Instead of having one writer select their particular picks for all the best films of 2015, The Vision decided to do something a bit different. This year, each film has been picked by a different member of the Vision staff. Enjoy!
Black Mass- Scott Cooper
As a compelling actor who is able to portray many different roles and completely invest people into a story, Johnny Depp illustrates the explicit portrait of one man’s violent life that hit close to home in South Boston. Understanding the depth and levels that Whitey Bulger has to his name, I did not only respect the way in which Depp portrayed the character, but the dedication and passion that was given throughout the entire film to display these horrific scenes made it an exceptional production. -Lara Cunningham
The Revenant- Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu, famous for movies like Babel and Birdman (2014 Best Picture Winner), The Revenant features his famous cinematography and beautiful scenery while still having a deep storyline. The Revenant stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, an 1800s fur trader in Canada. While hunting, Glass is brutally mauled by a bear confining him to a stretcher. The Revenant is absolutely the most beautiful movie I have ever watched. In the style of the late Stanley Kubrick, every frame is precise and a painting for the audience. Long takes make each second of the screen feel seamless and smooth. Its view is caressing to the viewer and takes your breath away. The story is excellent, focusing deeply on revenge and the lengths someone would go to reclaim their life. The Revenant is the most spectacular movie I have seen and this cinematography is stunning. Its beauty will leave anyone satisfied. -Leo Fahey-Newman
Spotlight- Tom McCarthy
When I first came out of Spotlight, I thought it was great, but felt that cinematically, it was unremarkable. What I understand now, however, is that a story like Spotlight must be told without obvious visual style. Shot in the way it is, the film aims to get the info to the public with a minimum of flashiness- mirroring exactly the attitude of the reporters in the film. Excepting one speech by Mark Ruffalo late in the film, Spotlight doesn’t have any exaggerated drama. Director Tom McCarthy understands how strange and murky the situation is, and never portrays the reporters as chivalrous heroes. It is McCarthy’s choice of subtlety over false drama that makes Spotlight able to truly convey to the viewer the sense of tragedy and shame that surrounds the film. -Jacob Peck
Mad Max: Fury Road- George Miller
My favorite movie of 2015 would probably be Mad Mad: Fury Road. The movie is about a post-apocalyptic world where a group of survivors are enslaved by a tyrant, Immortan Joe. A warrior, Imperator Furiosa, helps Immortan Joe’s five wives escape and they form alliances with other characters along they way as they try not to get caught. The movie is one long car chase as Immortan Joe tries to get his wives back. It’s an action/sci-fi movie, so it’s very captivating and full of suspense. The movie also contains a lot of violence. All of the stunts are real and the vehicles were made specifically for the movie, which makes it that much more interesting and realistic. I would definitely recommend this movie for anyone who loves action movies. It’s much different from the conventional action movies with spies or superheroes. -Jackie Brown
Teen Beach 2- Jeffrey Hornaday
At first glance, a Disney Channel Original Movie – Teen Beach 2, no less – may not seem like the best movie of 2015. It is, after all, a Disney Channel movie aimed primarily at 6-11 year olds. However, upon closer inspection, it is entertaining, upbeat, has great songs and dances, and sends a positive message. The plot of the movie isn’t intellectually challenging, nor does it provide a new groundbreaking view on life. It’s a cute beach movie that you can sit back and watch without a care in the world. The songs are upbeat, catchy, and peppy – just making you want to sit back and enjoy. The dance numbers are everything that you’d expect from a Disney Channel musical; they’re energetic, perky, and, as the characters from the movie would say, groovy. To top it all off, the movie sends a positive message to the audience, especially the easily influenced demographic it aims for. It tells the girls that they can do anything they set their mind to, an important theme for young girls to know and take to heart. It also tells kids to be themselves and embrace it, namely with the hit song, Gotta Be Me. Teen Beach 2, while cheesy at the surface, truly is the best movie of 2015.
Kingsman: The Secret Service- Matthew Vaugn
Kingsman: The Secret Service was definitely my favorite movie of the year. Because I’m generally a fan of the summer blockbusters, this fact shocked me. It shared a release year with Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian, Inside Out, Jurassic World, and seemingly a million other high budget box office hits. So why the February movie?
In a Hollywood that seems dead set on making darker, rawer, more gripping movies, Kingsman is a ray of well-humored light. It draws from classic old spy movies, with a ridiculous villain, a pretentious spy school in England, and a slew of other clichés reworked into a modern spy movie that definitely doesn’t take itself too seriously. The main character, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), inherits a position in a secret gentleman’s spy association from his late father. His adventures to pass the rigorous spy training and take on the evil tech mogul Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) are paired with quick wit and action that leaves nothing to the imagination. Not to mention an action sequence to “Free Bird”, by Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Despite everything this movie brings to the table, it’s definitely not for everybody. It’s not sophisticated, or polite, or even realistic. The important thing is that it never tries to be. It is entirely refreshing to see a movie that knows exactly what it is, and lives up to that potential completely. -Hannah Catlin
The Big Short- Adam McKay
Adam McKay’s “The Big Short” wasn’t supposed to be riveting; I argued back-and-forth with my friends, trying to coax them into seeing “The Hateful Eight” instead, but they refused to commit to Tarantino’s 3-hour epic. Luckily, I caved and discovered the thrilling box-office sleeper and my personal favorite film of 2015, starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, and Ryan Gosling.
“The Big Short” centers around a group of money-hungry businessmen who were successfully able to predict and profit off of the housing market collapse around 2007; Christian Bale’s performance is most noteworthy, hence his nomination for Best Leading Actor. Bale plays an introverted, bizarre economic genius and his oddity comes through as genuinely compulsive. In a cast of intentionally bland and stereotypical middle-aged white male characters, Bale’s character at least offers diversity of personality, drawing the audience into his every scene.
Overall, the plot and themes of “The Big Short” remind viewers that there is still power in subtlety, even in 21st century film; I won’t spoil the ending, but the final twenty minutes of the film are critical to understanding the prior one hundred, tying the film together thematically and delivering a sudden moral sucker punch. “The Big Short” feels almost like the acoustic version of “The Wolf of Wall Street” — stripped back and unsaturated, while still captivating audiences by delving into themes of corporate greed and personal obsession. -Ryan Cahill