No But Actually: The best Best BEST Movies from 2015
Sourced from most of the outlets you probably read for your movie news
Everyone. Every God damn one with an opinion has their own take on what the Best Movies of The Year are, and since we have the Internet, they all get to distribute their own lists. They do this because 1) They need material to auto-publish over the winter break 2) They want lots of traffic and people fucking love lists and 3) Because journalism is a service… and it’s also an opinion factory where the line workers specialize in telling readers what’s best for them. And since I’m one of those line workers I know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
But when everyone has a list, no one’s list matters anymore! All you have are bunch of open tabs and bookmarks saved and then you shut your computer down before reading anyone because who has time for 37 lists of the top 10/15/33 movies?!? So for my own benefit, and therefore yours as well, I have consulted with best movie lists from 13 very reputable and popular media outlets to find which movies exactly were the best of the year according to our most trusted curators. The 13 outlets are:
Maybe you’ve heard of or even read a few of them! I tried to get voices from the consumer side as well as the industry side, one ratings aggregator (Metacritic) and a voice from the online-only sector (Indiewire — they’re thorough and obsessive film people so you can trust them). A lot of movies were mentioned by more than one outlet, but since this is supposed to be The Best, the ones that made the list were mentioned in at least 5 best of round ups.
And a note about the Variety and New York Times votes: Both of these publications had their three primary critics giving their own lists, so I only tallied a vote for a movie if two of the three critics submitted the same title. Seemed like the best compromise. The “Critics Consensus” blurb from Rotten Tomatoes is also provided for each film, just to give a little burst of critical input since I’m not here to editorialize this time.
So here they are! The aggregated actual for real no joke BEST MOVIES OF 2015 based on largest share of votes from more than a dozen bastions of entertainment news and commentary.
The Co-Champions of 2015: 11 Votes Each
How amazing was this year at the movies if Carol and Mad Max: Fury Road are in the same conversation at the top of the heap? A trio of the most impressive women in film gave outstanding performances in movies starring women, about the lives of women; but better still, their stories were so well developed and executed that Fury Road and Carol became the most powerful human stories in film this year. That’s a really special feat, and shows us that the road forward is brighter than the one behind us.
According to: Empire, The Telegraph (UK), NPR, Metacritic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Shaped by Todd Haynes’ deft direction and powered by a strong cast led by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Carol lives up to its groundbreaking source material.
Mad Max: Fury Road
According to: Empire, The Telegraph (UK), NPR, Metacritic, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wired, Vanity Fair, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: With exhilarating action and a surprising amount of narrative heft, Mad Max: Fury Road brings George Miller’s post-apocalyptic franchise roaring vigorously back to life.
The Runner Up: 10 Votes
Welcome back, Pixar!
According to: Empire, NPR, The Telegraph (UK), Metacritic, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, Variety, The New York Times, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving, Inside Out is another outstanding addition to the Pixar library of modern animated classics.
2nd Runner Up: 9 Votes
Journalists love movies about journalists but honestly this one is really, really good! Anyone else ready for Michael Keaton to be a perennial Oscar contender?!
According to: NPR, Metacritic, New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, Wired, Vanity Fair, Variety, The New York Times, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Spotlight gracefully handles the lurid details of its fact-based story while resisting the temptation to lionize its heroes, resulting in a drama that honors the audience as well as its real-life subjects.
Still Sexy: 6 Votes
The most darling of Sundance darlings, and an important note in the trans performers conversation that picked up in 2015. Here’s to even louder voices next year!
According to: The Telegraph (UK), NPR, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Tangerine shatters casting conventions and its filmmaking techniques are up-to-the-minute, but it’s an old-fashioned comedy at heart — and a pretty wonderful one at that.
The Rest of the Best: 5 Votes Each
Populist favorites, the return of Ridley Scott, a female Jedi, the brilliance of Saoirse Ronan, the best accent Kate Winslet’s ever done, surprising animation and the eternal Charlotte Rampling. So much good stuff going on here!
According to: NPR, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wired, Vanity Fair
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Smart, thrilling, and surprisingly funny, The Martian offers a faithful adaptation of the bestselling book that brings out the best in leading man Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
According to: Empire, NPR, The Telegraph (UK), Rolling Stone, Wired
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series’ former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.
According to: Empire, Rolling Stone, Wired, Vanity Fair, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Like the tech giant co-founded by its subject, Steve Jobs gathers brilliant people to deliver a product whose elegance belies the intricate complexities at its core.
According to: Empire, Metacritic, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Brooklyn buttresses outstanding performances from Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen with a rich period drama that tugs at the heartstrings as deftly as it satisfies the mind.
According to: NPR, Metacritic, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: Anomalisa marks another brilliant and utterly distinctive highlight in Charlie Kaufman’s filmography, and a thought-provoking treat for fans of introspective cinema.
According to: NPR, The Telegraph (UK), Metacritic, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire
Rotten Tomatoes Critics Consensus: 45 Years offers richly thought-provoking rewards for fans of adult cinema — and a mesmerizing acting showcase for leads Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay.
The Honorable Mentions: 4 Votes Each
Diary of A Teenage Girl: NPR, The New York Times, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire
Timbuktu: NPR, Metacritic, New York Magazine, The New York Times
Ex Machina: Empire, Wired, Vanity Fair, Indiewire
Son of Saul: NPR, Metacritic, The Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire
So there they are! The movies you can’t say you’ve never heard of when they get mentioned at the Oscars in a few months. And now a parting thought…