Room

Probably one of the films of 2015 I was most curious about was Room. Based on a novel of the same name by Emma Donaghue (who also wrote the screenplay for the movie), Room has a unique concept that is difficult to imagine on screen. The result though is triumphant, a haunting but surprisingly beautiful portrait of survival, adjustment, and the unbreakable bond between a mother and son.

Room tells the story of Joy “Ma” (Brie Larson) and her five-year-old son Jack (Jacob Tremblay), who after being held captive for seven years in an enclosed space, finally escape and are forced to experience and adjust to the real world they have been hidden from.

The performances in Room are really what kept the film up. Brie Larson was fantastic as she navigated such a fragile yet strong character with great ability. Her acting prowess is powerful in the film and I do believe she deserves the Oscar. What I liked about her character in particular is that while Joy is resilient, she is also not perfect. She has her bad days, deservedly so with the horrid situation she is in, but she also tries to be optimistic for her son. Joy strives to be a good mother and provide Jack with a complete childhood, but one must still remember her young age. Larson is able to personify all of these elements into her performance.

Now let’s talk about Jacob Tremblay though. Why was he not nominated for an Oscar? His performance was so amazing in this film that it easily rivals any of those from the other nominated actors. His is young but in many ways he even outshines Brie Larson due to his incredibly natural and heart-tugging actions. Pretty much all of my favorite scenes simply had Jack being the wonderfully adorable and curious little boy he is. The chemistry between Larson and Tremblay is undeniable and their strong bond as mother and son in the film is ever present.

Probably what I liked about Room the most was not its tale of perseverance and survival, but rather the struggles to adjust to a normal life shown. The pair’s escape does not lead right away to a happy ending. In fact what they must face next, the real world, is what might be the most daunting of all. The screenplay of the film was strong overall, though I feel like the relationship between Joy and her father could have been developed more. Nevertheless, I thought the movie flowed nicely. Led by such strong performances, Room is the kind of film that you can not stop thinking about afterwards, at least it was for me. Room is simply beautiful.

ALL IN ALL: With unforgettable performances from its two leads, Room tells a harrowing but radiant tale of survival and love.

Director: Lenny Abrahamson

Cast: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridges, William H. Macy

Year: 2015

poster from: http://cdn.traileraddict.com/content/a24/room-2015.jpg

 

 

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The Martian

I recently got the opportunity to watch The Martian for free so of course I jumped on that chance not only because it was free (holla!) but also because it is an acclaimed movie up for many awards (7 Oscar noms!). I am happy to report that I ended up really enjoying The Martian! It is an all around fun movie to watch!

In the year 2035, astronaut Mark Whatney (Matt Damon) is presumed to be dead and left behind on Mars after an extreme dust storm forces his crew to leave him behind. Alone on a hostile planet with little supplies, Whatney must use his ingenuity and wit to survive and signal to those on Earth that he is still alive.

Like I said before, I believe The Martian to be a very enjoyable movie to watch. There’s action, adventure, drama, comedy, and space! What’s not to love? Going back to the comedy part, The Martian was actually a really funny movie, in huge part to Matt Damon. He did a great job in the film and his character was so likable and hilarious. The comedic moments helped lighten the film at times and added to the entertainment. However while the film can be funny at times, I would not categorize it as a comedy (*cough cough* Golden Globes *cough cough*).

The ensemble cast was awesome too with stars like Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor; I mean the list goes on! The film really has you thinking about space and if a lot of the elements in the movie would really be possible (anyone know?). There were parts in The Martian that had me laughing out loud and others that had me gripping the edge of my seat. It is a great film for fans of many different genres and I am certain people will have as fun a time watching it as I did!

ALL IN ALL: The Martian boats an ensemble cast lead by an excellent performance by Matt Damon and is an all around enjoyable film to watch.

Director: Ridley Scott

Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña,Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor

Year: 2015

poster from: http://cdn.traileraddict.com/content/20th-century-fox/martian2015.jpg

 

Boyhood

Boyhood is the movie this awards season that has been getting tons of buzz since its release. Now a front runner for Best Picture, Boyhood has been lauded by many critics as a “masterpiece” and “the best movie of the year”. I’m sorry but was it really? It is just that I watched Boyhood and I did not feel as strongly about it as almost every other film critic.

Directed by Richard Linklater and shot over the course of 12 years with the same cast, Boyhood follows the life of a young boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), from ages 5 to 18. Depicting Mason’s adolescence, the film also focuses on his divorced parents (Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) along with his sister (Lorelai Linklater).

The concept behind Boyhood is breathtaking in a way. 12 years, one boy, the audience literally gets to see him grow up before their own eyes. Yet, I have a feeling that this concept is the reason the film is sweeping the awards.

Boyhood does deserve some of the praise. It is amazing that they were able to accomplish such a unique and landmark film. The movie is like a time capsule. The only way to really distinguish the passing years other than the characters’ haircuts, was the cultural references. It was cool to hear the popular music of each year and have memories thrown at you of playing Oregon Trail in school and waiting for the Harry Potter books to be released. The film takes you back. However besides the 12 years concept and besides the nostalgia Boyhood brings, what else was there? There was no story. It merely scratched the surface of the characters, showing random and quick glimpses into their lives. By the end, the reel just kept going on and on. There was no connection or underlying point. Was that the point of the movie? That life is just a handful of memories and snapshots that bring some kind of significance but no real meaning. If so, then I missed the point of the movie.

Are film critics so caught up in the 12 year concept that they were either too astounded or afraid to badmouth any part of the movie? (Sorry for all the questions, I promise I’m done!) I was simply disappointed by the end. I found myself waiting, waiting for some kind of moment that would tie it all together. Perhaps some moment of appreciation between Mason and his mom (which by the way I feel should have been a relationship showcased more than that of him and his dad) or maybe one scene where the sister did not complain about something! I wanted to care about Mason, really connect to him and maybe I did in the beginning of his childhood but by the end, I was over him. He grew to be a moody artistic soul who simply drifted. The only character with some sort of development was Mason Sr, the father.

The acting in the film was fine and I thought Patricia Arquette gave a solid performance for her underrated character. Everything about Boyhood was pretty solid, except the story. Again, if that was the point then forgive me. However I was just unsatisfied at the end. Okay so I watched 2 1/2 hours of this boy coming of age, but somehow I feel like he did not grow at all.

ALL IN ALL: While the concept behind Boyhood is great and deserves praise, the film’s central premise and story does not deliver any satisfaction.