We’re now three and a half months into ’15, and a glance at the calendar tells me that except for Alex Garland‘s Ex Machina (which I’ve seen and admired but have yet to review), there are no films of any real consequence opening between now and May 1st. So let’s call this a four-month assessment — the 20 best films from the first third of 2015. And let’s get rid of any distinction between theatrical, VOD and cable — if it opened on a reputable screen of any size between 1.1.15 and 5.1.15, it qualifies. And no distinctions between docs and narrative either. A good portion of the following were seen at a 2014 festival, on HBO or during Sundance ’15 — relatively few are 2015 theatrical newbies.

Disputes, additions and subtractions are encouraged. Pics are listed in order of value, preference, voltage, intrigue and in some cases importance:

First Quintet: (1) Alex Gibney‘s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (HBO); (2) Douglas Tirola‘s Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon (Sundance ’15); (3) Yann Demange‘s ’71, (4) Asghar Farhadi‘s About Elly (no chance to review it yet, but Farhadi is a master — this is easily one of the most grounded, on-target and yet disquieting films I’ve seen this year); (5) Noah Baumbach‘s While We’re Young;

Second Quintet: (6) Damian Szifron‘s Wild Tales; (7) Gabe Polsky‘s Red Army; (8) Alex Gibney‘s All Or Nothing At All; (9) Alex Garland’s Ex Machina; (10) Niki Caro‘s McFarland USA.

Third Quintet: (11) David Cronenberg‘s Maps to the Stars (Cannes ’14); (12) Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon‘s Best of Enemies (Sundance ’15); (13) Ryan Gosling‘s Lost River, (14) James D. Cooper‘s Lambert & Stamp; (15) Rupert Goold‘s True Story (Sundance ’15).

Fourth Quintet: (16) Mike Binder‘s Black or White, (17) Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden‘s Mississippi Grind (Sundance ’15); (17) Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig‘s Mistress America (Sundance ’15); (18) Patrick Brice‘s The Overnight (Sundance ’15); (19) Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel‘s The D Train (Sundance ’15); (20) Pierre Morel‘s The Gunman.