Before we’re fully immersed in the new year, many people take a moment around this time of year to reflect on the year that has passed. And what better way to do that than to look back on all the movies that you loved and hated throughout the year? Okay, there are probably better ways to do that, but we here at are sticking with the movie thing. And per usual, we’ll be talking about the best and worst sci-fi, horror, and fantasy offerings to grace the big screen over the past twelve months (since that’s the sort of thing that you might find here on any given day).

However, this year was particularly difficult to pick the best and worst movies in our genres because so many of them were just okay. People might have guessed that movies like ‘Seventh Son’, ‘Insurgent’, and ‘The Last Witch Hunter’ wouldn’t make much of an impact, but even the bigger films like ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingly – Part 2’, ’Tomorrowland’, ‘Chappie’, ’Ant-Man’, and ‘Cinderella’ only fell squarely in the middle of the spectrum. So which ones broke away from the pack to sit at the top ? Here are my picks for the top 5 movies of 2015:

Honorable Mention: ‘Jurassic World’

‘Jurassic World’ is not a good movie. Its biggest infractions lie in the script where characters’ backstories were either unexplained or textbook tropes. I mean, don’t even get me started on all the things wrong with the kids and how they were written. But despite all that, Colin Trevorrow’s rebootquel remained immensely entertaining. The film struck all the right nostalgic chords and delivered all the dino-awesomeness of the original. Because of all the story problems, it won’t crack the top five of the year for me, but it definitely succeeded in being an above average summer blockbuster.

5. ’Inside Out’

Disney and Pixar proved yet again that they’re a winning combination thanks to some lovable emotions. As the studios’ films tend to be, ‘Inside Out’ was intelligent, hilarious, and incredibly heartbreaking. By reminding the audience that it’s okay to let your feelings take the wheel, Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger have earned their places among the vast House of Mouse pantheon of beloved characters. Oh, and Bing Bong too. “Take her to the moon for me, Joy.” Ugh, I might get teary just thinking about it!

4. ’The Martian’

We’ve managed to get a lot of stories about humans in space lately. And while they all have their merits, I don’t think any have been more enjoyable than Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Andy Weir’s popular novel, ‘The Martian’. Though his work on ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ left a sour note with many people, sci-fi staple Scott really brought his A game for this one. Matt Damon’s almost one-man show was epic, yet personal story with intense action, powerful drama, incredibly realistic science, and even a bit of relatable comedy. That’s a lot of plates to be spinning, but ‘The Martian’ managed to maintain a good bit of balance to make it all work. 

3. ’Mad Max: Fury Road’

Talk about a surprise hit! This time last year, I did not think that I’d be talking about ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ among the best of 2015, but here we are. George Miller returned to his Road Warrior series in a major way thanks to this post-apocalyptic adrenaline-fueled road trip. We saw from the trailers that the production nailed set design, practical effects, costume design, and cinematography, but it was the story that really shined. Though it was a very simple plot, the movie flips the typical action tropes on their heads and it brings us to unexpected places. Typically films in this genre are male-centric, but the women like Immortal Joe’s wives and the elderly women from the Green Place kick as much if not more ass as Tom Hardy’s Max does. And then there’s Charlize Theron’s strong and multi-layered Furiosa who absolutely steals the show. On the surface, ‘Fury Road’ is a highly entertaining action movie, but it also opens up the world to some very important conversations that need to be happening in the movie industry today. This movie works on so many levels and it deserves to be watched numerous times.

2. ’Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

This time last year, I named ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ as my most anticipated film of 2015. Now that I’ve seen it three times already (with potentially more viewings coming soon), I think it’s safe to say that I was not disappointed. Like many films before it this year, J.J. Abrams’ latest chapter in the beloved franchise from a galaxy far, far away utilized nostalgia to put butts in seats. However, it offered much more than a reiteration of a story that we all love. Like ‘The Martian’, there was a certain balance to ‘The Force Awakens’ that worked for the common man and the critic or the long-time fan and the first-timer. There were plenty of great twists in the story and the new characters shined just as much as the ones that we fell in love with all those years ago. Sure, I cheered when the Millennium Falcon flew again, but I want to talk about Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, and Kylo Ren just as much as Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, Han Solo, or Darth Vader. This was definitely the right way to bring ‘Star Wars’ to a whole new generation. Side note: I absolutely LOVED the diversity in the cast and the phenomenal practical effects (especially BB-8).

1. ’Ex Machina’

Though I have plenty of love for ‘Mad Max’ and ‘Star Wars’, no sci-fi/horror/fantasy film (or any film this year for that matter) stuck with me more than ‘Ex Machina’. Walking into the theater, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Then, as Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander’s characters played their intense games with one another, I never felt like I knew what was coming next. It kept me guessing the whole time, but I couldn’t turn away. The remarkably realistic visual effects, particularly the robot Ava, was a part of it for sure, though the ideas presented in the story are enough to keep the audience thinking well after the credits have rolled. The whole thing is so intense and sometimes uncomfortable, but at the end of the day, it makes for one of the best cinematic experiences in recent memory.

That does it for my list of best movies of 2015. Check back for my list of worst films for the year. What do you think of my picks so far? Do you think anything is missing? And which ones do you disagree with? Let us know in the comments below.