• A Little Chaos

    A Little Chaos

    This made the list for three reasons: Alan Rickman's direction and acting, Kate Winslet and Stanley Tucci's excellent performances and my unending love of the reign of the Sun King (Louis XIV of France). Tucci playing Monsieur (Philippe, Duc de Orleans - the flamboyant brother of the King) was a revelation - and scenes with Rickman and Winslet were the heart of the show. Otherwise the film has some structure and pacing issues, but remains a lush and beautiful tale.

  • Welcome to Me

    Welcome to Me

    The only movie this year that induced uncontrolled laughter and mirth. Kirsten Wiig delivered one of the best female performances of the year, playing a unstable and off her meds Lotto winner who buys her own cable talk show. The titular show discusses the most important topic in her life: herself. The film succeeds as a (somewhat dark) comedy, but never loses it's heart while not pulling a single punch. Bravo.

  • Mustang

    Mustang

    I was surprised how much I was moved by this movie. Directed and written by Deniz Gamze Ergüven, it is a story of five young sisters living together with their uncle and grandmother in a Turkish village. Their seemingly normal lives change suddenly when they are seen frolicking with boys on the beach. The movie then takes a much different turn. While comparisons can/have been made to The Virgin Suicides, the film stands in a unique landscape - focusing on…

  • Sicario

    Sicario

    I love a ruthless, grim realpolitik drama devoid of demons and saints. Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy) delivers with a heavy dose of obfuscation with the help of a smart script from Taylor Sheridan (Sons of Anarchy, Veronica Mars). Nothing is perfectly clear, until it's too late and even then there is no full explanation. In a world of over-simplified plot lines and certain hyper-eagerness to make sure everyone understands and no loose ends remain, Sicario is willing to be true to life. The movie brings to life the horrors of the Cartel controlled drug trade, while making clear that there is no answer, no clear solution.

  • Tangerine

    Tangerine

    ★★★★★

    A love letter to subjects, streets and issues that typically only get disparagement. Sin-dee just got out (of jail) and starts tearing up East Hollywood for the boyfriend (and pimp/dealer) who was not there to greet her. Joined by best friend Alexandra, the two scream, kick, shout, storm, fight, make-up, learn and love each other for a day. Never less than the full gauntlet of human emotion, and never less than totally authentic - the film is a remarkable statement about what it is to be a trans, working, forlorn surpassing girl...friend.

  • The End of the Tour

    The End of the Tour

    ★★★★★

    James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) brought to life an incredible week spent with acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace just as his runaway hit Infinite Jest was picking up momentum. Jason Segel turns in a career best performance as the author, a every man with brilliant insight. Jesse Eisenberg plays the journalist beautifully, using the neurotic ticky energy he's known for to infuse a insecure and jealous performance. Overall the interaction between the two is where the movie lives, and succeeds.

  • Steve Jobs

    Steve Jobs

    ★★★★★

    I can't resist a Aaron Sorkin script, much less at a subject he has proven himself masterful at discussing (see The Social Network). The brilliance of the film is how it uniquely changes the standard biopic fair and instead focuses in on Jobs right before three big product launches in 1984, 1988 and 1998. Boyle competently directed the ensuing walk-and-talk, the high point of his direction is a incredible scene in a hallway with Fassbender and Winslet. The hallway became…

  • 45 Years

    45 Years

    I will love Andrew Haigh forever for his previous movie about a relationship, Weekend - probably the best movie about a gay relationship. In this film, it's the days leading up to a 45 year wedding anniversary that proves just as insightful and riveting. Rampling devastates and fascinates especially.

  • Carol

    Carol

    Todd Haynes, a gay period piece with a stellar cast and an amazing performance from Cate Blanchett. If I need to say more, this may not be the movie for you.

    The lush, lavish and painfully beautiful contrast with the ugly social mores of the early/mid 1950's New York (and America).

  • Spotlight

    Spotlight

    ★★★★★

    My favorite film of the year and the best journalism movie since All the Presidents Men. Directed superbly by McCarthy with a swift script by Singer and McCarthy (that compares favorably with Sorkin) the film steadily raises the stakes until the very last moment. Avoiding the macabre in its subject matter it nevertheless doesn't flinch away from the horror inherent in the priest abuse amidst the Catholic Church and its cover up of such. With a all star cast, it features some stellar performances - chiefly a fired up Ruffalo. The impeccable editing paces the film as a edge of your seat ride - and succeeds.

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens

    This is already the highest grossing film in the US after mere weeks of release. I say this because it mostly deserves its popularity. It is the best Star Wars film since the sixth iteration. The iconic Star Wars universe elements are all peresent but refreshed for a modern audience. Key in this rehabilition is the main character, a young woman from a desert planet, who defies genre tropes by being demonstrably independent. I took some issue with the script…

  • The Hateful Eight

    The Hateful Eight

    Tarantino is in perfect form here. His script is almost made for the stage, but this is the correct medium. The acting is typically outstanding with Jackson and Leigh turning in career highs. The score from ultimate spaghetti western composer Ennio Morricone
    adds everything from tension to whimsy at every scene. The 70mm film version adds a 15 minute intermission in the middle of the third and fourth chapters and turns the film into a three hour epic. A modern…