There were some huge movies to come out in 2015 and most likely, you’ve seen the biggest. Despite its December release, Star Wars: The Force Awakens led the box office for the entire year by grossing a total of $750 million, with Jurassic World coming in second at $652M. However, plenty of flicks came out that we think were actually better than the biggest grossing ones and though some of them gained serious film festival and critical attention, the mass population didn’t flock to the theaters to see them. But that isn’t your fault, because at times, the greatest films suffer from lack of exposure and you can’t watch something you never knew existed. So, here are the seven best films from 2015 that you should really watch as soon as possible.
What We Do in the Shadows
Directors/Writers: Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi
Stars: Jemaine Clement, Taika Waititi, Jonathan Brugh and Rhys Darby
What We Do in the Shadows was technically released in 2014, but it didn’t really gain traction until last year when the filmmakers took to Kickstarter to self-release it in North America. The fake documentary follows vampire roommates who are a bit old fashioned for modern living and have a hard time dealing with the everyday struggles of mankind, like doing the dishes and figuring out what to wear to the club. The absurd movie is as perfect as a comedy can get and will definitely have you laughing out loud the entire time. Word has it, a sequel is in the works.
Director/Writer: Alex Garland
Stars: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac
Despite being hailed by critics as one of the best films of the year, there are plenty of people out there who still have yet to see this contemplative sci-fi thriller. With a small cast of four, Ex Machina follows a programmer who is chosen by a billionaire genius to perform the Turing test on an A.I. that he created. It may seem simple, but the film will blindside you with its gorgeous script (Garland also wrote Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later and Sunshine) and minimalist approach to the artificial intelligence dilemma that ends up being scary through setting and dialogue alone.
Director: Atom Egoyan
Writer: Benjamin August
Stars: Christopher Plummer, Bruno Ganz, Martin Landau, Dean Norris
Remember haunted me for a good month after I saw it at the Los Cabos Film Festival last year. Plummer plays a man with memory loss who discovers that the Nazi responsible for killing his family is still alive, leading him to embark on a trip to find the man and enact his revenge. The movie isn’t perfect and the script surely could have been a bit tighter (and a lot more logical), but Plummer is what matters and his performance is heartbreaking. The dignity and pain present in his performance is remarkable, proving that he’s still one of the best actors alive. Plus, there are some other major players in this film, like Bruno Ganz of Wings of Desire.
Director: Justin Kurzel
Screenplay: Jacob Koskoff, Michael Lesslie and Todd Louiso
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, Paddy Considine, Sean Harris and Jack Reynor
It's pretty likely that everyone knows at least a little about Shakespeare's Macbeth, which is an incredibly long play in which nearly everyone is murdered. As one of the playwright's most infamous works, it would be nearly impossible to create an adaptation that has the ability to surprise and touch people in new ways, but that is what Justin Kurzel did with his 2015 film Macbeth. The film boldly removes much of the play's dialogue, replacing it with gorgeous visuals—seriously, you could watch this flick on mute and still be moved—and a perfect score from composer Jed Kurzel (the director's brother). By putting all of the story's violent deaths onscreen (when in the play they all happen off-stage), the film is able to create brand new tension and moral ambiguity. It should also go without saying that the cast is remarkable, with Fassbender, Cotillard and Considine reinventing the roles for a brand new audience.
Director: Sean S. Baker
Writers: Sean S. Baker and Chris Bergoch
Stars: Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor
Tangerine stands out among the rest of this list in a very obvious way and that is because the entire movie was filmed on three iPhone 5s smartphones, with the help of the FiLMIC Pro app and an anamorphic adapter for widescreen shots. Not only does its filming method shatter traditional filmmaking techniques, the movie itself is a groundbreaking comedy that challenges modern casting stereotypes by starring two incredibly talented transgender actresses in their first major roles. Having just been released from jail, the story follows Sin-Dee on Christmas Eve after she finds out that her boyfriend cheated on her, which sends her and her best friend on a quest across the city to find the deception duo. Its characters are original and completely unforgettable and while its portrayal of Los Angeles sex workers may sadden you at times, the unbreakable bond of friendship that pull the characters through the drama is touching and heartwarming.
End of the Tour
Director: James Ponsoldt
Screenplay: Donald Margulies
Cast: Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg
Jason Segel's portrayal of David Foster Wallace in End of the Tour was nothing short of brilliant and luckily, you don't need to have read the epic encyclopedic novel Infinite Jest to connect with it. Based on David Lipsky’s Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, the movie takes place during the last five days of Wallace's book tour for Jest, when Lipsky was there interviewing him for Rolling Stone. The resulting film is a beautiful representation of a man who desperately wanted to connect with those who felt the same self-doubt and dissatisfaction as he felt. And at the heart of it all is Segel, who brings such bruised honesty to the character that it's easy to forget you're watching a movie.
Director/Writer: Patrick Brice
Cast: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche
With a fantastic cast, The Overnight tells the story of two couples who spend a night drinking wine and getting to know one another on some pretty unexpected levels. The movie is known for leaving people with a wtf reaction, but I wouldn't want to ruin it for you by telling you why. All you need to know is that this funny, tender and awkward movie never judges its characters for experimenting and trying new things, so neither should we.