Top Ten Films of 2015
The critics were divided on David O. Russel's latest film, which reteams the director with Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper, but Joy is as enjoyable as it is chaotic. Lawrence is terrific as the inventor of the Miracle Mop, and is the rest of the cast, which also includes Isabella Rossellini and Diane Ladd. And it boasts cameos from soap stars Laura Wright, Maurice Bernard, Donna Mills, and Susan Lucci.9. The Last Five Years
Based on Jason Robert Brown's musical of the same name, The Last Five Years tells the story of a couple, played by Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan, completely through song. As if that wasn't enough, Jordan's character tells his side of the story from the beginning of the relationship to the end, Kendrick's character starts at the end and works backwards. Kendrick is the standout. Hilarious and heartbreaking, it makes you wish as many people had seen this gem as had seen Pitch Perfect 2.
8. Miss You Already
Catherine Hardwick's criminally underseen film stars Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette as best friends whose lives take off in drastically different directions. Read my full review here.
7. While We're Young
Starring Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a couple whose lives are shaken up after meeting a younger couple, played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, While We're Young is very funny and surprisingly poignant.
Melissa McCarthy stars as an unlikely action hero in Paul Feig's humorous spy caper send-up. Throughout the film, McCarthy's character is underestimated and even laughed at, but she gets the last laugh, by showing how good at her job she is, and saving the day. Rose Byrne is comic gold as a a villain with improbable hair.
5. Ex Machina
Alex Garland's smart and sleek sci-fi film has one of the year's most predictable endings. But being able to guess the ending within the first twenty minutes of the film is not actually a drawback in this case. How the film gets there is both interesting and unsettling. The film also features three exciting performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and especially Alicia Vikander, who plays a robot.
4. The Big Short
I would have never guessed that the financial crisis of 2007 would make for such an energetic movie. With an ensemble cast featuring Steve Carrell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, among others, The Big Short is never boring, and succeeds in its goal of entertaining, as well as infuriating, its audience.
A beautifully made film, Brooklyn tells the story of a young Irish woman comes to America during the 1950s. Saoirse Ronan delivers one of the year's best performances, quiet yet effective at portraying the struggles of a young woman thrown into unfamiliar situations.
2. Mistress America
Noah Baumbach's most recent collaboration with Greta Gerwig is a high-spirited comedy about a college freshman, played by Lola Kirke, and her freidship with an animated 30 year old with lots of big ideas, played expertly by Ms. Gerwig. Few comedies are as lively and instantly quotable as Mistress America.
1. Inside Out
The best Pixar effort in years, Inside Out is profoundly imaginative and a visually breathtaking film. The high-concept storyline is probably the most ambitious the studio has ever told (and that's saying something), but it well worth the risk, delivering a film that intelligent and artful, complete with detailed animation and incredible voice work from Amy Poehler, Richard Kind, and Phyllis Smith.