ScreenAnarchy's Top 10 Movies Of 2015

Managing Editor; Dallas, Texas, USA (@peteramartin)
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Here at ScreenAnarchy, we are pleased to feature contributions from dozens of people located all over the world, writing about the movies that intrigue, confound, anger, and delight them. While that makes us a distinctive site, it also makes it rather challenging to wrangle together a top 10 list that reflects accurately the taste buds of all our contributors. 

So to hell with it. We asked our writers to submit their top 10 movies with no limiting criteria and then their lists were compiled into the gallery you can scroll through below. Some 140 films were named from 29 writers. Our top 10 list largely reflects films that have been more widely available in multiple countries. If you scroll through to the end of the gallery, we've listed all the films that were named twice, as well as those listed even once. Our opinions vary quite widely, but we hope this serves as an indicator of what we liked as well as what we hope more people will be able to see. 

Thanks very much to all our contributors for a rousing good year. And thank you for reading, arguing about, and disagreeing (politely) with our opinions on the top 10 movies of the year.


Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Hugo Ozman, Ben Umstead, Simon Cocks, Dustin Chang, , Zach Gayne, Loïc Valceschini, Ard Vijn, Daniel Rutledge, Jaime Grijalba Gomez, Jason Gorber, Stuart Muller, Christopher Bourne, Ryland Aldrich, Matt Brown, Kurt Halfyard, J Hurtado, Jim Tudor, Trung Rwo, James Marsh, Brian Clark, Pierce Conran, Christopher O'Keeffe, Michele "Izzy" Galgana, Kwenton Bellette, Ernesto Zelaya Miñano and Eric Ortiz Garcia contributed to this story.

Our top 10 picks are pictured above. If you'd like to read more about them, please click through the gallery; our writers have prepared fresh new notes about each one.

(Note that the number after the title indicates the number of writers who selected the film in their top 10.)

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Best Of 2015Top 10

More about Mad Max: Fury Road

More about Sicario

More about Victoria

More about The Martian

More about Ex Machina

More about Carol

More about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

More about Spotlight

cuckoozeyDecember 24, 2015 11:59 AM

Nice to see the criminally underrated Sicario rate so highly. For me, it goes:

Favorite:
The Duke Of Burgundy

Loved:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Sicario
Ex Machina
Soaked In Bleach
Beasts Of No Nation
Shaun The Sheep Movie

Peter MartinDecember 24, 2015 12:44 PM

Thanks for sharing!

omnisemantic1December 24, 2015 3:29 PM

Great choices guys! Sicario & Mad Max are unquestionably the best movies of 2015. Denis Villeneuve is as of this year my favorite currently working filmmaker and the fact that he's preparing two sci-fi movies (which would be my favorite genre) is at least as good as the fact that we finally got a truly awesome Star Wars episode. The cinematic future's looking bright! Cheers!

muckermanDecember 24, 2015 5:19 PM

Always love seeing the twitch favorites. Got to catch up on many films, but here are my current favorites.

The Revenant
The Boy and the Beast
Carol
Sicario
Mad Max: Fury Road
Ex Machina
Victoria
TAG
It Follows

cjohnstonDecember 24, 2015 6:55 PM

~ .My Fav"es ~ out of those that i've seen thus far are:

~ The Duke of Burgundy
~ Ex Machina
~ Kill Me Three Times
~ Predestination
~ Spring
~ Aloft
~ Tale of Tales
~ ................. and. Furious 7.
*perhaps a pointless trivial adrenaline fest for some, many, or most; but much like many's opinion(s) of MM.FR and their (near) adoration of the adrenaline fused story and stuntwork therein. - ..i L.OVED this one in much the same way
- Also thought those involved (brief apologies here..) did a Damn fine job of constructing a fitting and touching "send off" for Mr. Paul Walker.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

..three of particular note that i still haven't had opportunity to see but am super stoked for are Room, Sicario, and The Tribe.

Peter MartinDecember 24, 2015 6:59 PM

Thank you!

Peter MartinDecember 24, 2015 7:00 PM

I loved THE BOY AND THE BEAST as well -- not sure why I left it off my personal top 10, come to think of it -- but I suspect not many of us have had the chance to see it yet. Thanks for sharing your favorites.

Peter MartinDecember 24, 2015 7:04 PM

Thanks for sharing! I've not seen a lot of positive reviews about KILL ME THREE TIMES or ALOFT so glad to see that they're among your favorites. PREDESTINATION is a good one, too, and I've heard good things about TALE OF TALES as well. I think FURIOUS 7 is very much down to taste but appreciate your enthusiasm for it.

cjohnstonDecember 24, 2015 7:16 PM

~ and, a MERRY CHRISTMAS to AALLLL ~ ~ and too ALL, .
...Here's Hoping that it'll be a SLAM-WHIZ-BANG of a New Year complete with Lightning In a Bottle Films.

..............and to all, a GoodNight..

KurtDecember 25, 2015 10:37 AM

A really great year for animation!! Shaun, Boy & The Beast, Liza The Fox Fairy, Inside/Out, Anomalisa, Miss Hokusai.

VyceVictusDecember 25, 2015 2:18 PM

I will add Zarafa to that list; even though it originally was released several years ago, it finally got a stateside release with english dub this year. I described it to my friends as "Amistad meets The Chipmunk Adventure", and as weird as that sounds, it ends up being quite enjoyable.

Peter MartinDecember 25, 2015 2:32 PM

Thanks, Kurt, for highlighting the animated films!

Peter MartinDecember 25, 2015 2:33 PM

Thank you. Sounds fascinating.

ManateeAdvocateDecember 25, 2015 3:13 PM

Ex Machina was simply amazing filmmaking in my realm. Excellent film. However, Mad Max: Fury Road is probably my #1 contender for film of the year. Then again, I'm bias to that franchise as Mad Max 2 is my second favorite film of all time.

I'm really, really, really looking forward to seeing Carol, Sicario, Spotlight and The Assassin. I have all four pre-ordered.

billydakingDecember 26, 2015 12:51 PM

The biggest thing this list shows....it was a damned good year for movies. One of the best in a long, long time.

KurtDecember 26, 2015 1:44 PM

I saw Zafara at Fantasia, 3 years ago. I liked it, but It felt as if it should have been a been a little bit longer, and a tad deeper, but it was a solid bit of work.

Make America Grated CheeseDecember 27, 2015 12:10 PM

2014 was a GREAT year for movies. As far as 2015 goes, on my list of 24 favorite films, 17 of them are dated last year and I just never got a chance to see them until they were available via DVD.

jammamonDecember 29, 2015 6:38 AM

Yeeeeaaah Mad Max no1!

Ard VijnJanuary 2, 2016 5:59 PM

I'll support any praise for Liza The Fox Fairy, though I wouldn't exactly call it animation.

billydakingJanuary 3, 2016 8:36 PM

Which movies? I can think of roughly 7 or 8 from 2014, but not the wealth of diverse films from this year. The most recent year that was similar for me was 1999.

ShadowIncJanuary 3, 2016 9:15 PM

No love for Bone Tomahawk?

Make America Grated CheeseJanuary 4, 2016 4:52 AM

Well, let's consider...

2014 (or earlier): Abuse of Weakness, All Is Lost, Birdman, Blue Ruin, The Boxtrolls, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Ida, The Lego Movie, Life Itself, Nightcrawler, The Rocket, The Square, Stranger By the Lake, Under the Skin, Tangerines, Inherent Vice, Jauja, Amour fou, Mr. Turner, Song of the Sea, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Starred Up, The Internet's Own Boy, Rich Hill, Virunga, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, About Elly, Winter Sleep, Siddharth, Hard to Be a God, Gett, Timbuktu, Whiplash, The Wind Rises

2015: Tangerine, Winter on Fire, What We Do in the Shadows, The Babadook, Ex Machina, MadMax: Fury Road, End of the Tour, Spotlight, Red Army, Goodnight Mommy

Next year starts out with my first chance to see The Assassin, The Revenant, and Anomalisa - movies technically from 2015.

Even if you wanted to add The Hateful Eight or The Force Awakens (neither would make my cut), 2015 still pales in comparison.

billydakingJanuary 17, 2016 4:44 PM

When people talk about the “best years of cinema”, they’re talking about the quality of major releases and other films released wide commercially in a single year, like 1999, 1994, 1977, and 1939.

Roughly half of your list is made up of independent films that never got a theatrical release wider than 100 (in the U.S. at least, since I believe that’s where you’re posting from), and most of those barely more than 20 screens. Rich Hill, for instance, was released to one theater in August, after floating around on the film festival circuit for roughly two years.

To be blunt, you’ll find that *every year* will have that large number of great films if you dig that deep into the year’s commercial releases. And you obviously haven’t plumbed yet into the hundreds of films for 2015. Otherwise, your list would include films like White God, The Lady in the Van, Z for Zachariah, Son of Saul, and Beasts of No Nation. Not to mention a few documentaries.

Also, at least one of your “best of 2014” is actually considered a 2015 film—Tangerines (released commercially around the world in 2015, even though it’s been around since 2013).

Taking out those little indies, your 2014 list is left with: All is Lost, Birdman, The Boxtrolls, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Lego Movie, Nightcrawler, Inherent Vice, Whiplash, The Wind Rises, Under the Skin. And I'll give you Song of the Sea, considering it got an Oscar nod despite a paltry release.

Still a good list, but compare that with, in addition to the 5 you listed, for 2015: Macbeth, Inside Out, The Martian, Creed, Room, It Follows, Straight Outta Compton, Bridge of Spies, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Spotlight, Brooklyn, I’ll See You in My Dreams, Spy, The Walk, Mr. Holmes, A Walk in the Woods, Carol, Sisario, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Gift, The Danish Girl, The Visit, The Peanuts Movie, The Good Dinosaur, The Big Short, Joy, Kingsman, 99 Homes, Predestination. And toss in Anomalisa for its Oscar nod despite its paltry U.S. release.

2014 didn’t have a cult film in the making like What We Do in the Shadows, or a true sleeper like Straight Outta Compton (or Spy, for that matter), or a blockbuster hitting the sweet spot for audiences and critics alike like Mad Max has done, or a traditional standalone nonfranchise blockbuster like The Martian, or an animated film with the acclaim of Inside Out, or a little horror movie that could like It Follows, or an unexpected independent drama that ran forever like Room….2015 was a year like 1999 or 1994. 2014 was not.

And it was a thrill to spend so much time in the theater this year. Heck, even M. Night Shyamalan managed a good movie this
year. Can’t say that a lot.

Make America Grated CheeseJanuary 17, 2016 9:04 PM

"Still a good list, but compare that with, in addition to the 5 you listed, for 2015..." and then you go on to list 30 films, only 3 of which would qualify as really good. And one of those three, I already counted.

Ard VijnJanuary 18, 2016 4:23 AM

Dare I ask what is your most favorite film of all time?

ManateeAdvocateJanuary 18, 2016 8:08 AM

Sure, I'm not shy.

The Thing (1982)

Finally saw Sicario. Worthy of all its praise.

billydakingJanuary 18, 2016 8:36 AM

I know you counted it, but I mentioned it again because it didn't get a wide release, which meant it would have been disqualified (and it makes it 31).

Also, your own personal opinion--or mine--doesn't mean anything when it comes to discussing the "best years of cinema." Nobody really cares what you and I think personally; it's really more of how films connected to the wider world. That's why listing a ton of films that less than a percent of the theater-going population actually saw as evidence of "best year" is self-defeating, and using only your own opinion as the only evidence of the quality of those films is more than a little weak. Opinion is not criticism--and I'm not egotistical enough to believe that my favorite films are also the best films I've seen. Cinema is not about the individual; movies play and connect to an audience. And 2015 managed to do that far better than 2014, with far more original, eclectic, and high quality work.

I seriously doubt that you managed to see all 31 films I listed and you dissed to actually make a judgment (and anybody listing a bunch of films not from 2014 is going to have their judgment called into question anyway, as you realized when you edited your post to move Tangerines to 2015 and include "(or earlier)" to cover your butt...and actually undermine your argument). Even if you did, you failed to recognize that even though you didn't personally like the remaining 28 films to even rate them as "really good", critics, audiences, and movie lovers in general did, and supported movies outside of the regular Oscar-bait and run-of-the-mill franchise films.