With awards season just around the corner, many pundits are making predictions about what is likely to be honored by organizations like the Academy of Motion picture Arts and Sciences, otherwise known as the Oscars. Many are good at such predictions, using what and who the Academy has awarded in the past as some sort of scale. Nevertheless, this blog is not about what will or should be honored, rather it is a list of great movies which have come out this year, many of them within the last couple of the months, that should be seen by viewers and movie lovers.
The Martian: America’s fascination with capturing outer space appears to be making a resurgence. Given the 2013 release of the award-winning, Gravity, and the highly anticipated return of Star Wars this winter, this incredibly popular film captured audiences globally, because of growing interests. The film is shot beautifully, with the support of a more than stellar cast and expert direction from none other than Ridley Scott. While literary lovers typically lament when movies are adapted from books they love, there weren’t many with a lack of appreciation for this production, and for good reason.
- Spotlight: This film is as bold as the true story it’s based on. Yet, it balances somehow, with incredible poise, the controversial subject matter, leaving the audience to judge for themselves who is at fault. With a spate of power-house actors on the cast, one might assume that there would be clashing of some sort, or that one would inevitably outshine the other, but that doesn’t happen here. Consequently, a large part of the film’s success should be attributed to the film’s director and co-writer, Thomas McCarthy. Bring this film to life in the way that he did is true artistry.
- Chi-Raq: This is one of the more creative films to be released this year, which had movie critics raving that Chi-Raq is the Brooklyn native, Spike Lee’s, best film in years, decades, perhaps. Based on the classic Greek comedy, Lysistrata, the film expertly uses satire to carry its message of the staggering amount of murders happening on Chicago’s south side, as a result of gun violence. While unbalanced with regard to pacing and story development, the film is incredibly poignant and relevant, and, as previously stated, beyond creative.
- Room: Also based on a novel, this movie is an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end. Any film that can keep the audience intrigued, even when it knows the premise, is exactly why people enjoy the art of movies. The relevance of the story itself cannot be understated, in light of very similar events that have taken place in the news within the last few years. And not unlike Netflix hit, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but certainly with a different approach, the movie allows us to understand the emotional toll but incredible strength of the victims which endure abductions and kidnapping, and relate to them as more than mere headlines.
- Amy: This is the only documentary on the list; it needed to be included. This movie shows the gone-too-soon British pop star’s rise and demise. The importance of the film is its ability to highlight the beast of the industry and other contributing factors to one’s ruin and, in this case, death. Yet, it’s not all pain and sorrow. The innate, raw talent of the singer is carefully highlighted, and the director is careful to center her love of music as her ultimate passion, which suggests it, rather than the horrendous way she passed, should be her legacy.