Some of 2015’s best weren’t blockbusters

 ‘The End of the Tour’ is based on five days that Rolling Stone reporter David L

Now that 2015 movies are moving aside for the 2016 slate, there are some that shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle. Most of these received very little attention or screen time, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be seen.

“The End of the Tour” was supposed to be comic actor Jason Segal’s big dramatic turn, but it barely played in the art houses before disappearing. Based on five days that Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) spent with critically acclaimed author David Foster Wallace (Segal) on his book tour for “Infinite Jest,” this film features great performances from both actors and is especially poignant considering Foster Wallace took his own life several years later. This may be the only portrait of the reclusive novelist you will ever see.

“Truth” was at the top of my “best” list last year based on the strength of Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of CBS news producer Mary Mapes. Taken from her own account, “Truth” tells the story of how Mapes and news anchor Dan Rather (Robert Redford) aired a story during the 2004 campaign for president about George W. Bush’s lackluster service in the Texas Air National Guard. That story was later revealed to contain unverified information. It was the mother of all “oops” moments, eventually wrecking their careers and forcing Mapes and Rather into early retirement. If you asked me, Blanchett should have been nominated for this instead of “Carol.” “Truth” is available on pay-per-view now.

Last summer, I wrote a review of “The Clouds of Sils Maria,” the French film starring Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart about an aging actress and her young assistant. Ultimately it won some awards overseas, and Stewart was named the first American actress to win the French Oscar, known as the Cesar. She was also recognized in the supporting category at the NY Film Critics Circle Awards. It’s very French and very good.

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” came and went very quickly even after performing well on the film festival circuit. The main reason to see this is Bel Powley, a new discovery last year. She plays the title character, a discontented, awkward teenager who falls in love with her mother’s boyfriend. It also stars Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard. Powley was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, which honors independent filmmaking on the eve of the Academy Awards, but she did lose to the big winner of the year — Brie Larson for “Room.”

I am amazed and somewhat baffled by the amount of people who have approached me to say they do not intend to see “Room” because they don’t want to be upset by some of the content. It’s understandable — to a degree. The initial scenes of this movie deal with the kidnapping of a teenage girl and her years in captivity at the hands of her abuser; when she is rescued, her friends and family learn she now has a young son. This topics makes people because of that would deny you the opportunity to see some amazing work by Oscar winner Larson and the nothing short of astonishing performance of her co-star, young Jacob Tremblay. It’s on pay-per-view now.

Carey Mulligan had not one but two great film roles last year — “Suffragette” and “Far From the Madding Crowd.” Both are lush period pieces, with “Crowd” being the more pastoral of the two. It’s a beautiful movie, and Mulligan is superior in it. The same goes for “Suffragette” with Mulligan playing a young woman who reluctantly joins the violent struggle to earn women the right to vote in turn-of-the-century London.

“Miss You Already” wowed the critics with its story of friendship between two women played by Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette. The juxtaposition of one of them dying of cancer while the other is trying to get pregnant makes for compelling scenes, and the direction of Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen”) should be given much of the credit.

The other big winner at the Independent Spirit Awards was a little movie called “Tangerine.” You might not have heard of it, but you may have heard something about a movie being shot entirely on an iPhone. This is it, and the mobile phone used was actually an iPhone 5S — not even a 6! The story of two transgender prostitutes on a Christmas Day odyssey in downtown LA is fascinating and funny and again, it’s unknown stars — both transgender women — are super good. Mia Taylor won an ISA in the supporting category and gave one of the best speeches of the night that spoke eloquently to the fact that independent film is a wonderful creative outlet for burgeoning filmmakers and their actors.

I agree. Sure, not every independent small movie lives up to its hype, but when they do, and you know you are witnessing the creative process at its purest — its best and highest form — it’s a rare and wonderful thing. Take some time to enjoy a few of the ones suggested here.

shadow