Daniel Barnes' and Jim Lane's fave flicks (to date) of 2015

Sexual paranoia and other horrors

The Duke of Burgundy: This luxurious and beguiling love story ostensibly follows two women living in a dominant/submissive relationship, but writer-director Peter Strickland confounds notions of role-play and power in almost every scene.

It Follows: One of the best horror films of the millennium, an unsettling and nightmarishly lucid expression of sexual paranoia, akin to Texas Chainsaw Massacre-era Tobe Hooper helming Under the Skin.

Listen to Me Marlon: Marlon Brando, in his own words, reflecting on his unusual life and how it shaped him as an actor and public figure; hypnotic and stunning.

Mad Max: Fury Road: After years of wasting his time on motion-captured singing penguins, George Miller triumphantly returns to the Mad Max-verse, delivering a relentless action ballet choreographed in fire and metal.

Mistress America: A charming and acridly hilarious hipster screwball comedy from Noah Baumbach, with a towering performance by Greta Gerwig.

—Daniel Barnes

Elementary, my dear

Cinderella: Walt Disney's 1950 animated version was flawless, and this live-action remake just about matched it. It was sumptuous and lovingly directed by Kenneth Branagh, with a radiant Lily James in the title role and Cate Blanchett curdling the blood as her stepmother.

Inside Out: Pixar did it again with this adventure comedy about the emotions wrestling inside the head of an 11-year-old girl. The movie played around with subtle psychological concepts that almost–but not quite–went over the heads of its target audience. Paradoxically, it expanded kids' horizons by taking them inside their own heads.

Mr. Holmes: The aging Sherlock Holmes rages against the dying of the light while struggling to resolve the 30-year-old case that drove him into retirement. Director Bill Condon made this layered mystery a sublime elegy, while Ian McKellen reminded us once again—in case we needed it—that he's one of the best actors alive.

Spy: Just when I thought I'd had enough of Melissa McCarthy, along came this gem from writer-director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids), and the star shone like never before, in a movie that was both brilliantly plotted and hilariously funny.

While We’re Young: Writer-director Noah Baumbach's comedy of lost youth and disillusion melded its acute perceptions with a light and compassionate touch, wry and warmly incisive.

—Jim Lane