The Dose: Our picks for the best films of 2015

The Dose: Our picks for the best films of 2015

The Dose: Our picks for the best films of 2015
January 02
13:07 2016

Harrison Long | Opinion Editor

@HarrisonGLong

Preston Mitchell | Staff Writer

@Presto_Mitch

What can be said with a reasonable degree of certainty is that 2015 was kind to the avid moviegoer. From an array of satisfying sleeper-hits to blockbusters with unmatched entertainment value, the films released this year were diverse in scope and addled with star power.

This list is structured to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the act of appreciating the art of the motion picture, and all those who take part in the process.

“Straight Outta Compton”

straight outta compton

The biopic gets everything right in the retelling of the controversial yet decidedly influential rap group N.W.A., and its rise to fame despite the odds of growing up on the wrong side of 1980’s Los Angeles.

It’s riveting, visceral and consequently a feel-good film that makes you believe in the power behind being willing to face the odds. It doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack from Dr. Dre is pretty killer, too.

“Mad Max: Fury Road”

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The sort of reboot of the 1979 Mel Gibson film of the same name made quite a splash in theaters this year with powerhouse duo Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy taking the reins in a post-apocalyptic world gone unquestionably “mad,” indeed. The dialogue is scarce, so for those who haven’t seen it yet, strap in. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

“Bridge of Spies” 

Tom Hanks returns in his usual fashion, and proves once again to be an actor capable of transcending generations to really bring back the fledgling art of storytelling. While it’s long, “Spies” is riddled with historically accurate narrative, tensely-felt emotion, and controversial American history. This is Steven Spielberg’s best in a good while.

“Inside Out”

Inside out

Pixar proves once again its prodigious ability to make a story accessible and enjoyable to both children and the whole family without compromise.

“Inside Out” is centered on Riley, a girl uprooted from her Midwest hometown and the flurry of emotions felt in her move to San Francisco. The voice acting done by Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, and other A-List comedic dynamos makes the dialogue fun and snappy, while the narrative is heartfelt and sincere. We can only hope Pixar continues in this direction in the future.

“The Martian”

One of the first science-fiction films to reach a much broader audience in quite some time, “The Martian” is a triumph of the human spirit based on our perceptions of the near future through the lens of space exploration.

It’s a testament to the necessity of good men and women willing to face new and complicated challenges through calculated measures and teamwork, showcasing the value of perseverance. Oh, and you’ll probably be cheering as the credits roll. It also proves Matt Damon should maybe consider taking less dangerous jobs. Not only for his own health, but for ours, as the actor always seems to find himself in need of someone coming to rescue him.

“The Hateful Eight”

In the wake of “Star Wars” and in spite of the notoriety of its director, this film has seemed to fall to the wayside due to its end-of-year release.

This is unfortunate, as the eighth installment in the Tarantino universe is unlike anything the filmmaker has done in the past decade, at least. Centered on (fittingly) eight protagonists, actors Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell head off to a remote, snowed-in cabin as a mystery unfolds. Chock-full of shocking violence and unparalleled dialogue, Tarantino-buffs will find the film to be much in tune with some of his older works such as “Reservoir Dogs” and “Jackie Brown” than, say, “Kill Bill.”

Nonetheless, it is sure to fit right on the shelf next its predecessors, and proves Tarantino is incapable of being outsmarted.

“Creed”

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The seventh installment in the “Rocky” franchise, “Creed” is perhaps the best since the original 1976 Oscar-winner. Focusing on the rise of the son of former-opponent-turned-friend Apollo Creed, we find the aging Rocky Balboa shifted into the role of mentor, grooming Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis for greatness in the ring without any compromise to his own morality.

It’s a triumph, and Stallone’s best film in at least two decades. A must see.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

The seventh installment in this iconic series was everything fans and critics alike were hoping for when they stepped into theaters on Dec. 18, as has been shown with its record-breaking performance in the box office, recently being crowned as the fastest movie to ever make $1 billion.

With a slew of new characters, all seamlessly complimenting the likes of those whom we have always loved, this telling and rebranding of the universe was both spectacular, ominous and promising. With more spin-offs to come in between the releases of newer installments to the sequel trilogy, one thing is certain: there has never been a better time to become a “Star Wars” fan.

“The Revenant”

the-revenant-fn01

Gritty, tense and compelling, Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass is both familiar and utterly original in this pioneer-era survival film. Set in the harsh Alaskan wilderness, Glass finds danger at every turn, and those closest to him on the job might be the last he should ever turn to for help.

The cinematography is unrivaled, the acting first-rate and the characters truly encompassing. You feel the dangers and impending doom from the get-go, and despite some odds scenes here and there where Glass flashes back to memories of his deceased wife, the film is practically flawless.

Tom Hardy’s performance is just as riveting, and it will be interesting to see how Leo fairs at this year’s Academy Awards. Stay tuned.

“Spotlight”

Spotlight

This telling of the Boston Globe’s crack team of investigative reporters as they navigate the perils of exposing corruption in the Catholic Church is our pick for greatest film of 2015 for a variety of reasons.

Namely, while the film is unspeakably good, it is largely unassuming, and the actors make no attempt to convince you that they are anything more than who they are playing: average people working as journalists. The pace is slow-burn, yet entirely encompassing, and even those with no knowledge of the journalistic process will find themselves shouting for editor Michael Keaton to “Run the freaking story!” despite the hell that will rain upon them from the behemoth that is the Vatican and its sprawl over the world.

A true story, its telling was done with grace, accuracy and sensitivity toward those who were affected by the revelations of the series of early-2000s investigative work done on pedophilia among Boston priests. It’s riveting and both writer’s pick for Best Picture of 2015.

Honorable Mentions

“Steve Jobs”

A far superior telling of the controversial tech-mogul’s life than its 2013 predecessor starring Ashton Kutcher. This film is an intimate glimpse into the eyes of a genius, and Michael Fassbender is phenomenal.

“Slow West”

A sleeper-hit also starring Michael Fassbender, this film is a old-style Western with panache. It gets everything right in creating a film in an all-but-dead genre.

“Spy”

Arguably the funniest movie of the year, Melissa McCarthy proves once again to be a force to be reckoned with in regard to making a splash on-screen. In both laughs on screen and dollars in the box office, it’s top-notch.

“Sicario”

How better to describe a film with Benecio del Toro rubbing shoulders with Mexican drug cartel’s a la “Traffic” than wholly, uncompromisingly intense? Emily Blunt is phenomenal, and you’d be missing out to let this one sneak by.

“Kingsman: The Secret Service”

Imagine a painfully self-aware spy movie, with the intensity turned up to 11, taking the best elements of Roger Moore-era Bond and molding it to the modern day. This film is original in every sense of the word.

We hope you enjoyed our list, be sure to sound off in the comment section below and let us know if you agree, disagree or if we missed anything! Happy watching.

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