Film and TV

Stream These Great 2015 Movies or Die Lonely and Out of the Loop

As cinematic year 2015 reaches its end, the FOMO specter threatens to haunt us all. If you pored over the results of our film poll and felt aghast at how many apparently great movies you’ve yet to see, here at last is a chance to catch up without braving traffic. —Michael Nordine

About Elly (Netflix)
"It's tempting to suggest that if you have any interest in Iranian film in general, or in particular Asghar Farhadi — the director and writer of that shred-your-heart masterpiece A Separation — you should simply get yourself to Farhadi's About Elly without knowing a thing about it besides its title. This superb, suspenseful film, completed in 2009, opens as a playful comedy of vacationing couples and awkward romance, but by the end has become a moral drama likely to corrode your certainties." —Alan Scherstuhl

Best of Enemies
"Vidal and Buckley hated each other long before ABC brought them into this figurative boxing ring, but the clips collected by Neville and Gordon reveal something feral about these two extravagantly articulate, upper-crusty men; they eye one another like suspicious forest animals, each smelling something foul in the other. What they say in these debates isn't nearly as interesting as how they say it." —Stephanie Zacharek

Buzzard (Amazon Prime)
"Often very funny, the film is not a comedy; as his anxiety mounts, Marty becomes increasingly violent, fleeing to Detroit, where he sleeps in seedy motels before descending into near psychosis, destitution and homelessness. Director Joel Potrykus holds the camera on Marty throughout long, single-take shots, rendering other characters as unseen faces, isolating Marty in the frame like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver." —Chris Packham

Danny Collins
(Amazon Prime)
"Danny Collins is a redemption movie in the skeptical key of Jerry Maguire. Our decadent hero decides to fix himself in the first act. The rest of the film is him realizing how hard it'll be to keep living right — and that maybe he doesn't have the moral clout to manage it. Danny jets off to Jersey in his private plane, checks into a modest hotel, and stuffs a grand piano into a room so cramped he has no choice but to sit down at the stool and compose." —Amy Nicholson

Ex Machina
(Amazon Prime)
"Ex Machina is an egghead thriller with a scary selling point: It's a smart film about the shrinking divide between man and robot. It's also a hoot, an anti-comedy where all of the jokes double as threats, and vice versa. Ex Machina is the directorial debut of sci-fi screenwriter Alex Garland. It's the film version of an iPhone: small, expensive-looking, and a touch overhyped — plus an addictive sales pitch for whatever Garland makes next." —Amy Nicholson

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Netflix)
"World cinema may have no better builder of delightful scenes than Roy Andersson, the deadpan Swedish existentialist. Each shot in an Andersson film is part diorama, part theatrical performance, part moviemaking the way Thomas Edison did it: Build a set, plant a camera and stage highly orchestrated comedy and tragedy." —Alan Scherstuhl

"A rapturous noir thriller from German director Christian Petzold, Phoenix is ardent, urgent and smoldering, so beautifully made that it comes close to perfect. The script is by Petzold and Harun Farocki, adapted from French crime writer Hubert Monteilhet's 1963 novel Return From the Ashes (also the source material for a 1965 film starring Maximilian Schell and Samantha Eggar). It's also, incidentally, a riff on Vertigo: The extraordinary Nina Hoss plays Nelly Lenz, a woman who has survived Auschwitz but whose face has been disfigured." —Stephanie Zacharek

Slow West (Amazon Prime)
"Its central journey lives up to the title: Maclean finds time to savor rivers and starscapes and layers of light and mountainous land. The dialogue is flighty yet weighty, each line like some delicate woodcut. 'A railroad to the moon,' the schnook imagines, before offering up this lament: 'First thing we'll do when we get there is hunt the natives down.' The ending's bloody, and the stars acquit themselves well, but what sticks here is a parade of memorable images." —Alan Scherstuhl

"There's probably only one humanist film that opens with the words, 'Merry Christmas Eve, bitch!' accompanied by the proffering of a single, sprinkle-dusted doughnut. In Sean Baker's Tangerine, best friends, transgender women and prostitutes Sin-Dee and Alexandra (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor) catch up at a doughnut joint on the corner of Santa Monica and Highland in Los Angeles, the afternoon light still sizzling outside." —Stephanie Zacharek

Welcome to Me (Netflix)
"So, the movie's messy. But it's also funny, pungent, and sympathetic to the struggles of the borderline, the bipolar, or whatever inexact term is used today for functioning people sometimes at odds with their own minds. It goes all-in on one of the most reliable comedy premises: the free-spending millionaire ruled by whims." —Alan Scherstuhl

While We’re Young (Amazon Prime)
"That bewilderment is the guiding force of Noah Baumbach's fearless half-a-comedy While We're Young, an unsparing consideration of what makes the young different from the not-so-young. Ben Stiller plays a onetime documentary filmmaker who's hit his forties and stalled out on the masterpiece he's been painstakingly crafting for years. He gets a jolt when he meets young aspiring filmmaker Jamie (Adam Driver) and his artisanal-ice-cream-maker wife, Darby (Amanda Seyfried), both about twenty years his junior." —Stephanie Zacharek

The Wolfpack (Netflix)
"Crystal Moselle's documentary The Wolfpack is a Manhattan fable about fear. Two decades ago, a Hare Krishna, conspiracy theorist, and self-described god named Oscar Angulo moved from Peru to a Lower East Side tenement with his American bride, Susanne. To protect his family, Oscar locked the door and kept the key. Some years, he allowed his kids outside only nine times. One year, he never let them leave the apartment at all." —Amy Nicholson