25 Reasons We Loved the Movies in 2015
Illustration by Ryan Casey

Think back on the movies over the past 12 months, and chances are good that a flood of images rush through your head: A one-armed woman falling to her knees in the desert; a hand briefly touching a shoulder before being drawn back; two desperate gamblers at a two-bit craps table; two women sharing a moment in a Hollywood donut shop; a young man trading blows in a boxing ring in real time; a stop-motion puppet singing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"; the candy-colored emotions of a preteen, literally lost in abstract thought; a lightsaber springing to life, in the sign of the cross. Someone says "So what have you seen lately," and you picture Amy Schumer and Daisy Ridley, Kristen Stewart and Kurt Cobain, Rocky and Chewbacca, a Compton rap group, a German chanteuse, a half-formed female robot, a fully-formed Ultron and the holy digital head of Marlon Brando.

Looking back at any year in film can be dizzying to a large degree, but if you were a moviegoer in 2015, it was an especially vertiginous experience. The lows were particularly low, the highs often nosebleed-inducing high, and the social-media hype over everything was damn near overwhelming. And amidst the dinosaurs and superheroes, the Fury Roads and furiously flying hot rods, you could find almost every type of off-brand, non-franchise-blockbuster food for thought nestled right next to the gajillion-screen multiplex cheeseburgers — everything from DIY transgender dramas shot on iPhones to racially informed Westerns shown in glorious 70mm.

But like all folks who spend way too much time in front of small-, medium- and big-screens, we have our own personal highlights from the last year — so we've picked 25 things that made us love going to the movies in 2015. You'll find our Top 10 lists, along with David Ehrlich's annual video countdown (itself one of this season's must-sees) directly below, along with the stand-out performances, the big-budget features, the docs, the indies, the imports, and the industry trends that kept us believing in the moving pictures. Here's to the year that was. We'll see you in 2016.

David Ehrlich's Top 10 Movies of 2015
1. Carol
2. World of Tomorrow (short)
3. Phoenix
4. The Look of Silence
5. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence
6. The Duke of Burgundy
7. Eden
8. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
9. Mistress America
10. Mad Max: Fury Road

David Fear''s Top 10 Movies of 2015
1. Mississippi Grind
2. Spotlight
3. The Duke of Burgundy
4. 45 Years
5. Carol
6. Anomalisa
7. Inside Out
8. Tangerine
9. The Tribe
10. Mad Max: Fury Road