Monday, December 07, 2015
Once again, I present my annual list of the best films I watched in 2015... I will particularly try to highlight the ones that have had less commercial "buzz". Everyone knows about the blockbusters, but the good little indie flicks are the ones that need promoting.

As always, some of these have various "mature content". If you want to know the content of any of these films, go to, or

With no further adieu, I give you my opinion of the best movies from the past year.

Five-Star Films (worth the price of admission)

Calvary (genre: drama)

  • “Do not despair; one of the thieves was saved. Do not presume; one of the thieves was damned.”  This Augustinian quote begins this beautiful, emotional, funny, profound, and sober film on the nature of sin and forgiveness. Wrestling with a society that is losing its faith in God... as the quote above hints, it doesn't settle for easy, emotionally-fulfilling answers. This is a great movie set in our unflinchingly dark world, with adult themes to match. But no more "adult" than the world shown in Scripture, and never glamorized.

  • American Sniper

  • Clint Eastwood again knocks it out of the park (besides the bizarre fake baby scene) as director of this film based on the powerful true story of Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in American military history. 

  • Selma (historical drama)

  • 50 years ago, legal institutionalized segregation had come to an official end, but many blacks throughout the South were still not allowed into the most powerful space in America: the voting booth. Much like today, there were many voices, like Malcolm X, calling for a violent response. Thankfully, the voice of Martin Luther King Jr won the day and eventually the law. This film depicts the real events surrounding his attempted marches from Selma to Birmingham, Alabama. It stands as an important reminder of just how much has changed in half a century and the natural tendency of every human heart outside the redeeming love of Christ.

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron (action/superhero)

  • Joss Whedon just keeps pumping out cinematic gold, this time served with a significant side of Scriptural dialogue. This was just plain fun.

  • Short Term 12 (drama)

  • A couple years old (available on Netflix), this wonderful movie gives us the story of Grace and her life running a group foster home for teenagers abandoned by their families and forgotten by society. This honest film shows us the genuine struggle between law and grace, between guilt, pain, and forgiveness. 

  • Inside Out (animated/family)

  • It's Pixar, so obviously it was going to be good. But this was Pixar taking it to the next level. So much fun, for the whole family, and would have been the best family movie of the year, had it not been for...

  • Shaun the Sheep (animated family)

  • ... a little claymation film that came out later in the summer. Based on the beloved Shaun the Sheep TV show, this movie had my kids AND me rolling in our seats for most of the much-too-short 85 minutes.

  • Ant-man (action/superhero)

  • With the non-stop glut of superhero movies coming out every few months, when I heard they had one coming out based on a character that shrinks to the size of an ant, it seemed quite likely that Marvel was about to jump the shark. Boy, was I mistaken. This great film flits perfectly along the line between silly and serious; capturing us with the intense hand-to-hand combat between hero and villain before zooming out to remind us that the fight is taking place on a little kids' Thomas the Train engine.

  • Mr. Holmes (drama)

  • Sherlock Holmes is a very popular character these days, from the BBC's amazing "Sherlock" series to CBS's "Elementary" to two films with Robert Downey Jr. So you could say the fields of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's literary world are pretty well harvested by now. But not quite... this film gives us Sherlock as a very aged man, struggling with memory loss, while trying to recall, and solve, the one case at which he failed. 

  • Mad Max: Fury Road (action)

  • This post-apocalyptic eye candy is hard to describe. Bizarre yet beautiful, the cinematography and special effects are second-to-none. 

  • Elite Squad: The Enemy Within (foreign action/drama)

  • This Brazilian film begins by ridiculing leftist political ideals like emptying prisons and demilitarizing the police, but later shows the corruption inherent in big government. 

  • The Drop 
    (drama, suspense)

  • Tom Hardy stars in this final film of James Gandolfini's... set in Boston, it tells the story of a local bar owner and his barkeep trying to make a living while embattled by Russian mobsters. Very good, and has some nice twists along the way!

  • Creed (action)

  • Rocky lives! Stallone is too old to throw any more punches, but Apollo Creed's son is up to the challenge. This film is fantastic and rejuvenates the Rocky storyline! The highlight is a five minute long SINGLE-TAKE fight in the middle of the movie.

    • Four-Star Flicks (rent it)

      Big Hero 6 (animation/family)

    • Our family loved this fun Disney flick.

    • Unbroken (historical war drama)

    • One of my favorite books put to film, it couldn't live up to the book but is still a great telling of this amazing story of survival and redemption.

    • Exit at the Gift Shop (documentary?)

    • Interesting look at the underground world of graffiti art. 

    • Nightcrawler (drama)

    • This film that unabashedly damns modern TV news shows as, literally, a bunch of ambulance chasers. 

    • Whiplash (drama)

    • Whew, I hope no one ever had a music teacher (or coach) like Terence Fletcher (played by the incomparable J.K. Simmons). Brimming with intensity, this film about a top-class music school and a drummer is electrifying.

    • A Most Violent Year (drama)

    • The title is a bit misleading, as this film has very little actual violence. It's about a 1980's fuel magnate in New York City attempting to move beyond the history of violence and organized crime inherent in his business. A really well done movie.

    • Far from the Madding Crowd (period drama, chick flick)

    • I'm a big Thomas Hardy fan, so when I heard this film was coming out (though I haven't read the book), I was really looking forward to it. And it didn't disappoint. 

    • Spy (comedy)

    • Good comedies are hard to find, so I will highlight this one as the best of them last year (not counting Shaun the Sheep). Melissa McCarthy as always is a treat.

    • Ex Machina (drama)

    • This film made a lot of people's Best Movie of the Year lists. While it didn't quite get there for me, it was still quite a good movie about artificial intelligence.

    • Sicario (action/thriller)

    • Emily Blunt, fresh off her uber tough role in Edge of Tomorrow, seemed set up for a very similar role in this film about the drug traffic war taking place on our southern border. Instead, she brings a much more realistic, nuanced performance which helps the viewer relate to the emotion of the story.

    • Bridge of Spies (historical drama)

    • Tom Hanks. Cold War. Spies. Do you really need me to describe it anymore to catch your interest?

    • Love & Mercy (drama/music)

    • The fascinating story of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys as he loses his mind and eventually regains it. A lot of great music!

    • The Gift (drama/suspense)

    • I found the twist entirely predictable, but otherwise, this was a heart-poundingly well-done story about old sins coming back to haunt.

    • Three-Star Fails (watch only if all attempts to escape fail)


    • It's not based on the Biblical story. Even so, it's terrible. 

    • Exodus

    • God is a whiny brat. The director can't decide if the ten plagues are miracles or naturally-occurring phenomena. The Egyptians are pale Europeans. Nuf said.

    • Insurgent

    • This failed to live up to the promise of Divergent.

    • Identify Thief

    • Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman should be a hilarious combination. Should be.

    • Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies

    • Ugh. This plays like a video game, with realism long discarded in favor of melodrama and sickeningly silly fight scenes. Good movie, terrible representation of the book.
    • Thursday, November 05, 2015

      Recent Comments


      Darius' book montage

      The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
      Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
      Overcoming Sin and Temptation
      According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
      Disciplines of a Godly Man
      Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
      When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
      The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
      Respectable Sins
      The Kite Runner
      Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
      Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
      A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
      Show Them No Mercy
      The Lord of the Rings
      Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
      The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
      Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
      The Chronicles of Narnia
      Les Misérables

      Darius Teichroew's favorite books »