Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I agree with the critique that this film seems to be a recycled version of previous Star Wars films. It is and that's a big part of the reason I enjoyed it. The plot moves along nicely, the characters are both new and old, the John Williams score is great, and Millennium Falcon is resurrected!
The Martian. Matt Damon's character is stranded on Mars and must survive there until NASA can rescue him. Farming on Mars, harrowing storms, a dramatic rescue: Ridley Scott hits a home run in adapting Andy Weir's book.
Avengers: Age of Ultron. C'mon, admit it: You liked watching the Hulk and Iron-man destroy a city as they fought each other. This movie is on my list largely because my boys enjoyed it so much.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. Our kids have neither read The Hunger Games series nor watched the movies. But we have, and enjoyed them. Mockingjay Part 2 followed the book well and was a satisfying close to the series, with a wonderful surprise at the end.
Selma. Though not totally accurate historically (what film is?), this film follows Martin Luther King, Jr.'s (well played by David Oyelowo) quest for voting rights for African-Americans. A moving look at an important leader and the marches in Selma, Alabama, in 1964.
Bridge of Spies. Tom Hanks plays a lawyer in New York City who represents a Russian spy and then ends up in Berlin to negotiate a major release. Suspense-filled.
McFarland, USA. Kevin Costner plays a cross-country coach in the poor Southern California town of McFarland. Great casts of athletes that you will cheer for.
Disturbing/Thought-Provoking. A big caveat to these films: they are all rated R and filled with some very disturbing themes and images. I watched these on airplanes (since they often filter out raunchy content) or at dollar cinemas. Monica has not watched these and does not want to. (Life with five kids is tiring so movies need to entertain a busy mom, right?)
Mad Max: Fury Road. My brother and I saw this film at a Dollar Cinema outside Vancouver. I wasn't expecting much but, man, was I surprised. Fury Road paints the picture of brutal, dystopian world where war-lords enslave others and fight over water and oil. This rendition of Mad Max begs questions of a broken world broken by a lust for power. [Rotten Tomatoes ranked it the #1 Film of 2015 but be warned, this is a disturbing movie.]
Birdman. Michael Keaton plays an actor who has had one big hit (a superhero film called Birdman) and is now trying to produce a play on Broadway. The film raises profound existential questions of brokenness and the human struggle for meaning.
Whiplash. This film depicts the relationship of an ambitious, gifted jazz student and abusive, demanding teacher. With sublime performances by Miles Teller and JK Simmons, Whiplash provokes deep questions of identity and our drive to please others.