Hollywood brought audiences a lot of variety this past year. From sweet family Pixar movies and riveting dramas to a galaxy far, far away, 2015 was a great year for movies.
#25. Straight Outta Compton
“Straight Outta Compton” follows the hip-hop group N.W.A as they struggle to get their start in Los Angeles in the late 1980s. The film won big with critics and crowds. In terms of box office revenue, it eclipsed films like “Ray” and “Walk the Line” to become the biggest musical biopic ever.
Although “Rosenwald” was made by German filmmaker Aviva Kempner, the documentary tells the very American story of Julius Rosenwald, the impoverished child of immigrants who went on to become the president of Sears. Critics agree that “Rosenwald” did an excellent job illuminating a lesser-known humanitarian story.
#23. Steve Jobs
The 2013 biopic, “Jobs,” starring Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, was a total flop (could anyone really believe Kutcher as the computer genius?). However, the 2015 film “Steve Jobs” did a much better job telling his life story. The film won two Golden Globes, including Kate Winslet for Best Actress.
#22. 3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets
This heart-wrenching documentary delves into the aftermath of a fatal shooting that occurred in 2012 at a gas station in Florida. The film only pulled in a measly $26,000 at the box office, but it boasts a 100 percent rating by critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
#21. All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records
Another documentary that made it onto our “Best Movies of 2015” list, “All Things Must Pass” investigates the epic failure of music powerhouse Tower Records, which filed for bankruptcy in 2006.
#20. Beasts of No Nation
“Beasts of No Nation,” a chilling tale about child soldiers in Ghana, is Netflix’s first original film. The movie was shot on location, and many extras are actually former child soldiers.
“Papanasam” is an Indian film that made a worldwide splash in 2015. Unlike most lighthearted Bollywood films, “Papanasam” has a more dramatic plot. It follows a father trying to shield his family when he is thrown into the crooked Indian criminal justice system.
Another Indian film to make the list, “Meru” is a documentary about three professional climbers and their struggle up the 21,000-foot Himalayan peak Mount Meru. Thrill-seekers and travel-lovers will be particularly enthralled by this movie.
#17. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” is based off of the book by Jesse Andrews, who also wrote the screenplay. It’s a bittersweet tale of 17-year-old Greg and his encounters with Rachel, a classmate battling leukemia. It won the 2015 Sundance Grand Jury Prize, but was not nominated for any Academy Awards.
#16. Son of Saul
This Hungarian film just won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, and for good reason. It’s a tragic, beautifully done film about a prisoner in Auschwitz who is assigned to burn the corpses of his fallen friends.
Actress Brie Larson just nabbed her first Golden Globe nomination and win for the thriller “Room.” Critics and audience members both agreed that the suspenseful thriller was director Lenny Abrahamson’s best work.
#14. Welcome to Leith
“Welcome to Leith” is a fascinating documentary about white supremacist Craig Cobb. The film chronicles the days leading up to his arrest and the aftermath of the terrorism he unleashed on a small town in North Dakota.
Saoirse Ronan was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as Eilis, an Irish immigrant trying to survive in New York in the 1950s. Ronan was actually born in New York City and raised in Ireland, and she said that she “felt a huge responsibility to the country to really capture what the story was.”
#12. Best of Enemies
The filmmakers went through hundreds of hours of footage to create “Best of Enemies,” a documentary about how televised debates in the U.S. came to be. According to one critic, “Best of Enemies” is “the story of how television, and much else, was changed forever.”
#11. Bridge of Spies
Another Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg collaboration, “Bridge of Spies” delves into the complicated relationship between the Soviet Union and the U.S. during the Cold War. Although Spielberg has led Hanks to Golden Globe nominations before (“Saving Private Ryan”), the film’s only Golden Globe nomination actually went to Mark Rylance for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (he lost to Sylvester Stallone for his role in “Creed”).
“Sicario” is an action-packed thriller with a stellar cast. Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro explore the complex — and often terrifying — underground (at times literal) war on drugs along the U.S./Mexico border. Given the recent El Chapo tunnel escape and recapture, “Sicario” is a film worth watching.
#9. Peace Officer
Another excellent documentary released in 2015, “Peace Officer” explores the inner workings of corruption in an American SWAT team. Currently, this film has a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes from critics.
#8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This film is breaking box office records daily, and fans can’t seem to get enough of newbie Rey and her modern droid companion, BB-8. Although some have commented that the plot is questionably similar to “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” there is no doubt this new addition to the series is an entertaining one.
#7. The Martian
“The Martian” is based off of the New York Times bestseller by Andy Weir and features a star-studded cast (Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain and Jeff Daniels — to name a few) as well as sci-fi director extraordinaire Ridley Scott (whose other films include “Alien” and “Prometheus”). Damon took home his first Golden Globe for acting (Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Musical). He had previously won a Golden Globe in 1998 for the “Good Will Hunting” screenplay he co-wrote with Ben Affleck.
This riveting documentary about Amy Winehouse’s rise to fame and lethal battle with addiction comes in as the sixth highest-rated film of 2015. The never-before-seen archival footage and unreleased music in the film paint a picture of Winehouse the media rarely portrayed.
#5. The Second Mother
“The Second Mother” or “Que Horas Ela Volta” is a dramatic film about a mother and daughter’s chaotic relationship. The movie was Brazil’s submission to the Oscars for the Best Foreign Film category.
#4. Listen to Me Marlon
Marlon Brando lived a notoriously mysterious life. Though he did not often speak to the press, Brando did keep an extensive audio-journal about his life. Filmmakers had access to all of this footage and skillfully present his life story.
#3. Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller brought audiences the first “Mad Max” in 1979, but the series has greatly improved since the original. Miller was focused on using as little CGI as possible — he actually blew up a giant semi truck in the Namibian desert. Plus, there’s a flamethrower guitarist.
Although “Spotlight” did not win any of the three Golden Globes it was nominated for, many are predicting it has a good chance of winning the Oscar for Best Picture. The film is based on the true story of a team of journalists in Boston who uncover the Catholic Church child molestation scandal, and the characters the film is based off of agree that the story is very well done.
#1. Inside Out
Pixar’s “Inside Out” was the top-rated film of 2015. The film explores human emotions inside the mind of Riley, a young girl dealing with the struggles of growing up and moving to a new town. Pixar did an excellent job of creating a film that resonates with both adults and children, and it’s highly probable that “Inside Out” will win the Academy Award for Best Animated Film.