Wyatt Muma ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Movies Editor
2015 sure was an exciting time for movies. With the return of big franchises like Star Wars, to a continuing renaissance of great comedies like Trainwreck, there truly was something for everyone. Narrowing down the hundreds of wide releases to only ten is a daunting task, and by no means are these the only ten films that forwarded filmmaking this past year. That being said, looking back on the year 2015 in the future, these ten films could be regarded as ten turning points and defining films for the mid point of the decade.
Finally, an old fashioned rom-com! What was expected to be another token indie romantic comedy, Sleeping With Other People turned out to be an emotional rumination on addiction and modern relationships. Both Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis shine in their respective roles, and Leslye Headland’s screenplay is truly one for the ages. The most exciting aspect of this film is how despicable Adam Scott is. Who knew he could be so convincing as a villain? How refreshing it is to see so many creative filmmakers and actors working at the top of their game, in a romantic comedy no less!
Another romantic comedy that really excited audiences this year was Amy Schumer’s magnum opus, Trainwreck. Aided by Judd Apatow, Bill Hader, and John Cena, Ms. Schumer took the genre of raunchy comedy to new heights. Concurrently laugh out loud funny and touchingly sweet, this film is one of the few that can walk that challenging line. The scene where Amy pulls off a surprise dance routine for her doctor beau is already an instant rom-com classic. If Bridesmaids kicked off the funny woman renaissance, Trainwreck continued the tradition.’
Debatably the worst reviewed of the films on this list, The Last Five Years was truly a film that paid tribute to classic film musicals. While not as emotionally resonant as it’s stage counterpart, this tiny indie directed by Richard LaGravenese and starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan achieved the difficult task of creating a melodious, believable romance. The fantastic framing of the story, one point of view told backwards and the other forwards, makes it exciting enough, but the music is what makes it truly unforgettable. It’s been eight months and the songs are still emotionally resonant.
What is there to say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? Really, the reason this movie deserves a place on this list is because J.J. Abrams and his team pulled off the most difficult job of the century. Against all odds, The Force Awakens is a film that is nostalgic and new, while also exhilarating and fun. Daisy Ridley’s Rey is one of the most exciting characters to grace the screen in years. Saying there are high hopes for Episodes VIII and IX is an understatement.
This is one of the movies that is so majestic, it almost blows everything else out of the water. It ekes emotion and passion, and gives audiences another two hours of Cate Blanchett acting circles around everyone else on planet earth. Carol is so well crafted and gorgeously realized, it both devastates and gives hope- something that is very hard to do.
Amy is a tragic masterpiece. Telling the story of doomed songstress Amy Winehouse, director Asif Kapada is able to piece together an honest and beautiful piece of cinema. Watching the film feels like meeting a new best friend, only to see her tragically perish. It’s such a fantastic meditation on the price of fame and talent, as well as a perfect portrait on who Amy was as a person. Nothing is more deserving of a best documentary nomination.
Frances Ha was an instant classic. Mistress America is assurance that lightning doesn’t strike just once. Directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written by Greta Gerwig, Mistress America is fun, frothy, modern screwball comedy that is electrifyingly fresh. A stellar cast and beautiful cinematography make this movie one to remember. It’s a welcome sight to see that even though it has almost the same exact cast and crew of Frances Ha, the filmmakers are still dedicated to crafting something new and exciting.
Who doesn’t love a good fairytale? Cinderella, telling a tale that has been told one times too many, somehow managed to create a fresh and imaginative spin on the classic rags to riches story. Lily James, someone who was originally thought a wrong fit, was so pitch perfect as Ella that the story felt more original and exciting because of her casting. The chemistry between her and Richard Madden was palpable and Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter are obviously having fun- not just phoning it in. While past Disney live action adaptions leave a little to be desired, Cinderella draws excitement for future installments.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of those movies that is so stunningly original, it makes one hopeful for the future of cinema. So beautifully directed by Alejandro Gomez-Rejon, Me and Earl is able to confidently meld comedy with tragedy, without losing its unique voice and perspective. In a seemingly never ending stream of sequels and franchises, this small film is able to prove that classic, fun filmmaking will always stand the test of time. No other picture has better fit the classic Walt Disney adage: “For every laugh, there should be a tear.”
1. Inside Out
Pixar has not been itself the past few years. Originally heralded as the most creative studios producing content, Pixar has almost become a joke of its former self in the past few years. While the future slate, as well as its most recent entry The Good Dinosaur, leave much to be desired, Inside Out is a great return to form. Pete Docter weaves a crazy original story that made audiences laugh, cry, and cheer for these sentient emotions. In this production, Pixar isn’t just aiming for great filmmaking, but changing the way people think about their own emotions. It’s fantastic and exciting and proves that the Pixar of past isn’t completely forgotten.