Best of 2015

The Top 10 Movies of 2015

by Alan Rapp on January 1, 2016

in Top Tens & Lists


2015 was a year for ensembles, strong female-driven stories, real-life drama brought to the big screen, animated features, and surprisingly good science fiction. In a year which proved to hold as many gems before award season as during it, 2015 turned out to be a pretty good year at the movies. Limiting my list to ten there are certainly a number of films worthy of mention that didn’t find a place on this list including the best super-hero film of the year, a journey on Mars, Cold War spy intrigue, and the return of Star Wars, Charlie Brown, and Rocky Balboa all to the big screen. But enough of what didn’t make the cut; let’s count down the best movies of 2015…

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

by Alan Rapp on December 30, 2015

in Home Video

  • Title: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
  • IMDb: link

Me and Earl and the Dying GirlAdapting her own novel, writer Jesse Andrews offers us a look into a year of life of lonely high school senior Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) who has spent his entire high school experience with the sole goal of not pissing anyone off. Acquaintances with several of his classmates, but friend to none, Greg’s only outlet outside the carefully constructed web of calm (that happens to be the exact opposite of his home life) are the movies he makes with Earl (RJ Cyler), a longtime friend (even if Greg refuses to refer to him that way).

Greg’s carefully crafted world is shattered when his mother (Connie Britton) forces him to spend time with a classmate who has contracted Leukemia. At first spending time with Rachel (Olivia Cooke) only to placate his mother, Greg quickly begins to enjoy their time together, even if doing so slowly destroys his world as the aloof teen who has avoided both conflict and making any real choices in his life is put in situations where neither can be avoided.

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The Big Short

by Alan Rapp on December 23, 2015

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Big Short
  • IMDb: link

The Big ShortBased on the non-fiction book of the same name by Michael Lewis, The Big Short chronicles a small group of individuals who made money betting against the housing market after recognizing a basic flaw in the mortgage system that would inevitably cause the bubble to eventually burst.

Director Adam McKay assembles an ensemble cast (Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Jeremy Strong, John Magaro, Finn Wittrock, and Brad Pitt) led by Steve Carell of those whose discovery of an amazing level of fraud in the housing market allowed them the opportunity to forecast the upcoming financial turmoil that those in the industry did their best to hide even after it became obvious what was going on. Our characters are neither heroes nor villains, just those amazed at the level of incompetence and deception perpetrated on the American public which they find a way to take financial advantage of by betting against those obscene loans ever being paid off.

The story is both fascinating and nauseating as it becomes clear to not only our characters but also the audience the insanity mortgage lenders and brokers were getting away with.

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by Alan Rapp on December 11, 2015

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Spotlight
  • IMDb: link

SpotlightIn a true ensemble Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Brian d’Arcy James star as The Boston Globe investigative group (bolstered by characters played by John Slattery and Liev Schreiber) that pulled on the thread of a single story involving a Catholic priest’s sexual abuse of a child to uncover a story with staggering ramifications for the entire Boston community. Based on true events, writer/director Tom McCarthy‘s film follows the investigation as it uncovers a conspiracy of silence involving dozens of priests and hundreds of victims in the Boston area alone.

A bit of a throwback to the types of old school newspaper movies Hollywood has gotten out of the habit of making in recent years (at least memorable ones), Spotlight takes us on a year-long journey with the “Spotlight” team as, under orders from the paper’s new editor (Schreiber), they discover a story far bigger than anyone thought possible. Knowledge of the events doesn’t detract from the story McCarthy and co-writer Josh Singer set out to tell. The revelations are still shocking more than a decade after the story saw print in early 2002.

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by Alan Rapp on December 6, 2015

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Room
  • IMDb: link

RoomBased on Emma Donoghue‘s novel, Room is both heart-wrenching and heartwarming at the same time as the world of a five-year old boy is changed forever. The film opens with Jack (Jacob Tremblay) and his mother Joy (Brie Larson) living together is a small room where the only daylight comes from a dirty skylight in the ceiling. Celebrating his fifth birthday, the room is all of the world Jack has ever known outside of television. To him Dora the Explorer is just as ethereal as trees, wide open spaces, animals, and other people.

The comings and goings of Old Nick (Sean Bridgers), who brings them groceries and occasionally spends the night with Joy, begins to reveal the truth of the mother and son’s situation to both the audience and the young boy who struggles to understand. Abducted as a teenage girl, Joy has lived for years as a prisoner. Believing Jack is now old enough to be of help in an escape attempt, and to be in danger from Old Nick, Joy attempts to explain to truth of the outside world, a dreamlike reality that Jack can’t quite wrap his brain around after being brought-up to believe nothing outside the room is real.

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