Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

DC Film Girl’s Year In Review: The Best & Worst of 2015

After seeing 220 films, compiling over 50 written reviews and conducting interviews from Bryan Cranston, Alicia Vikander and Richard Gere, 2015 was a good year (for myself!) and at the movies! Not a great year but a good year! There are some fantastic films that came out this year, some like we have never seen before. Lots of reboots (Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, Terminator Genisys), a handful of completely original films (Ex Machina, The Final Girls, It Follows), several book adaptations (The Martian, Mockingjay Part 2, Room), and most importantly, a slew of films featuring strong female leads (Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Trainwreck).
Luckily I didn’t see too many horrible films, but definitely a good bit, all of which can be found at the bottom of the page. Now that 2016 is right around the corner, its time for my Year In Review. These are the performances and films that left the greatest impression on me and ones that I will not soon forget.
Stay tuned for my list of most anticipated films of 2016 (The Girl on the Train!!!) and I’ll see you at the theatre next year!

The Best Performances of 2015

Best Actor
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Andrew Garfield – 99 Homes
Johnny Depp – Black Mass
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
Tom Hardy – Mad Max: Fury Road
Tom Hardy – Legend
Jake Gyllenhaal – Southpaw
Paul Dano – Love & Mercy
Matt Damon – The Martian
Domhnall Gleeson – Ex Machina 
John Boyega – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Samuel L. Jackson – The Hateful Eight
Will Smith – Concussion
Michael Fassbender – Slow West
John Cusack – Love & Mercy
Michael Caine – Youth
Tom Hanks – Bridge of Spies
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – The Walk
Richard Gere – Time Out of Mind
Jason Bateman – The Gift
Corey Hawkins – Straight Outta Compton
Tom Cruise – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Ed Oxenbould – The Visit
Dylan O’Brien – The Scorch Trials
Best Actress
Sarah Silverman – I Smile Back
Elizabeth Moss – Queen of Earth
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
Emily Blunt – Sicario
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Alicia Vikander – The Testament of Youth
Jennifer Lawrence – Mockingjay Part 2
Dakota Johnson – Fifty Shades of Grey
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Amy Schumer – Trainwreck
Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Toni Collette – Miss You Already
Carey Mulligan – Far From the Madding Crowd
Margot Robbie – Z For Zachariah
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Carey Mulligan – Suffragette
Taissa Farmiga – The Final Girls
Maika Monroe – It Follows
Bryce Dallas Howard – Jurassic World 
Patricia Clarkson – Learning to Drive
Blythe Danner – I’ll See You In My Dreams
Taissa Farmiga – 6 Years
Meryl Streep – Ricki and the Flash
Kristen Wiig – Welcome to Me
Blake Lively – Age of Adaline 
Mae Whitman – The DUFF
Naomi Watts – While We’re Young 
Helen Mirren – Woman In Gold 
Anna Kendrick – The Last Five Years 
Best Supporting Actor
Benicio Del Toro – Sicario
Jacob Tremblay – Room
Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Michael Shannon – 99 Homes
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina
Dominic Cooper – Miss You Already
Edgar Ramirez – Joy
Josh Hutcherson – Mockingjay Part 2
Seth Rogen – Steve Jobs
Jeff Daniels – Steve Jobs
Christian Bale – The Big Short
Alexander Skarsgard – Diary of a Teenage Girl
Bill Hader – Trainwreck
Harrison Ford – Age of Adaline
Jason Statham – Spy
Jason Segel – The End of Tour
Best Supporting Actress
Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara – Carol 
Jessica Chastain – The Martian
Helen Mirren – Trumbo
Rebecca Ferguson – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Kristen Stewart – Clouds of Sils Maria
Rachel McAdams – Southpaw
Rose Byrne – Spy
Margot Robbie – Focus 
Cate Blanchett – Cinderella 
Drew Barrymore – Miss You Already
Rachel Weisz – Youth
Nicole Kidman – Secret In Their Eyes
Nicole Kidman – Paddington
Kristen Wiig – Diary of a Teenage Girl
Jennifer Jason Leigh – Anomalisa
Elle Fanning – Trumbo
Laura Dern – 99 Homes
Dakota Johnson – Black Mass
Juno Temple – Black Mass
Felicity Jones – True Story 
Oona Laurence – Southpaw
Ellen Page – Freeheld
Nina Dobrev – The Final Girls
Malin Ackerman – The Final Girls
Alicia Vikander – Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Cara Delevingne – Paper Towns
Evangeline Lily – Ant-Man
Elizabeth Olsen – Avengers: Age of Ultron 

The Most Underrated Film of 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey – Fifty Shades of Grey was the film that everyone loved to hate this year. It wasn’t sexy or scandalous enough or it was too scandalous and over the top or it didn’t go as far as it could. Audiences who loved the book ended up liking the film for the most part and newcomers to the story either hated it or said director Sam Taylor-Johnson should have pushed the boundaries more. Audiences also said it was pro-domination and belittling to women. Um, how is this possible when our lead female had control in every situation and was compliant in everything? And when she was uncomfortable and decided this wasn’t the life for her, she left! This film is far from perfect but its certainly not deserving of its primarily rotten ratings or hatred from audiences. Dakota Johnson is absolutely perfect as Anastasia Steele. Her performance was riveting, daring and quite the emotional roller coaster and I’m interested to see her character arc over the next two films. Jamie Dornan may not have been the ideal Christian Grey that fans pictured, but good Lord, he and Johnson’s chemistry is so incredible that it made him a wonderful Christian Grey. Also, the soundtrack is easily one of the best of the year. Don’t hate!
Underrated Runner Ups: Black Mass, Bridge of Spies, The Final Girls, Legend, Miss You Already, Queen of Earth, The Walk 
DC Film Girl Top 10 of 2015 logo

The Top 10 Films of 2015

Honorable Mentions: Bridge of Spies, Carol, Cinderella, The DUFF, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Final Girls, Furious 7, The Hateful Eight, It Follows, Joy, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, Paddington, Queen of Earth, The Revenant, Z For Zachariah
mockingjay part 210. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 – The end of an era. Director Francis Lawrence’s Mockingjay Part 2 is a fantastic finish to what was a perfect film franchise. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are phenomenal, while the screenplay proves to be even better than the book itself. The Hunger Games films appealed both to fans of the books and attracted new fans as well. When people look back on Jennifer Lawrence’s career, Katniss Everdeen will be one of the first that come to mind.
trainwreck movie poster9. Trainwreck – Amy Schumer had a great freaking year. A sold-out stand-up tour, a critically acclaimed comedy that she both starred in and wrote and now a Golden Globe nomination under her belt. Trainwreck is a love story for the modern age and Amy Schumer and Bill Hader have wonderfully sweet and sexy chemistry. Schumer can make you cry laughing while also pulling on your heart strings.
jurassic world8. Jurassic World – Bryce Dallas Howard running in heels from a T-Rex is one of the most memorable scenes in film all year. It would be silly to think that this film would be better than Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic, so if you went in to the film with that mindset, then shame on you! Jurassic World completely revitatlizes the franchise and the action sequences are amazingly good. Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are lovely together and I can’t wait to see the sequels.
mission impossible rogue nation poster7. Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation – Ladies and gentlemen, there is a new action hero in town and her name is Rebecca Ferguson. MI Rogue Nation is the best in the franchise. Tom Cruise has never been better as Ethan Hunt and his female counterpart is not just a sidekick, she is an action star. Director Christopher McQuarrie knows when to let Ferguson lead and when he does, it is glorious. Please please have Ferguson return in the future films!
fifty shades of grey poster6. Fifty Shades of Grey – Before I get a lot of hate and eye-rolling for this film being on my Top 10 list, Fifty Shades of Grey is one of my favorite films of the year and the film on this list that I have watched the most. Dakota Johnson is impeccable as our lead heroine and Jamie Dornan proved several haters wrong with his turn as Christian Grey. This film is not all about BDSM, like the novel it is based on. It’s a love story, but most of all, it is about a young woman coming-of-age, exploring her sexuality and deciding what she wants. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson does one hell of a job capturing all of it.
mad max fury road poster5. Mad Max: Fury Road – The best film franchise reboot of the year and in recent years. Though the film is called Mad Max, the true lead character of the film is Imperator Furiosa, in one of the best performances of the year by Charlize Theron. Theron is pretty much fantastic in all her roles, but we’ve never seen her like this before. Head shaven and with a bionic arm, director George Miller shows the audience who the real Queen of the Desert is here. Plus, the score by Junkie XXL is unforgettable.
room poster4. Room – The most emotionally charging film of the year and one of the best book adaptations in recent years, director Lenny Abrahamson’s Room is astounding, shocking and beautiful. In two of the year’s most memorable performances, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are a joy to watch as mother and son who live in a tiny room, entrapped and hidden from the world around them. One of the best scenes of the year is when young Jack (Tremblay) sees the sky outside of the room for the very first time. Just breathtaking.
star wars force awakens poster3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Episode 7 of Star Wars wasn’t even on the top of my list for most anticipated films of 2015. Sure, I grew up watching Episodes 4-6 and adored them, but when Episodes 1-3 came out, it just didn’t get me excited for Star Wars anymore. Thank goodness for director J.J. Abrams who co-wrote the screenplay along with Lawrence Kasdan and Michael Arndt. Abrams completely reboots the Star Wars franchise, which felt dead since the early ’80s, and gets us excited about Star Wars again. Plus, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver are amazing as our new stars!
sicario poster2. Sicario – Denis Villeneuve is one of my favorite directors working today. Enemy was in my Top 5 films of 2014 and Prisoners was totally underrated in 2013. His films are always striking, surprising and unlike anything that is released throughout the year. But Sicario may be his best yet. Emily Blunt gives a deeply internal and riveting performance as our lead character who is an FBI agent enlisted by a government task force to help the war against drugs on the Mexico border from increasing. But the plot is not as simple as it seems. Benicio Del Toro gives the best supporting performance of the year here and I adored watching him and Blunt on screen together. The cinematography by Roger Deakins is awards worthy, while the musical score by Johann Johansson builds slowly to the big reveal at the end. A perfect film on every level.
ex machina1. Ex Machina – Director and writer Alex Garland’s Ex Machina popped out of nowhere in April of this year, surprising critics and audiences alike. Filmed over two years ago, Ex Machina is a story about artificial intelligence, the will to survive and a mind-game so intense that it will take you multiple viewings to fully grasp what you’ve just seen. Alicia Vikander has had an amazing year with seven films released, but this is her best performance to date. Vikander plays Ava, an A.I. who has striking human qualities and characteristics. The way she carries herself and delivers her dialogue are all so calculated yet natural at the same time. Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac are wonderful and its clear the trio had fun while making this film. A dancing Oscar Isaac is enough to put this film in my top list, but in addition to that this film shook me to my core and has an ending so dazzling it could be thought about for weeks afterward.
ex machina movie

The Top 10 Worst Films of 2015

10. The Loft – Sexist, horrifying and uninteresting. This film boasts a talented male ensemble, but its as far from entertaining as you can get.
9. Black Hat – No, Chris Hemsworth, just no.
8. Aloha – I am so sad to say that this made the worst list. With Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Bill Murray all cast, it doesn’t seems like it could have been on the best, but this screenplay is so ridiculous that I am surprised Cameron Crowe went for it,
7. Hot Pursuit – I love Reese Witherspoon. I like Sofia Vergara. But here the two were trying so hard to be funny and to make this work that it came out as bad. Good news is that the two remained besties in real life!
6. Victor Frankenstein – If I ever have to see Daniel Radcliffe as a hunchback again, I think it could actually ruin the Harry Potter franchise for me. Worse than that, I don’t need to see James McAvoy sucking the fluid out of his hunchback. Um, no.
5. Vacation – One reboot this year that should not have been made at all!
4. Playing It Cool – Chris Evans and Michelle Monoghan seem charming enough, but the story is so over-the-top cheesy and most of all boring. Its films like these that give rom-coms a bad rep.
3. Accidental Love – This poor film was all over the place and a complete mess. I cannot believe the talented David O. Russell directed this film and ended up releasing it. Can we all just pretend it doesn’t exist? OK?
2. The Wedding Ringer – Homophobic, nasty and simply mean-spirited. It’s a shame Kevin Hart is wasting his talent on bad screenplays just to get a paycheck and act ridiculous. Let’s hope Get Hard 2 is better. Perhaps?
1. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 – Disgusting and completely useless, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 does a major dishonor to the hilarious and fun film before it by even being made. No John Cusack, a terrible and plain weird performance by Adam Scott, this is the type of movie that just makes me want to scream, “How did this even get made!?!”
hot tub time machine 2

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