2015 was an exceptional year for film. It started off with offerings like Disney’s Strange Magic and Kevin Hart’s The Wedding Ringer, two movies that set the pace. Selma had a wide release in January and fans got to see the Glory that was Martin Luther King.
The rest of the year just kept getting better with releases like Kingsman: The Secret Service, 50 Shades of Grey, and Will Smith’s Focus ruling February’s box office. March was even better with Get Hard and Home, an animated flick starring Rihanna – but it was a robot named Chappie that left a lasting impression on us throughout the year.
Great movies came out every month, but May is when it really got special. Mad Max: Fury Road kicked off blockbuster season with a high-speed chase and a lot of action. Follow that up with Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Jurassic World, and DOPE.
The summer brought us even more cinematic brilliance with Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Entourage, Ant-Man, Trainwreck, Mission Impossible, and South Paw.
But August gave us the true gold of the year with the record-breaking Straight Outta Compton, which to date has made over $161 million at the box office. Follow that up with a strong September, which produced movies like Black Mass and Sicario, which deserve a lot of attention during award season.
A strong fourth quarter closed out the year with a bang, with movies like Spectre, The Big Short, and Christmas Day releases that could easily be the best movie of the year on anyone’s list.
And while we know great film, we also still appreciate blockbusters and movies for the masses. Here are our favorite movies of 2015.
15: Jurassic World | June 12th, 2015 | Universal Pictures
Synopsis: A new theme park is built on the original site of Jurassic Park. Everything is going well until the park’s newest attraction–a genetically modified giant stealth machine–escapes containment and goes on a killing spree.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: Jurassic World is a fun thriller that will have you in suspense throughout the entire movie. The film is filled with easter eggs that honor the original and brings you back while introducing new fans to dinosaurs and the possibility of another big franchise.
14: Furious 7 | April 3th, 2015 | Universal Pictures
Synopsis: After defeating an international terrorist named Owen Shaw, Dominic Toretto, (Vin Diesel) Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and the rest of the crew have separated to return to more normal lives. However, Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) Owen’s older brother, is thirsty for revenge and does whatever it takes to get it.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: The best way to send off Paul Walker is with an epic film. The story is good, and it was more of the unbelievable hijinks this franchise is known for, but hey – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
13: Me and Earl and The Dying Girl | June 12th, 2015 | Fox Searchlight
Synopsis: High schooler Greg, who spends most of his time making parodies of classic movies with his friend Earl, finds his outlook forever altered after befriending a classmate who has just been diagnosed with cancer.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: It’s a real tear-jerker about three friends and how cancer can affect more than a person’s health. It’s a heartwarming movie you’ll need a box of Kleenex to watch.
12: Kingsman: The Secret Service | February 13th, 2015 | 20th Century Fox
Synopsis: A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: Samuel L. Jackson shines as an evil mastermind, but when you add in a great story and perfectly choreographed fight scenes, it will be clear why it made our list.
11: Ant-Man | June 17th, 2015 | Disney
Synopsis: Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: Disney’s newest addition to the Marvel Universe fits in perfectly and sets up more characters to join the Avengers franchise, as others become too expensive to keep putting in the movies. Ant-Man is funny, action-packed, and worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet.
10: Star Wars: The Force Awakens | December 18th, 2015 | Disney
Synopsis: Three decades after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, a new threat arises. The First Order attempts to rule the galaxy and only a rag-tag group of heroes can stop them, along with the help of the Resistance.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: The Force is strong with this one, as we meet a few new players to join the Resistance. After the last trilogy fell a little short, Force Awakens surpassed all expectations.
9: Dope | June 19th, 2015 | Open Road Films
Synopsis: Life changes for Malcolm, a geek who’s surviving in a tough neighborhood, after a chance invitation to an underground party leads him and his friends into a Los Angeles adventure.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: This movie is a complete mind freak, as Malcolm and his friends flip the script on what it is to be young and Black in America.
8: Sicario | September 18th, 2015 | Lionsgate
Synopsis: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: This movie highlights everything fascinating about Mexican drug lords in just over two hours. Great performances by everyone involved and it doesn’t have your stereotypical Hollywood ending.
7: Black Mass | September 18th, 2015 | Warner Bros. Pictures
Synopsis: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: This movie is about a gangster, but it doesn’t glorify the mafia. Exceptional acting and a brilliant performance by Johnny Depp makes this a must on your must-see list.
6: Concussion | December 25th, 2015 | Sony
Synopsis: In Pittsburgh, accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu uncovers the truth about brain damage in football players who suffer repeated concussions in the course of normal play.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: It’s a powerful film that will have you looking at football differently after you see it. This might be Will Smith’s best performance ever.
5: Mad Max: Fury Road | May 15th, 2015 | Warner Bros. Pictures
Synopsis: A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in post-apocalyptic Australia and takes off on a search for her homeland with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: There isn’t a lot of dialog in this movie, but what it lacks in quotable moments, it makes up for in action, chaos, and mayhem. Charlize Theron holds this movie down, while Tom Hardy plays sidekick.
4: Creed: | November 25th, 2015 | Warner Bros. Pictures
Synopsis: Former World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Balboa serves as a trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late friend and former rival Apollo Creed.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: This might be the best film in the Rocky franchise, but it’s definitely the best acting performance by Sylvester Stallone. Our boy Michael B. Jordan does a great job as Adonis Creed and holds it together, even taking a real punch on the chin to make it more authentic.
3: The Revenant | December 25th, 2015 | 20th Century Fox
Synopsis: In the 1820s, a frontiersman named Hugh Glass sets out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: This is Leonardo DiCaprio’s best performance ever and he holds nothing back in order to make the story more believable. Watching him go back and forth with Tom Hardy is highly entertaining and engaging.
2: Straight Outta Compton | August 14th, 2015 | Universal Pictures
Synopsis: The group N.W.A. emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes hip-hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: A very true telling of the story of N.W.A. with amazing portrayals from Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Jason Wright as Eazy-E. It’s a movie anyone can relate to – regardless of their music of choice.
1: The Hateful Eight | December 25th, 2015 | The Weinstein Company
Synopsis: In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard, but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?
Why It’s A 2015 Fave: Another one from Quentin Tarantino. The Hateful Eight is filled with stellar acting, a great story, stunning shots, and a lot of violence. Samuel L. Jackson puts a stamp on his great year in movies with an excellent performance. Walton Goggins is superb as well.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, FOX, Weinstein, Warner Bros., Universal, Lionsgate, Disney