Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Top 5 Favorite Films of 2015


#1  –  Bridge of Spies

Another immensely entertaining and smartly-made film from Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg, by far my favorite of 2015 and my favorite of their handful of movie collaborations. Based on an actual incident which occurred in 1960, where a Brooklyn insurance lawyer (played by Hanks) defends a captured Russian spy at his trial, then must help to negotiate a trade of captive spies between the United States and the Soviet Union. Just perfectly executed all around, and as always, Hanks is just flat-out wonderful. And though I thought Spotlight was an excellent film, I was truly shocked when Bridge of Spies did not win Best Picture…and Hanks and Spielberg for Best Actor and Best Director.

#2  –  The Revenant

Not only a great movie, but one of the most beautifully shot films I’ve ever seen. Leonardo DiCaprio is a trapper in the early-1800s who is mauled by a bear and left for dead; he survives and seeks revenge on the man who deserted him, and killed his son. Filmed using natural light, in scenic wilderness areas throughout Canada and the US, the film deservedly won an Oscar for its cinematography (also winning were DiCaprio for Best Actor and Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Best Director). The opening Indian attack sequence was beyond harrowing; even on the small screen, I felt like I was smack-dab in the middle of it, and my tension level was off the charts.

#3  –  Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

So far there hasn’t been a Mission: Impossible film I haven’t liked (okay, maybe that John Woo one was a little iffy), and they seem to keep getting better and better with each new chapter. Tom Cruise is back as Impossible Missions Force agent Ethan Hunt, who this time around becomes a fugitive after the IMF is absorbed by the CIA, and tries to prove the existence of an international crime consortium called the Syndicate. Lots of action, lots of memorable set pieces, and all the cool technology you’d expect from an M:I film. If you’re a fan of the series, or action films in general, I’d say it’s a must-see.

#4  –  Spotlight

The only reason I went to see this was because it had been nominated for Best Picture; otherwise, I would’ve skipped it. Well, I’m glad I didn’t. Another one based on a true story, as a newspaper’s investigative team looks into sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in and around Boston. I loved following the investigative aspect of the story (it reminded me of All the President’s Men), and how the characters—made up of a great collection of actors—were fairly relentless in their approach to uncover the truth. Well-written and engrossing; not the most cheerful of subject matters, but the characters and their work really pulled you in and held your attention.

#5  –  Star Wars: The Force Awakens

After suffering through the less-than-stellar trio of prequels to the Star Wars saga, I wasn’t expecting much from this first post-Lucas entry. But I was surprised; I liked it enough that I saw it twice in theaters…the first time I’d done that in quite a while. The story was fairly straightforward (and familiar), but the eye-popping visuals, connections and references to other Star Wars films, and appealing new (and old!) characters more than compensated for it. And thank heavens there was no Jar Jar Binks (and I do mean the goofy Jar Jar, not the possible Sith Lord variation of Jar Jar).

Three Other Good Ones That Just Missed the Top 5

The Martian


Mad Max: Fury Road

12 comments on “Top 5 Favorite Films of 2015

  1. butterboy44

    Two of your ‘just missed’ entries would have made my top 5: Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian.

    • Todd B

      What’s funny is, those two gave me a mess of trouble when I was picking my Top 5…especially Fury Road, which came very close to making it. I finally made my decision when I thought, well, Spotlight won Best Picture, and I saw The Force Awakens twice. But…I’ll probably end up buying Fury Road, and NOT the other two!

  2. Dracula

    Agree on your number 1 and 2 picks. What about the worst movies of 2015, when can we expect that post?

    • Todd B

      Top 3 Most Disappointing of 2015, coming next week. Be there or be totally square.

  3. Stu

    Hey Todd, I hope all is well. Nice to see your 2015 favourites – all very enjoyable films for sure. Two of these (Revenant and Spotlight) are 2016 releases in the UK, and will probably be high up on my own list this year. There seems to have been a bit of a backlash against The Revenant but I really enjoyed it. There’s a man fighting a bear in it, for heaven’s sake! What do people want? Giant ants? Yeesh.

    • Todd B

      Hi Stu, good to hear from you! Things are cool here…finally getting a little consistency (and frequency) with the posts, and prepping for a quiet Christmas. What’s been the backlash against The Revenant…a lack of ants? Can you imagine if the filmmakers did have a giant ant maul Leonardo instead of a bear? I guess they’d have to re-title it The Ravenousant.

      • Stu

        Now that is a film I’d like to see. Why aren’t you in charge of this kind of thing, Todd?

      • Todd B

        Sadly, I’ve talked with every major Hollywood studio, and not one is interested in a belligerent ant movie. So I may have to try Troma…or the Home & Garden channel.

  4. grandrapidsgirl

    Totally agree with #1 !

    • Todd B

      I’m not sure I knew that you saw Bridge of Spies, but I’m glad you did! I recommend Sully, too…another great Hanks performance.

  5. Reid Pettit

    10 Cloverfield Lane was a lot of fun.

    • Todd B

      Yes, I saw that one too, and I agree…not exactly what I was expecting, but still fun. BUT…that’s a 2016 release. It’ll have to wait for inclusion in next December’s list of favorites!

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Review Totals

Movies Reviewed: 222

From the Monolith: 123

Movies by Decade

1920s – 0
1930s – 6
1940s – 19
1950s – 35
1960s – 34
1970s – 35
1980s – 33
1990s – 6
2000s – 13
2010s – 41

Movies by Genre

Action/Adventure – 40
Comedy – 35
Crime – 21
Documentary – 5
Drama – 24
Horror – 38
Musical – 1
Mystery/Thriller – 19
Romance – 3
Sci-Fi/Fantasy – 27
Western – 8

Movies by CM Rating

10 star – 10
9 star – 28
8 star – 35
7 star – 31
6 star – 22
5 star – 22
4 star – 23
3 star – 18
2 star – 18
1 star – 12
0 star – 3

Movies by MPAA Rating

Pre-1968 – 89
G – 1
PG – 32
PG-13 – 34
R – 58
NC-17 – 0
TV and Unrated – 8

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