The Top 50 Films of 2015

40.) Trainwreck – As far as television goes, comedy is on a hot streak, whereas the film genre has become a tedious pileup of cruelty without sincerity. To remedy that ailment we received Trainwreck from the twisted mind of Amy Schumer. There’s a subplot that nearly derails the entire story, and yet Schumer is somehow able to develop a raw human substance behind her shell of vulgarity. It doesn’t hurt that we also get Bill Hader in a leading man role, showing beyond a doubt to audiences nationwide that he’s got real acting chops. There’s a fragility laced throughout all of the hilarity.

Where to watch: Available to rent

39.) Love & Mercy – It’s a film that too broadly encompasses the duality of Beach Boy legend Brian Wilson, here shown at two distinctly specific time periods. What it does though, unlike and better than any musical biopic in recent memory, is directly tap into the mind of the artist. Love & Mercy shows the restraint of its own title from both spectrums, and thanks to the unquestionably devoted performances, is able to be a gateway to greatness while acknowledging the flaws of the person and the route along the way.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

38.) Listen to Me Marlon – You don’t really expect platitudes and wisdom to spill from the mouth of Marlon Brando. The man looked more like his On the Waterfront boxing and hard boozing persona than a philosopher. Listen to Me Marlon cracks open the pages of the icon’s tome of a being, so dense and detailed and busting at the seams, trying to wheedle down who he was off camera as well as the influence of the bright lights on his extremely candid personal life. Expertly and scrupulously edited, the documentary introduces us to and sees its own gargantuan figure eye to eye, allowing him to tell his story through his own words

Where to watch: Available to rent

37.) The Final Girls – This slasher comedy, lighter and more fun than The Cabin in the Woods, spins its characters and sense of time and place into one all-encompassing web. There’s maternal drama, airheaded assumptions, and practically bylines to show us each and every inspiration from the genre’s history. The story itself might be a little flimsy, but don’t underestimate the technical prowess and cinematic knowledge that went into this tiny summer camp flick. Check out this behind the scenes look at the movie’s most inventive shot from on set to the finished productThe Final Girls has way more to offer than initially meets the eye.

Where to watch: Available to rent

36.) Cinderella – Here’s the movie of the year that you didn’t even know you needed, let alone wanted. This live-action rendering of the Disney princess creates a new, still familiar path by stripping the blonde beauty of her romantic crutch. Sporting some of 2015’s most preeminent costumes and production design, Cinderella puts a strong, gorgeous woman up on the screen for children to emulate. Love and lavishes aren’t her sole pursuit either; they’re byproducts of the aspiring to rightfully save herself. What felt unnecessary ends up elegant, imaginative, and most of all relentlessly kind.

Where to watch: Available to rent

35.) Spotlight – The year’s best picture winner was far from the cream of the crop, but what Spotlight did achieve with remarkable precision was a fact-based tale told in the language of the newsroom. Documenting the cover-up of the Catholic church’s child abuse scandal in Boston – and eventually across the country – director Tom McCarthy never hits the subject hard enough. Still, despite how transitory and escaping it ultimately proves to be, the film is as thorough as it is committed.

Where to watch: Netflix

34.) Stations of the Cross – Perhaps more than any movie on this list, Stations of the Cross depends heavily and extensively on its choice of locations. We follow 14-year-old Maria through 14 different settings, each filmed in one shot, all mirroring Christ’s trek to Golgotha. What’s in the frame is just as important as what isn’t, and newcomer Leah van Acken delivers big playing the role of an extremely devout German girl so averse to sin that her selfishness is equated to selflessness, which, in turn, amplifies into self-immolation.

Where to watch: Netflix

33.) The Second Mother – With astute observations steered by some dryly funny, quietly dramatic moments, this Brazilian import shows – for better and for worse – the disparate relations and treatment between classes. Regina Casé is mind-boggling and authentic as a housekeeper for a well-off family. When her estranged daughter comes to visit in need of a place to stay, worlds collide and chaos takes the place of strict order. The Second Mother delights as a modern Harlow study. It critiques the mother daughter relationship, the dilemma of dependency, and imposed isolation. The film is thoughtful, provocative, and most of all earned.

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

32.) Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard was a convincing yet tortured man who finally established his name by substantiating this pyramid scheme religion as he went along. But his successor David Miscavige took things to the extreme. Alex Gibney’s investigative, journalistic approach swings open the doors of controversy to uncover disturbing fact after fact. Not since Jesus Camp has there been a religious exposé to stir up such anger at the abusive power of the strong held over the downtrodden and the damaged.

Where to watch: Available to rent

31.) The Duke of Burgundy – As per our nature, we will do just about anything to connect and belong, and The Duke of Burgundy conveys that as an art film full of meaning, confronting the complexities and paradigm shifts of relationships by exploring the banalities of routine. It’s a film to watch more than once, and one with bijou yet crucial background details alongside all of the executive creative decisions. You’ll leave it with the word “pinastri” (a species of moth), stuck in your head for days.

Where to watch: Netflix

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