I toyed with a million ways of posting this list - charting where I diverged from Oscar, a post of nothing but gifs, Tweet-length opinions - but in the end, nothing seemed to satisfy me as much as a good old-fashioned fully written-up LIST. I'm just sorry it took this long!
I kind of wanted to do the "Top 15 of '15" thing, but then I would feel compelled to do a similar thing every year, and it would just get ridiculous after a while (is anyone going to do the "Top 21 of '21"? Really?) so I decided to keep it at an even 10. But if you're a completist, you can look at my entire list of Best Films of 2015 on my Letterboxd page here.
Yes, there are a few notable exceptions. Despite half a dozen tries, I just could NOT get myself to go see The Revenant. It just wasn't a story that interested me, and reviews generally confirmed that it was not the way that I would most enjoy three hours on any given day. I also didn't see Creed (I haven't even seen Rocky yet - boxing movies just aren't my thing) or Bridge of Spies (again, the subject matter just doesn't interest me enough, despite the presence of Tom Hanks, who I love, and my idol Mark Rylance). I know I SHOULD see them at some point. But time and money are at a premium recently, and I'm very careful how I spend mine.
So with that said, let's get to the runners-up, shall we? Hovering just outside the Top Ten, in ascending order, are Guy Ritchie's easy-breezy-sexy-cool The Man From U.N.C.L.E.; Christopher McQuarrie's stellar entry in the Mission: Impossible series, Rogue Nation; the best sequel in many a year, Magic Mike XXL; Alex Gardner's astonishing debut Ex Machina; and of course the year's biggest blockbuster Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
...and then there were TEN...
theme song and credit sequence), Spy is minute for minute the year's funniest film. The script is standard-issue spy stuff (as befitting a spoof), but it's the cast that really makes this great. McCarthy finds the perfect way to make Susan Cooper feel like a complete character, Jude Law makes a case for himself as the next 007, Rose Byrne develops her comic gifts even further (on a second watch she was even funnier than I remembered), and Jason Statham steals the show by leavening his bad-ass persona with a grand sense of comic timing. Spy is a perfect example of the modern style of improv-based comedy and deserves a spot in the annals of great spoofs, as well.
...and now, my holy trinity of 2015.
...BUT BEFORE WE GET TO NUMBER ONE!
I must announce the winner of my "Jury Prize". That's a special citation I always give the film that I am in awe of as one of the most well-made films of the year, but that I had trouble actually enjoying all that much, thus making it impossible to properly "rank" the film. For context, previous winners include: Under the Skin, Before Midnight, and Amour. This year's winner is:
AND NOW! The moment we've all been waiting for...