The Iris’ 15 Best Films of 2015 (So Far)

Join us as we count down the 15 best films of 2015… so far! Looking back at the best films released between January and June 2015.

It’s been a strong year, starting off with a fantastic Oscar season in January and leading us through to the start of Blockbuster season. So far, 2015 has been one of the busiest years in cinemas in memory. Already three films have topped $40 million in the Australian box office – a feat not even one film managed in 2014. Two of these films make our list below – Jurassic and Avengers, while Furious 7 was the third to round out the statistical list! Read on to see who else made the cut…

15. The Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a juggernaut and once again throws down the gauntlet to all other studios to try to top them. As each film builds on the previous we all knew that Age of Ultron would be a whole other level compared to The Avengers. Thankfully this time we get some great character development, particularly for both Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye, though I do think audiences were taken aback by the whole Natasha/Bruce Banner romantic subplot. James Spader is A++ as the villain Ultron who goes toe-to-toe with his creator Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark not only physically but in some great back and forth quick quip banter. Speaking of quips, the comedy is 110% funnier and there’s way more of it in this film. And it’s all about the action and explosions and big budget craziness that only the MCU can deliver in spades.  – Carina Nilma

14. Love is Strange

It took a long time to make it to these shores but it was worth the wait. This is a beautifully composed meditation on love, family and friendships. – Tom Kavanagh

13. Shaun The Sheep

A fun little kids movie that has more than a few jokes for the adults. – Natalie Salvo

12. That Sugar Film

A very entertaining documentary about the dangerous substance that is sugar. You’ll never look at food in the same way ever again! – Natalie Salvo

11. Kingsman: The Secret Service

Easily one the biggest surprises of the year both critically and in terms of its box office (sitting comfortably in the top 10 of the year so far in the Australian box office), Kingsman: The Secret Service was movie popcorn at its best. Funny, original and some of the best action sequences you’ll see on the screen this year. And Colin Firth as a bit of a bad ass? Totally works! Bring on the sequel. – Larry Heath

10. Ex Machina

What makes us human? This is the core question of Ex Machina. As protagonist Caleb falls deeper down the rabbit hole examining this question, so to does the audience. The film is smart enough to not give us all the answers we want, which makes this an ideal film for discussion and examination. Whilst the film is not without its problem, particular in pacing, its aim is high enough to negate this small quibbles. Eschewing modern explosion-core film making, Ex Machina is a polished and terse piece of science fiction with a philosophical bent so sorely lacking in the modern genre. – Andrew McDonald

9. Wild Tales

Whilst some of the tales are stronger than others, when Wild Tales is at its best, the humour is deliciously black and the twists come out of nowhere. – Tom Kavanagh

8. Spy

This one riffs on espionage films but it’s also a great comedy film with a strong but unlikely heroine. Awesome! – Natalie Salvo

7. Big Eyes

Tim Burton’s biopic about the biggest fraud in art history, Walter Keane and his talented wife, Margaret. The film is a departure from Burton’s weirder styles but it is still quite dark and haunting. – Natalie Salvo

6. Inside Out

Believe the hype. Pixar’s latest is a gorgeous romp through the mind. Whilst its material may actually be a little difficult for children to grasp, the story is one that older viewers will revel in. Dealing with themes of sadness and its purpose in life that most adult movies shy from, Inside Out is the kind of film we will hold as a bar for others to try and meet going forward. Mature, funny and typically beautiful, Pixar have yet again gone above and beyond. – Andrew McDonald

5. A Most Violent Year

Slow, quiet, absolutely harrowing. A Most Violent Year never overplays it’s hand when it could have easily done so. It’s set during the most violent year in New York, which already gives it some incredible scope. However, it chose to explore the social impact and political games that stemmed from this year of uncertainty via a small business that has the very purpose of navigating the dangerous streets of New York. And then there’s the acting; strong, delicate performances from all that fit perfectly with the mood of the film made it all the more enjoyable to watch. – Chris Singh

Handsomely made thriller, Oscar Isaac’s performance recalls Pacino in The Godfather, Jessica Chastain might be even better. – Joseph Doumit

4. It Follows

Atmospherically and chillingly executed to perfection, this unique horror experience hooks its audience with its bizarre central theme (a killer presence attached to you after intercourse) and runs with it. – Peter Gray

Captivating horror. Visually beautiful and fueled with angst and sexual tension. – Joseph Doumit

3. Jurassic World

There is no denying the numbers, this film has stormed the box office like an out of control Tyrannosaurus Rex. But the hype surrounding it was well deserved. Not only did it need to re-invigorate that sense of wonder we had with the first film, but it also had to exterminate the previous two sequels that put shame on the franchise. Jurassic World is a worthy nostalgic sequel to Jurassic Park, it manages to make us feel excited about dinosaurs again, and dinosaurs going crazy again and dinosaurs eating people again. Not to mention puts its tongue firmly in cheek by poking fun at the corportisation of everything. As well as returning to that old ethical chestnut of should we mess around with nature? The answer being a resounding no.  – Carina Nilma

Jurassic World was fun. A bit brainless – not as much as most expected – and shallow, but so much fun to watch. We’ve been waiting a very long time to revisit this iconic world of dinosaurs in a modern era, and it was handled with both fan-service and a sense of progression, pushing the film along and making sense of it as a necessary sequel rather than a money-grabbing entry set only to capitalise on the series’ legacy. – Chris Singh

2. Birdman

Unequivocally the finest film released this year, Birdman is an exciting and daring piece of cinema. For all the multi layered elements of the story and meta-contextual relations to Michael Keaton’s career, the film never falls into art house parody. Birdman is a thrilling piece of populist experimental cinema grounded by a brilliant and career defining performance, by Keaton, wonderfully playful cinematography and a gorgeously percussive soundtrack – Andrew McDonald

I found ‘Birdman’ to be a brilliant piece of art, an operatic analysis on the progression of imagination and the roadblocks we face in our own lives. It’s the kind of film that makes going to the movies a genuinely exciting experience and one that I hope others will enjoy, or at least appreciate. – Peter Gray

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

More than enough has been written about Fury Road, but what has stayed with me in the weeks since its release is the scale of the visual accomplishment, the establishing scenes in the Citadel are simply breathtaking. – Tom Kavanagh

Matches the scale of any Hollywood blockbuster, though considerably more inventive and stylish. Retains a nice Australian flavour as well. – Jospeph Doumit

Never has a movie with so little dialogue and such a simplistic storyline been so utterly and breathtakingly relentless. It is quite literally a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. What makes it even more mind-blowing is that almost all of the stunt sequences and car chase scene sequences are real, those are real explosions, and real stunt men leaping from vehicle to vehicle, and real cars and trucks getting blown to pieces. George Miller proves once again that he is still the master of the dystopian future wastelands and brings a classic type of action film into the modern day. – Carina Nilma

What a film! From the breathtaking landscapes and continuous, rollicking chase to the stunt work and shameless insanity from start to finish. – Ryan Champion

This is a film that has been made with so much passion, energy and vigour; it literally explodes on the screen before you. A visceral experience 30 years in the making, this is not only the type of film that proves how effective the action genre can be, but one that cements itself as modern-day classic. – Peter Gray