I've seen around twenty movies in the theater this year, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that "Sicario" is the very best film I've seen in 2015.
Being a huge fan of Villeneuve's prior two films, "Prisoners" and "Enemy", I've been anticipating this film for what feels like a very long time. This may just be his finest work to date, but the beautiful thing is that I don't know if I can really say that, because each of his films are so distinctly different. While "Prisoners" was very direct and bleak, "Enemy" was much more nuisanced and cerebral. "Sicario" is a wonderful hybrid of them both, as well as being a brutal portrayal of the world we live in, and the one that most of us don't.
I judge the success or failure of a film based on the following elements: the consistency in pace and tone, the film's performances, visual elements (i.e., the cinematography), and the engagement of the story. This film succeeds in all of those areas in spades.
As far as the cast goes, the film's major standouts to me are, first and foremost, Emily Blunt who gives the very best performance of her career, Benicio Del Toro, who's good as always, Josh Brolin, who's always great as well, and a strong side performance from the criminally underrated Jeffrey Donovan.
However, my absolute favorite element of the film is the visual wizardry by the great Roger Deakins. Deakins, next to only Emmanuel Lubezki, is the greatest director of photography currently living, and the beautiful elements of this film are a distinct reflection of why that is. A shot in a film done by Roger Deakins isn't simply thrown together. He'll never just lock down a tripod and let her rip. Deakins has a sense of tone that supports the director, as well as a strong subtext to each shot. It's because of people like the lovely Roger Deakins that I've come to truly appreciate the power of an image.
Overall, this is a spectacular piece of thrilling filmmaking that soars under the guidance of a master craftsman. I was absolutely blown away by this film. This is a masterpiece that truly deserves to be seen by everyone.