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The 15 Best Movies of 2015 So Far

29 May 2015 | Features, Film Lists | by Ryan Anderson

best movies of 2015

Thus far, 2015 has been a busy year and this list proposes to look at some of the best films of 2015 to date. These films were shown at festivals or have had a theatrical release in the year 2015.

As this list was written before the 2015 Cannes Film Festival was held, films shown at that event will not be included. 2015 has to date been a rich year for film as the following list hopes to show. Please note that this list is not ranked in any particular order.


1. Ex Machina

Ex Machina

Ex Machina is the a British science fiction thriller from screenwriter Alex Garland, making his directorial debut. The plot follows the reclusive CEO of a hi-tech company (Oscar Isaac) who recruits a brilliant young computer programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) in order to evaluate his creation, Ava (Alicia Vikander), the most advanced artificial intelligence ever conceived. The two men fail to realize that Ava has plans of her own.

Garland kept the budget as small as possible. There were no special or green effects during filming as all such effects were created in post-production. To create Ava’s robotic features the scenes were first filmed live then copied without the actress, which allowed the director to capture the background behind her.

Ex Machina was released in January in the UK, and then premiered in the United States at the South by Southwest Film Festival before a theatrical release on April 10 2015. On the Rotten Tomatoes website, the film has received a 91% rating based on 174 reviews, among other favorable notices. The film relies more on ideas rather than effects,making it unique, visually stunning and uncommonly engaging.


2. The Salt of the Earth

The Salt of the Earth

Selected to compete in the 2014 Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section, but theatrically released in March 2015, The Salt of the Earth was a collaboration between acclaimed director Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, the son of the film’s subject, Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado.

The film has received positive reviews and several awards since its premiere at Cannes, where it won a special prize. It also won the audience award at the 2014 San Sebastian Film Festival and 2015 Toronto Film Festival and best documentary at the 40th César Awards. It was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has achieved a 93% approval rating with an average of 8.1/10 based on 41 reviews. While the film may somewhat neglect the thorny social questions, it raises it also remains a thought-provoking testament to the photographer’s career.


3. It Follows

It Follows

This horror film premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and has been noted for its minimalist style and for director David Robert Mitchell’s command of shifting tone. The plot follows a young woman who is pursued by a supernatural entity after a sexual encounter. The film had a limited release in March of 2015 and received a wider release shortly thereafter.

A major impacting element of It Follows is the plethora of interpretations concerning the film’s “it” symbolism. Some have interpreted the film as a parable on AIDS or other sexually-transmitted diseases, a study of the sexual revolution, or a tapping into the primal anxieties about intimacy and sex. The film also explores existential aspects of death and how people try to avoid or postpone that inevitability.

The film has had critical acclaim with the majority of the praise reserved for Mitchell, whose style has been hailed as refreshing and progressive. The film is smart, original and terrifying and works on multiple levels.


4. While We’re Young

While We’re Young

Noah Baumbach, the director of The Squid and the Whale and Frances Ha, directed this film which centers on a New York City based documentary filmmaker and his wife, played by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, who strike up a friendship with a couple in their 20s, portrayed by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried. The older couple explore the youth and freedom of the younger one, due to the fact that their marriage is in a rut.

The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2014, it was released in March 2015 by A24 films. The film has an 84% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 152 reviews with a 7.3 average rating. The film is poignant and piercingly honest, containing numerous funny lines delivered through relatable characters. Through these characters Baumbach explores age, mid-life crises and how generations interrelate.

Although the plot is a somewhat complicated, particularly in its exploration of the ethics of documentary filmmaking, but it has a touching nature and is a return to form for Stiller and Watts.


5. Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road movie

The fourth film in the Mad Max franchise and the first entry in thirty years. It is directed by George Miller, the same director who has helmed the series since its inception. The film features Tom Hardy in the titular role, with Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and Hugh Keays-Byrne rounding out the cast.

Set in a desolate wasteland environment where water and gasoline are scarce, Mad Max joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Theron) to run away from cult leader Immortan Joe (Keays-Byrne) and his army’s pursuit.

After being in production on and off for close to a decade, the film had its world premiere at the TCL Chinese Theatre on May 7th 2015. The film began wide theatrical release a week later, highlighted by an out of competition screening at the 68th Cannes Film Festival. Critics praised the film for its acting, screenplay, action sequences, stunts, and direction.

Mad Max: Fury Road currently has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has returned the franchise to the public’s consciousness. The film goes beyond the normal action field and is a great film overall. The overall success has led to the announcements of sequels.


6. What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows

This New Zealand found footage film was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival in January. The film is directed and written by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, who also appear in the film. The picture concerns a group of vampires who live together in Wellington. After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, the film received a limited release across the United States in March of 2015.

The story follows three vampire housemates who try to cope with the complexities of modern life and show a newly turned hipster some perks of being a member of the undead. The leavening factor is the film’s surprising humor.

The film currently has a 96% certified fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. What We Do in the Shadows is bloody good fun.


7. Cinderella


Directed by British thespian, Kenneth Branagh, Disney’s live action semi-remake of the studio’s classic 1950 animated version. The cast includes Lily James as Ella (Cinderella), Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine/the wicked stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother. Premiering at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2015, the film opened to critical acclaim and has grossed over $500 million.

After the success of the live-action remake of Alice in Wonderland, Disney began developing this film. Oscar winning costume designer Sandy Powell helped create the classic yet reimagined production world of Cinderella inspired by the 19th century period films made in the 1940s or 1950s and many are considering the work award worthy.

The film received positive critical mention focusing on the performances of Blanchett, James and Carter, the direction,and visuals and costume design.



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  • Gabriel David

    Please, stop.

  • Bijit Barat

    Furious 7? and no Age of Ultron? Are u kidding me? -_-

  • Gabby Gabaya

    where is Kumiko the Treasure Hunter?

  • Fundamental

    Furious 7 but no Avengers 2?

  • Amjad Zaman Jamaludheen

    WHite god is 15th position and furious 7 has a higher level than that. WTF is this

    • Gregory

      The list is in no order, as stated in the introduction.

  • Iván Solorio (SanS)

    White God is amazing. Also, Kingsman really was a fun movie and Mad Max is probably an action movie with so much to offer. It Follows is one of my favorites. I have ye to see The Overnight, as well as Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

  • Jeremy Jeffers

    I would put Chappie on the list bit for me Mad Max Fury Road ftw

  • Pete Jones

    Slow West

  • What We Do in the Shadows looks interesting.

    • Sunny Maxim

      It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in awhile.

  • Gregory

    Contrary to the opinions below, Furious 7 already sits higher on my list than Avengers. They share a nearly identical score on metacritic, but Avengers, while good, did not excite me at all. Furious 7 would be the best in the franchise if not for the cluttered final action scene, which didn’t live up to the finales in the past two films, nor the earlier sequences in its own film.

  • Paco Gonzalez

    Mad Max didn’t belong on there. What a pile of sh*t that was.

  • Wolfgang

    If White God is on this list, it should be the #1.

  • As

    Furious 7? I’m a Fast & Furious fan and for me it’s so bad. Avengers 2 bad as well.

  • Rajampolu

    How come John Wick & The Equalizer not in this list, as a Ex-Action movie lover I highly recommend those epic stylish movies.

  • James Baggins

    Creeated an a/c only to comment on this post, Furious 7? Seriously, this is a new low for taste of cinema, I really love this website, and I rarely disagree with movies mentioned here, but this is terrible.

    • Elias

      LOL me too! I only created an account to complain about Furious 7 on this list…

  • Susan F

    Keep studying. You are a rank amature. What stupidity. You never heard of Gett: The Trial of Viviane Aslam or Far from the Madding Crowd or … Forget it. A college sophomore majoring in bogus subjects from a middling school writing an article about cinema. Not even a film student. My goodness, I’m a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film Production and Film History, a lawyer and live in NYC with access to every film released in the world and nobody is asking me to write for this blog. Oh the humanity.

    • Keith D Suchland


      BTW, if you are so keen to write, there is a hyperlink, in the upper right of the page, which will catch you up to speed.

    • Sunny Maxim

      Wow, you seem pleasant.

    • Businessman Ray

      This is the most pretentious comment I’ve ever read. Good show.

      • Podovski

        Reading it hurt my head.

    • thegoddamnbatman

      wow, you must be a helluva loser.

    • JPVan

      Thank you my troll of the day. I can always count on an absolutely inane and unhinged comment to remind me that I have better things to do. However, as I write this on 30 July, on second thought you’re my troll of the month. The irony of “You are a rank amature (sic). What stupidity” is precious.

    • Podovski

      Susan, start your own 🙂

    • Elliot Brown

      I don’t think I have ever read a more pretentious and arrogant comment in my life. Get off your high horse.

  • Carlos Salvador Salazar

    i did not see ex machina but i think mad max would still be my top pick. i dont know why “it follows”, a kinda smart, better than average horror film, is so high on the list (even as far as novelty and subverting genre tropes, max is superior. I mention this because stupid people confuse winks for merit.).

    • MysteriousRonin

      Go rent Ex Machina then edit your comment to agree that it is worthy of #1.

  • Javiera

    this should be on the list of the most WTF lists on tasteofcinema.

  • I watched White God last night. Holy hell. It completely blew me away. I’ve been thinking about it all day. Mainly about the fact that you have to pay the Hungarian government a monthly fee in order to stop them from murdering your mix-breed. Hungary is literally like Nazi Germany for puppies. Bastards.

  • mákos

    It feels so good that White God (Fehér Isten) is on the list. There is hope that you can actually make a masterpiece movie in Hungary despite the economic situation.

  • Matías

    By far the shittiest list I’ve ever saw on ToC, where’s Inside Out, Still Alice, Slow West, Relatos Salvajes (wild tales), and many more no brainers choices… nd did I saw Fast and Furious 7? Who the fuck made this list? a 15 year old kid with bad taste on films?

  • Ross Agüero

    Cinderella? Really? I found it really boring, I fell asleep after the first 15 minutes D: This list makes me hesitate about seeing the other films xD (anyways I’ll try it)

  • António Mendes

    Y no Inside Out?

  • Esdras Castiliano

    This list really scared me. If these are the best, I do not even want to imagine the worst. Except Mad Max, It Follows and The Salt of the Earth.
    I not watched The Duke of Burgundy and White God, but they seem interesting. In my opinion again, Inside Out was the best movie of the year so far.

  • Bretta Walker

    Why isn’t Sicario on this list? It’s an absolutely brilliant film and I can’t believe it’s been overlooked here.

  • Kopknight

    Well movie preference is subjective, and while I agree with a few here, notably WWDITS and Ex Machina, I didn’t think Cinderella was an improvement on the original animated film, which I love but that’s just me.

  • Malena Tonelli

    I couldn’t disagree more with Cinderella. You should put Inside Out instead.

  • i gave kingsman a whirl but stopped it at the 2 minute mark, just seemed stupid.
    maybe i’ll get drunk an give another go.

  • Joel Shelton

    This list is missing Sicario (film of the year, for me) and Creed (excellent film and better than the original Rocky).

  • Chrisychipz

    My top 15 so far (based on US releases where I live):
    Honorable Mentions: Wild Tales, Queen of Earth, White God, The Duke of Burgundy, Heaven Knows What, Love, Spring

    15. The Diary of A Teenage Girl
    14. It Follows
    13. Brooklyn
    12. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
    11. The Stanford Prison Experiment
    10. Beasts of No Nation
    9. Ex Machina
    8. Goodnight Mommy
    7. Wildlike
    6. 45 Years
    5. The World of Kanako
    4. The Tribe
    3. The Look of Silence
    2. Youth
    1. Mommy

  • Jeff Yates

    I can’t imagine why the Mad Max was so well received. I don’t think I’ve seen such a boring film all year and if it weren’t for the fact that I was with other people, I would probably have walked out (and I’ve not done that since The Purge in June ’13).

  • Ahmed

    Beasts of No Nation.

  • Amine Chenguiti

    No CHAPPIE on the list… Just one of the best 2015 movies in my opinion

  • acgogo

    I tried to watch “What we do in the Shadows”. I gave it a full 15 minutes and all the jokes fell flat. Just forced and un-funny. This may pass for humor in New Zealand or Cannes…

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  • Pam Avoledo

    Ex Machina was a great movie but tough to watch.