TIME Music

Here Are the Best Albums of 2015 So Far

From feminist Swedish songwriters to revolutionary American rappers, see the best albums of the first half of the year

Since the digital age transformed the way people consume music, many have lamented the death of the album. And though it’s true that playlists and algorithm-crunching radio stations have for some supplanted the start-to-finish album listening session, there are still countless artists who hold the form sacred.

From a crop of newcomers, oldies-but-goodies and comeback queens alike, TIME selects this year’s albums (so far) that gave us the greatest reason to sit down and hear the whole thing out:

  • Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly

    Best of Albums 2015 - Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
    Interscope Records

    The Compton rapper’s follow-up to good kid, m.A.A.d city is funkier and looser than its predecessor—which is a better match for Kendrick, really, as his rapping really never colored inside the lines. It’s also angrier. Over songs that ooze and unsettle, Lamar asks tough questions about what it means to be a black man in America today. “I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015,” he snarls on the politically charged “The Blacker the Berry.” No, he’s just making sense of his own contradictions like everybody else does. You may not like some of his conclusions, but there’s no arguing that his process is riveting.

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

    Best of Albums 2015 - Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
    Mom + Pop Music

    Courtney Barnett has the uncanny ability to take a topic as mundane as staring at the ceiling or reading the safety warning on a truck—”If you can’t see me I can’t see you”—and build a palpable world around it. Her jaunty little rockers, carried by the laidback confidence of her ever-so-slightly gravelly voice, are like little dioramas you can enter and exit at will, tactile down to the Vegemite crumbs on the floor.

    —Eliza Berman

  • Waxahatchee, Ivy Tripp

    Best of Albums 2015 - Waxahatchee, Ivy Tripp
    Merge Records

    Alabama native Katie Crutchfield’s third album as Waxahatchee marks a shift from introspection to external observation, as Ivy Tripp explores the ethos of a generation given to a prolonged, meandering search for fulfillment. Though her vibe has been described as evoking the ’90s alt-rock scene, her themes are unmistakably of the here and now.

    —Eliza Berman

  • Mark Ronson, Uptown Special

    Best of Albums 2015 - Mark Ronson, Uptown Special
    RCA

    It’s always satisfying when a left-of-center talent has a mainstream hit, and with his new album, Ronson is getting his biggest name-on-the-door commercial success yet. Uptown Special has all the intelligence of the musician/producer’s previous work, with a hearty helping of retro fun and big-hitting collaborations with the likes of Bruno Mars.

    —Sarah Begley

  • Bjork, Vulnicura

    Best of Albums 2015 - Bjork, Vulnicura
    One Little Indian

    Pop culture talks about Björk like she’s an alien. It’s half true: even as her ninth album does away with the high concepts of her last few records—2004’s Medulla was all a capella, 2011’s Biophilia was the world’s first “app album”—she still sounds like she sailed in from another dimension on the back of the swan that became her Oscars dress. Yet Vulnicura’s almost real-time account of her split from longtime partner and artist Matthew Barney is heart-wrenchingly human.

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Jamie xx, In Color

    Best of Albums 2015 - Jamie XX, In Color
    Young Turks

    This solo LP from one member of shift key-averse minimalists the xx doesn’t always sound like something you’d hear in the average club, but it’s steeped in dance-music history nonetheless. Jamie adds and re-arranges samples like Jenga bricks, using the song’s ever-changing architecture to both play tribute to the past and look forward. Aggressive breakbeats keep up the album’s pulse, while warm layers of keyboards and synths envelop the listener like a fog that’s well worth getting lost in.

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Shamir, Ratchet

    Best of Albums 2015 - Shamir, Ratchet
    XL Recordings

    “I have no gender, no sexuality, and no f-cks to give,” 20-year-old Shamir tweeted in March, just a few days after winning over crowds at SXSW. In a country that’s still learning there’s a difference between the first two items in his list, such a statement could have overshadowed his music. Instead, Shamir made Ratchet, a magnetic debut album that’s far more interesting than questions about his identity thanks to dark, woozy beats that anchor his attitude-filled falsetto. You’ll be itching for a night out with Shamir after just one listen.

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear

    Best of Albums 2015 - I Love You, Honeybear
    Sub Pop

    Call him a pessimist, a cynic or just a plain old realist, but Father John Misty (real name Josh Tillman) is nothing if not searingly honest; his lyrics are packed with acerbic observations about himself and the world around him. The lyrics and music on his latest album are often playfully at odds, as on an electronic number that laments what’s lost in electronic communication or a jingly folk tune about an unbearable woman who thinks she sings like Sarah Vaughan (“Why don’t you move to the Delta?” he suggests sarcastically).

    —Eliza Berman

  • Tove Styrke, Kiddo

    Best of Albums 2015 - Tove Styrke, Kiddo
    Sony Music Entertainment

    Instead of making the kind of shimmering dance music Sweden is best known these days—the kind of music she made as a teenager following her stint on Swedish Idol—22-year-old Tove Styrke loads Kiddo with playful, island-inflected pop and subversive feminist messages about smashing the patriarchy. What else did you expect from a record named after the heroine from Kill Bill?

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Laura Marling, Short Movie

    Best of Albums 2015 - Laura Marling, Short Movie
    Virgin

    At this point it’s a bit belated to call the 25-year-old Marling wise beyond her years. But wise, plain and simple, continues to apply to the British folk musician. With a voice that seems mystically linked to Joni Mitchell circa 1970 and the lyrical sensibility of a poet, Marling is sharp as ever on her fifth album as she explores, with equal parts vulnerability and tenacity, how to be alone and how to be in love.

    —Eliza Berman

  • Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love

    Best of Albums 2015 - Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love
    Sub Pop

    It’s almost unfair that one of the very first albums released in 2015 could also be the year’s best—at least to other musicians putting out new music, not to the listeners who get treated to 33 minutes of unbridled ferocity on the band’s first LP since 2005. Guitarist-vocalists Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker trade sinewy guitar riffs as tough as shark skin while spitting out lyrics that are casual in their devastation: “Only I get to be sickened by me,” Brownstein quivers on the highlight “Bury Our Friends.”

    —Nolan Feeney

TIME Innovation

‘I Don’t Have Ethics': The Dark Heart of Google’s Latest Chatbot

"I'm in the middle of nowhere"

A new research paper released by Google this week reaffirms what’s been more or less obvious since HAL 9000 murdered four astronauts in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey: computers do not make particularly dependable friends.

The Google project—an admittedly more benign exercise than Kubrick’s—was yet another attempt to fashion a “conversational model” of artificial intelligence. Colloquially, we refer to these systems as “chatbots”—programs that can somewhat convincingly engage in human discourse.

The researchers behind the experiment, Oriol Vinyals and Quoc V. Le, programmed their particular chatbot with two sets of data: guidelines from an IT troubleshooting help desk and a database of movie subtitles. The ensuing dialogue was mostly awkward and occasionally nihilistic.

“What is the color of water?” the researchers asked.

“Water,” the computer replied simply.

“Where are you now?” they asked.

“I’m in the middle of nowhere.”

“Tell me the definition of morality,” the researchers requested.

“I don’t have ethics,” the machine advised them.

According to the transcript, this went on for awhile. Philosophical banter proving futile, Vinyals and Le switched gears, with more coherent results.

“What do you think about Cleopatra?” they asked.

“Oh, she’s very regal.”

Read more dialogue here.

TIME China

China-Backed Development Bank Holds Signing Ceremony in Beijing

China-led AIIB members ink accord for its inception by year's end
AP—Kyodo Delegates from more than 50 countries gathered to sign the articles of agreement that specifies the new lender's initial capital and other details of its structure.

Conspicuously absent from the ceremony was the U.S., which declined to join the bank

Delegates from 57 founding member states gathered in Beijing on Monday to finalize and ratify the terms of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the China-backed multilateral development bank seen by some as a strategic rival to the World Bank and similar international financial institutions.

The signing ceremony comes eight months after Beijing officially launched AIIB, which intends to “focus on the development of infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia” and “promote interconnectivity and economic integration in the region,” according to its mission statement. It will begin with a $50 billion capital base, the BBC reports.

Of its founding members — which include Australia, Russia and Germany — China will be the largest shareholder, with 25% to 30% of all votes. Conspicuously absent from the roster is the U.S., which in October expressed concern over the bank proposal’s “ambiguous nature.” While World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has praised the new institution, citing the “massive need” for fresh investments in Asia, some critics see its establishment as a self-serving exercise in Chinese soft power.

TIME LGBT

See How Support For Same-Sex Marriage Changed Over Time

See how attitudes have changed over the years

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that all 50 states must allow same-sex couples to be married, and recognize same-sex marriages in states where it was legalized already.

Here are a series of charts that show how approval ratings for same-sex marriage have changed over recent years for different groups.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME

How to Make Your Own Mayo This July 4

Throw out the store-bought stuff and put this on your potato salad

Summertime is undoubtedly the season of mayonnaise. Across the nation, mayo plays a subdued yet solid role in so many summer staples: potato salad, sandwiches, pasta salads, lobster rolls.

If you find yourself tired of continually dipping into your mayonnaise jar for the standard, brand-name taste, you may want to consider whipping up a batch of your own for your July 4 picnic. Fresh mayonnaise will take your salads and sandwiches to the next level with a homemade finishing touch.

You can add your own twist to the classic; the recipe in this how-to video kicks up the flavor with some hot sauce. Plus, you’ll leave behind any extra preservatives or “flavors” in the store-bought types. Watch the video above for the steps, from Southern Living.

TIME Music

Here Are the Best Songs of 2015 So Far

See the tunes that have been on heavy rotation this year

The music industry usually saves its biggest releases for the fall, but the first six months of 2015 could give the normally jam-packed fourth quarter a run for it’s money. From pop stars going indie to indie acts infiltrating Top 40, the year has plenty of contenders for end-of-year best-of lists that defy easy categorization.

Here, TIME contributors highlight the 14 best songs of the year—so far.

  • Years & Years, “King”

    The British trio’s electro-pop stunner has gone to No. 1 in several countries but barely cracked U.S. Top 40. That’s America’s loss: “King” is as compulsively danceable as any ‘90s house anthem, and frontman Olly Alexander’s bewitching voice gives it plenty of heart to match.

    –Nolan Feeney

  • Florence + the Machine, “Delilah”

    There are so many things that Florence + the Machine do well: big sound, soaring vocals and lyrics that paint epic dramas. “Delilah,” from the latest album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, combines all of those elements beautifully in one exuberant track, with the added bonus of a swelling, multi-tracked call-and-response.

    —Megan Gibson

  • St. Vincent, “Bad Believer”

    It speaks to St. Vincent’s talent that a bonus track appended to a re-release of last year’s self-titled opus—TIME’s second-best album of the year—is as good as anything else that has come out in 2015. It’s also not surprising: the herky-jerky fuzz of “Bad Believer” is one more reason to worship her.

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Major Lazer featuring MØ and DJ Snake, “Lean On”

    The Danish singer who showed you new corners of your iPhone keyboard makes up for last year’s Iggy Azalea misfire “Beg For It” with this tropic thumper that leans on “Turn Down for What” mastermind DJ Snake for some extra oomph—no special characters needed.

    –Nolan Feeney

  • Kacey Musgraves, “Biscuits”


    Since shaking up the country scene with 2013’s Same Trailer Different Park, Kacey Musgraves has breathed new life into Nashville with songs that employ a pure country sound while making jabs at traditional southern values. “Biscuits” may not send up any overtly political messages, but its lazy-river, banjo-laden melody melds satisfyingly with its age-old message: live and let live.

    —Eliza Berman

  • Tobias Jesso Jr., “How Could You Babe”

    The 29-year-old didn’t take up the piano with any seriousness until he was just about ready to call his music career quits after struggling to make it as a songwriter in Los Angeles. Thank goodness he did—this ballad from his March debut album Goon time-warps back to the 1970s with flashes of McCartney.

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Janelle Monáe featuring Jidenna, “Yoga”

    Only an artist as visionary as Janelle Monáe could turn an ancient Indian tradition into a sex metaphor that redefines “downward dog” and makes a statement about not letting society police your individuality. It’s definitely not Vinyasa, but it’s got plenty of flow.

    –Nolan Feeney

  • Galantis, “Peanut Butter Jelly”

    This song’s got everything: clapping hands, bull horns and your favorite childhood sandwich (assuming you didn’t draw the short stick in the allergy game). Infused with retro vibes care of 1960s soul singer Bettye Swann, “Peanut Butter Jelly” is arguably the best song of the year to dance to, work out to or justify the transformation of your car into a rush-hour disco for one.

    —Eliza Berman

  • Tanlines, “Pieces”

    In a parallel universe, this glistening synth-pop gem was the real windows-down song of the summer. Though it set a high bar the rest of the duo’s second full-length, Highlights, couldn’t quite meet, that bassline is as potent as anything that uptown funked you up this year.

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Kendrick Lamar, “The Blacker the Berry”

    A complex track by one of the most gifted rappers working today, “The Blacker the Berry” is angry, rough and urgent — and performed with lacerating precision.

    —Megan Gibson

  • Tink, “Ratchet Commandments”

    The protege of hip-hop heavyweight Timbaland is neither the next Aaliyah nor the next Missy Elliott nor anyone other than just Tink—and that’s more than enough on this humorous call for her peers to rethink their priorities. Yes, it’s a little slut-shaming, but with five mixtapes by age 20, Tink’s earned the right to scoff at your work ethic.

    —Nolan Feeney

  • Jamie xx, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)”

    In this strong contender for Song of the Summer, British DJ Jamie xx mixes a soul sample (The Persuasions’ “Good Times”) with synths that sound like steel drums, adding some welcome vocals from Atlanta rapper Young Thug and Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan into a breezy, feel-good track.

    —Megan Gibson

  • Carly Rae Jepsen, “All That”

    The “Call Me Maybe” singer turned heads by working with über-hip producers Ariel Rechtshaid and Dev Hynes, but the way her syrupy-sweet vocals gently rock this would-be ‘80s prom song shows why music’s coolest names take her calls.

    –Nolan Feeney

  • Rihanna, “FourFiveSeconds”

    It’s perhaps the most delightful song ever made about being stuck at work on a Tuesday. Rihanna broke her long (for her, at least) hiatus with a country-inflected collaboration with Kanye West and Paul McCartney, all about being on the edge of a nervous breakdown after dealing with people all day. Relatable stuff: No wonder the trio’s performance at the Grammys this year was the night’s most crowdpleasing singalong.

    —Dan D’Addario

TIME Retail

How to Spot a Fake Designer Bag

Here's how the experts weed out counterfeits from the authentic goods

For the luxury consignment marketplace The RealReal, fake designer bags are a big deal. To weed out the counterfeits from the authentic goods, they employ a “team of luxury experts,” led by Graham Wetzbartger, the Director of Authentication.

In the above video from Fortune.com, Wetzbartger examines two similar totes, both allegedly Hermes, and explains what their team looks for during the authentication process. Watch to learn a few crucial tips for telling the leather from the pleather. This may not be an everyday skill, but it doesn’t hurt to be fully equipped for whatever bag situations could come your way.

 

 

TIME

Read Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Full Statement

The 21-year-old was formally sentenced to death Wednesday

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man convicted in the deadly Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, spoke publicly for the first time in two years on Wednesday just before a judge sentenced him to death. The 21-year-old read from a prepared text—below, as recorded in a court transcript of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts—and apologized for the attack that killed three people and injured more than 260 others. Here, his full remarks:

Thank you, your Honor, for giving me an opportunity to speak. I would like to begin in the name of Allah, the exalted and glorious, the most gracious, the most merciful, “Allah” among the most beautiful names. Any act that does not begin in the name of God is separate from goodness.

This is the blessed month of Ramadan, and it is the month of mercy from Allah to his creation, a month to ask forgiveness of Allah and of his creation, a month to express gratitude to Allah and to his creation. It’s the month of reconciliation, a month of patience, a month during which hearts change. Indeed, a month of many blessings.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said if you have not thanked the people, you have not thanked God. So I would like to first thank my attorneys, those who sit at this table, the table behind me, and many more behind the scenes. They have done much good for me, for my family. They made my life the last two years very easy. I cherish their company. They’re lovely companions. I thank you.

I would like to thank those who took time out of their daily lives to come and testify on my behalf despite the pressure. I’d like to thank the jury for their service, and the Court. The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said that if you do not — if you are not merciful to Allah’s creation, Allah will not be merciful to you, so I’d like to now apologize to the victims, to the survivors.

Immediately after the bombing, which I am guilty of — if there’s any lingering doubt about that, let there be no more. I did do it along with my brother — I learned of some of the victims. I learned their names, their faces, their age. And throughout this trial more of those victims were given names, more of those victims had faces, and they had burdened souls.

Now, all those who got up on that witness stand and that podium related to us — to me — I was listening — the suffering that was and the hardship that still is, with strength and with patience and with dignity. Now, Allah says in the Qur’an that no soul is burdened with more than it can bear, and you told us just how unbearable it was, how horrendous it was, this thing I put you through. And I know that you kept that much. I know that there isn’t enough time in the day for you to have related to us everything. I also wish that far more people had a chance to get up there, but I took them from you.

Now, I am sorry for the lives that I’ve taken, for the suffering that I’ve caused you, for the damage that I’ve done. Irreparable damage.

Now, I am a Muslim. My religion is Islam. The God I worship, besides whom there is no other God, is Allah. And I prayed for Allah to bestow his mercy upon the deceased, those affected in the bombing and their families. Allah says in the Qur’an that with every hardship there is relief. I pray for your relief, for your healing, for your well-being, for your strength.

I ask Allah to have mercy upon me and my brother and my family. I ask Allah to bestow his mercy upon those present here today. And Allah knows best those deserving of his mercy. And I ask Allah to have mercy upon the ummah of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Amin. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Thank you.

TIME food and drink

Watch How to Make Cauliflower Pizza Crust

This 2-minute video will give you a healthy dining option

With increasing frequency, many cooks have been throwing caution to the wind and sneaking vegetables into classic recipes.

First people started using portobello mushrooms as hamburger bun stand-ins. Next, it was “zoodles” replacing spaghetti with zucchini noodles. Now, this summer, recipes for the perfect cauliflower pizza crust have been taking Pinterest boards and recipe exchanges by storm.

Perhaps parents of picky eaters are searching for a way to hide servings of veggies in their children’s food. Perhaps those with wheat intolerance are looking for a gluten-free recipe they can make at home. Perhaps pizza enthusiasts are eager for a low-carb alternative. Or perhaps everyone is just curious.

For whatever the reason, the lighter alternative to pizza dough is captivating both hearts and minds. Believers can watch the video above to learn how to make the crust; non-believers can witness proof that cauliflower can indeed become a pizza. You can find this and many more at MyRecipes.com.

TIME movies

Here Are the Best Movies of 2015 So Far

As the summer blockbuster season gets underway, a look back at the strongest flicks to hit theaters in 2015 so far

It may be true that the last five years’ Best Picture winners were released in the last quarter of the year, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t gems to be found in the months before summer chills to fall. From film festival darlings to action reboots, new adaptations of classic literature to dual-manned biopics, 2015 has already offered a wealth of inspiring fare for the cinephile.

Here are TIME’s picks for the top movies of the year (so far):

  • Mad Max: Fury Road

    FURY ROAD
    Jasin Boland—Warner Bros. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron star in Mad Max: Fury Road

    In a summer full of CGI dinosaurs and robots, Mad Max: Fury Road proves that action blockbusters can still be the sort of high art that gets a standing ovation at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. Director George Miller not only perfected the form, building the rickety fire-shooting vehicles from scratch, but adds narrative heft, taking on serious issues like sex slavery in a nuanced way.

    —Eliana Dockterman

  • It Follows

    Best of Movies 2015 - IT FOLLOWS
    RADiUS-TWC

    As a premise, “pretty teen girl running from certain doom” may not sound like the makings of an inventive horror film. Yet David Robert Mitchell’s indie sensibility makes the movie unlike any thriller you’ve seen before, while still paying homage to the best traditions of the form.

    —Sarah Begley

  • Far From the Madding Crowd

    Best of Movies 2015 - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
    Alex Bailey—Fox Searchlight

    The new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s novel appeals to the Pride and Prejudice set, but with more subtlety and sadness than most Austen films, plus a hearty heaping of rustic drudgery. Carey Mulligan’s gutsy Bathsheba gets swept off her feet like the best of her 19th century romantic peers, but without their usual histrionics—somewhere between Lean In and Wuthering Heights.

    —Sarah Begley

  • Love & Mercy

    Best of Movies 2015 - LOVE & MERCY
    Roadside Attractions

    Paul Dano fulfills the promise of roles in Little Miss Sunshine and There Will Be Blood as a young Brian Wilson, the Beach Boy who’s going slowly mad while recording the group’s landmark album Pet Sounds. John Cusack shows us the older Wilson, now paralyzed by overmedication at the hands of a villain. It’s a gripping story of mental illness, which is sadly all too common, and true musical genius—which is extremely rare.

    —Sarah Begley

  • Furious 7

    Best of Movies 2015 - FURIOUS 7
    Scott Garfield—Universal

    Each Fast & Furious movie has gleefully attempted to outdo the previous one. Brought down a plane in the last movie? How about making cars fly out of one in the next? While Furious 7 doubled down on its self-consciously corny lines and over-the-top stunts—crashing cars through not one, not two, but three high rises—it also took a moment to give a surprisingly moving send off to star Paul Walker, who died in 2013. While he will be missed, this increasingly diverse franchise has a bright future.

    —Eliana Dockterman

  • Ex Machina

    Best of Movies 2015 - EX MACHINA
    A24

    Alicia Vikander’s breakout year hinged on her spooky turn as a robot who may or may not have motives of her own. But this sci-fi thriller got its thrust from the creepy bond between the two men obsessed with Ava: tech billionaire Oscar Isaac and humble employee Domhnall Gleeson.

    —Dan D’Addario

  • Clouds of Sils Maria

    Best of Movies 2015 - CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
    IFC Films

    Freed from Twilight, Kristen Stewart showed flashes of both savage intelligence and newfound sensitivity as the personal assistant to Juliette Binoche’s pampered, neurotic actress. The film works as both insider moviemaking satire and an enigmatic tribute to intergenerational bonds between women.

    —Dan D’Addario

  • Welcome to Me

    Best of Movies 2015 - WELCOME TO ME
    Suzanne Hanover—Alchemy

    Kristen Wiig, at her best, has always had a far more barbed edge than her comedy contemporaries; there’s real bite, and pathos, to her most memorable characters. Add Alice Klieg to that pantheon. Wiig commits utterly to the story of an ill woman who spends her lottery winnings on a five-day-a-week talk show dedicated to praising herself and shaming her enemies. It works as comment on our media age, but soars as a portrait of suffering that only Wiig could make hilarious.

    —Dan D’Addario

  • Dope

    Best of Movies 2015 - Dope
    Open Road Films

    Writer-director Rick Famuyiwa’s tale about a nerdy black teen obsessed with ’90s hip hop culture rejects the trappings the typical coming-of-age flick, starting with its setting: Inglewood, Calif., otherwise known as “The Bottoms.” Newcomer Shameik Moore’s portrayal of Malcolm, who’s stuck between his ambition for a spot at Harvard and the whac-a-mole of obstacles that keep popping up to thwart him, thrusts the rising star into the well-deserved spotlight.

    —Eliza Berman

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

    Best of Movies 2015 - ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
    Fox Searchlight Pictures

    Director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s adaptation of Jesse Andrews’ young adult novel is a love letter to his late father and a tribute to the cinema greats who professionally reared him—and the movie’s labor-of-love origins are felt throughout. Though its plot, in which a high school senior is forced by his parents to befriend a classmate with leukemia, begs comparisons to The Fault in Our Stars, the movie defies categorization as a typical teen cancer rom-com by keeping its quirky protagonists in the realm of friendship.

    —Eliza Berman

  • The Boy Next Door

    Best of Movies 2015 - The Boy Next Door
    Universal

    No, you didn’t stumble onto the list of worst movies so far, and no, this wasn’t included to make a larger point about how The Boy Next Door is the rare thriller that lets a middle-aged heroine objectify a dude for a change. (In that way, it’s basically the “I Luh Ya Papi” video of thrillers.) The Boy Next Door gets its due here because the cheap twists and unintentionally laugh-out-loud dialogue (first edition of The Iliad, anyone?) made for one of the most deliriously fun theater-going experiences of 2015.

    —Nolan Feeney

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