The start of 2016 marked the return of Rocky, Quentin Tarantino and - unfortunately - Ride Along to our big screens.

With the Oscars just around the corner, Hollywood duly served up a loaded line-up of hard-hitting and breath-taking performances.

So join me in taking a look at the five best films from January 2016.

5) Spotlight

Spotlight thoughtfully tackles the real-life events which saw the Boston Globe uncover widespread child abuse in the Catholic Church.

With gutsy performances from a star-studded cast (Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton), Spotlight gives commendable gravity to this incredibly difficult subject matter. The result is a gripping and enraging #Film.

4) The Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight watches just like a play.

Although this may not sound like a glowing endorsement - it is. The stage-like nature of Quentin Tarantino's latest film gives welcomed focus on his masterful control of dialogue.

In the isolation of a wintery Wyoming cabin, The Hateful Eight is very much reminiscent of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). Tarantino expertly crafts a paranoia-fest that, mixed with his penchant for excessive blood and gore, deceivingly morphs into a quasi-horror film.

3) Creed

Uninventive cash-grabs are plaguing Hollywood. So you are forgiven if you decided to give the seventh film in the - seemingly endless - Rocky series a miss.

But with style and flair, director Ryan Coogler managed to buck that worrying trend, and produce a model reboot for wearied franchises.

Creed's pounding hip-hop soundtrack and slick editing ensures this is an exciting and fresh evolution of the Rocky story. The film is also grounded with refreshingly authentic performances from Tessa Thompson and Michael B Jordan, whose on-screen relationship provides perhaps the most alluring moments of this boxing movie.

Unbelievably, the film's only Oscar nomination came for Sylvester Stallone's understated return as Rocky Balboa. With Creed's African American stars failing to earn recognition from the academy, it isn't difficult to see why the #OscarsSoWhite movement drew so much traction.

2) Room

Room is an absorbing and pensive story that flawlessly hit ever intended emotional beat. A great deal of the film hinges on the performances of Brie Larsson and child actor Jacob Tremblay - and the duo deliver in extraordinarily moving fashion.

The beauty of Lenny Abrahamson's film is that through the darkness - and there is plenty of it - Tremblay's character provides a rallying call to rediscover and appreciate the world around us.

1) The Revenant

Alejandro G. Inarritu followed up the quirky brilliance of Birdman (2014) with an American epic containing so many multitudes that even Walt Whitman would be proud.

Leonardo DiCaprio rightfully received the plaudits for his bear wrestling and horse gutting exploits, but it is the sheer scope of The Revenant that makes it a true triumph of modern cinema.

With the outstanding cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki, Inarritu produces an awe-inspiring film that is packed full of riveting sequences and breath-taking visuals.

It would also me amiss not to mention Tom Hardy, who shines - almost out-performing #dicaprio - as the relentlessly evil antagonist. #filmreview