The Daily Gamecock

Top picks: Arts and Culture's favorite movies of 2015

<p>Arts and Culture presents our top movies of 2015.</p>
Arts and Culture presents our top movies of 2015.


Sam Breazeale

It’s not difficult to find references and tasteless jokes in pop culture about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church; Pope Francis has been addressing it over the last few years, and most adults seem to know about it, but most of today’s college students are too young to remember when the Spotlight investigative reporting team at the Boston Globe uncovered the magnitude of the problem in a series of articles published over 2002.

Luckily, Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer’s new film, “Spotlight,” tells the story in a way that does it justice, providing a riveting narrative while drawing attention to the questions and themes raised by the team’s discovery: the role of long-form journalism, the responsibilities of a community, the banality of evil. The film starts with the retirement of the longtime editor of The Boston Globe, and his replacement by Marty Baron, a journalist from Florida. The fact that some of the staff don’t take Baron seriously as a foreigner to Boston is the beginning of the movie’s exploration of Boston as sort of a small town, which leads to the suggestion that the highly-organized and exclusive social structure of Boston might be precisely the thing that makes it possible for countless decent people to look the other way while priests sexually abuse children.

The momentum of the film never lets up, and the immensity of what is uncovered leaves the viewer both haunted and inspired. Though its effectiveness comes from talking around the near-unthinkable, “Spotlight” is ultimately a virtuosic performance by its writers and actors alike.

"Inside Out"

Sarah Nichols

Disney-Pixar’s animated film “Inside Out” brought a delightful and one-of-a-kind experience to movie-goers of all ages this summer.

The movie follows 11-year-old Riley as she moves with her family to San Francisco due to her dad’s new job and focuses on the five emotions inside of Riley’s head that control her — Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. Voiced by popular comedians such as Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling, the emotions provide comedic relief with their often stereotyped personalities.

“Inside Out” is a creative and unique movie that appeals to all children without a gender-specific audience in mind (no princesses or dinosaurs here!). However, after seeing the film twice in theaters, I discovered that the target audience was just as much adults as it was children. Appealing to the parents who sit through one animated movie after another is not a new technique, but it was executed perfectly in this case. Layered with jokes about adolescence and middle school crushes along with insights into the emotions of the parents’ minds, it brought humor and relevancy to teenage and adult movie-goers alike. The references to many real psychological concepts produced witty “aha!” moments to students and scholars as well.

Most importantly, “Inside Out” ended with a message that is important for all to hear — life means embracing all of your emotions. The bad moments only make the good ones more poignant.

"Beasts of No Nation"

Andrew Martin

“Beasts of No Nation” is film operating at the highest of levels. The movie is both strikingly beautiful and full of heart as it shows the horrors and tragedy child soldiers in Africa experience.

The movie is masterfully written, directed and shot by Cary Joji Fukunaga, director of HBO’s first season of “True Detective." Every scene is impactful and full of both emotion and energy. Idris Elba gives the performance of his career as the horrifically likeable Commandant of the child army. Newcomer Abraham Attah gives a strong and emotional performance as Agu, a child soldier under Elba’s character.

The movie begins with the men in Agu’s family being killed. Agu tries to flee but is found by the Native Defense Force, which forces Agu to join as a child soldier. He is then forced to commit heinous acts of violence all the while fearing that God hates him for what he’s doing and the person he’s become.

Watching a child struggle with his identity as he is forced to abandon his childhood is heartbreaking to watch, but it’s done so well it needs to be seen.

“Beasts of No Nation” is currently available to watch on Netflix.


Katie Rosen

Although I’m marginally biased because Melissa McCarthy is unconditionally my favorite actress, "Spy" is incredibly hilarious.

McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a seemingly forlorn CIA desk-confined employee, who acquires a position as an undercover spy. Once Cooper’s identity is temporarily compromised, she is known as Penny Morgan. Penny wittily tackles an abundance of dicey tasks with the goal of vanquishing a rival group that mass-produces weapons.

McCarthy’s unrelenting satire shines throughout the entirety of the film, and her ability to play up relationships really highlights humor between friends and lovers. 

There is nothing as amusing as a heavyset woman with raw humor and a foul mouth attempting to use physical force to fight an opponent — specifically an opponent who is strong and powerful.

If you enjoy the sarcastic tone of "Spy," you might also enjoy McCarthy’s 2013 film, “The Heat," in which she partners up with Sandra Bullock to amass an equally entertaining and comical film, both playing the roles of FBI agents.

"The End of the Tour"

Rachel Pittman

In James Ponsoldt’s “The End of the Tour," audiences catch a glimpse of the world of late author David Foster Wallace through emotionally-stirring performances and an inspiring look back at the author’s acclaimed works, thoughts, and personality.

The drama tells the story of Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky’s five-day interview with Wallace, which took place during the last bit of Wallace’s book tour for his 1996 novel “Infinite Jest."

Audiences watch as Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), a mediocre author himself, and Wallace (Jason Segel) form an unlikely friendship filled with moments of rivalry, jealousy and mutual admiration.

The film gives 2015 some of the year’s most authentic and complex performances. Segel shines as the troubled Wallace, exhibiting a new depth and contemplative melancholy never before seen in Segel’s career. Eisenberg as Lipsky captures the intricacies of a relationship between the reporter yearning to be a novelist and the already-established novelist, striking the perfect balance between envy, awe and a typical journalist’s curiosity.

One of 2015’s most thought-provoking films, “The End of the Tour” is a bittersweet and multi-layered ode to not only David Foster Wallace, but also to writing and to friendship of all kinds.


Sarah Morse

In a year filled with myriad stereotypical romantic comedies, there was one picture that stood out from the rest. "Trainwreck," which starred beloved comedians Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, was in short, the raunchiest and seemingly most relatable film of the year.

The flick mixed up the typical romantic comedy formula by pushing the envelope further than ever before. The plot follows the many trials and tribulations of the protagonist Amy, a self-proclaimed commitment-phobe whose life is tipped upside down when she falls for a sports doctor named Aaron.

Portrayed flawlessly by Bill Hader, Aaron is charming, witty and in search of a serious relationship. The vastly different morals and goals of the lovers makes for a hilarious few hours of entertainment. The film itself succeeds in resonating with millennials as it brutally illustrates the countless issues young adults seem to be having with dating in 2015.

Though not a movie one should necessarily view in the company of his or her parents, "Trainwreck" is an insightful and refreshing comedy that will have you laughing until the very end.