In today's world of theatrical, on-demand and mobile-device viewing, the number of films released each year is increasing. In this fragmented film culture, movies are easily missed or lost in the shuffle. As 2015 draws to a close, it's a perfect time to look back and highlight some hidden gems: movies and cinematic moments that deserve a second look.
Best Movie About Interviewing Other People: The End of the Tour
Jesse Eisenberg can be a prickly customer and James Ponsoldt's movie puts his sharp edges to good use. The End of the Tour is about the delicate dance between a journalist and subject, inspired by a Rolling Stone reporter's experiences with novelist David Foster Wallace.
Best Use of Sam Elliott: Grandma
It's only one scene with no cowboy hat in sight, but Sam Elliott blew the barn doors off this raw and real comedy starring Lily Tomlin.
Best Movie That Should Have Ended Ten Minutes Sooner: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Matthew Vaughn serves up a savage critique of the upper class system in this clever spy flick. While the film is filled with superficial pleasures and kinetic action, its final scene where Taron Egerton "gets the girl" is a crude conclusion for the movie's working-class hero.
Best Shallow, but Utterly Satisfying Film: Magic Mike XXL
There are times when plot is overrated, but MMXXL knew what the audience wanted and gave it to them in all its loose-limbed, grinding glory.
Best Bad Movie With a Great Scene: The Man from U.N.C.L.E
The stylish spy feature from Guy Ritchie suffered from a lack of charismatic leads, but the scene of Henry Cavill enjoying a snack while Armie Hammer is thrown around in the water like a chew toy in Jaws was exquisite.
Best Shot of an Actor Looking Out a Window: Mr. Holmes
Ian McKellen playing the master detective in his final years was delicious. The best part is a scene where we see so much pass over that face etched by time, as Sherlock peers out a window and into his past.
Second-Best Use of Michael Shannon: The Night Before
Michael Shannon as Mr. Green, a dope-dealing swami, is a welcome reminder that character actors can do funny and fierce. (Incidentally, the first-best use of Shannon is his performance as a carnivorous real estate broker in 99 Homes.)
Best Neighbourhood Snapshot: Porch Stories
Eavesdropping on Toronto hipsters talking about beard maintenance or women discussing autism give atmosphere aplenty in this black-and-white film about a neighbourhood and a relationship in flux.
Best Weird, Naked Roommate: Pretend We're Kissing
Zoe Kravitz is a free radical that helps push protagonist Benny out of his bedroom and into a relationship (of sorts) in this low-fi romance from director Matt Sadowski.
Best Musician in a Movie: Ricki and the Flash
Rick Springfield is surprisingly great this underwhelming drama starring Meryl Streep.
Best Horn Section: Junun
Bow down to the temple of the groove in this free-roaming documentary about Indian supergroup The Rajasthan Express' collaboration with Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood and Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur. (Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, no less.)
Best Silent Film: Shaun the Sheep
The stop-motion animation auteurs behind Wallace and Gromit present their latest film: a tale of a sheep let loose in the city. It's an adventure nearly free of dialogue, but full of boundless wit and heart.
Best Bloody Love Letter to the Eighties: Turbo Kid
Filled with bikes, buzzsaws and a hero inspired by Atari, Turbo Kid makes up for the cheap effects and gushing gore with a surprisingly sweet story of friendship at the end of the world.
Best Camera Trick: Victoria
This is the movie Birdman wanted to be, but wasn't. Victoria is Before Sunrise meets Bonnie and Clyde: one night of romance and bank robbery told in a single, continuous shot.
Best Antidote to Marley & Me: White God
Hailing from Hungary, this tale of a girl and her dog bites back with power and poetry, as canines roam the empty streets of Europe and herd mentality reigns.