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 Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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ForceAwakens

-I cried from anticipation during the first spaceship shot after the crawl.
-Daisy Ridley’s facial expressions convey a constant state of surprise. It is terribly endearing.
-It is the rare Star Wars character who can say that his decision in a moral quandary is simply the right thing to do. John Boyega has the earnestness to pull that off as ex-stormtrooper Finn.
-There is a bit of a potential romantic spark between Rey and Finn. He is clearly smitten the moment he sees her warding off scavengers. True, she yells when he keeps grabbing her hand, but that is more about practicality. (Come on, Finn, it’s not faster for either of you to be holding hands while running.) Right now, they have an intense friendship borne out by surviving death-defying adventure together, and it can develop or not develop however should be most natural.
-Rey’s desert attire is perhaps the best outfit in Star Wars history. Dressing decisions ought to be made based on comfort, functionality, and style; these three elements all feed into each other in this case.
-Adam Driver as Kylo Ren gives the performance that Hayden Christensen was supposed to give in the prequels. His petulant manchildishness is also reminiscent of Spaceballs’ Dark Helmet (in a good way).
-As Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, Oscar Isaac is the least tortured he’s ever been. Interesting.
-BB-8 does not disappoint. “Droid, please.”
-All your favorites are back! Even more than you might expect. They mostly pick up right where they left off, R2-D2 more than anyone else. Harrison Ford looks the most comfortable he ever has been as Han.
-Wow, this is exactly the same movie as A New Hope. Thankfully, the characters are so great that it is just thrilling to watch them (sky)walk through the beats.
-A few dramatic moments may happen too quickly, but they play in a way that might make you think, “perhaps there is a way to do it differently than the precedent that has been set.”