/Film’s Top 10 Films of 2015 So Far

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.

***

See our individual ballots on the final page.

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