There's a good reason why filmdom's top prognosticators can't figure out what film will win the Oscar as 2015's best. It's because the year in movies offered such variety. One moment we were laughing our fool heads off at Amy Schumer in Trainwreck or Amy Poehler in Inside Out; the next we were crying our eyes out at Brie Larson In Room or Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn. What a great year for film, and all the more difficult to craft what has become a tradition: my annual bracket of the year's top movies. If hard-pressed, I would have to say that the elite eight of 2015 were (in alphabetical order): Brooklyn, Inside Out, The Martian, Room, Son of Saul, Spotlight, Star Wars VII and Train Wreck (that's right, Trainwreck). My favorite two films of 2015: Spotlight, packed to the gills with fine performances, and Star Wars VII, which far-outpaced my expectations (which were astronomical).
Click on the image to the right (or grab a hard-copy at newsstands all over town) to see how, from hundreds of films, I narrowed the list to 32, then it's the Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4 and my two favorite films of 2015.