Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy in 'Spy'.

Inside Out (2015) – In which Pete Docter combines the emotional punch of his celebrated life-spanning montage in Up with the multiple worlds of Wreck-It Ralph. It combines emotional acuity with a headlong sense of invention: once Joy (Amy Poehler, in what is basically a reprise of her Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation) and Sadness set off on their journey around the brain, the movie rarely covers the same ground twice but finds new ways to represent (among other things) dreams, the selectivity of memory and monsters dwelling in the subconscious. It’s a meditation on the processes of thought that’s also a crowd-pleaser; the movie’s ingenuity pays off emotionally as its conceits play across the face of a plainly distressed 11 year-old girl. My only reservation was that it’s more exciting conceptually than it is visually: the brain’s surfaces are plasticky, generic – like some mass-produced toy – and the emotions’ command centre looks like the dashboard of a car. Still, this belongs in the upper reaches of the Pixar canon. ****

Jurassic World (2015) – Rather than exploring the narrative possibilities of dinosaurs on the loose in a park fully populated by tourists, this sequel goes for a lazy rehash of the original. Once again the focus is on a makeshift family with a couple of lonely kids at its centre, as if this were the only way to make dinosaurs interesting. Added to this is a truly retrograde attitude to gender: the heroine (Bryce Dallas Howard) is made to feel like a terrible person for working long hours and her P.A. is killed in lingering fashion (she’s passed from pterodactyl to pterodactyl) for being an inattentive child-minder. The movie even manages the difficult feat of making Chris Pratt – striking manly poses with a bottle of Coke in his hand – unappealing. The reverence with which Spielberg unveiled his digital bestiary is long gone: there’s precious little wonder on offer here, only a sour sense of cynicism. *

Spy (2015) – The tone of the James Bond franchise is so close to parody anyway that this broad comedy works surprisingly well as an example of the globetrotting capers it’s spoofing. Paul Feig doesn’t always make the most of his terrific cast – Allison Janney doesn’t get to do much more than drop the occasional cuss word – and the gags aren’t always thought through the way they are on the comparable Amy Schumer sketch “Plain Jane”. The humiliations piled on Melissa McCarthy by her employer feel a bit egregious, especially given her super-competence as an agent: it’s the lazy idea that because McCarthy is fat she must also be physically gross. It’s good, silly fun, though, with moments of violence that keep you off-balance. (A sneeze with fatal consequences sets the tone early on.) Jude Law is perfect casting as the self-infatuated 007 type and Rose Byrne and her massive pile of hair steal every scene they’re in. ***

The Tribe (2014) – Formally, this Ukrainian film – performed entirely in sign language – is very striking. The long, dispassionate takes – the characters are kept always at a distance – are expertly staged, as the camera roams through the school for the deaf that is the film’s setting. The use of sound – the background of vehicles and footfalls – intensifies the silence of the human interactions. The style has an almost hypnotic effect. The movie falls down, though, in its lack of human sense. The school is so isolated from the hearing world (none of the children appear to have parents or any external connection) that it seems more like a conceit than an actual place. The central drama – a teenage pimp’s bid to own one of the prostitutes under his supervision – is caveman stuff passed off as tender teen romance. In the end, the film’s unrelieved grimness feels like a limitation. **