"Maybe the new sequels and spin-offs can be more adventurous, but The Force Awakens had me smiling, reminiscing, and critiquing all at the same time: It hits all the marks, without any real surprises."
Dangerous Men (2015)
Beasts of No Nation (2015)
" I understand that YA books succeed by transposing real teen concerns into life-and-death fantasy situations, but any connection to the characters that existed by the end of 2013's Catching Fire has been stripped away by these plodding Mockingjay movies."
99 Homes (2015)
"A breathless thriller with expertly shot "you are there" camerawork and a rising score, but it also comes from moments of conflict that are pitched at a very high level. Emotions are high, lives are at stake, and something is very, very wrong."
"Most of the film plays like a game of Connect Four, piling up and grouping together characters and schemes from Craig's last three films in vaguely related ways, in the hopes that the connections to Bond's past will bring them some emotional heft."
Our Brand is Crisis (2015)
"Instead of a black comedy about powerful U.S.-government employed parasites pulling dirty tricks on foreign soil, we get a silly revenge story about two rivals who are supposed to be really smart - something we rarely see."
Steve Jobs (2015)
"Plays fast and loose with the facts, but so did Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar." I'm not comparing Sorkin's prose with the Bard's, but using a widely known culturally important figure as a way into telling stories with universal themes is, well, universal."
"Linear plots with easily defined cause and effect are the kinds of stories we are used to, but sometimes it's refreshing to enter a world where logic takes a backseat to purely evocative storytelling."
Mulholland Drive (2001)
Goodnight Mommy (2015)
Bridge of Spies (2015)
The Walk (2015)
"Zemeckis jettisons most of the hard edges of Petit's character in favor of a wide-eyed follow-your-dreams story. Rendered in broad strokes, it falls more into the fairy tale category than anything else."
"There's not much emotional investment in any of the characters, and the film has little to add to any serious discussion of its subject matter - but as a pitch-black thriller, Sicario succeeds with style."
The Martian (2015)
"If there's one fault to find in this inspiring tale, it's that Damon's just too smart and self-effacing to be real. But to say that would be too cynical: a trait this film is hiding away in the same cupboard, thankfully, with all of the schmaltz."
Sleeping with Other People (2015)
"Leslye Headland has a knack for taking familiar rom-com situations and injecting into them a hardcore dose of truth. Truth can be uncomfortable, but as this movie illustrates, it can be riotously exhilarating as well."
The Look of Silence (2015)
"Not as formally exciting as The Act of Killing but because it's so singularly focused, it's a more emotionally engaging story. And because its concerns are different, both films together are a richer experience and provide a more complete picture."
"With the will-they-or-won't-they tension, the densely plotted conflicts that rarely give you time to think, and the fact that everyone on all sides has a reason to stop Hunt, this is a satisfying Hollywood actioner that keeps you guessing."
Terminator Genisys (2015)
Inside Out (2015)
"A brilliantly visualized concept anchors Inside Out in a way that ensures it will resonate for years to come. Kudos to Pixar for again reminding us that animated entertainment can appeal to all ages and speak to universal truths."
Jurassic World (2015)
"Commentary on how audiences always want "bigger" over "better" is not enough. It's window dressing. You still have little kids in danger of being eaten by dinosaurs run amok and a guy who thinks he's the Dinosaur Whisperer."
Love & Mercy (2015)
Le Silence de la Mer (1949)
"Although the movie's narrative and acting style are typical of older films, "Le Silence de la Mer" has a modern sensibility and feel, embracing subtlety and ambiguity in a way that was idiosyncratic at the time."
"When Bird's movie clicks, it's easy to believe that human intelligence and ingenuity can overcome impending global disaster. That's why he should have given his audience more credit and not spelled everything out for them."
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
"Like Greek gods before them, superheroes are our modern myths, so why shouldn't they examine issues of the classic texts in our time? The end credit sequence actually gives this idea a visual corollary, as it shows a giant Hellenistic statue."
White God (2015)
Wild Tales (2015)
"I hope that Quentin Tarantino, whose obsession with revenge pictures has started to reveal kinks in his armor, has seen "Wild Tales." While it embraces elements of the spaghetti western as Tarantino's films do, it also finds new ways to explore them."
The Wrecking Crew (2015)
Ex Machina (2015)
"Garland's film sexualizes Ava to an embarrassing degree, which also is its entire point. His aim is to have his cake and eat it too, with images of female nudity literally created for the male gaze, subverted, and mined for maximum uncomfortability."
"Shainberg sets up a restless quality in both characters, and he takes them very seriously but it still comes as a bit of shock to see what is normally considered to be sexist behavior finally and ultimately embraced. "
Furious 7 (2015)
"The actors are completely secondary. The hoops they jump through to get to the next action scene are just that. The expositional dialogue [starts] only after the action scene has, because they know we don't care why they're there: We're already with them."
It Follows (2015)
"The only control the teenagers have in the situation is to pass on the curse - and increase their sexual guilt tenfold. It's a brilliantly clean metaphor, not just for sexual nervousness, but also the transience of youth."
What We Do In The Shadows (2015)
Gone Doggy Gone (2015)
"A funny, low-budget indie that's at its best when it diverts from what is purported to be the main plot. It proves that Brown and Walter are talented comedic writers who aren't afraid to get more than a little absurd for a laugh."
"On one level, it is an engrossing character study about changing power dynamics in relationships. On another, it's simply a marvel of fluid, focused filmmaking - where everything in the frame is loaded with meaning."
The Palm Beach Story (1942)
"It's about as breezy, carefree, and anarchic as romantic comedies get. Full of absurd comedic digressions and bookends that still don't quite make sense, this eccentric road trip comedy would likely never get made in today's Hollywood climate."
American Sniper (2015)
" Too often in "Sniper," Eastwood kowtows to our basic need to have clear-cut good guys and bad guys. And when Kyle makes the impossible shot, it feels (in the limited context of the film) like we've actually won something. We haven't."
"Miller has a keen eye for examining the intersection of class, money and ambition. The screenplay compresses the timeline, moves key scenes around, and favors character over action, but it absolutely stays focused on these difficult larger themes."
Inherent Vice (2015)
"Anderson is too enamored with his terrific ensemble cast. Perhaps 2 hours 20 minutes were needed for the plot to make any kind of sense, but there still feels like a lot of dead weight, and he is unable to infuse it with the energy of his other films."
The Interview (2014)
Top Five (2014)
"The sad irony is that - given the enormous familiarity with Jackson's cinematic Middle-earth and the almost identical structure and conflict of both trilogies - the sixth and final film is a slog of an exercise; one of stubborn inevitability."
Death Metal Angola (2014)
"... more than a treatise on the origins of this bombastic musical style. It's a story of hope. There's no reinvention of the form here, just a solid documentary on a subject you had probably never thought existed."
"Despite some awkward pacing, easy sentimentality, and pandering it's still hard to resist. It's not just Nolan's ambition that should be admired. He actually pulls off scene after scene of unforgettable drama in colossal scale, both in space and on Earth."
Love Is Strange (2014)
"It has plenty of conflict, but is virtually free from the demands of traditional plot-heavy films. It carries the ring of truth at least partially because its subtext is everything, and its scenes are rarely about what they're really about. "
My Old Lady (2014)