Best Movies of 2015

Of course, one can't talk about the year 2015 in film without talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It opened on December 18 and began its record-breaking run, shattering historical notes to become the biggest and the fastest money-maker ever.

It had the largest, opening weekend at $247 million. It became the quickest film to reach a billion, which it did in 12 days. It's predicted to outfox Avatar domestically but the question is if it can best James Cameron's blue-person epic, which rounded up $2.788 billion worldwide when all was said and done.

A chunk of the money that Star Wars took came from IMAX theaters. Not only did it play on digital IMAX screens but it also played in traditional IMAX screens on 70mm. For example, the Franklin Institute, which is a science museum, screened Star Wars. However, a lot of the movies that played in IMAX and even got exclusive IMAX releases, only screened in the digital format. Releases like Everest and Robert Zemeckis' The Walk were examples, but those releases were failures. They didn't make much of any money.

There were flops like Tomorrowland and Fantastic Four, which had a lot of potential, as well as Pan, which were ill-conceived from the start. Other bombs that were possibly ill-conceived from the beginning included a few middling films like No Escape, We Are Your Friends and Stonewall.

However, for over a month, for five weekends straight, middle-budget films all starring predominantly black casts were atop the box office. Straight Outta Compton was #1 for three consecutive weeks in August. War Room and The Perfect Guy were #1 immediately after for the first two weekends in September.

Ridley Scott made a huge comeback with The Martian, which was #1 for four, non-consecutive weeks in October. His previous, space drama Prometheus did fairly well at the box office, but it fell short of Scott's Oscar-winning hit Gladiator, which remained his highest-grossing film since The Martian. Prometheus also wasn't as critically acclaimed and as strong as an awards-contender as The Martian, which could conceivably get a Best Picture nomination at the 88th Academy Awards.

Netflix offered up documentaries for Academy Awards before, but for the 88th Oscars, Netflix is running with its first feature film that it also put into theaters for a week. Beasts of No Nation by Cary Fukunaga has been garnering some Oscar buzz. Most of the buzz has been circling Idris Elba who the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild both nominated for Actor in Supporting Role.

Three films, however, are getting a lot more Oscar buzz, particularly because the critics are heavily pushing them. Those three are Carol, the lesbian romance set in the 1950's, Spotlight, the drama about journalists who uncover the priest abuse scandal in Boston, and Mad Max: Fury Road, the action film that is the fourth installment in the George Miller franchise about a dystopic Australian desert.

Despite being atop many Top Ten lists from film critics, according to Metacritic, neither three of the aforementioned movies made my list of the Best Movies of 2015. I'll link to my reviews for the films if available, but all I can say about all my choices is that the following movies hit me emotionally and moved me unlike any others. They to me felt important, relevant, topical and even at times necessary. Here they are:

Best Theatrical Films

ROOM by Lenny Abrahamson
INSIDE OUT by Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen
CREED by Ryan Coogler
TANGERINE by Sean Baker
CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA by Olivier Assayas
LOVE & MERCY by Bill Pohlad
CONCUSSION by Peter Landesman
THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY by Peter Strickland
GETT: THE TRIAL OF VIVIANE AMSALEM by Ronit Elkabetz & Shlomi Elkabetz
RESULTS by Andrew Bujalski
TRUMBO by Jay Roach
DOPE by Rick Famuyiwa
THE WATER DIVINER by Russell Crowe
XENIA by Panos H. Koutras
99 HOMES by Ramin Bahrani
THE HUNTING GROUND by Kirby Dick
52 TUESDAYS by Sophie Hyde
BOY MEETS GIRL by Eric Schaeffer
GIRLHOOD by CĂ©line Sciamma
DANNY COLLINS by Dan Fogelman
TRUTH by James Vanderbilt
FIFTY SHADES OF GREY by Sam Taylor-Johnson
SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER by Paul Tibbitt & Mike Mitchell
THE SEVEN FIVE by Tiller Russell
WHERE TO INVADE NEXT by Michael Moore
THE VISIT by M. Night Shyamalan

Best Overlooked DVD / VOD

SONG OF THE SEA
HAPPY VALLEY
IN THE GRAYSCALE
LEVIATHAN
4 MOONS
THE SALT OF THE EARTH
GLASS CHIN
TIGER ORANGE
JUSTICE LEAGUE: GODS AND MONSTERS
PERFECT COWBOY
MISSIONARY
THE SURFACE
STEEL (2015) 
THE 10 YEAR PLAN
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS (2012)

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