Our 25 Favourite Boomer Films of 2015

From comedy to action to period pieces and dramas, films starring boomers and/or relevant to the boomer audience dominated the big screen this year.

As Hollywood gears up for award season, we look back at our top 25 boomer films, listed alphabetically, of 2015.

1. A Walk in the Woods
Robert Redford and Nick Nolte star in this boomer buddy comedy about pushing your limits and embracing adventure at any age. Based on the book by best-selling travel author Bill Bryson, the film follows Bill (Redford) and his old travelling buddy Stephen Katz (Nolte) as they attempt to stave off the rigours of age and the routine of daily life by hiking the famed Appalachian Trail. Touching, funny and inspirational, part of us wishes it was fiction so we could see a sequel that reunites Bill and Stephen for another journey. Click here for our full A Walk in the Woods film review.

2. Bridge of Spies
A historical drama based on a true story starring Tom Hanks, co-written by the Cohen Brothers and directed by Steven Spielberg. Need we say more? This stylized Cold War films stars Hanks as former Nuremberg prosecutor-turned-insurance lawyer James Donovan, who finds himself consumed by the three-way struggle between the U.S., the Soviet Union and Germany when he attempts to negotiate a prisoner exchange of Russian spy Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) for two captured Americans. Click here for our full Bridge of Spies film review.

3. Brooklyn
This Irish-Canadian film earned rave reviews from audiences and critics alike. Brooklyn stars Saoirse Ronan as Ellis Lacey, a young Irish woman who immigrates to the city in the 1950s and falls in love with an Italian-American man named Tony (Emory Cohen). A clash between the new life she’s made in America and the one she left behind plays out like an emotional tug of war across the Atlantic Ocean. The film also earned Ronan a Best Actress in a Drama Golden Globe nomination.

4. Carol
Another 1950s era romantic drama set in the shadow of New York City, Carol earned four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture Drama, Best Actress Drama for both Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, and Best Director for Todd Haynes. The film follows Carol Aird (Blanchett), a woman in the midst of a divorce, whose ex-husband uses her love affair with a younger woman, Therese (Mara), considered deviant behavior at the time, against her when battling for custody of their daughter.

5. Clouds of Sils Maria

A highlight of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, Clouds of Sils Maria pairs a unique perspective on aging with the picturesque Swiss mountain landscapes. Juliette Binoche stars as Maria Enders, an actress preparing to remount a production of a two-woman play that made her famous 20 years earlier. At the time, Maria was 20 and played the role of the younger character. In the remount, she plays the older character, which challenges her to confront her own insecurities and fears about aging, which are magnified by her relationship with her assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart), and the young actress who will play the role that made Maria famous decades earlier, Jo-Ann (Chloë Grace Moretz). Click here for our full Clouds of Sils Maria film review.

6. Creed
Though it co-stars Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa – a performance that earned him a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe nomination and serious Oscar talk – this is firmly the story of Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan), son of famed boxer Apollo Creed, who leaves a job in finance to cement his legacy in the boxing ring. He enlists Balboa as his trainer and the result is a poignant, original, nostalgic ode to the best of the Rocky franchise while solidifying the foundation for a franchise that is wholly Creed’s. Click here for our full Creed film review.

7. The Danish Girl
In a year that saw Caitlyn Jenner’s emergence on the cover of Vanity Fair and TV shows like Transparent critically and culturally celebrated, director Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) introduced us to The Danish Girl, starring Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne in another award-season favourite as Lili Elbe, who, in 1920s Denmark, is believed to be among one of the first people to undergo successful sex reassignment surgery. The film landed three Golden Globe noms, including Best Actress Drama (Alicia Vikander), Best Actor Drama (Redmayne) and Best Original Score (Alexandre Desplat).

8. Danny Collins
Anchored by Al Pacino in the title role – one of his best performances in recent memory, which landed him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy – Danny Collins is a legendary rock star who finds out that John Lennon wrote him an undelivered letter decades ago, warning him about the perils of fame and how it can negatively affect his personal life. As a result, Collins looks to reconnect with his estranged family. The film is inspired by the real life story of singer Steve Tilston, who found out about a similarly undelivered letter from Lennon. The film co-stars Annette Bening and Christopher Plummer.

9. Grandma
Lily Tomlin in a starring film role is rare these days – almost as rare as the depiction of a lesbian grandmother who smokes pot and departs on a road trip to help her teenage granddaughter raise money for an abortion. Along the way Tomlin’s character, Elle, must confront her own past indiscretions and misdeeds while attempting to balance her strained relationship with her daughter (Marcia Gay Harden) and granddaughter (Julia Garner). Tomlin, in her first lead film role in almost three decades, earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.

10. I’ll See You in My Dreams
A heartwarming tale of reinvention and finding happiness later in life, I’ll See You in My Dreams earned rave reviews for its boomer-iffic cast (Blythe Danner, Sam Elliott, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place) and its story of a widow (Danner) who finds love, adventure, new relationships and a reconnection with family.

11. Inside Out
Sure, it’s one you took the grandkids to see, but audiences of all ages loved Inside Out. The film proved to be one of the best of any genre all year. From the animators at Pixar, Inside Out explores the animated emotions inside the head of a young girl named Riley, who’s struggling with her family’s move from Minnesota to San Francisco. Hilarious, poignant, insightful and immensely creative, Inside Out boasts an all-star cast (Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling , Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Diane Lane, Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Kind) and a level of creativity that makes it a modern children’s classic, an early Oscar favourite and a Golden Globe nominee for Best Animated Film. Click here for our full Inside Out film review.

12. The Intern
The Intern flips the idea of online internships on its head with Zoomer cover subject Robert De Niro as Ben Whittaker, a widowed retiree who takes a position at a fashion website run by fellow Oscar winner Anne Hathaway. It’s a comedy that tackles stereotypes about aging with a modern twist and a heartwarming story at its core.

13. Jimmy’s Hall
A Cannes Film Festival favourite based on the life of communist leader Jimmy Gralton, this period drama takes place in the decade following the Irish Civil War and explores the still-simmering sociopolitical tensions of 1930s Ireland. Gralton runs a dance hall in rural Ireland, which quickly becomes a hub of political activity, discussion and controversy when Gralton’s views clash with nearby residents and the Catholic Church.

14. Love & Mercy
Love & Mercy, which tells the story of the tortured life of Beach Boy Brian Wilson, illuminates the artist’s genius as well as the hardships he endured through his life, from struggles with mental illness to his emotionally abusive father to his manipulative doctor, who overmedicates and controls him. Starring both Paul Dano and John Cusack as Wilson at different points in his life, Paul Giamatti at his slimy best as Dr. Landy and Elizabeth Banks as Wilson’s saving grace – the love of his life, Melinda Ledbetter – Love & Mercy is equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming, a testament to both a passion for creativity and for life set to the legendary tunes of Pet Sounds. Click here for our full Love & Mercy film review.

15. Mr. Holmes
Sherlock Holmes is 93, long retired and tending to his apiary at a farmhouse along the coast of southern England when he’s compelled to solve his final case before he dies. The only problem is that his memory is fading, and the details from 30 years ago are foggy, leading the legendary sleuth to tackle perhaps the greatest mystery of all – how to suppress the degenerative effects of aging long enough to finish his life’s work. A brilliant and fresh take on the Sherlock Holmes character starring Sir Ian McKellen as the man from 221B Baker Street. Click here for our full Mr. Holmes film review and here for our one-on-one interview with Sir Ian McKellen.

16. The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Sure, it wasn’t exactly high storytelling, but charismatic leads Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, superb styling and excellent action managed to heat up this Cold War comedy based on the 1960s spy TV series. Click here for our full The Man From U.N.C.L.E. film review.

17. Remember
Directed by Canuck Atom Egoyan and starring two-time Zoomer cover subject and fellow Canadian Christopher Plummer, this thriller earned a standing ovation at the 2015 Venice Film Festival. Remember is the story of Zev (Plummer), an octogenarian widower who sets out to find and kill the former Nazi prison guard who killed his family at Auschwitz. Zev, however, suffers from dementia and is aided by his best friend Max (Martin Landau), whose family was killed by the same guard. Brilliant acting from Plummer and Landau, two Oscar winners, is a given, but the plot proves entirely original, gripping and unpredictable to the very end. Click here for our interview with Remember stars Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, and director Atom Egoyan.

18. Selma
The year in cinema kicked off with this powerful, emotional and brilliant tale of the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches through Alabama in 1965. Starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jr. – a role that more than deserved the Best Actor Oscar nomination it didn’t receive – and boasting an all-star cast that included Carmen Ejogo, Common, Stephan James, Tom Wilkinson, Tim Roth, Giovanni Ribisi, Oprah Winfrey and Cuba Gooding Jr., Selma re-creates the tragedy and the heroics of the marches while setting the bar for best film of the year. Like Oyelowo, director Ava DuVernay was denied a much-deserved Oscar nomination, while Selma star Common and John Legend won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Glory.” Click here for our full Selma film review.

19. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The biggest commercial release of the year by far, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has it all – the return of beloved characters Han Solo, Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker (played by the original actors), a new story that builds on the original trilogy, lots of action and promise for future installments to come, and no George Lucas or Jar Jar Binks. The force is strong in this one.

20. Still Alice
Like Selma, Still Alice hit theatres in the first weeks of 2015 and helped set the bar for performances to come throughout the rest of the year. In this case, it was Julianne Moore in her career-defining, multi-award winning role as Alice Howland, a 50-year-old linguistics professor who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Moore’s captivating performance as Alice, who struggles through both the inevitable cognitive decline and the toll, both physical and emotional, that the disease takes on her family, is both inspiring and heart wrenching. But most importantly, the film puts the spotlight squarely on Alzheimer’s, offering both a realistic look at the disease and a sense of hope that one can maintain the essence of who they really are even after the diagnosis is handed down. Click here for our full Still Alice film review.

21. Testament of Youth
The true tale of courage, passion and a woman who refused to be restrained by beliefs about female societal roles in early 20th century England. Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) betrays her parents’ wishes and decides to embark on a higher education, gaining entrance into Oxford University. However, she abandons her studies when the First World War breaks out and instead heads to the front lines to tend to the wounded as a volunteer nurse.

22. Trumbo
Bryan Cranston shines in the title role that’s already earning him Oscar buzz (and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Drama) in a film about the persecution of Dalton Trumbo, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated scribes when he fell victim to the McCarthy communist witch-hunts of the 1950s. Co-starring Diane Lane, Louis C.K., John Goodman and Helen Mirren – who earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as notorious gossip columnist Hedda Hopper – Trumbo depicts the tone and struggles of the era through dramatic storytelling, humour and depictions of some of the biggest Hollywood names of the day. Click here for our full Trumbo film review and here for our one-on-one interview with star Helen Mirren.

23. What We Did on Our Holiday
Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) are in the midst of divorcing, though they haven’t told their extended family. So when they pack up the kids and travel to Scotland to celebrate Doug’s dad Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) 75th birthday, they attempt to put on a brave face. Meanwhile, Gordie reveals a secret of his own – he’s got terminal cancer. What We Did on Our Holiday is one of the most original and enjoyable films you’ll see all year, made even more poignant by the fact that, during filming, Connelly was secretly battling cancer in real life. Click here for our full What We Did On Our Holiday film review and here for our one-on-one interview with star Billy Connelly.

24. Woman in Gold

The (mostly) true story of Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren), an Austrian Holocaust survivor in her 80s whose aunt was famously painted by Gustav Klimt as the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I. Now living in Los Angeles, Altmann enlists the help of young lawyer Randol “Randy” Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds) to help her reclaim the painting, which was stolen by the Nazis and then obtained by the Austrian government. An odd couple dynamic between Mirren and Reynolds’ characters, beautifully recreated historical settings and a film-stealing performance from Canuck actress Tatiana Maslany propel this fantastic film. Click here for our full Woman in Gold film review and here for our one-on-one interview with director Simon Curtis.

25. Youth
Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel star as a famed composer and filmmaker respectively, who reflect on their lives, artistic pursuits and family while on vacation. Joining the two actors is a third screen legend – former Zoomer cover subject Jane Fonda, who earned a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe nomination for her role as an aging leading lady.

Honourable Mentions

The Age of Adaline, Freeheld, Learning to Drive, Manglehorn, Ricki and the Flash, Run All Night, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Spectre, The Visit.