This year’s 10 Best list includes three beautiful romances, a pair of indie dramas, a comedy, a sports spinoff, an animated adventure, a powerful documentary and one of the most unique and bold films I’ve ever seen.
This drama, from “The Great Beauty” director Paolo Sorrentino, features a stellar cast led by Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda. “Youth” has so much to say about the young and the old, the dynamics of family, the entertainment industry and how people think and reason. Every one of Sorrentino shots has a legitimate purpose. It’s brutally honest, bold, challenging and daring – a visionary triumph that deserves to be seen.
Adapted from the best-selling novel, this is a powerful drama with incredible work by Brie Larson and nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay as a mother and son trapped, both physically and psychologically. “Room” makes you feel hopeless and hopeful, sad and uplifted, horrified and joyous.
3. “THE END OF THE TOUR”
This immersive indie drama follows Jesse Eisenberg as Rolling Stone writer David Lipsky and Jason Segel – brilliant as author David Foster Wallace – as they spend five days together on a book tour. Fascinating performances, brilliant dialogue and captivating scenes combine to make profound statements on writing, relationships and the meaning of life.
Director Kenneth Branagh took a big risk in making a mostly serious live-action version of Disney’s animated classic, and he pulled it off. Lily James is perfect as the title princess, and Cate Blanchett is excellent as the Evil Stepmother. The costumes and production design are so impressive that the ballroom scene actually took my breath away.
The best documentary of 2015 chronicles the tragic life of incredibly talented singer Amy Winehouse. The footage is sad and shocking. Every picture really is worth a thousand words. And her music is honorably inserted throughout – scenes with idol Tony Bennett will stay with me for a long time.
Blanchett and Rooney Mara are captivating in this drama about a forbidden romance in the 1950s. The meaningful story goes at a steady pace, with some raw and unforgettable scenes.
7. “THE PEANUTS MOVIE”
The year’s best animated feature captures the magic and wonder of Charles Schulz’s iconic characters in their return to the big screen. It’s fast, fun, genuine and quite moving.
8. “THE INTERN”
Robert De Niro is terrific and Anne Hathaway gives a career-best performance in Nancy Meyers’ smart, sweet and satisfying workplace comedy. The final half-hour packs a surprising emotional punch.
This spinoff of the 40-year-old “Rocky” franchise is a knockout. Credit writer/director Ryan Coogler for an authentic and effective story accompanied by very authentic boxing footage. Michael B. Jordan is a star and Sylvester Stallone is a powerhouse as the aging Italian Stallion.
Saorise Ronan is outstanding in this charming and enchanting period romance about a young woman torn between two sides of the world. It’s a simple yet powerful exploration into love and loss, fate and faith.
“BRIDGE OF SPIES” – Tom Hanks is at his finest in Steven Spielberg’s inspiring Cold War drama.
“THE GIFT” – Writer/director/co-star Joel Edgerton hits a home run with this engaging thriller featuring great work from Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall.
“THE REVENANT” – Alejandro G. Inarritu’s follow-up to “Birdman” is as raw as any film this year, with a mighty Leonardo DiCaprio center stage.
“SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE” – The “Wallace & Gromit” creators pack a lot of wit and charm into this memorable animated adventure.
“TED 2” – One of the funniest movies EVER; ridiculously entertaining.