Make Room for These Movies on Your Must-See List

9 Nov

SpectreThe Oscar race is in full swing, folks. We know this because in the past month, quite a few films have been released that will likely figure in the year-end awards.

Which one will take home the top prize? It may be one of the movies I’ve seen since my last reviews roundup. Here are all the movies I’ve seen in recent weeks, in order of when I saw them.

(Note: Numbers reflect the total number of movies I’ve seen so far in 2015.)

steve-jobs-movie60. Steve Jobs. Aaron Sorkin boils down the myth and the man — and Walter Isaacson’s massive biography — to three events: the launch announcements of the Macintosh, the NeXT cube, and the iMac. Conversations and events likely didn’t happen as presented (if at all), but the dense, crackling dialogue manages to encapsulate much about Jobs and entertain in the process. (Oh boy, does it.) Director Danny Boyle conducts it all like a maestro, doing away with his typical stylistic flourishes (see Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours), but ratcheting up the suspense — particularly in a brilliantly filmed, written, and edited confrontation between Jobs (Michael Fassbender, excellent) and John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) in the middle section. I’m an unabashed Sorkin and Jobs fan boy, so take all of this with a grain of salt, perhaps, but Steve Jobs was one of my favorite movies of the year. I can’t wait to see it again. A­–

61. Sicario. Emily Blunt stars as an FBI agent dragged into the middle of the drug war, where it’s hard to tell who the good guys are, victories are relative, and the strategy isn’t always clear. The film is appropriately hard to follow at times, but often tense, and through it all, Blunt’s stone-faced silence speaks volumes. B+

62. Room. Tense, claustrophic, and very well acted movie about a mother (Brie Larson) and her 5-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay) trapped in a 10 x 10 garden shed, and what happens when they make it out. Excellent. B+

63. Our Brand Is Crisis. Lackluster dramedy that finds Sandra Bullock’s political consultant competing against Billy Bob Thornton in a Bolivian election (via the candidates they’re supporting, natch). Definitely a backslide for Bullock after a few years of impressive work. C+

the-3364. The 33. Thankfully, even if you know how this true story of 33 Chilean miners stuck underground for 69 days ends (spoiler alert: they all live), you’ll still be moved by the way director Patricia Riggen and writers Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten, and José Rivera recreate what it was like for the men and their families — and government officials — during those two-plus months. These were ordinary people who just wanted to work; The 33 nicely pays tribute to their extraordinary circumstances and heroism. B+

65. Truth. Not a terribly convincing case that Dan Rather (Robert Redford) and CBS News producer Mary Mapes (Cate Blanchette) were in the right regarding their since-discredited 2004 story questioning George Bush’s military service. Redford makes a winning Rather, nailing the newsman’s folksy/authoritative tone, but writer/director James Vanderbilt can’t seem to decide if he’s on Mapes’ side or not. So as a result, neither can we. B

peanuts-movie66. The Peanuts Movie. Good grief! They actually went and made a good Peanuts movie! This one smartly and beautifully incorporates nearly everything we loved about the cartoons and comic strips growing up, maintaining the same timeless quality and positive message. A movie kids and their parents can watch and smile throughout. B+

67. Spotlight. Forget Black Mass; THIS is the best Boston mob movie of the year. It’s an excellent tribute to the reporters and editors at the Boston Globe who, in 2001 and 2002, broke the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, that nicely explores how practically the entire city was in on the cover-up — if not directly, then indirectly. Director/co-writer Tom McCarthy shows a solid understanding of the dynamics of Boston, never devolving into melodrama or cliché about the role of journalists in the pursuit of a story, and a top-notch cast (including Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo) portrays these heroes without making them conventionally heroic. They’re not perfect people, just good reporters doing their job well. A–

68. Spectre. If this is, indeed, Daniel Craig’s final film as 007, I wish he’d gone out on a higher note. While not nearly as bad as Quantum of Solace, Spectre is average Bond. To be sure, that’s still better than many other movies. But after Skyfall, my expectations were higher. B

69. All Things Must Pass. A must-see documentary for anyone who ever spent any amount of time in a Tower Records store. Colin Hanks’ film features a series of entertaining and impressive anecdotes, told by many of the former leaders of the company, most of whom began as store clerks and rose through the ranks, and all of whom loved the company as more than just a money-making retail business. It’s very cool to see how ahead of his time founder Russ Solomon was, introducing a magazine (content marketing!) and promoting Tower as a (pre–social media) place for music lovers to hang out and discover new tunes. No wonder artists like Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Dave Grohl (all included in the film) were as big a fan of the store as every other customer was. B+

Sidenotes: Yes, I’ve really seen 69 movies so far this year. Yes, I know that’s kind of crazy. No, I don’t believe it either. No, that doesn’t include 2014 releases that didn’t hit theaters till earlier this year. Yes, I may have a little too much time on my hands. No, I don’t need another hobby.

What’s the last movie YOU saw? Let me know in the comments section below.

4 Responses to “Make Room for These Movies on Your Must-See List”


  1. Time for Thanksgiving Leftovers at the Movies | Martin's Musings - December 4, 2015

    […] clear the slate and tell you what I thought of the movies I’ve seen in recent weeks since my last collection of reviews — many of which, appropriately enough, were […]

  2. These Are the Movie Reviews You’re Looking For | Martin's Musings - December 22, 2015

    […] vets and some random Broadway stars (Bobby Moynihan, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Maya Rudolph — and Spotlight’s Brian d’Arcy James, who is wasted in a wordless cameo). John Cena gets some of the best […]

  3. What Fun It Was to Go to the Movies This Year | Martin's Musings - December 29, 2015

    […] films were pleasant surprises, like The Peanuts Movie, Ant-Man, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. — and I mention that last film not just because […]

  4. Feast on These 12 Movies During the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend | Martin's Musings - November 20, 2017

    […] tells the story of a 10-year-old boy named Auggie (Jacob Tremblay, Room), who was born with a crainiofacial condition and learns to live without his astronaut helmet […]

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