/Film's Top 10 Films Of 2015 So Far

It's hard to believe, but we're already halfway through 2015. Which means we've already seen about half the films we're likely to this year. Which, then, means now is as good a time as any to stop and reflect upon some of the big highlights of the year so far.

Our entire staff voted on the top 10 list that follows. The results run the gamut from quirky indie to broad comedy to R-rated action. Find /Film's list of the top 10 films of 2015 so far after the jump.

We'll begin with some of the films that didn't make the list... but could have under slightly different circumstances.

The End of the Tour

Unreleased Favorites

Our list only includes films released in the U.S. between January 1, 2015 and June 30, 2015, not counting festival openings, and as a result there are several titles we've seen and loved but had to disqualify. Those include:

  • Tangerine (July 10)
  • The Stanford Prison Experiment (July 17)
  • Best of Enemies (July 31)
  • The Diary of a Teenage Girl (August 7)
  • How to Dance in Ohio (TBA)

Unique Entries

While there was a lot of consensus — especially around the top 5 films — a few of us championed titles that went ignored by everyone else. Our highest ranked unique (i.e., landing on only one ballot) entries are:

  • Cinderella (Angie's #3 movie)
  • A Most Violent Year (Devindra's #4 movie)
  • The Duke of Burgundy (Russ' #4 movie)
  • World of Tomorrow (Russ' #5 movie)

Runners Up

And then, of course, there were the films that missed our top 10 by just a point or two. Those are:

  • Dope (missed by 1 point)
  • Jurassic World (missed by 1 point)
  • Furious 7 (missed by 2 points)

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Our top 10 countdown begins on the next page.

Spy Melissa McCarthy

10. Spy

Melissa McCarthy has been downright ubiquitous since her breakout turn in Bridesmaids, and Spy might be her best film role yet. By introducing a different kind of hero, she and Paul Feig breathe new life into old spy-thriller tropes. McCarthy is utterly winning as Susan Cooper, a brilliant but perpetually underestimated desk agent who discovers her inner badass, but Jason Statham very nearly steals the show right out from under her as an exaggerated Jason Statham type.

Kingsman

9. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Another creative spin on the spy genre, Kingsman: The Secret Service gives us the Colin Firth James Bond we never knew we wanted and, in Taron Egerton and Sofia Boutella, the charismatic rising stars we didn't know we needed. It's unapologetically rude and weird, as you'd expect from a Mark Millar adaptation, and Matthew Vaughn's direction makes Kingsman a burst of colorful energy right up until the very end.

Slow West

8. Slow West

Imagine the Coen Brothers meeting Wes Anderson out in the 19th century frontier, and you basically have John Maclean's Slow West. It's a fairy tale that refuses to play by fairy tale rules, a hilarious romp that wants to break your heart, an elegy for the Old West that celebrates the possibilities inherent in the New World. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Michael Fassbender nail the off-kilter tone, and Caren Pistorius is one of the film's best surprises. (Well, her and Ben Mendelsohn's amazing fur coat.)

While We're Young

7. While We're Young

To paraphrase Harvey Dent, you either die a fresh-faced wunderkind or live long enough to become the musty old establishment. Noah Baumbach's keenly observed comedy captures a couple caught somewhere in between, and unwilling to advance. The laughs come quickly and easily, but if you've ever found yourself looking at a younger model with that heady mixture of envy, resentment, and admiration, you'll feel a pang of recognition, too.

me and earl and the dying girl

6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Part teen cancer drama, part love letter to cinema, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl navigates the challenges of adolescence in a way only a movie lover could. It celebrates art's capability for expression, connection, and understanding, while also acknowledging its heartbreaking limitations in the messiness of life. Plus, it's got some really great cinematic puns, in the form of short parody films that Greg and Earl claim are "terrible" but are secretly pretty brilliant.

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Click through for our top 5 films of the year.

It Follows 700 4

5. It Follows

The haunting-as-STD premise of It Follows is so brilliantly simple, it seems insane it hasn't been done a hundred times before. Now that it has, It Follows deserves to be inducted into the "instant classic" canon. The monster's slow but relentless march starts out unsettling and becomes downright terrifying. As a word of advice, don't watch this one if you're planning to walk home from the theater alone. You'll spend the entire time peeking fearfully over your shoulder.

What We Do in the Shadows

4. What We Do in the Shadows

A vampire parody done as a mockumentary sounds like the mashup of several tired tropes. What emerged instead is one of the funniest comedies of the year. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi undermine the dark glamour of the vampire with hilarious, everyday "reality." Here are mythical monsters who spend their time begging nightclub bouncers to invite them in, bickering over the blood-encrusted dishes in the sink, and getting into verbal tiffs with the local werewolf contingent.

Ex Machina

3. Ex Machina

One of only two movies to make all eight lists, Ex Machina won us over with its bold ideas, sharp script, killer casting, and beautiful design. The plot is deceptively straightforward: what if two men spent a week analyzing the self-awareness of a female robot one of them had invented? But the questions it raises — about technology, sexuality, humanity, evolution — are thorny and complicated. And the conclusions it draws are hard, and hard-won.

insideout-fivefeelings-control

2. Inside Out

After a few uneven years, Pixar returned to glorious form this summer with Inside Out. The concept is perhaps Pixar's boldest yet. But as is typical with Pixar, what really got us was the studio's precise grasp of human emotion in all its messiness. A note-perfect cast (including Amy Poehler as Joy and Phyllis Smith as Sadness) led us on a wholly unique journey that made us laugh, cry, and feel grateful for all the other feelings that fall in between.

Mad Max Fury Road - Max and the wives

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

What is there to say about Mad Max: Fury Road, really, that hasn't been said a hundred times already? George Miller's long-gestating sequel isn't just one of the best films of 2015 so far, but one of the best action movies ever made. An amazing amount of the effects and stunts are practical — up to and including the freaking flamethrower guitar that soundtracks Furiosa and Immortan Joe's high-octane war — and the masterful camerawork and editing let us drink in every moment of it. But there's more to Mad Max: Fury Road than just visceral thrills. We're also treated to excellent, mostly wordless performances by Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, and Nicholas Hoult, and one of the sharpest commentaries about gender and society in recent years. This is pure cinema, at its most effective.

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See our individual ballots on the final page.

Jurassic World

Individual Ballots

Peter Sciretta:

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  • Jurassic World
  • Inside Out
  • It Follows
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Dope
  • Ex Machina
  • Tomorrowland
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Furious 7

Russ Fischer:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Ex Machina
  • Slow West
  • The Duke of Burgundy
  • World of Tomorrow
  • Clouds of Sils Maria
  • Inside Out
  • Lost River
  • It Follows
  • The Overnight

David Chen:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Inside Out
  • Ex Machina
  • While We're Young
  • It Follows
  • The Voices
  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Spy
  • Faults

Angie Han:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Cinderella
  • Slow West
  • Inside Out
  • Spy
  • Ex Machina
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Furious 7
  • Dope

Ethan Anderton:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Inside Out
  • Ex Machina
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Dope
  • Furious 7
  • While We're Young
  • Infinitely Polar Bear
  • Tomorrowland

Christopher Stipp:

  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • It Follows
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  • Inside Out
  • White God
  • Ex Machina
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • The Tribe
  • Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck

Devindra Hardawar:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Inside Out
  • Ex Machina
  • A Most Violent Year
  • It Follows
  • While We're Young
  • Spy
  • Furious 7
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • What We Do in the Shadows

Jeff Cannata:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Inside Out
  • While We're Young
  • It Follows
  • What We Do in the Shadows
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Ex Machina
  • Jurassic World
  • Spy