Best Films of 2015

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Clockwise from Top Left: Inside Out; Spotlight; Ex Machina; The Big Short (CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots)

Box office records kept falling in 2015, and some of the biggest blockbusters were actually among the best films of the year! This is appropriate enough, as bigness was the name of the day in 2015, with Big Emotions and Big Ideas all over this list. Whether it was through muckraking journalism and statesmanship, the birth of new heroes, or the burning desire to make personal connections, the makers of the best films of 2015 made sure audiences heard what they had to say.

This top 10 list was originally posted on Starpulse in December 2015.

1. The Big Short – Spoiler alert: as the wild ride of Adam McKay’s adaptation of Michael Lewis’ bestselling nonfiction thriller about the players who anticipated the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble settles into its conclusion, the epilogue reveals that every Wall Street fraudster was imprisoned and new stringent legal regulations have been implemented to prevent another crisis. Except, of course, that didn’t happen. This is an esoteric topic, but the audience for “The Big Short” knows it has been screwed. The level at which this swindling occurred is astounding and ridiculous, and the filmmaking that captures it is just as absurdly gut-wrenching.

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This Is a (Quickie) Movie Review: Bridge of Spies

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Bridge of Spies sneaks up on you. The 20th century conflict between the Americans and the Soviets was not just cold, it was also dry. Accordingly, Bridge of Spies is mostly procedural. Discussions of due process are elucidated, and negotiations are often portrayed as merely functional. This approach is boosted with impassioned integrity and deadpan existentialism (the best running gag is Mark Rylance as Soviet spy Rudolf Abel asking “Would it help?” when told he never worries). Then, the movie brings out its finishing move, throwing down with the scale of all that negotiator James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) achieves, through the power of patience and keeping the faith.