BROOKLYN (#1 of the Year)
One of the very first films I saw in 2015 stayed with me longest and made the most powerful impression. That would be Brooklyn, adapted from Colm Toibin's novel by Nick Hornby, directed by John Crowley and starring Saoirse Ronan. A feast of rich emotions presented with wit, grace and not a trace of sentimentality, this is the kind of film I'm always looking for but rarely find.
Asif Kapadia's devastating work allows us to, in a sense, live singer Amy Winehouse's life along with her.
THE BIG SHORT
A surprisingly funny film about the deadly serious 2008 global financial crisis.
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Steven Spielberg's tale of Cold War derring-do reminds us that proficient storytelling isn't something we see every day.
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara create the feelings and emotions that all the best love stories aspire to.
Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay excel as a long-married couple in this measured yet provocative film.
Pixar's triumph not only goes to places other animation creators don't dare, it goes to places the rest of the pack don't even know exist.
MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
A barnburner of a post-apocalyptic extravaganza in which sizzling, unsettling images are the order of the day.
A triumph for star Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott, who know their way around mainstream entertainment.
Transcendently acted by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, Room is several things by turn: creepy, frightening, exhilarating and then frightening and exhilarating all over again.
SON OF SAUL
From Hungary, a Holocaust film unlike anything you've ever seen before.
The screenplay is self-effacing, the direction intentionally low-key; the fistful of top actors blend into an eloquent ensemble. The result is a knockout.
This riveting dramatization of a life is an impressionistic construct that makes rich theatrical use of the building block of one man's existence.
TESTAMENT OF YOUTH
Based on an acclaimed World War I memoir, it tells the kind of potent, many-sided story whose complexities come courtesy of a life that lived them all.