We’re already halfway through 2015. Where has the time gone? That means it’s time to take a look back at the best movies of 2015 released so far. This year’s crop includes a pair of sequels, aliens, dinosaurs, dystopian futures, cowboys, robots, and strong female protagonists, but not not a single super-hero film (sorry Marvel, maybe next year?). It’s time to count down The Top Ten Movies of 2015 (so far).
We begin our list with DreamWorks’ amusing, and surprisingly heartfelt, tale of a young girl (Rihanna) lost in an alien invasion of Earth who makes an unlikely friend in a likable screw-up (Jim Parsons) who will help her reunite her family and save her world. Available on Blu-ray and DVD on July 28th.
Clint Eastwood‘s examination of the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) looses some points for glossing over the rather important end to the soldier’s story but Cooper is terrific in the starring role as the United States Military’s most proficient sniper. Now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Breathing a little life back into the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World made returning to the dinosaur park fun again with the help of Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, and a Frankenstein-ish monster cobbled together from the genetic make-up of several different dinosaurs. Still playing in theaters.
Although it met with mixed reactions from both critics and moviegoers, I was taken with this tale of the complicated relationship between a pair of con artists (Will Smith, Margot Robbie). Admittedly the first-half of the film works better than the second, but it’s still good enough to be one of the best films of 2015 so far. Now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
6. Inside Out
After it’s first year without a theatrical release since 2005, Pixar returns with the tumultuous inner world of the 11 year-old Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) whose happy life is turned upside down when her family moves cross country from Minnesota to San Fransisco. Playing on themes of childhood and change that made Toy Story so memorable, Inside Out takes things a step further with a glimpse inside the mind of a young female protagonist that proves to be worth the wait. Still playing in select cities.
5. Slow West
John Maclean‘s tragic western features the unlikely pairing of a Scottish immigrant (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and an American bounty hunter (Michael Fassbender) on a hard journey set in the Old West filled with an assortment of unusual characters and unexpected situations. Now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Thomas Pynchon‘s Inherent Vice as brought to life by Paul Thomas Anderson is going to be a bit of an acquired taste. Joaquin Phoenix leads an all-star cast in this 70s noir that’s part hard-boiled detective tale and part stoner misadventure. It works better as a character study than a mystery, but there’s more than enough on screen to name it one of the best films from the first-half of 2015. Now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Marion Cotillard is terrific in this small French film as a woman struggling to get over a mental breakdown who is forced to fight for her job by convincing her colleagues over a single weekend to defer their year-end bonus in favor of allowing her back to work. Heart-wrenching yet hopeful, it’s a hidden gem worth seeking out. Available on Blu-ray and DVD August 25th.
Even if you argue it’s not quite a sequel, director George Miller makes a triumphant return to the world of Mad Max which Charlize Theron steals from Tom Hardy as Mad Max: Fury Road‘s most kick-ass character. Concentrating on visual storytelling more than dialogue or plot, Miller crafts an art film in the form of a chase flick that is impossible to forget. Still playing in theaters.
1. Ex Machina
I went all of last year without giving a perfect score to a single film. That streak is over. That also means that there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see Ex Machina rank high on the end of the year list. Writer/director Alex Garland delivers one of the most memorable and unexpected films of the past few years in this tale of of a computer programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) brought in by his boss (Oscar Isaac) to evaluate the world’s first example of Artificial Intelligence in the form of the mesmerizing Ava (Alicia Vikander). Now available on DVD and Blu-ray