Posts Tagged spotlight
2015 has been a pretty great year for movies that brought us a ton of great adaptations, revivals and sequels. While every year has its fair share of bad movies, 2015 was one filled with plenty of good to outweigh the bad. While there are tons of films I want to give recognition, the list only contains ten spots, and it’s been tiring to condense everything down and make these hard choices. Some movies on this list might not be critically acclaimed or Academy Award worthy, but that doesn’t matter. These are the motion pictures that gave me the most enjoyment while sitting in the theater during 2015. That said, let’s kick things off with my honorable mentions.
P.S.: I unfortunately haven’t seen The Hateful Eight yet… I’m planning on seeing it 1/2 or 1/3 but have been away and didn’t want to watch it on my computer for my first viewing. Might ninja edit it in later.
Furious 7 is the seventh installment to the Fast & Furious franchise that began back in 2001 as an action movie with cool cars that borrowed the plot outline of Point Break. The series dragged along with some mediocre movies, eventually dying after fan interest disappeared after the third movie Tokyo Drift. This series has always been a guilty pleasure for me; growing up Vin Diesel was the coolest guy around and I loved watching him be cool while driving fast cars. I was thrilled when the series picked back up and decided to have fun with itself, moving towards the direction of being filled with absurd action. Two years ago, the series’ second leading man (and Diesel’s real life best friend), Paul Walker, unexpectedly passed away leaving the future of the F&F franchise up in the air. Yet, Diesel and the crew moved on to complete what was one of the best Fast and Furious movies to date that included a beautiful and tear jerking sendoff for Paul Walker’s character, Brian O’Connor.
The Gift was a movie that I originally had no intention of seeing. I would catch the trailers on TV and almost laugh at how goofy the movie looked each time I saw Jason Bateman’s character say, “OH GOD!” However, The Gift turned out to be a classic case of terrible trailer – great movie, and it turned out to be one of my favorites in 2015. I’m a big fan of Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton and was delighted to see them both in such a great serious thriller like this. The Gift was an awesome directorial debut for Edgerton who, along with Bateman, gave a great acting performance in what was my most surprising film of the year.
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation:
The Mission Impossible franchise has never been a series that I’ve fully hopped on board as a fan of until more recently. i saw the first two movies when i was younger and thought that they were cool, but wasn’t blown away with them like others had been. M:I3 came out and I enjoyed it, but again, wasn’t as into it as others that I knew. Ghost Protocol came out and completely changed my mind about the movies. I wasn’t sure they could top what they had pulled off in the fourth installment, but, to my surprise, Rogue Nation pulled it off and delivered a movie of equal quality. The cast in the more recent Mission: Impossible movies has been the main draw for me and the addition of Rebecca Ferguson only made it stronger this time around. Hopefully Mission: Impossible can continue to be over the top action spy movies that are well made, because Rogue Nation showed that they know what they are doing and Ghost Protocol wasn’t an accident.
Me and Earl and The Dying Girl:
Me and Earl and The Dying Girl was a movie that I really had no expectations about going into the theater. I thought that it looked pretty cool but, again, didn’t know what to expect. What I was given was a super artsy, super emotional, awesome movie that even made me tear up by the time it was done. Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke really stood out in this movie and it really nailed high school stereotypes and what it’s like to feel out of the loop. Jon Bernthal, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, and Molly Shannon each brought some necessary experience to the cast in their supporting roles to really round things out and make this a complete film. Me and Earl and The Dying Girl had a bunch of heart and fun while delivering a very emotional finish in what was a great artistic movie.
What We Do In The Shadows:
What We Do In The Shadows was easily the most underrated comedy of 2015. I hadn’t heard about this film until my cousin recommended it to me and I immediately knew I would be on board. I’m a Flight of the Concords fan and love Jermaine Clement, who was hilarious in this movie. What We Do In The Shadows took a step into the supernatural genre that has been polluted by movies like Twilight and while the movie wasn’t scary, it at least made these types of characters fun again. The film was ridiculous and over the top but a clever comedy with a solid story. The last I heard, there is definitely a sequel in the works, which would be amazing.
Steve Jobs was a movie that I had hoped would be good enough to possibly contend for best picture this year, especially with my favorite actor, Michael Fassbender, leading the way as Jobs himself. I really loved how Steve Jobs was structured and the entire film felt like a play with different acts rather than a flowing movie. We watch the genius become the genius as he goes through the different stages of business and life. Fassbender was absolutely phenomenal and I think he definitely deserves a nomination for Best Actor because he not only looked enough like older Jobs, he had the mannerisms, tone and demeanor of the man as well. This was definitely not a perfect movie and I know plenty of it was exaggerated or changed to be more appealing to an audience, but I loved how they displayed the character and it was just barely pushed off of my actual top 10 list.
The Top 10
10. Tie: Spotlight & Sicario:
I actually feel bad having to stick both of these movies in my number ten spot because they are easily deserving of a higher position, but I wanted to make sure they both got some recognition.
Spotlight: Spotlight was a movie that I knew was getting a lot of critical acclaim, but I wondered how much I would personally like it. The cast was about as well rounded as I could have asked for but the topic seemed like it would be a lot of talking with a known outcome; however, I really loved this movie. I’m not really a religious person, and during the time in 2001 that the Spotlight team was breaking all of this I barely remember it happening. 9/11 really clogs my memory from the time, but there was always news popping up throughout the following years about church rape scandals. Spotlight does a great job of presenting a tough topic and showing how much it impacted people because it was the first time that people were willing to speak up about the truth that had been shoved under the rug until then. The one line in this movie that really stuck out to me the most was that, “this wasn’t just physical abuse, it was spiritual too.” It really bothered me to think that these priests knew they were taking advantage of people’s faith to do these horrible things. Spotlight was an amazingly put together film that shows some great traditional film making as well as good investigative journalism that seems to have disappeared in 2015.
Sicario: Sicario was something that I assumed I would love when I saw all of the pieces put together. You get an all-star cast that includes Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro as well as recent king of directing dark thrillers, Denis Villeneuve. I was most excited to see Villeneuve return after his other successful movies Prisoners and Enemy and he was able to outdo himself again. Sicario steps into an extremely dark part of the world that most people probably have no clue exists where the government is walking on the edge of their power and jurisdiction to control and influence the war on drugs. I absolutely loved the mysterious aspect that this film had by keeping viewers in the dark on the full scope of the plot. They attach us to Emily Blunt’s character because she is just as much in the dark as we are until we realize that she is being used for some morally questionable things. Everyone absolutely loved Benicio Del Toro, who plays the Sicario, Alejandro, who is just an absolute badass. Benicio really steals the show in Sicario and the film is an all around win that is dark, thrilling and crazy in the best ways.
Side note: There are rumors about a sequel to Sicario that focuses solely on Benicio’s character. I’m definitely interested in this, but don’t care whether it gets made or not, because the movie by itself was amazing and I almost don’t want to know more about these characters.
9. Inside Out
Inside Out is another film that clearly doesn’t deserve this low of a position on my list, but here we are. You can always count on Disney Pixar to put out a good film that instantly has a chance to become a classic. Inside Out did exactly that. This movie found a way to connect with just about everyone, because it’s a universal experience to grow up. The clever way to analyze the mind of a child going through a series of big events in her life was phenomenal and each of the voice actors chosen for their roles were absolutely spot on. The biggest thing I took away from Inside Out is how well the movie communicated that it’s okay to address all of your feelings and there is never any reason to ignore or bury who you are. It was an original and creative adventure movie from Disney Pixar that is easily on par with the likes of Toy Story for this new generation of kids growing up. I loved this movie, and whether the studio decides to do sequels or not doesn’t really matter to me; however, I think that there are infinite possibilities they could take advantage of and really grow these characters through different stages of life in a similar way that Toy Story did.
Creed was a movie that I was initially skeptical about last year when I heard they wanted to move forward with the Rocky franchise at all. Being from Philadelphia and watching the original Rocky films with my father when I was growing up, they have a special place in my heart. While the back half of the series really dropped the ball and never lived up to the original two, they slightly brought things back to glory with 2006’s Rocky Balboa. I really enjoyed that film but never expected to see them continue things at all, and I really didn’t know what to think about Creed. Yet, as soon as I heard Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan were attached, I was on board and had faith it would, at the very least, be an acceptable installment that carried on the legacy of the Rocky films. This film completely exceeded all of my expectations and delivered a movie that had the most heart out of anything in 2015. Michael B. Jordan was phenomenal and Sylvester Stallone gave one of, if not, his best performance ever. Creed is an emotional underdog story that fully captures the heart and feeling that the original Rocky and continues the story and series in the best way possible.
7. The Martian
I was initially turned on to The Martian when my cousin recommended I read the book (yes, same cousin mentioned earlier). He brought up that it was being adapted into a movie, which I had heard about, but didn’t know it was such a recent book. Upon finishing the book I looked up the cast list and was in disbelief because I knew that they had perfectly cast each character for the film. Matt Damon was terrific in this role and had the perfect personality to deliver the smart but relaxed fun guy. In fact, I described Mark Watney as if Will from Good Will Hunting grew up. For being an isolation movie, this is one of the best, because the character is written so well that you can easily get behind him and his interesting quest for survival. The Martian really nails its adaptation and pretty much incorporates all but two or three major parts of the book but nails the tone enough to condense it down to a reasonable time amount. The Martian was an all around fun movie and each actor thrived in their role to deliver a great time in the theater with some laughs while a guy was stuck on Mars.
6. Ex Machina
Ex Machina was another extremely underrated movie of the year. While What We Do In The Shadows flew under the radar as a comedy film, Ex Machina was one that is definitely Oscar worthy but won’t receive the full praise it deserves. This movie was able to create a completely original take on the dystopian sci-fi genre and there were only three characters the whole time. Domhnall Gleeson is 2015’s most underrated actor having been in some of the year’s best films and he delivered another great performance in this. I’m so happy to see him getting praise and slowly sliding into roles that will get him bigger notice. Domhnall is sort of in the position that Oscar Isaac has been the past couple of years, but now Isaac is a full blown movie star, having lead roles in Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well as playing Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse. Oscar Isaac is another main character in this movie and boy does he put on a show; his character, Nathan, is this interesting yet creepy guy who lives in isolation and you are worried could snap at any point. Isaac is one of my favorite actors and I love seeing how diverse he can be, his performance in Ex Machina shows another side of his wide acting ability and his coordinated dance scene (you know what I’m talking about) is possibly the best scene of 2015. Alicia Vikander also deserves a huge shout out for her role in Ex Machina because she has had a breakout year as well, and her portrayal of the A.I. character, Ava, was awesome.
Room was easily the most fucked up movie I saw in 2015, but for all of the right reasons. This story was amazingly emotional and upsetting while also being beautiful at the same time. The films is about a girl who gets kidnapped and is raped and kept in captivity in a backyard shed where she raises her son under protective circumstances. The mother creates a whole creation story to explain everything in the “Room” and keep her son from wondering why he can’t go outside. The movie is horribly sad but wonderful at the same time because it displays how far a mother is willing to go in order to save her son. There were extreme high tension moments in this movie and I didn’t know what would happen next. During the climactic scene I even found myself holding my breath in the theater, ready to break down because I wanted these two characters to break free and survive. Brie Larson gives a wonderful performance of someone who has borderline given up all hope in life yet still has something to live for in her son. On top of this, Jacob Tremblay gives an amazing performance for only being nine years old and I wouldn’t be shocked or disappointed if he received a supporting actor nomination at the Academy Awards this year.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
I’ve seen all of the old Mad Max films and while I liked them, I was never as huge a fan as others are, but I was pretty excited to see that they would be bringing the series back with George Miller intact. I loved the choice of Tom Hardy for Max, and was happy with the way he presented the role. It’s funny, because Hardy does a lot of grunting and this is one of the few roles where that is fully acceptable. The first thing that immediately stood out to me in Fury Road was the scenery and the world that they were able to create and immerse us in. Everything looked stunning and when I saw the movie for a second time in IMAX 3D it added even more depth to the beautiful sequences. The big wide landscapes were breathtaking and I just loved all of the different color palettes this movie brought out. The second thing was Charlize Theron’s performance as Furiousa, which I believe was one of the best female lead roles in all of 2015. Otherwise, the film delivered a ton of great themes that felt extremely real for an end of the world scenario where things like bullets, fuel and water are the biggest and most important forms of currency. I haven’t even talked about the religious themes or the character of Nux, which is a whole other fantastic part of the film. I’m curious to see if Mad Max: Fury Road will receive any praise from the Academy, but I would hope it can at least qualify for a couple of nominations, even one for Theron would be amazing.
3. The End of the Tour
The End of the Tour is a movie I was extremely excited to see and pretty intrigued about. I really discovered David Foster Wallace during 2014 through a friend during our final year of college. I was blown away by the complexity of a single man and was pumped to see how they could bring him to the big screen. Jason Segel was really phenomenal in this role and seems to have nailed the demeanor and tone of Foster Wallace down to the mannerisms. His interaction with Jesse Eisenberg was awesome and the two worked really well together on screen. The End of the Tour was a really interesting look at life and how unique people can truly be, especially writers. David Foster Wallace was a super interesting guy and it’s sad that the world lost him so young, but the ideas he expressed through his writing were pretty great and I loved that this movie helped raise awareness about who Wallace was.
I had been excited to go check out Brooklyn when I saw the cast and the trailer, which seemed super interesting and romantic at the same time. Saoirsie Ronan was great as the lead and I was thrilled to see her in such an amazing role that will get her tons of notification. Brooklyn is a love story in multiple aspects because not only does it deliver the growth of a strong relationship but it also is a love story between a girl and the places that she calls home. Eilis has the chance to immigrate to America and leaves her entire family and life behind to make something of her life, which is not an easy task for anyone, even now with all of the technology and ways we still have to stay connected. Yet, she goes and eventually falls in love with a young Italian boy named Tony. Emory Cohen, an actor I was not familiar with before this movie, really stood out to me and delivered a great performance as Tony. The chemistry he had with Ronan was great and I really bought into their romance during the entire film. When Eilis has to return home for a month or two for unfortunate reasons, she begins to fall back in love with the place she grew up and even has a young Irish man, Jim Farrell (Domhnall Gleeson), who takes an interest in her. It seems like Eilis could have just as good of a life back in Ireland, which causes tons of conflict in her. The movie really shows off the beauty of both countries with some fantastic shots of Ireland and creative ways to make city life in Brooklyn look wonderful as well. All of the acting was amazing from Ronan, Cohen, and, once again, Gleeson. Brooklyn really put an emotional toll on me, because if you are in a serious relationship or have a spouse (like I am), you know how much they mean to you, and really being in love with someone can become more important than anything else in the world, and sometimes that might require the sacrifice of other important things, which comes down to making the decision of whether or not it’s truly worth it.
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
This probably doesn’t come as any surprise, but yes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is my favorite film of 2015. Like most people, it’s mind-blowing to me that we actually got a seventh installment to the Star Wars franchise. This was something I’ve dreamed about for years and it was near perfect. While the film definitely suffers from some plot flaws and can get away with other plot points knowing there will be two sequels, it easily gets 95% correct in this movie. Not only did it include four upcoming actors I’ve been a huge fan of four the past five years (John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson) but it took an unknown in Daisy Ridley and showed off how great of an actress she is. Star Wars did a great job in paying homage to the original trilogy while being it’s own entity and a new chapter in this series. J.J. Abrams did a great job bringing Star Wars back to the big screen and I love that he didn’t go overboard with the motion capture or go completely off the path. The movie had an insane amount of heart and made each person an actual character, even the villain, Kylo Ren. I could talk about this movie all day long, but all I have to say is go see it if you already haven’t.
2015, brooklyn, creed, entertainment, ex machina, furious 7, fury road, inside out, mad max, me and earl and the dying girl, mission impossible rogue nation, movies, review, reviews, room, sicario, spotlight, star wars, steve jobs, the end of the tour, the force awakens, the gift, the martian, top 10, what we do in the shadows
I'm Blaise and I'm an aspiring journalist who loves pop culture and storytelling. I started this blog because I'm always checking out the latest movies, tv shows, comics, and news that comes with them. My goal is to provide readers with insightful reviews and the latest pop culture news!
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