A guy I know made a comment that there are few films nowadays that captivate moviegoers with interesting plots, good actors and great cinematography.
In my top 30 list of films that I’ve watched this year, I’m not sure if they have reached the usual standards of famous movie reviewers and passed whatever their criteria is. I put them on my top 30 list because of the rare beautiful locations, great acting of infamous cast, engaging stories, some are based on true events and are certainly moving.
I have not included those films with great production budgets that are sure to end up having great entertainment value in the big screen such as The Revenant, Avengers, X-Men etc…
Here are my Top 30 Films of 2015:
* They are arranged in no particular order.
Disclaimer: The following storylines, movie information and reviews of the films were taken from imdb.com, rottentomatoes.com, rogerebert.com and christianitytoday.com. I do not claim them as my own work and they do not reflect my own personal view.
In 1973, a spiritual awakening captures the hearts of the Woodlawn High School Football team. Lead by their coach, Tandy Geralds, and fueled by the team’s dedication to love and unity in a school filled with racism and hate, the team makes an astounding run at the playoffs, leading to the largest high school football game ever played in the torn city of Birmingham, Alabama, and the rise of it’s first African American superstar – Tony Nathan (www.rottentomatoes.com).
2. Spare Parts
Four Hispanic high school students form a robotics club under the leadership of their school’s newest teacher, Fredi. With no experience, 800 bucks, used car parts and a dream, this rag tag team goes up against the country’s reigning robotics champion, MIT. On their journey, they learn not only how to build a robot- they learn to build a bond that will last a lifetime. Written by Pantelion Films
3. Do You Believe
When a pastor is shaken by the visible faith of a street-corner preacher, he is reminded that true belief always requires action. His response ignites a journey that impacts everyone it touches in ways that only God could orchestrate.
A thrilling drama about the spiritual collision of two broken lives. When Brian Nichols -on the run as the subject of a city wide manhunt and desperate to make contact with his newborn son – takes recovering meth addict Ashley Smith hostage in her own apartment, she turns for guidance to Rick Warren’s best-selling inspirational book, The Purpose Driven Life. While reading aloud, Ashley and her would-be killer each face crossroads where despair and death intersect hope.
5. Old Fashioned
Clay, a small town antique store owner trying to leave his shame behind, rents the apartment above his store to a wandering girl. Elizabeth travels from town to town until her gas tank is empty, never staying long enough to make a real connection. As she gets to know her reticent landlord, a courtship develops. Clay goes slow and Elizabeth tries to push, and everyone wonders why he’s so determined to be difficult. The real question is whether these two people can endure an old fashioned romance in a modern world. Along the way we learn about both their pasts and meet some of the people who have influenced them, for better or worse. We see some of the challenges of modern romance and dating. Written by somejenshine
6. War Room
Filled with heart, humor, and wit, WAR ROOM follows Tony and Elizabeth Jordan, a couple who seemingly have it all-great jobs, a beautiful daughter, their dream home. But appearances can be deceiving. In reality, their marriage has become a war zone and their daughter is collateral damage. With guidance from Miss Clara, an older, wiser woman, Elizabeth discovers she can start fighting for her family instead of against them. As the power of prayer and Elizabeth’s newly energized faith transform her life, will Tony join the fight and become the man he knows he needs to be? Together, their real enemy doesn’t have a prayer. Written by AFFIRM/Provident
7. McFarland, USA
A struggling coach and teacher who has had to move around for different incidents in his career finally comes to one of the poorest cities in America: McFarland, California. There he discovers buried potential in several high school boys and slowly turns them into championship runners and brings them closer than even he could ever imagine. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2097298/)
Life can change in an instant, and turn your whole world upside down. And that is exactly what happens to firefighter Jeff Elliott and his wife Ruth who are living their dream in the golden Midwest; high school sweethearts, married with two beautiful and healthy children, family farm, horses, sports, church groups, the whole American Dream come true. And one winters day, teenage son Eric “Hoovey” Elliott collapses at high school basketball practice, is rushed to the hospital, and the doctors find a tumor the size of an orange at the base of his brain. They’re down to hours-if surgery that risks the boy’s ability to walk, talk, and perhaps even survive is not performed immediately, Hoovey’s young life will end before it truly even begins. In a grueling 8-hour procedure, the tumor is removed. And he survives. But for the Elliott family, life and dreams will never be the same. Hoovey has to teach himself to walk again, to read again, to even see straight with two unbalanced eyes, covered… Written by James Barnes
9. What We Did on Our Holiday
Doug and Abi are taking their three children on a trip to Scotland for a big family gathering. They are in the midst of a difficult divorce, and have asked the kids to keep it a secret from their extended family. But as the inevitable feuds kick in, a completely unexpected turn of events involving the children causes further tensions to rise to the surface. And with the repercussions that ensue – hilarious and emotional in equal measure – the family are forced to put aside their differences and work together or else risk losing what they hold most dear. (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/what_we_did_on_our_holiday/)
The “black sheep” son (Scott Speedman) of a wealthy family meets a free-spirited, but sheltered woman (Evan Rachel Wood). To convince his family that he’s finally straightened out his life, he takes her home for his brother’s wedding where an improbable romance blooms, as she impresses everyone with her genuine, simple charms. (c) Roadside Attractions
Stet, a troubled and angry 11-year-old orphan from a small Texas town, ends up at a Boy Choir school back East after the death of his single mom. Completely out of his element, he finds himself in a battle of wills with a demanding Choir Master who recognizes a unique talent in this young boy as he pushes him to discover his creative heart and soul in music. Written by Informant Media
12. Big Game
In the rugged countryside of Finland, a young thirteen-year-old (Onni Tommila) embarks on a traditional quest to prove himself by spending 24 hours alone in the wild, armed with only a bow and arrow. After witnessing a spectacular crash, he discovers the escape pod from Air Force One, containing the President of the United States (Samuel L. Jackson). When they realize a group of kidnappers is hot on their trail with the intention of taking the president, this unlikely duo must escape their hunters as they search for the American Special Forces team sent out to find them. (C) Relativity
13. Life’s a Breeze
LIFE’S A BREEZE follows a family struggling to stay afloat and stay together through hard times in Ireland. Unemployed slacker Colm (Pat Shortt), his aging mother Nan (Fionnula Flanagan) and his niece Emma (Kelly Thornton) must overcome their many differences to lead their family in a race against time to find a lost fortune. (c) Magnolia
14. Paper Planes
An imaginative children’s film about a young Australian boy’s passion for flight and his challenge to compete in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan.
15. A Brilliant Young Mind
In a world difficult to comprehend, Nathan struggles to connect with those around him – most of all his loving mother – but finds comfort in numbers. When Nathan is taken under the wing of unconventional and anarchic teacher, Mr. Humphreys, the pair forge an unusual friendship and Nathan’s talents win him a place on the UK team at the International Mathematics Olympiad. From suburban England to bustling Taipei and back again, Nathan builds complex relationships as he is confronted by the irrational nature of love. Written by Anonymous
16. The 33
In 2010, the eyes of the world turned to Chile, where 33 miners had been buried alive by the catastrophic explosion and collapse of a 100-year-old gold and copper mine. Over the next 69 days, an international team worked night and day in a desperate attempt to rescue the trapped men as their families and friends, as well as millions of people globally, waited and watched anxiously for any sign of hope. But 200 stories beneath the surface, in the suffocating heat and with tensions rising, provisions-and time-were quickly running out. (Synopsis)
17. The Wave
Based on the fact that mountain pass Åkneset, located in the Geiranger fjord in Norway, one day will fall out and create a violent tsunami of over 80 meters that will crush everything in its path before it hits land in Geiranger. A geologist gets caught in the middle of it and a race against against time begins. Written by Fredrik Rønningen
18. Lila and Eve
Lila, a grief-stricken mother reeling from her son’s murder, attends a support group where she meets Eve, who urges her to take matters into her own hands to track down her son’s killers. They soon embark on a journey of revenge, but also recovery.
19. Jackie and Ryan
Ryan Brenner (Ben Barnes) a travelling musician and Jackie Laurel (Katherine Heigl) a former singer at a crossroads in her marriage, have a chance encounter while Ryan is busking on the streets of Ogden, Utah. After a sudden car accident propels them together, Ryan finds himself at Jackie’s house for dinner. Ryan’s battling to find the courage to write his own music while Jackie’s fighting for independence from her estranged husband who wants her to return to their upscale Manhattan marriage. When Ryan’s musician mentor dies in a train accident and Jackie’s husband threatens to take custody of her daughter, Ryan and Jackie find the strength and music they need in each other. What they don’t know is, if the paths they choose will lead to one another. (C) Entertainment One
Trash follows three Brazilian street teenagers; Raphael, Gardo, and Rat (Jun-Jun) who spend their time picking through litter in the hope of finding useful waste. One day they discover a wallet whose contents will bring them into conflict with the brutal local police force as they find themselves unlikely whistleblowers in a city rife with corruption. Rather than turn the wallet over to the authorities for a reward, the kids seek the advice of a priest, Father Juilliard (Martin Sheen) and an NGO-worker, Olivia (Rooney Mara).(source: wikipedia)
21. A Hard Day
Driving back from his mother’s funeral, homicide detective Gun-soo runs over a man in a dark rural street. In a moment of desperation, he dumps the body in a coffin alongside his mother. A few days later, Gun-soo flips through a listing of open cases and finds his accident victim. His colleague is on the accident case and is slowly making progress. Making matters worse, a witness steps forward, a detective named Park. For a reason unclear to Gun-soo, Park wants the body. Without another choice to depend on, Gun-soo digs his mother’s grave and retrieves the body, only to find gunshot wounds on it. As Park’s threats become more vicious and hits closer to home, Gun-soo decides to face Park head-on once and for all. (C) Kino
22. A Perfect Day
As Sophie and her seasoned colleagues Mambru and B race against time to save the water supply for an abandoned community, they must outwit pedantic UN bureaucrats, military factions and exploitative local criminals – all the while cleverly distracting Mambru’s ex-lover Katya, who has flown in from head office to shut their mission down. A dead cow, an un-cooperative supplies store and an angry dog tied to the length of rope they desperately need: the team and their guide negotiate the seemingly simple task of extracting a dead body from a well, but staying sane proves to be the biggest challenge on this not-so perfect day.
23. Little Boy
LITTLE BOY is a powerful and moving film about a little boy who is willing to do whatever it takes to bring his dad home from World War II alive. The heartwarming story will capture your heart and lift your spirits as it reveals the indescribable love a little boy has for his father and the love a father has for his son. Set in the 1940s, LITTLE BOY is an instant cinematic classic that captures the wonder of life through the eyes of a 7- year-old little boy. Written and directed by Smithsonian Institute Award winning director Alejandro Monteverde, LITTLE BOY highlights themes of faith, hope and love in the face of adversity. (C) Open Road
Chef Adam Jones (Bradley Cooper) had it all – and lost it. The former enfant terrible of the Paris restaurant scene had earned two Michelin stars and only ever cared about the thrill of creating explosions of taste. To land his own kitchen and that third elusive star though, Jones will need to leave his bad habits behind and get the best of the best on his side, including the beautiful Helene (Sienna Miller). BURNT is a remarkably funny and emotional story about the love of food, the love between two people, and the power of second chances.
In the lawless border area stretching between the U.S. and Mexico, an idealistic FBI agent [Emily Blunt] is enlisted by an elite government task force official [Josh Brolin] to aid in the escalating war against drugs. Led by an enigmatic consultant with a questionable past [Benicio Del Toro], the team sets out on a clandestine journey forcing Kate to question everything that she believes in order to survive. (C) Lionsgate
26. The Intern
70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin.
27. Metro Manila
Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals. Oscar catches a lucky break when he’s offered steady work for an armored truck company and gregarious senior officer Ong takes him under his wing. Soon, though, the reality of his work’s mortality rate and the murky motives of his new partner force Oscar to confront the perils he faces in his new job and life.
28. Retribution (El desconocido)
A bank executive receives an anonymous phone call informing him he has just a few hours to obtain a large amount of money or a bomb under his seat will explode.
Cheol-min, a man with a dark, mysterious past, gets hired at a part-time night job as a parking lot attendant. He sits in the tiny pay booth in the parking lot and stares at the small television. A woman named Jung-hwa walks into the booth. She offers something to Cheol-min and sits next to him. Cheol-min realizes the woman is blind and she is confusing him for the parking attendant who worked there previously. Their lives change forever from this point.
30. Cold Eyes
A high-tech police surveillance team attempts to take down a gang of ruthless bank robbers. Cold Eyes concerns undercover cops who blend in with the armed robbers they’re pursuing, and organised criminals who are indistinguishable from crooked politicians and dirty executives.