Pretty much every genre is represented on our list of the best movies released in 2015, a list that had to be expanded from 10 to 15 in order to truly represent the most outstanding theatrical offerings of the year. Our picks for the best films of 2015 include two sequels, a couple of action films, a creepy horror movie, Pixar’s best animated comedy in years, two sci-fi thrillers, a riveting documentary, one vampire mockumentary, and a behind the scenes look at Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys. Adult dramas and one of the best ever adaptations of a bestselling novel are also included in our Top 15 list.
Even with expanding the list to 15, there were still a few films that had to be left out. The Big Short (minus the first shaky cam 15 minutes), Clouds of Sils Maria, Spy, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Woman in Gold, Phoenix, Son of Saul, and The Diary of a Teenage Girl were this|close to making the top 15.
Best Movies of 2015:
(Listed in alphabetical order)
Amy (July 2015) starring Amy Winehouse, Tony Bennett, Blake Fielder, and Mitchell Winehouse
The Plot: Amy tells the incredible story of six-time Grammy-winner Amy Winehouse – in her own words. Featuring extensive unseen archival footage and previously unheard tracks, this strikingly modern, moving and vital film shines a light on our culture and the world we live in today. A once-in-a-generation talent, Amy Winehouse was a musician that captured the world’s attention with her unforgettable voice and charisma. A pure jazz artist in the most authentic sense, Amy poured her heart and soul into her music, expressing personal struggles and pain through her intimate lyrics. The combination of her raw honesty and virtuosity resulted in some of the most unique and adored songs of our time. Amy became an international sensation, experiencing a meteoric rise to fame she had never sought nor expected. The relentless and invasive media attention, coupled with Amy’s troubled relationships and addictions, led her into a tragic cycle of self-destruction, resulting in her untimely death at age 27. Four years later, Asif Kapadia’s powerful documentary invites audiences to remember and celebrate Amy as a brilliant artist while asking ourselves how it was that we watched her disappear in front of our eyes.
Brooklyn (November 2015) starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, and Domhnall Gleeson
The Plot: Brooklyn tells the profoundly moving story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant navigating her way through 1950s Brooklyn. Lured by the promise of America, Eilis departs Ireland and the comfort of her mother’s home for the shores of New York City. The initial shackles of homesickness quickly diminish as a fresh romance sweeps Eilis into the intoxicating charm of love. But soon, her new vivacity is disrupted by her past, and Eilis must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.
Carol (November 2015) starring Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Kyle Chandler, Jake Lacy, Cory Michael Smith, and Sarah Paulson
The Plot: Set in 1950s New York, two women from very different backgrounds find themselves in the throes of love in Carol. As conventional norms of the time challenge their undeniable attraction, an honest story emerges to reveal the resilience of the heart in the face of change.
A young woman in her 20s, Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), is a clerk working in a Manhattan department store and dreaming of a more fulfilling life when she meets Carol (Cate Blanchett), an alluring woman trapped in a loveless, convenient marriage. As an immediate connection sparks between them, the innocence of their first encounter dims and their connection deepens. While Carol breaks free from the confines of marriage, her husband (Chandler) threatens her competence as a mother when Carol’s involvement with Therese and close relationship with her best friend Abby (Sarah Paulson) comes to light. As Carol leaves the comfort of home to travel with Therese, an internal journey of self- discovery coincides with her new sense of space.
Creed (November 2015) starring Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson, Phylicia Rashad, and Anthony Bellew
The Plot: Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed, who died before he was born. Still, there’s no denying that boxing is in his blood, so Adonis heads to Philadelphia, the site of Apollo Creed’s legendary match with a tough upstart named Rocky Balboa. Once in the City of Brotherly Love, Adonis tracks Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) down and asks him to be his trainer. Despite his insistence that he is out of the fight game for good, Rocky sees in Adonis the strength and determination he had known in Apollo—the fierce rival who became his closest friend. Agreeing to take him on, Rocky trains the young fighter, even as the former champ is battling an opponent more deadly than any he faced in the ring. With Rocky in his corner, it isn’t long before Adonis gets his own shot at the title…but can he develop not only the drive but also the heart of a true fighter, in time to get into the ring?