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Entertainment Fuse’s Movies of 2015: Kieran’s Top 10

"Time to look at the cream of the crop"

2015 has ended and a new year is now upon us. So now is the time to reflect on the best last year had to offer. The vintage of 2015 has been a strong one, giving us movies like Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Martian, Ex Machina and Macbeth and the return of two franchises that broke the billion dollar barrier (Star Wars and Jurassic Park). And these movies that did not make my “best” list. My list of the best movies of 2015 is a mix of big action blockbusters, historical dramas and documentaries.

A quick disclaimer, I am based in the UK and movies like The Hateful Eight, The Revenant and Spotlight have not been released yet. Also I have excluded movies like Birdman and Big Hero 6 that were released in early in 2015 in the UK. I personally have not seen Carol and Sicario – which explain their exclusion.

10. Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers age of ultron - money shot

Kicking off my list is the first of 2015’s entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe – Avengers: Age of Ultron. “Age of Ultron” had a titanic task of continuing the MCU after Captain America: The Winter Soldier and setting up the plot threads for Phrase Three. This made “Age of Ultron” overstuffed with characters and story, but it was still a very entertaining superhero movie, having great action sequences, humor and allowing all characters, old and new, to have a moment to shine. Plus, it does serve as a passing of the torch to the new Avengers. It was pure comic-book fun.

The other Marvel movie, Ant-Man was also a fun flick, a back-to-basic simpler entry to the MCU, but it was a bit too similar to the first Iron Man movie.

9. Mad Max: Fury Road
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After a 30 year absence the Mad Max series returned with a huge band with Mad Max: Fury Road, earning a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was also named Best Film of the Year by the National Board of Review. It is not the masterpiece that some people – critics and fans made it out to be – the story is too thin to justify it and Tom Hardy as Max was a supporting character in his own movie. But it is still an action spectacle with great special effects and stunt work and Junkie XL’s best soundtrack. It is a great addition to the Mad Max series and an adrenaline rush for action junkies.

8. Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD
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For fans of comic books, Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD is a must see documentary about the British comic book company 2000AD. Director Paul Goodwin interviewed the greats of the British comic book industry as well as some other figures like Alex Garland and looked at the history of 2000AD, their creations and political and social commentary and the highs and lows of the company. Goodwin was able to make the documentary visually engaging in the vein of Jodorowsky’s Dune. It had a scattergun approach as it tried to cover everything it could, but it is a great love letter to the cult brand.

7. Black Mass
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Johnny Depp has had a torrid time in recent years, starring in box-office bombs, critical bombs and cameoed in comedies. Black Mass was a return to form for Depp, going against type as a cold, menacing gangster James “Whitely” Bulger. Depp was deliberately restrained as the gangster, making him even more threatening and make-up was used take away Depp’s good looks.

Helmed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) and having an ensemble cast that included Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Corey Stoll and Peter Sarsgaard, Black Mass was a dark and grim crime drama where any glamor in the criminal world is taken out of the movie adaptation as it shows the rise and fall of Bulger and FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) – the man who protected Bulger from being investigated. The storyline involving the FBI protecting Bulger and then turning on him is some of the most interesting material in the movie.

Black Mass was originally meant to be a four-hour long mini-series so some elements of Bulger’s story was cut, but it was a great movie for fans of the crime genre and has the air of Scorsese’s Goodfellas and Casino to it – as well as Depp’s own Donnie Brasco.

6. Spectre
spectre - bond in mexico

The latest entry in the Bond series is a controversial entry into this list, but as a fan of the series and Daniel Craig’s tenure, I enjoyed Spectre. While the previous three Bond movies were mostly serious affairs, Spectre is a homage to the movies of the 60s and 70s – having lots of international travel and adventure, plenty of action including a great pre-credits sequence and the best henchman since Stamper in Tomorrow Never Lies. It ties together all the previous movies in the Craig era and serves as a great send off to Craig – if it is his last appearance as the famous MI6 agent.

The reveal of who Christoph Waltz was really playing was disappointing, and forcibly trying to connect Bond with a famous enemy, and the basic plot line of Spectre is very similar to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, but the 2015 Bond movie is still a strong entry in the series – even if Casino Royale and Skyfall surpass it.

5. Amy

FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2007 file photo, British singer Amy Winehouse poses for photographs after being interviewed by The Associated Press at a studio in north London. Amy Winehouse, the beehived soul-jazz diva whose self-destructive habits overshadowed a distinctive musical talent, was found dead Saturday in her London home, police said. She was 27. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
Asif Kapadia’s documentary about Amy Winehouse was one of the most comprehensive and visually dynamic documentaries of 2015, looking at the life and career of the famous singer-songwriter. Based on two years of research, Amy used archived footage, home video footage, recordings and interviews and does not use any talking heads to achieve this. It was a fascinating personal portrait of Amy Winehouse, looking at what made her tick and how fame destroyed her. Even if you are not a fan of hers, Amy still works as a compelling look at the creative process, mental health issues, the music industry and the media who acted like vultures.

4. The Last of the Unjust
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The final documentary to make it onto my top 10 is Claude Lanzmann’s, The Last of the Unjust. Running at three hours and thirty minutes The Last of the Unjust was an in-depth documentary about Benjamin Murmelstein, the last surviving Elder Jew being a senior Jew who collaborated with the Nazis and the Holocaust. Using interviews with Murmelstein and visiting old sites in Central and Eastern Europe, The Last of the Unjust was a detailed and frank yet emotional documentary about The Holocaust. Not for the faint hearted.

3. Inside Out

Disney•Pixar's "Inside Out" takes us to the most extraordinary location yet - inside the mind of Riley. Like all of us, Riley is guided by her emotions - Anger (voiced by Lewis Black), Disgust (voiced by Mindy Kaling), Joy (voiced by Amy Poehler), Fear (voiced by Bill Hader) and Sadness (voiced by Phyllis Smith). The emotions live in Headquarters, the control center inside Riley's mind, where they help advise her through everyday life. Directed by Pete Docter and produced by Jonas Rivera, "Inside Out" is in theaters June 19, 2015.
Pixar is a studio that has a great track record and Inside Out was a return for them to make a creatively ambitious and risky movie for the whole family. From Up director Pete Docter, Inside Out was one of most nuanced movies of 2015, working as a coming-of-age story which people of all ages can relate to – being both a domestic drama and being a Pixar version of Inception. It is a touching movie with one of the cleverest screenplays of the year, showing how to put emotions in a young girl’s head and how her external experiences are inter-connected. It deserves at least an Academy Award nomination for Best Film and Best Screenplay.

2. Steve Jobs
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The Steve Jobs bio-pic had the dream team of Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin working on the writing and directing duties and they delivered!  With Michael Fassbender as the famous entrepreneur, Boyle and Sorkin play to their strengths with this fascinating bio-pic by setting it in the framework of Jobs and his entourage before three major product launches. Sorkin’s witty, speedy dialogue was fully on display as well as Boyle’s visual flair.

Although Steve Jobs had a unique approach, Sorkin and Boyle were about to show how Jobs was able to revolutionize the computing industry, showing the internal struggles within Apple and his relationship with his daughter. It showed Jobs’ genius, arrogance and his troubled relationships.

It was a huge shame that Steve Jobs disappointed at the box-office, even with a modest budget of $30 Million.

1. Bridge of Spies
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In recent years Steven Spielberg has been making mostly historical movies, as is the case for his latest flick, the Cold War drama Bridge of Spies. Starring Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies was both a courtroom drama and a spy drama, telling the story about how lawyer James B. Donovan had to defend Soviet spy Rudolf Abel and having to negotiate a spy exchange with the Soviet Union and East Germany.

Written by Matt Charman (Suite Française) and the Coen Brothers, Bridge of Spies was a surprisingly witty movie that had stellar performances from its two leads, particularly Rylance. Bridge of Spies worked as an examination of American Patriotism, tackling the hysteria of blind patriotism against someone who is actually standing for American values. Bridge of Spies also looked at the geopolitical situation of the time.

Bridge of Spies was funny and dramatic and was 2015’s Argo. A treat for history buffs.

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