By this time next month, we'll be reporting on a bounty of quality films—we're only a few days aways from an overload of world premieres screened in September at the Toronto International Film Festival. Coupled with more unveilings at the New York and Telluride film festivals, we should have a pretty good idea of what films will be deserving of your attention in the final months of 2015. An additional bit of business will storm into cineplexes a few days before Christmas: the Star Wars reboot (other holiday films will need to clear the aisles, lest they be trampled by light saber-wielding fans).
Until then, let's take stock in the first two-thirds of 2015 and the films among the year's best. My list of favorites is topped by three highly original screenplays and while they may get pushed out of the top spots by New Year's Eve, I'll be hard-pressed to bounce them from the list entirely.
Inside Out–One of Pixar's best. When I was laughing my fool head off, I was crying and when I wasn't crying, I was continually thinking what a fabulous movie it was. I can't imagine any other film topping Inside Out for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. In fact, it should seriously be considered for a Best Picture nomination.
Trainwreck–This hard R-rated sex comedy was as sweet as it was sassy and as funny as it was either. It was just a matter of time before Amy Schumer landed in this near-perfectly crafted Judd Apatow comedy.
Straight Outta Compton–This authentic, absorbing, honest and entertaining docudrama (featuring a fabulous soundtrack) caught nearly everyone by surprise. The live-wire chronicling the rise and fall of rap group N.W.A. blasted to the top of the box office. Trust me, you'll see this one. It's just a matter of when.
Amy–By far, the best documentary I've seen this year. It's the shattering, can't-look-away tale of the amazing Amy Winehouse. It includes some amazing never-before-seen footage of this wonder of the world who left us too soon.
Far From the Madding Crowd–This gem features 2015's best lead performance from an actress, to date. Carey Mulligan is stunning in this adaptation of the Thomas Hardy classic.
Infinitely Polar Bear–Mark Ruffalo does his best work yet. This funny, sad, sweet dramedy tells the true tale of father with bipolar disorder raising his two young daughters while their mother is away at college. This one is still playing on the big screen. Don't miss it.
Spy–Once again, Melissa McCarthy proves why she's probably the summer box office's most bankable comedy star. She ruled in this spy spoof and the moments when she and co-star Rose Byrne go at it in R-rated smackdowns are comedy gold.
Ex Machina–Shame on this film's distributors for doing such a lackluster job pushing this great film. I promise you, as soon as you see Ex Machina (it's available on streaming video), you'll ask yourself, "How did I miss this one?"
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl–Unfortunately, this movie failed to impress at the summer box office. I think potential audiences pushed back at the title, which is too bad. It's fresh, funny and worth your consideration.
The Wolfpack–This wonderful documentary bypassed many U.S. theaters, and it's already available on streaming video. The film, which made a significant splash at the 2015 Sundance Festival, is the emotional true story of a group of teenage siblings held as near-prisoners in their Manhattan apartment for many years.