Away from the multiplex
Despite the fact that we watch movies for a living, even we don't get to see every single must-see movie each year, but that doesn't stop us trying. And it definitely doesn't stop us raving about the movies that won't necessarily have been all over your local cinema.
Therefore we decided to compile a list of the lesser-seen gems of 2015 with the only criteria being that the movies had to have had their first release theatrically (anywhere in the world) over the past twelve months. From mythical creatures to transgender hookers, these 20 movies are diverse and share little in common, aside from the fact that they're uniformly ace.
20. Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
The story: A lonely office worker (Rinko Kikuchi) whose only connection is her pet rabbit becomes obsessed with the Coen Brothers' Fargo. Convinced that it's a documentary, she sets out to find the suitcase full of money buried at the movie's end.
Why you should watch it: It's certainly an unusual beast, but thanks to an affecting lead turn by Kikuchi, Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter is a consistently engaging and often heartbreaking sort-of road movie. Fear not, it's also one that effectively punctuates the sadness with strong humour.
19. The Duff
The story: High school senior Bianca (Mae Whitman) is devastated when she discovers she's known as The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). With the help of a well-meaning jock (Robbie Amell) to reinvent herself, she sets out to overthrow the social pecking order of the school.
Why you should watch it: The sharpest teen comedy of the year sees a star-making turn from Whitman and whip-smart dialogue from screenwriter Josh Cagan. Though it may become a tad too predictable by its climax, the likeable characters will have charmed you so much that you'll hardly care.
18. Cobain: Montage of Heck
The story: An authorised documentary on the life of late musician Kurt Cobain from the early days of his career through to his success (and ultimate downfall) with Nirvana.
Why you should watch it: Utilising the likes of rare and unreleased home videos, recordings and journals, this is a must-see for any Cobain fan but, much like Amy, also works as a painfully human and intimate study of an icon. It's unflinching and often disturbing, yet never less than a completely captivating watch.
17. The Overnight
The story: New to Los Angeles, Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) decide to take up the offer of a "playdate" from Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Judith Godrche). They have no idea what's in store.
Why you should watch it: For those who like their comedy dark and a bit uncomfortable, The Overnight is a must-see. Committed turns from its four leads ensure that the movie is never off-puttingly mean-spirited, and one of the best on-screen uses of a prosthetic penis completely seals the deal.
The story: Postman Bob (Brett Goldstein) was turned into a superhero after a freak meteor storm, but is now about to face the toughest challenge of his life: going on his first date in six years.
Why you should watch it: Sick of overblown CGI-heavy superhero movies? Then this utterly delightful low-budget British mockumentary is just the tonic you're after. Wringing laughs from the mundane government-led life our superhero leads, SuperBob is very British and very, very funny.
15. X + Y
The story: Having landed a spot on Great Britain's team at the International Mathematical Olympiad, maths prodigy Nathan (Asa Butterfield) finds new friends and confidence on a trip to Taipei.
Why you should watch it: A terrific performance from Butterfield, ably supported by the likes of Rafe Spall and the ever-brilliant Sally Hawkins, elevates this wonderful British movie to more than just the British Rain Man. A word of warning: bring tissues, if only for a quietly devastating scene between Hawkins and Butterfield in a take-away restaurant.
14. The Nightmare
The story: A study of 'Sleep Paralysis' through the experiences of eight people who suffer from the disorder which sees them subjected to horrifying sights, fully aware of their surroundings despite being asleep yet unable to move or to wake up.
Why you should watch it: Arguably the year's most terrifying movie and most definitely one of the scariest documentaries of all time, Rodney Ascher's follow-up to Room 237 utilises recreations of the sufferer's visions to bring them to life. Don't expect to sleep soundly after watching it. We didn't.
13. London Road
The story: Adapted from the musical of the same name, London Road follows the struggles of a community after the discovery of the bodies of five women. Through the viewpoint of the locals, we see how they deal with the media attention and how they attempt to rebuild their community.
Why you should watch it: Tom Hardy as a singing cab driver. Need we say more? OK then. This unique musical is based on interviews conducted with the real-life residents of the road and uses their own words to form a moving, innovative and often witty account of a shocking tragedy.
12. The Last Five Years
The story: Over a period of five years, the relationship between novelist Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) and struggling actress Cathy (Anna Kendrick) is explored almost entirely through the medium of song.
Why you should watch it: If the sizzling chemistry and impeccable musicianship of the lead duo isn't enough of a reason, then the bold, smart structure of the movie will be. The couple's stories of their romance are told in different orders (Cathy's from the end to the start, and Jamie's from the start to the end) making it unlike most musicals you've ever seen.