Every spring, the Tribeca film festival reminds us why we love movies.

With its rich slate of independent films — many of which are publicly viewed for the first time — this annual event in New York City celebrates what creative movie makers can accomplish when entertainment and insight take priority over box office and product placement.

This year, the Tribeca planners outdo themselves by bringing some of the top names in film to this event that, despite its size and success, still feels like a neighborhood gathering to watch a collection of very good movies.

Here are some of the films to look for at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Elvis & Nixon

Who else but Kevin Spacey – the politician we love to hate in House of Cards – could bring President Richard Nixon to life in this look back at a day in December 1970 when Elvis Presley visited the White House. This was not a social call; the King of Rock and Roll wanted to become a deputy of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. With Michael Shannon recreating the singer’s swagger, this comedy promises to remind us of the some peculiar days in American politics.

April 19 and 20

A Hologram for the King

Tom Hanks, fresh from the success of Bridge of Spies, comes to Tribeca with this drama about business deals in the Middle East. Based on the novel by Dave Eggers, the film casts Hanks as an American businessman who makes his way to the Saudi Arabia to try to sell a piece of technology to the King. But nothing seems to go his way in a story that reminds us that working halfway around the world can be a lot more complicated than it may appear.

April 20 and 21

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

As with many films that play Tribeca, this meaningful look at what people will consider rebuild their lives celebrates the independent thinking that inspires so many movies that play the festival. Jason Sudekis plays a young man who is desperate to begin a new chapter in his life that he decides to put together a raft to cross the Atlantic. As the project becomes more involved than he planned, the lessons he learns become more personal.

April 14, 15 and 19


One of these years, the great Viola Davis will get the part that finally wins her an overdue Oscar. Could this be the film? The actress plays a family court judge who faces a full docket of problems with her personal life in addition to her professional pressures. The film is written and directed by Broadway’s James Lapine, best known for collaborating with Stephen Sondheim on Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park With George.

April 17, 19, 20 and 24

The Family Fang

Oscar winner Nicole Kidman continues an interesting chapter in her career – including the recent Queen of the Desert and the upcoming Genius – with this look at a complicated family of performance artists. Director Jason Bateman – who also appears on screen – gives Kidman the chance to showcase her strong comedic gifts that we first savored years ago in To Die For and Margot at the Wedding. It’s great to see Kidman continue to stretch her remarkable talent.

April 16, 17, 19 and 20

All We Had

Katie Holmes, who recently delivered a strong performance in Touched With Fire, brings her first film as a director to Tribeca. For her debut, Holmes chooses to direct herself in this adaptation of the 2014 novel by Annie Weatherwax about a mother and daughter who try to keep their lives together when they face a series of challenges in a new town. Taking this bold step with Holmes are veteran actors Luke Wilson, Richard Kind and Judy Greer.

April 15, 16, 18 and 23

The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 13 to 24. For tickets to the Tribeca Film Festival, go to tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets. For information, go to tribecafilm.com or call 1-866-941-3378.

Tribeca Showcases Marvelous Movies in Manhattan (continued)

What makes Tribeca such a special movie event is the broad range in its programming, from narrative films made around the world to provocative documentaries and commanding short films.

Here are a few more films to check out at this year’s festival.

The Meddler

We don’t get to see enough of Susan Sarandon on screen. This deliciously talented Oscar winner – last seen as a suffering wife in Arbitrage and a supportive mother in About Ray – plays Tribeca as a commanding, exaggerated mother in this comedy from Lorene Scafaria. No matter what role she plays, Sarandon always brings a brave authenticity to any portrayal. And she has yet to disappoint by making any role feel too familiar. This one should be fun.

April 19 and 20

A Kind of Murder

In the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock, this thriller promises to bring reel chills to Tribeca audiences. Patrick Wilson – once the Broadway star of The Full Monty and Oklahoma – arrives on the big screen in another movie adaptation of a novel by Patricia Highsmith. The author was most recently represented on film with Carol starring Cate Blanchett. And this adaptation of her book promises a lot of style and suspense.

April 17, 18, 19 and 21

The Last Laugh

Among the promising documentary films on the Tribeca slate is this look at what is (and is not) considered acceptable material for comedy performers. Leave it to Mel Brooks, the late Joan Rivers and Chris Rock to help us consider when it’s okay to laugh at topics so serious they deserve real attention. While the documentary may address a series of serious issues, the commentary from so many comic luminaries will surely entertain.

April 19, 20, 21 and 24

Life, Animated

Another interesting documentary walks a fine line between real life and reel entertainment with its look at how animated films can change how someone views their world. Director Roger Ross Williams, who won an Oscar for the short film Music by Prudence, tells the story of an autistic young man who rediscovers the magic of communication through his love for Disney animated films. Yes, what happens on screen can magically influence what happens off screen.

April 22 and 23

Mr. Church

Back in 1989, Australian director Bruce Beresford made waves at the Oscars by directing the Best Picture of the Year – Driving Miss Daisy – without receiving a nomination as Best Director. Since then, we haven’t seen all that much from this insightful filmmaker. So movie buffs look forward to this tale of a cook (played by Eddie Murphy) who goes to work for an ill mother and her daughter. It sounds like Beresford’s kind of movie.

April 22, 23 and 24

The Phenom

After delivering two strong performances as influential managers in the music business – in Love and Mercy and Straight Outta Compton – Paul Giamatti becomes a sports psychologist with an edge in this look at a young baseball pitcher who finds the mound a challenging place to work. In what may be the first movie about baseball to play Tribeca, the film promises to take a fresh look at what it takes to overcome uncontrollable fear.

April 17, 19, 20 and 22

The Tribeca Film Festival runs April 13 to 24. For tickets to the Tribeca Film Festival, go to tribecafilm.com/festival/tickets. For information, go to tribecafilm.com or call 1-866-941-3378.