JEANNE'S TOP 10
1. STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS - This is the best film of the year because J. J. Abrams, et al, have delivered a great sort of retelling of the very first "Star Wars". What could have been a disaster had Abrams chosen the wrong actors to star, instead it's everything a fan could want --- and more!
2. THE BIG SHORT - The fantastic (and easy to comprehend) adaptation of Michael Lewis' best seller exposing the housing market debacle of 2008. Awesome cast --- and hilarious, at times, to boot.
3. THE DANISH GIRL - Eddie Redmayne has managed, two years in a row, to mesmerize theatre audiences with his deft performance, this time as Lili Elbe, a transgender female seeking help in 1926 Copenhagen. Alicia Vikander is equally stunning in a beautifully filmed love story.
4. LOVE & MERCY - Paul Dano and John Cusack both portray Beach Boys' Brian Wilson in this illuminating biopic of a man in crisis. Elizabeth Banks plays Melinda, Brian's savior, and she is marvelous.
5. ROOM - Brie Larson and astounding newcomer Jacob Tremblay play a mother and son being held captive by a maniac. "Room" is a heartrending story that is perfectly written and acted.
6. INSIDE OUT - Pixar has done it again with this remarkable peek into 11-year-old Riley's feelings of Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Forced to move to San Francisco, she struggles mightily to "fit in". Any parent or tween/teen can identify with these pivotal emotions.
7. SPOTLIGHT - A terrific ensemble cast and superb writing catapults this real-life expose of the priest abuses uncovered in Boston by a group of dogged journalists into many Top 10 lists this year.
8. THE REVENANT - An exciting and brutally violent vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio, allowing him another opportunity at that elusive Oscar for Best Actor. Gorgeous cinematography and score, and excellent supporting cast.
9. (tie) BEST OF ENEMIES and THE HUNTING GROUND - In a year rife with many outstanding documentaries, these two really stand out. "Best of Enemies" showcases the politics of two very different intellectuals, Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley, Jr. It also was the catalyst for the current political discourse which dominates every election today.
"The Hunting Ground" is a frightening revelation regarding the epidemic rape culture on college campuses today. Following up to his shocking "The Invisible War", about sexual assault in the military, Kirby Dick has once again brought this timely subject to the forefront in a compelling and informative documentary.
10. PADDINGTON - Even though "Paddington" was a January release, its sweet adaptation of a family favorite remains one of the most entertaining films of 2015. And who doesn't love Nicole Kidman as a villain?
DAVID'S TOP 10
1. ROOM - starts off as an intriguing mystery, evolves into an exciting thriller, and ultimately grabs its viewers in a compelling love story between a woman and her child. It is a powerful, emotionally-charged drama that should be an Oscar contender on many levels. Amazing performance from young Jacob Tremblay. Brie Larson is a leading contender for Best Actress.
2. CONCUSSION - Will Smith in the finest performance of his career, and Albert Brooks is excellent in a supporting role. If you're a devout pro football fan, you may not watch games quite the same way after viewing "Concussion".
3. THE HATEFUL EIGHT - Largely a dialogue-driven western, Tarantino-style, the film is full of memorable turns, especially from Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Walton Goggins. Pre-intermission sets up the suspenseful and bloody second half. Could almost be considered a black comedy, rife with humor, thanks to the original screenplay by the director.
4. THE DANISH GIRL - a quiet film that allows its viewers to feel the raw emotions of people caught up in a personal perplexity that few of us would ever experience. Will Eddie Redmayne win consecutive Oscars?
5. SPOTLIGHT - Its extraordinary cast keeps us riveted to the screen in an authentic portrayal of investigative journalism involving the highly charged subject matter of pedophilia within the Catholic Church.
6. THE BIG SHORT - Easily one of the year's best films, with an all-star cast, it's an important reminder of a sordid time in American financial annals that should never be repeated. Manages to enlighten viewers on the complexities of the financial fallout with simple examples that the average moviegoer can understand.
7. BROOKLYN - One of those movies you hate to see end. Intelligent, warm, funny and endearing. At the heart of the film are the sterling performances by Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen. Look for Ronan to be nominated.
8. IT FOLLOWS - As effective a horror film as any in recent years, featuring a pulse-pounding score by Disasterpeace, the eeriest movie music since "Psycho". "It Follows" doesn't rely on gore to jangle our nerves, it simply preys on our imagination.
9. WOMAN IN GOLD - A powerful drama that packs an eloquent and emotional punch. With its moving score by Martin Phipps and nine-time Oscar nominee Hans Zimmer (he won for "The Lion King", 1994), "Woman in Gold" is a treasure to be savored. Helen Mirren is always superb, but Ryan Reynolds is a revelation.
10. BRIDGE OF SPIES - The scenes depicting Gary Powers' plane being buffeted by enemy ground-to-air missiles is alone worth the price of admission. Although the outcome is well known, or easily predictable for younger moviegoers, the film still manages to hold us firmly in its grasp. Another compelling turn by Tom Hanks.
JEANNE'S HONORABLE MENTION 2015
AMY, BRIDGE OF SPIES, BROOKLYN,
CONCUSSION, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD,
LISTEN TO ME MARLON, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL, MR. HOLMES, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION, SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE, SICARIO, SPY, THE END OF THE TOUR, TRAINWRECK
DAVID'S HONORABLE MENTION 2015
BATKID BEGINS, BEST OF ENEMIES, BLACK MASS, CARTEL LAND, CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA, EX MACHINA, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD, INSIDE OUT, LOVE & MERCY,
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION, MR. HOLMES, PADDINGTON, SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE, SPY, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, STEVE JOBS, THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, THE END OF THE TOUR, THE GIFT, THE GOOD DINOSAUR, THE HUNTING GROUND, THE MARTIAN, THE PEANUTS MOVIE, THE REVENANT, THE WALK, TRUMBO