Beautiful, well-written, powerful
|Brooklyn is a beautiful and simply powerful film about life, love, adulthood and home. It’s a story of immigration that should resonate with everybody. How one girl chose her home, and made it her home and the home for her family and future generations to come. It’s a story of loneliness, true love, and the pull of familiarity. It’s a singular story, that revels in it’s simplicity, to reveal grander implications and a universality to connect everyone.||2015 |
Directed by: John Crowley
Screenplay by: Nick Hornby
Based on the novel by Colm Toibin
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson
|See full review of Brooklyn|
#2 Bridge of Spies
A masterful production of Cold War tensions with humour and heart.
|It’s hard to imagine a more perfect Hollywood royalty production of a Coen brothers screenplay, directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks, and Bridge of Spies delivers on that perfection. It is dramatic, interesting, beautiful, funny, intense and entertaining from scene-to-scene. It opens with the heart of the Cold War, a foreign spy, on American soil, engaging in secretive behaviour, and then he’s arrested. It’s a mysterious opening, and the film seamlessly evolves from mystery to court room drama to thriller.||2015 |
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by: Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance
|See full review of Bridge of Spies|
#3 The Stanford Prison Experiment
Recreates the experiment with intensity and alarming intrigue.
|Based on the psychology experiment conducted by Professor Philip Zimbardo at Stanford University in the summer of 1971, the film The Stanford Prison Experiment is just as shocking even when we know the results. Watching it all unfold in this straight-forward recreation is still distressing, stunning, and alarming thanks to the fantastic ensemble cast and a chronological re-telling that really helps to put it in context||2015 |
Directed by: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Screenplay by: Tim Talbott
Starring: Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, and Olivia Thirlby
|See full review of The Stanford Prison Experiment|
#4 Before We Go
A simple conversation becomes fun, funny and romantic with two great characters.
|Before We Go is simple, romantic, talkative, conventional and it's great. It's exactly what you want in a character-based, dialogue-driven romantic drama where nothing happens other than two characters meet and get to know each other over one night in New York City. The characters are engagingly real, compassionate and yet cynical, and they beautifully evolve after knowing each other for just a few hours. The dialogue is witty and insightful and elevated to dynamic levels by the talented leads.||2014 |
Directed by: Chris Evans
Screenplay by: Ron Bass, Jen Smolka, Chris Shafer and Paul Vicknair
Starring: Chris Evans and Alice Eve
|See full review of Before We Go|
#5 99 Homes
Making deals with the devil – thrilling, intense, fascinating.
|99 Homes is the best film ever made about the housing crisis. It combines the reality (banks foreclosing on homes) with real emotion (option-less people both heartbreakingly giving up and being pushed to their violent limits) surrounding a story about a ruthless villain turning a down-on-his-luck victim into a rising star using the basic film formula of descent-into-madness. It is both a taut, entertaining, comedic thriller and emotional family drama. Or arguably, a Greek tragedy.||2014 |
Directed by: Ramin Bahrani
Screenplay by: Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Michael Shannon
|See full review of 99 Homes|
Delivers an emotional punch with sadness, ferocity, intensity and tenderness.
|Room is a story that hasn’t been told in this way before, and is probably something you couldn’t imagine since the main plot is very foreign to the majority of us. I also believe that Room is at its best when you go in knowing as little as possible. So to that end, this review will be spoiler-free and frustratingly vague. I’ll apologize for that now, but you’ll thank me later.||2015 |
Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Screenplay by: Emma Donoghue
Based on the novel by Emma Donoghue
Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay
|See full review of Room|
#7 The End of the Tour
A battle of writers and a friendship with depth.
|The End of the Tour is a conversation, a friendship, and a battle of intelligence and neuroses. David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) has just emerged onto the literary scene with the publication of Infinite Jest, hailed as the best writer of his generation. David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) is a new hire at Rolling Stone magazine and convinces his boss to let him cover the end of Wallace’s book tour, interview him and write an article.||2015 |
Directed by: James Ponsoldt
Screenplay by: Donald Margulies
Based on the book by David Lipsky
Starring: Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg
|See full review of The End of the Tour|
Enlightening and moving.
|Set in the journalism world of the early 2000s, Spotlight is so engrossed in its subject matter that it takes us there. A team of reporters at the Boston Globe uncovered the truth about priest molestation and the cover-up by the Catholic Church within the Boston area but with the obvious implications for the rest of the world. And the audience is right there with them, interested in the facts, disgusted by the truth.||2015 |
Directed by: Tom McCarthy
Screenplay by: Tom McCarthy
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schrieber
|See full review of Spotlight|
#9 Sleeping with Other People
Perfectly imperfect rom-com characters.
|Sleeping with Other People is a romantic comedy. It is. Writer/director Leslye Headland won’t deny it, but what makes it such a good film, is that while it does play up some of the rom-com tropes, it focuses on the characters and lets the romantic comedy plot line play out in the background while the audience gets to enjoy itself. The lead characters are Lainey (Alison Brie) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis), two people who would deny that they are the leads in a romantic comedy.||2015 |
Directed by: Leslye Headland
Screenplay by: Leslye Headland
Starring: Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis
|See full review of Sleeping with Other People|
#10 The Big Short
Fast-talking, fast-cutting cheat-sheet look at the US financial crisis.
|The Big Short is a fast-talking, fast-cutting cheat-sheet look at the US financial crisis. Ryan Gosling narrates this movie, and no, it’s not surprising that studio Plan B, Paramount Pictures, and director Adam McKay decided to use one of the most handsome, ridiculously charismatic and most popular actors on the planet to introduce us to the world of banking, mortgages and houses defaulting. Highly technical finance and economics leading to a tragic ending can only be entertaining with people like Gosling, Christian Bale and Steve Carell.||2015 |
Directed by: Adam McKay
Screenplay by: Charles Randolph, Adam McKay
Based on the book by Michael Lewis
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling
|See full review of The Big Short|
#11 Pawn Sacrifice
Interesting line between arrogant genius and sympathy for mental illness.
|Pawn Sacrifice is the biographical story of Bobby Fischer. And interestingly, perhaps taking a cue from its subject, it doesn’t have a direct structure. It just takes a few of the significant events of Bobby’s life, occasionally told out of order, and lets the importance of these moments build up who he is. An extra piece of the puzzle of who Bobby Fischer is gets added with each scene.||2014 |
Directed by: Edward Zwick
Screenplay by: Steven Knight
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Michael Stuhlbarg
|See full review of Pawn Sacrifice|
#12 Woman in Gold
Succeeds in telling a story that's interesting.
|Woman in Gold took an interesting story and just told it. Which is all it needs to do because it is interesting. Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) is a Jewish refugee who fled from Austria during World War II and since built a life for herself in California. After the death of her sister, Maria discovers letters from her Aunt detailing their family's rightful ownership of several Gustav Klimt paintings stolen by the Nazis, including the famous portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, simply known as the Woman in Gold.||2015 |
Directed by: Simon Curtis
Screenplay by: Alexi Kaye Campbell
Starring: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds
|See full review of Woman in Gold|
#13 What We Did on Our Holiday
Hilarious, genuine, inventive fun.
|What We Did on Our Holiday really sneaks up on you. With an insignificant title and a simple premise of a bickering married couple going on vacation with their family, viewers aren’t expecting much more than cute. But it takes less than three minutes for “cute” to turn into unexpectedly hilarious. After an hour, the now expected hilarity turns into inventive fun, but you are never led astray. It is a simple comedy about a bickering family on holiday. It’s also funny, creative, original and heartfelt.||2015 |
Directed by: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin
Screenplay by: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin
Starring: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant
|See full review of What We Did on Our Holiday|
#14 Steve Jobs
The machine side and human side of Steve Jobs are detached but interesting.
|Biographical drama Steve Jobs, is a very novel approach to a biography. It’s not the story of his life, but a development of who he is based on a peek into what was happening during three different periods of time. The machine side of Steve Jobs has always been described in a cynical way – cold, manipulative and only caring about results. That side gives us this emotionally-detached methodical overview. The human side doesn’t come through until the end as a father-daughter relationship drama.||2015 |
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
Based on they book by Walter Isaacson
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet
|See full review of Steve Jobs|
#15 Jimmy's Hall
A premise of fun combined with fascinating history of Ireland.
|Jimmy's Hall is the true story of Irish activist Jimmy Gralton. It's a story that very few people probably know, but after hearing it, it's the type of story that needs to be told. The movie opens in 1932 but tells the history of everything that happened previously – most notably, the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1922. 10 years later, the citizens of a small community are getting ready for a more peaceful existence and a more optimistic future.||2014 |
Directed by: Ken Loach
Screenplay by: Paul Laverty
Based on the play by Donal O'Kelly
Starring: Barry Ward, Jim Norton
|See full review of Jimmy's Hall|