All of the Movies I Saw in 2015, Ranked

This is not a “best-of” list. It’s an “all-of” list.

I see a lot of movies, and am the rare millennial who seems to still enjoy going to the movie theater. Admittedly, I’m spoiled by living near a multiplex with leather recliners in all the theaters… but still! Going out to movies is underrated.

Here’s what I was able to catch in theaters this year, and how it stacks up to the competition. I explain my methodology at the bottom.

1) Spotlight

2) Inside Out

3) Whiplash

4) Ex Machina

5) Love & Mercy

6) The End of the Tour

7) Birdman

8) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

9) Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

10) Selma

11) The Martian

12) Creed

13) What We Do in the Shadows

14) Brooklyn

15) Red Army

16) The Theory of Everything

17) Sicario

18) Interstellar

19) The Imitation Game

20) Spectre

21) Trainwreck

22) Mad Max: Fury Road

23) The Man From UNCLE

24) Meru

25) The Hateful Eight

26) It Follows

27) Bridge of Spies

28) Avengers: Age of Ultron

29) Jurassic World

30) The Night Before

31) Into the Woods

32) Ant-Man

33) Big Hero 6

34) Steve Jobs

35) Chappie

36) American Sniper

37) The Good Dinosaur

38) Tomorrowland

39) Unfriended

40) Leviathan

41) Crimson Peak

42) Kingsman: The Secret Service

43) Entourage

Methodology

To steal a phrase from the Mythbusters, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.” I wasn’t satisfied with the idea of a normal top-10 (or top-whatever) list because it felt too ordinary and unscientific.

So, I created a Swiss tournament bracket using Challonge and plugged all 43 movies in as “participants” in the tournament. Then, after randomizing the seeds, I pitted those 43 movies against each other in 29 rounds of 1v1 comparisons. I didn’t have to evaluate a movie’s holistic merits — I just had to make several hundred gut checks about whether one movie was better than the other, and the automated bracket did the rest.

In each matchup, a win counted for 2 points. In a tie, each movie got 1 point.

Here’s what the final bracket looked like in Challonge:

I was pleasantly surprised with how some of the rankings turned out. Left to my own devices, I likely would have ranked “Spectre,” “Avengers” and especially “Star Wars” higher out of a sense of nostalgic obligation. But reduced to a simple win-loss ratio, it’s easier to see what I liked more.

There are several movies that weren’t eligible for this tournament because, well, I haven’t seen them yet. So “Revenant,” “The Big Short” and “Room,” among many others, will have to wait until next year’s list. Unlike The Academy, I don’t wave in films that only opened in two theaters in New York and L.A.

And I decided to cut out movies I saw on DVD/Blu-Ray/Netflix/etc. because damn it, wasn’t this complex enough already? Gotta draw a line somewhere.

I hope you’ve found this interesting, especially if you know me and are one of the people who asks me for movie recommendations. In closing, I’d just like to say: “Kingsman” and “Entourage” really, really, sucked.

Thank you, and happy new year.