The self-made cynic

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Top Ten Movies of 2015
10) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I struggled between several movies for this 10th spot, but this is the one that feels rightest. I have problems with the movie, but it is just so energetic and entertaining that ultimately my problems don't really matter. Part of why I rank this so high is also due to the experience I had seeing it ... in a packed theater with my friends from work, sitting next to my six-year-olds, experience their first Star Wars movie in a theater.

9) It Follows
Damn creepy idea, well-executed, with a mood that stayed with me for days after seeing it. I loved the look of this movie too ... a cool period feel that remains hard to place as well.

8) Ex Machina
Alex Garland has been writing movies for a while, but I had no idea that he would have something this sexy and tense and polished in him as a director. Oscar Isaac is superb in it ... I hope everyone who thought Poe Dameron was somewhat compelling in Star Wars can see his performance here.

7) Bone Tomahawk
Super-low budget, but this is a great example of what you can do with great actors and a great script. See it! It starts out as a western, and gradually becomes something darker. This is also one of the most quotable movies of the year, if only people would actually go see it. I look forward to this guy's next movie.

6) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
The best Mission Impossible movie. The best Mission Impossible heroine. The best "Hollywood" movie of the year. Some of the best action sequences of the year. Keep an eye on Rebecca Ferguson.

5) '71
A satisfying, suspenseful film about the troubles in Ireland which manages to handle the complexity of that situation honestly and clearly while still remaining cinematic. I'd rank this higher than most recent middle-east focused military thrillers.

4) The Revenant
People have described this as a "revenge" movie. It is, I suppose, but for most of the running length (like, 80%) it's mainly an insanely brutal survival story elevated by amazing set pieces and cinematography. This is the movie that should have been shot in 70mm. It is also an example of how good Di Caprio can be when the material matches his intensity and penchant for scenery-chewing.

3) Spotlight
Everyone is amazing in this, but the performance that makes the movie is Mark Ruffalo who vibrates with energy and rage. I left the movie feeling furious and sickened.

2) Sicario
Is Denis Villeneuve the next David Fincher? There are a number of parallels between this and '71 I think, but I enjoyed this more for its style, its performances, and it's dark ending. Also, hey, it's Roger Deakins! The film looks amazing.

1) Mad Max: Fury Road
Yeah, kind of a boring choice, especially given how much everyone seems to love this. But it's simply the best action movie in years, and just the most visually exciting movie in years. I saw it twice in the theater and a few times since then and nothing dethroned it as my favourite movie of the year, period.


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