“5 to 7”: The Best of the First Third of 2015

5 to 7 Anton Yelchin Berenice Marlohe 600x260
Ahoy! With it now being May, we’ve officially finished up with the first third of the year. As such, I wanted to highlight the best of the year so far, consisting of my top ten and various awards for 2015 to date. Much like last time, when I did the first quarter of the year, I’m mostly limiting it to things that have already hit theaters. My only exception is that I’m including titles from the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival. There are some others from last year that I’m fond of and might have otherwise included, but I didn’t want to cheat too badly, so they’re on hold. Anyway, let’s get to the fun stuff…

Below you’ll find my top ten of the year so far, along with my awards for the first quarter of 2015. Here you go, and enjoy:

10. Amira & Sam – Much like I said last time out, this is one of the bigger surprises this year for me so far. I really did fall hard for this romantic dramedy. Not only does it give Martin Starr his best and most dramatic role to date, it also crafts one of the better movies about New York that I’ve seen in the past few years. It was cruelly under-seen earlier this year, but I hope this recommendation does its part to fix that when it hits home video next week.

9. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – Without question, this documentary is taking aim at a slightly easy target in the Church of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, but tons of incredible claims come out of it all the same, as I said the last time I spoke about it. Director Alex Gibney isn’t doing his best work ever, but it’s still an angry and passionate bit of work. The ratings when it played on HBO were through the roof, so it definitely caught on.

8. ’71 – To reiterate, this was a title that I first saw at NYFF 2014 but had it stick with me well into 2015. This war drama is the best tale of survival starring Jack O’Connell yet, and yes, I know that Unbroken exists too (that only furthers my argument). This is a small scale and gritty flick that manages to really captivate you. Another barely seen title that I want to shine a light on. Go seek it out folks!

7. The Hunting Ground – For my money, the best doc of 2015 so far (which I said last time and still believe to be true now) is a sobering look at sexual assault on college campuses. Director Kirby Dick has basically made a follow up to The Invisible War, which looked at rape in the military. This might even be the more effective of the two, though both are incredibly worthwhile docs. More of you should have seen this, so correct that ASAP.

6. Grandma – The Tribeca Film Festival this year offered a few strong performances, but none stronger than the one two punch of Sam Elliot and Lily Tomlin, particularly in the case of the one scene (Elliot’s only in the movie) they share together. This dramedy from Paul Weitz fires on all cylinders, making you laugh as well as cry. Tomlin could be a dark horse Academy Award contender for Best Actress if this one hits. Even if it doesn’t, it’s a true crowd pleaser.

5. Kingsman: The Secret Service – I remain of the mindset that this was easily the most fun I’ve had with an action movie this year. Granted, I loved Matthew Vaughn’s other Mark Millar adaptation Kick-Ass as well, so I’m predisposed to his outings of this ilk. Still, it’s just a blast of un PC carnage. Colin Firth as a bad ass action hero is genius casting in my book. Truly a blockbuster with its $100 million plus gross so far, expect a franchise to be born going forward here.

4. Slow West – A fantastic western with a streak of black comedy running within it, I found this to be one of Tribeca’s more pleasant surprises. Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, and Kodi Smit-McPhee are all top notch here, giving the work some across the board solid acting. It’s perhaps a bit on the slight side in the end, but I still loved it. This one opens very soon, so I’ll probably have more to say about it then. Stay tuned.

3. Sleeping with Other People – The funniest film of the year so far (or more accurately, when it officially hits in the summer), I was blown away by it at Tribeca. I’ve already raved a bit about it in the last week or two, but writer/director Lesyle Headland really has something special here. Both Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis have never been better, hitting both comedic and dramatic highs. I can’t wait to discuss it more in depth over the summer, so sit tight for more on a true delight!

2. It Follows – I’ve gone back to the well to talk about this one a lot, but it deserves the praise, no question. The best horror film in years, I think this is nearly a perfect bit of cinema. I’ve written about the movie plenty, but filmmaker David Robert Mitchell and actress Maika Monroe deserve some more praise. It’s a towering fright flick achievement, trust me there. It expands into more theaters today actually, so more of you have an opportunity to see what I’ve been raving about for about a month. I once again nearly put it in my number one spot, but this is still a cut above in general for cinema.

1. 5 to 7 – Much like last time, I took a while to decide between one and two here, but I went with emotion as my ultimate tiebreaker. Lead actor Anton Yelchin is incredible, Bérénice Marlohe is terrific, and so are Glenn Close and Frank Langella in supporting roles. Writer/director Victor Levin really gets tot he core of the human experience here in a very unique romantic drama. I won’t spoil what happens, but you all need to see this one right now if you haven’t taken my advice yet.

Honorable Mention: Black or White, Ex Machina, Good Kill, Lost River, and While We’re Young

Like last time, obviously my number one pick would be my choice for Best Picture so far (with number two the runner up, and so on, but here are the other awards I would give out…

Best Director: David Robert Mitchell for It Follows (runner up: Victor Levin for 5 to 7 and Lesyle Headland for Sleeping with Other People)

Best Actor: Anton Yelchin for 5 to 7 (runner up: Michael Fassbender for Slow West and Jason Sudeikis for Sleeping with Other People)

Best Actress: Lily Tomlin for Grandma (runner up: Alison Brie for Sleeping with Other People and Maika Monroe for It Follows)

Best Supporting Actor: Sam Elliot for Grandma (runner up: Frank Langella for 5 to 7 and Ben Mendelsohn for Slow West)

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander for Ex Machina (runner up: Glenn Close for 5 to 7 and Amanda Peet for Sleeping with Other People)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Avengers: Age of Ultron (runner up: Kingsman: The Secret Service and The Humbling)

Best Original Screenplay: Sleeping with Other People (runner up: 5 to 7 and It Follows)

There you go ladies and gentlemen…now to see how the rest of the first half of 2015 turns out!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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