Top Films of 2016

An Emotional And Transformative Year On The Big Screen.

By Daniel Dercksen

What makes  a film memorable is not critique from the critics, money raked in at the box-office, or communal affirmation, but its enduring emotional impact and transformative power.  Here are the films that changed the way I see the world.

Top 15 Films Of 2016 (scroll down for Other Noteworthy Releases)

Since he launched The Writing Studio 19 years ago Daniel Dercksen has been actively involved in the teaching of storytellers and the development of screenplays, novels and plays, working passionately with emerging writers and storymakers on their respective stories. He has been a freelance film and theatre journalist for 30 Years, writing regular features, interviews and reviews for magazines and newspapers, as well as the website of The Writing Studio. He also received the number one spot for most popular lifestyle contributor for 2012,  2014 and 2015 on www.bizcommunity.com and second most popular contributor in 2016.

Knight-of-Cups-Trailer

Christian Bale in Knight Of Cups

1. KNIGHT OF CUPS With Knight of Cups, Terrence Malick is very much a storymaker in search of meaning, and through his journey of finding an answer to the essence of life, love and art, he allows us to reconnect with our own personal journey into ourselves and our place in this world.Malick explores the excess of nothingness and the extreme of everything, where complete silence and feverish chaos form an incongruous symphony of emotions in this story of a lonely comedy writer Rick (Christian Bale) living in present-day Santa Monica who longs for something other, something beyond the life he knows, without knowing quite what it is, or how to go about finding it. Film is ultimately an art that communicates thoughts and ideas through created imagery and sound. Malick is indeed a ‘Knight of Cups’ and ‘Prince of Dreams’, constantly creating new ways of communicating, celebrating the gift of creation, and cherishing the talent for expressing the kingdoms of make-believe and the imagination. He makes it clear that anything is possible if you dare to dream, and that nothing is impossible if you ignite your imagination.

2. GENIUS A masterful journey into the mindscape of an impassioned writer and how the creative process impacts on the reality of the world and people surrounding the writer. This stirring drama deals with the complex friendship and transformative professional relationship between the world-renowned book editor Maxwell Perkins (who discovered F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway) and the larger-than-life literary giant Thomas Wolfe. Jude Law is superb as the crazed Wolfe, with Colin Firth in top form as Perkins. Genius is the culmination of screenwriter John Logan’s 20-year journey to bring the story of Maxwell Perkins to the screen.

3. THE DANISH GIRL The extreme truth of his hidden identity and acceptance of his true self sets an impassioned artist free in the exceptionally soulful The Danish Girl. It’s the much anticipated new film from Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables), and one that will make its mark in history.The Danish Girl boldly celebrates the valour of those who embrace their true identity and are not shamed of who they are, and salutes those whose kind-heartedness makes the world a place everyone wants to share equally. If you are looking for a film that offers a sincere and profound journey into the heart and soul of those who walk a different path, The Danish Girl should definitely not be missed. It is a film that will transform the way you see the world of those who live outside your comfort zone. Eddie Redmayne delivers a tour de force in his dual roles as man and woman; it is astonishing how he never imitates or impersonates, but becomes, immersing himself wholeheartedly into the character of Lili, allowing his transformation to be truthful. Redmayne’s passionate performance is layered with immense sadness, but equally presents us with the blissful joy of true fulfillment and absolute enlightenment.What’s truly admirable about Redmayne’s courageous performance is how he perfectly captures the innocence and essence of a man who falls in love for the first time when he unleashes the goddess inside.

4. THE REVENANT A heart wrenching story of survival, transformation and ultimate redemption. Last year Alejandro G. Iñárritu blew our minds with Birdman.  Your heart will bleed watching his latest masterwork, The Revenant, a spiritual odyssey into humanity and a man’s soul, and a brutal story of survival that will drain everything out of you emotionally. The Revenant is poetry in motion, an epic story in which visual imagery are selected for their beauty, sound and power to express feelings. It’s a perfect union of sound and image that speaks a serene and emotionally charged language that results in a musical beat created through rhythm, rhyme and repetition imperiously perfected by Iñárritu’s long-time cinematographer, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, sound designer Lon Bender, editor Stephen Mirrione , composers Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto, production designer Jack Fisk,  Visual Effects Supervisor Rich Mcbride, and picture-perfect composition by Iñárritu that burns into your memory. Leonardi DiCapprio, who received an Oscar for his performance, delivers the performance of his career as Glass, an incredibly difficult and arduous role as he has to perform some of the most memorable and heart-breaking moments in the film in utter silence, and only through expression.  The quiet intensity he delivers is unequivocal, laced with a profound wisdom and deep sadness.

5. THE DRESSMAKER If there is one film that is divinely unique in every possible way, it’s this quirky Australian charmer, a film that transforms you in many ways.This enchanting creation was written by husband-and-wife team Jocelyn Moorhouse and P.J. Hogan , based on the novel The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham, with Moorhouse in the director’s seat – Hogan will always be remembered for his cultish Muriel’s Wedding and most recently helmed Pan, and Moorehouse made a great impact with her feature film debut Proof, which starred Hugo Weaving and Russell Crowe. Moorhouse and Hogan understand the world and people they write about with loving care, compassion and a great sense of twisted humour; it’s a universal story anyone can easily identify with and sink their teeth in. It’s through their vibrant and dynamic characters that we immediately fall hopelessly in love with their respective journey and will to survive living in a small town reminiscent of classic Western films.At its heart, The Dressmaker is a spicy mother-and-daughter story, with Kate Winslet and Judy Davis perfectly cast as a devilish duo that explodes with fervour and zest.

6. ROOM Both highly suspenseful and deeply emotional, Room is a unique and touching exploration of the boundless love between a mother and her child. At once a taut narrative of captivity and freedom, an imaginative trip into the wonders of childhood, and a profound portrait of a family’s bonds and fortitude, Room is a beautifully transcendent experience based on the award-winning global bestseller by Emma Donoghue, who wrote the screenplay, based on her original novel. Director Lenny Abrahamson remains faithful to the novel while bringing Jack, Ma and their entirely singular world to heart-pounding and intensely cinematic life. Jacob Tremblay is superb as 5-year- old Jack, with an equally emotionally charged performance by Brie Larson as Ma. The one thing Jack holds tight to is the one thing that matters most of all—his special bond with his loving and devoted Ma.

 

7. THE JUNGLE BOOK A universal coming-of-age story that everyone can relate to. The Jungle Book returns to the big screen in magical, larger-than-live, live-action epic adventure that showcases the art of animation, storytelling and filmmaking, blending live-action performances with stunning CG environments and extraordinary photo-real animal characters. Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Chef) directed The Jungle Book from a screenplay by Justin Marks (Top Gun 2, TV’s Rewind) that was based on Rudyard Kipling’s timeless stories and was inspired by Disney’s classic animated film, with an approach all its own. It was the last film that Walt Disney oversaw. He passed away in 1966, the year before the film’s release. “We embrace the mythic qualities of Kipling in the more intense tonal aspects of the film,” says director Jon Favreau, “but we left room for what we remember from the ’67 film, and sought to maintain those charming Disneyesque aspects.”

8. THE ADDERALL DIARIES Adapted from Stephen Elliott’s true crime memoir of the same name, The Adderall Diaries is an incredible journey into the twisted mind of a once-successful novelist paralyzed by writer’s block and in the thrall of an Adderall addiction – who becomes fascinated by a high-profile murder case as a way to escape his personal struggles.If there’s one reason to see this film, besides a first rate and highly imaginative adaptation from writer-director Pamela Romanowsky,  it’s for the explosive and dynamic confrontation between James Franco and Ed Harris, who plays his father  who mysteriously resurfaces and claims that his son’s nightmarish memories were fabricated.

9. CAPTAIN FANTASTIC Here’s one film you cannot miss! From the wacky minds-cape of writer-director Matt Ross springs a story that will touch you emotionally, and challenge your perceptions about the state of the human condition. Viggo Mortensen is outstanding as the fiercely independent patriarch living in the woodlands of the Pacific Northwest, raising his family as far as he can from the influence of modern consumerist culture.  For writer-director Matt Ross, the story is an exploration of the choices that parents make for their children. “Ultimately, it’s an extremely emotional and transformative journey for a very close-knit family that has chosen to live in an unusual way.”

 

10. DON’T BREATHE A brainy twisted horror-thriller that will shock you to the core. Writer-director Fede Alvarez goes for the jugular with a visceral an unapologetically brutal onslaught that pits a trio of thieves against an unexpectedly dangerous adversary. Shocking and enthralling, Alvarez’s masterful, visually stunning thriller maintains a frenzied pace to the last chilling minute.In this second feature film from Alvarez (Evil Dead) and legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi, a trio of friends breaks into the house of a blind recluse confident of an easy score only to find themselves in a terrifying life-or-death struggle.

 

11. HELL OR HIGH WATER  Ben Foster and Chris Pine deliver gut-wrenching performances as bank-robbing brothers, holding-up the very banks that are threatening to take away their land. On their trail, two Texas Marshalls (Jeff Bridges & Gil Birmingham) investigate the robberies, seeking to bring the culprits to justice. This contemporary western has far more on its mind than a simple outlaws-versus-cops morality tale.The antagonists in Hell or High Water aren’t even the cops or outlaws, but the corrupt faceless institutions (capitalist and governmental) that control them.The film examines the hopelessness Pine & Bridges face when up against cold bureaucracy, one forced into breaking the law, the other resigned to uphold it.Hell or High Water is the result of that increasingly rare invention: an original screenplay by Taylor Sheridan.

12. THE FREE STATE OF JONES Based on Oscar-nominated writer/director Gary Ross’ original screenplay, the epic action-drama tells the extraordinary story of a little known episode in American history during which Newt Knight, a fearless Mississippi farmer, led an unlikely band of poor white farmers and runaway slaves in an historic armed rebellion against the Confederacy during the height of the Civil War. Matthew McConaughey delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as a man torn between what he believes and who he loves, with other superb performances from Keri Russell, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the two women who shape his life.

 

13. A PERFECT DAY Everyone seeks a day that is perfect, and as the delightful film reveals, you will only know what a true perfect day is once it has happened, and then its reward turns out to be a gratifying surprise.Spanish filmmaker Fernando León De Aranoa has a wicked sense of the absurd that is grounded in a reality we all know; setting A Perfect Day in a world that is foreign to most people, that of an armed conflict zone, an improbable tourist destination that no-one will visit without trepidation. De Aranoa succeeds in emphasising the absurd, the irrationality of the human being. For him the first victim of any armed conflict is reason, and that’s why ‘’irrationality might be the most fearsome enemy in the film.’’

14. HELLO, MY NAME IS DORIS A witty and compassionate late-life coming-of-age-story with a heart-breaking performance from Sally Field as an older woman in search of love.  After a lifetime of being overlooked and ignored, a woman of a certain age finds her world turned upside down by a handsome new co-worker and a self-help seminar that inspires her to take a chance on love in Hello, My Name is Doris, a witty and compassionate late-life coming-of-age-story.Based on a short film by Laura Terruso, Hello, My Name is Doris was written by Terruso and Michael Showalter and directed by Showalter. For Showalter, the film is an inspiring combination of humor and heart, with a truly memorable performance at its center. “I want people to come to this film and just enjoy it, but I also want them to see how wonderful Sally Field’s performance is,” says the director.

 

15. THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS  An absolute delightful and utterly charming journey into the world of pets and what happens in their lives when we leave them alone at home. It was directed by Chris Renaud, co-directed by Yarrow Cheney and written by Cinco Paul & Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch. Lynch loved extrapolating upon these pets’ secret lives, revealing: “This film is a salute to how much all of us love our pets.  No matter what they do in the movie, the new friends they meet or the death they defy, they still have to be back at the end of the day to see their owners come home.  Even if they go on crazy adventures during the day, the highlight of every day is when their owner comes home.”

Other Noteworthy Films

13 HOURS: THE SECRET SOLDIERS OF BENGHAZI Michael Bay takes us into the heart of conflict. The heated fury of fictional reality exploded dramatically in Bay’s profound exploration of warfare that offered a brutal and hard-core assault on the senses.

THE 33 “Family is all we have,” is what keeps the flame of hope burning in this tense and taut untold true story directed by Patricia Riggen from a screenplay by Mikko Alanne, Oscar nominee Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club) and Michael Thomas, based on the screen story by Oscar nominee José Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries) and the book Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar. It was a potent film about the miracle of life and the power of hope.

BEFORE I WAKE Fear is real in the tense and terrifying Before I Wake, which exists in a world with supernatural elements while maintaining a strong foothold in reality.“The horror of Before I Wake is born of the souls of its characters,” says Director/Co-writer/Editor Mike Flanagan. “This is really a bedtime story for grownups complete with its own boogie man.”

BEN-HUR Ben-Hur returns in all its magnificent splendor and spectacle with Russian-born producer/director Timur Bekmambetov’s inspired re-imaging of this timeless tale.“In many ways we still live in the Roman Empire, we still live with its values,” comments Bekmambetov. “Power, greed and success rule the world, people try to achieve everything in harsh competition, and only few realize that true human values are collaboration and forgiveness.”

THE BOY When horror is reinvented as in this superb unconventional horror thriller,  it’s an invigorating experience you will never forget! Directed by director William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside) from a screenplay by Stacey Menear. “I wanted to make a classic haunted-house story,” says Bell.“I figured it was the perfect next step for me. The script is character-driven, layered and subtle, but at the same time really frightening. So much happens in the film, which is rare for a scary movie. There’s also a great twist, which was a blast to direct. We all thought we could make something that would last forever and I hope that is what we made.”

CAFÉ SOCIETY Poignant, and often hilarious, Woody Allen conjures up a 1930s world that has passed to tell a deeply romantic tale of dreams that never die,  and took me on a journey from pastel-clad dealmakers in plush Hollywood mansions, to the quarrels and tribulations of a humble Bronx family, to the rough-and-tumble violence of New York gangsters, to the sparkling surfaces and secret scandals of Manhattan high life.

THE CONJURING 2  Be afraid, be very afraid for this supernatural thriller will have you sleeping with the lights on! James Wan is a master of paranoia, of playing on such universal fears as being in the dark, being alone and, in the case of The Conjuring 2, being overtaken by the unknown. Wan once again at the helm following the record-breaking success of The Conjuring, seeking to terrify moviegoers once again with his depiction of another highly publicized case involving the real-life horrors experienced by paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren with The Conjuring 2, from a screenplay by Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes (The Conjuring) & James Wan and David Leslie Johnson (Wrath of the Titans) , story by Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes & James Wan.

DEADPOOL  This zany film pushes the boundaries of superhero and comic book films. Based upon Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero, the explosive and mind-blowing it tells the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson, who after being subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers adopts the alter ego Deadpool. It marks the directorial debut of Tim Miller.

DEMOLITION The explosive Demolition tells a mind-blowing story of a man whose life unravels and starts to rebuild it, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew. The film is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Wild), from an original screenplay written by Bryan Sipe, who dropped out of college just a few credits shy of graduation when he decided that the best education as a filmmaker was to dive in headfirst.

EDDIE THE EAGLE The feel-good Eddie The Eagle takes us into the life of Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself, and with the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach Hugh Jackman), took on the establishment and won the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. It was directed by Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill), from a screenplay by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton. Jackman says he was indeed a huge Eddie the Eagle fan growing up — just another reminder of the huge impact Eddie’s exploits had on the world at large.

THE END OF THE TOUR If there’s one film you cannot miss that’s now available on DVD, it’s the incredible The End Of The Tour, based on David Lipsky’s memoir about the five-day interview he had with acclaimed novelist David Foster Wallace for Rolling Stone Magazine.  Jason Segel’s portrayal of Wallace as a skeptical, ambitious, modest, hyper-self-conscious, depressive, and fundamentally generous figure of genius is unbelievable and is as revelatory of the unexpected depths of this hitherto bro-centric actor as it is of Wallace’s self-effacing fascination.  Equally brilliant is is Jesse Eisenberg as Lipsky, delivering a sympathetic rendering of a highly idiosyncratic individual. The film is an emotional tour-de-force and takes you into the heart and soul of what it takes to be a writer and journalist. Directed with imaginative flair and insight by James Ponsoldt, with a crackling screenplay by Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Donald Margulies, it’s one of those films that grabs hold of you and never let’s go.

EVERYBODY WANTS SOME!!! A “spiritual sequel” to Dazed and Confused set in the world of 1980 college life, writer-director and producer Richard Linklater’s comedy follows a group of friends as they navigate their way through the freedoms and responsibilities of unsupervised adulthood.“It’s pretty autobiographical,” confesses Linklater. “Looking back, I realize it was a fun time to be in college, not only personally, but it was an interesting cultural moment. It was still the end of the 70s. What people now think of as the 80s really didn’t kick in until ’82 or ’83.

FREEHELD  When it comes to prejudice and discrimination against same sex unions, one always remembers Arnold in Harvey Fierstein’s autobiographical Torch Song Trilogy when his conservative mother accuses him of blasphemy when he recites cottage at the gravestone of his young lover.‘’You lost your husband in a nice clean hospital, I lost mine out there. They killed him out there on the street. Twenty-three years old laying dead on the street. Killed by a bunch of kids with baseball bats. Children. Children taught by people like you. ‘Cause everybody knows that queers don’t matter! Queers don’t love! And those who do deserve what they get!’’ 35-years later, with films like the powerful Freeheld, these profound words reverberate in the remarkable, inspirational story of New Jersey police lieutenant Laurel Hester and her partner Stacie Andree – a story which started out as an intensely personal experience of love and identity, but in 2005, became a flashpoint in the growing global battle for justice and equal rights, and a world where some don’t “give a damn about a dyke who is dying.”

HIGH STRUNG You might think it crazy to combine classical ballet and violin with hip-hop music and dance, but wait until you see the sensational High Strung, a superb romance between a classical dancer and British violinist, where two radically talented people from opposite sides of the tracks need to find harmony to achieve their dreams in New York City. A colorful, kinetic neo-musical that celebrates dance, music and the boundless optimism and energy of youth, fusing cutting edge hip-hop with contemporary and classical dance.

JANE GOT A GUN This riveting and epic love story told amidst the sprawling expanse of the American west, tells of Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman), who has built a life on the rugged western plains with her husband Bill “Ham” Hammond (Noah Emmerich) and young daughter. When Ham stumbles home riddled with bullets after a run-in with the relentless John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) and his gang, she knows they will not stop until her family is dead.

JOY As with emotion, Joy the film is full of outstanding surprises, where an optimistic dream turns into a heated warzone where self-expression, individualism in a tightly-knit family, and the empowerment of identity and ownership clash head-on. It springs from the extraordinary mind of writer-director of David O. Russell, who gave us the equally magnificent The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, and based this delightful tale loosely on the life and rise of inventor and home shopping star Joy Mangano. Russell describes it as genre-blurring story that boldly fuses reality with fantasy, linear narrative with inventive flashbacks and flash-forwards, convention with experimental explorations, and an old-fashioned family drama with a contemporary women’s film.

THE LEGEND OF TARZAN The legendary character created by Edgar Rice Burroughs returned with fervour, directed by David Yates (the final four Harry Potter films) from a screenplay by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, story by Brewer and Cozad based on the Tarzan stories created by Burroughs.“‘The Legend of Tarzan’ takes us to a world of adventure in deepest Africa, which is as exotic and awe-inspiring as anywhere on this planet,” says Yates.  “We wanted to make a movie that was thrilling while touching on the themes of family and community and preserving the natural world.  It celebrates the majesty of those landscapes, the dignity and grace of the people who live there, and the wonder of its animals.  The story has so many facets that we think make it a rich and very exciting experience in the cinema.”

LIGHTS OUT  An absolutely terrifying tale of an unknown terror that lurks in the dark.Making his feature film debut with Lights Out,  David S. Sandberg has written and directed a slate of short films with deliciously disturbing titles like Closet Space and Attic Panic, and earned a throng of internet devotees who expect him to scare the wits out of them. Lights Out is based on Sandberg’s recent horror short of the same name, and it was both the quality and the impact of that insomnia-inducing gem that brought the young Swedish filmmaker to the attention of Hollywood.

ME BEFORE YOU Based on the critically acclaimed, bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes, Me Before You marks the feature film directorial debut of renowned theatre director Thea Sharrock, from a screenplay by Moyes.“At its most basic, this is a story about the power of love and how it transforms you,” says director Thea Sharrock.  “These are two characters who, but for their very different and difficult circumstances, should never have met…but here they are.  And that’s where the fairytale begins.”

THE KEEPING ROOM Amid the rising suspense of three Southern women defending their besieged home, director Daniel Barber finds both grit and a deeply moving grace in the actions the women must take to stay alive in the face of desolate circumstances.  This tense drama rife with jeopardy, is at its core an uncommon depiction of women boldly countering the impact of war on their lives.

MONEY MONSTER A mainstream thriller that’s exciting, fast-paced, and smart.  In the real-time, high stakes thriller Money Monster, George Clooney and Julia Roberts star as financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty, who are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor who has lost everything (Jack O’Connell) forcefully takes over their studio.

NICE GUYS If there’s one reason to watch this film, it’s for the electric chemistry between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gossling, and excellent comedy timing reminiscent Laurel and Hardy. Writer/director Shane Black relates, “L.A. in the ‘70s was this moldering town where smog covered the city like a crust and Hollywood Boulevard had turned into this cesspool of pornography. And in this scenario, you get these two numbnuts who kind of stumble into shoes they can never fill when they uncover this huge conspiracy. So you’ve got your corruption, you’ve got your decadence, and then the question became how unsettlingly inappropriate could we make these two guys for the task for which they set themselves up.”

RISEN The powerful story of a non-believer’s journey into faith, with Joseph Fiennes delivering a heartfelt and impassioned performance as a powerful Roman military tribune who is tasked with solving the mystery of what happened to Jesus (referred to by the Hebrew name Yeshua in the film) in the weeks following the crucifixion, in order to disprove the rumours of a risen Messiah and prevent an uprising in Jerusalem.  The biblical account of Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection has been portrayed on the big screen many times, so when LD Entertainment approached Kevin Reynolds to make a movie about the world-changing events of 2,000 years ago, the writer-director was determined to bring a fresh approach to the story.In contrast to previous versions, including Cecil B. DeMille’s 1927 silent film The King of Kings, 1965 blockbuster The Greatest Story Ever Told and Mel Gibson’s 2004 The Passion of the Christ, Reynolds imagined the narrative told though the skeptical eyes of a non-believer. “We wanted to do something completely different from what had come before, so I came up with the idea that Risen would be told as a detective story,” he says.

SING STREET A charming film that delivers an honest and moving perspective on the perils and wonders of teenage life. “I wanted to do something that was personal. I didn’t want to just be doing a musical story for the sake of it,” says Irish writer-director John Carney, whose Sing Street tells of a Dublin teenager (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo) who forms a rock ‘n’ roll band to win the heart of an aspiring model (Lucy Boynton). The origins of Sing Street go back many years to the director’s life as a teenager in 1980s Dublin. John Carney experienced growing up in the Irish Capital by moving from private school to an inner city comprehensive.  It ultimately became the seed of an idea to create a musical film about this period in his life growing up

SPOTLIGHT serves as a shining example of what professional, top-flight journalists can accomplish. It tells the astonishing true story of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Spotlight” team of investigative journalists, who in 2002 shock the city and the world by exposing the Catholic Church’s systematic cover-up of widespread pedophilia perpetrated by more than 70 local priests.Written by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, and directed by McCarthy, it’s a deeply moving film that sheds light on a world where petrified kids are not ‘’prayed’’ on by priests, but ‘’preyed’’ on by those they respect as mediators of God. Liev Schreiber delivers a commanding performance as the newly appointed editor of The Boston Globe, who arrives from Miami to take charge of the Globe in the summer of 2001, and directs the Spotlight team to follow up on a column about a local priest accused of having sexually abused dozens of young parishioners over the course of 30 years. It’s a magnificent ensemble piece, with equally brilliant performances by Michael Keaton as the Spotlight editor, and Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Brian d’Arcy James as reporters and researchers who are fully aware that taking on the Catholic Church in Boston will have major ramifications when they delve more deeply into the case.

TOUCHED BY FIRE A first rate drama released on DVD about two poets, Carla (Katie Holmes) and Marco (Luke Kirby), struggling with bipolar disorder and the painful truth that their romantic relationship fuels their mania.  For director, first-time filmmaker Paul Dalio, the subject was important to him because it was based on his own experience dealing with mental illness. The film is based on Dalio’s “feeling of being misunderstood for a long time, and the rebirth of fully showing the world what this thing really is. It was cathartic,” Dalio said, adding that before he got healthy, he had been through a period of hospitalization and suicidal depression and “the shame of being a freak and not knowing who you are anymore — and then, romanticizing your difference. The heaven and hell we all go through.”

TRUMBO An absolutely riveting film about the right to free speech. In 1947, Dalton Trumbo was Hollywood’s top screenwriter, until he and other artists were jailed and blacklisted for their political beliefs.The film recounts how Dalton (Bryan Cranston) used words and wit to win two Academy Awards and expose the absurdity and injustice under the blacklist, which entangled everyone from gossip columnist Hedda Hopper (Helen Mirren) to John Wayne, Kirk Douglas and Otto Preminger.The film was directed by Jay Roach, the winner of four Emmys, a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award, who is best known for directing such comedy classics as the Austin Powers trilogy, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers and The Campaign. The screenplays was written by John Mcnamara (Writer, Producer) is a writer, producer, showrunner and television creator.

TRUTH   A classic newsroom drama, a suspenseful behind-the-scenes procedural, a multi-character study—and also something more: In the words of former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, “This film is about what has happened to the reporting of news, how and why it’s happened, and why you should care.” For Writer-Director James Vanderbilt, a fascination with journalism initially drew him to the project.If there’s one reason to see this film, it’s Cate Blanchett’s commanding performance.