a boring biopic.
Yes, I have another “based on a true story” on the list. Here’s the thing about Spotlight: what the team uncovers is so shocking, it just doesn’t seem true. But it is. These events aren’t even 20 years old. Performances from Michael Keaton and company are fantastic, but the fact that they’re portraying the real reporters who unearthed the Catholic church molestation scandal adds a very heavy weight. And the last seconds of the film — just some text on screen — will leave you stunned.
3. Inside Out
This was a year of several filmmakers and studios outdoing themselves. That begins here with Pixar. I firmly believe this is the animation team’s greatest achievement. It’s not just a great movie, but a tool for helping children understand their own minds. Those with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, you name it will find solace in this film. I swear I only teared up like twice…
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
Here’s the thing: the original Mad Max films are 30 years old, and they inspired pretty much all the post-apocalyptic media you enjoy today (hello, Borderlands). This movie releasing now and outdoing the originals is impossible; there’s no way it could be that good. But it is. I believe this is the film George Miller wanted to make all along. I’m so happy he finally got the opportunity.
1. The Hateful Eight
And here we are. I’m not just naming The Hateful Eight as my movie of the year, but I’m ready to declare it my new favorite Tarantino film. First, it contains what I think is the most shocking scene of his over-20-year career (let’s just say it involves Samuel L. Jackson’s character and a Confederate’s son). Second, it is very slow burn that manages to make its entire three-hour run hella entertaining. Finally, the 70mm roadshow is one of the greatest theater experiences I’ve ever had — I’m truly sorry if you missed out on the limited engagement. From the overture (the entire score is beautiful), to the novelty camera work, to the physical program, to the intermission used as an actual narrative device, not a second of time nor a resource is wasted. I left that theater beaming.
[As stated, if you want to check out the full list of movies, it’s on page two.]
Tony edits all of Laser Time’s contributor content, and somehow he found time to watch all of this nonsense. Follow him on Twitter to tell him why he’s insane.