We’re officially past awards season, so I think it’s finally safe to talk about our favorite movies without inciting a riot over which films are superior to others. I reached out to everyone on our staff to hear which film they saw last year became their favorite. We aren’t saying these are the best movies of 2015 (a couple of them even released in 2014), or the ones that deserved the most Oscars, but these are the films that resonated with us and moved us the most. Hopefully, you haven’t seen all of the movies we have chosen and can get a good recommendation from this article. If not, well, feel free to let us know why you did or didn’t like the ones that you saw.
Adam Shaffer – The One I Love – Drama/Comedy, rated R (for language, some sexuality and drug use)
This film holds special meaning to me because of the circumstances in which I watched it. My wife directs a travelling singing group, and is away for about 5 weeks each summer. As such, I basically “go stag” every summer. I experience a lot of ups and downs as I enjoy the freedom to eat pizza and play video games every night while also missing her companionship frequently. I was bored one night and started browsing Netflix when I stumbled onto this flick in the queue. I thought, “Hey, that’s the chick from Mad Men!” and I guess that’s all I needed to hit play. The movie starts off as an innocent little rom-com but quickly turns into a bizarre look at two people that were well past the “honeymoon phase” of their relationship. In Hollywood, we’re often given the chance to consider the stage of life where people fall in love, get married, and ride off into the sunset. But this movie mixes up the formula and makes us consider the complex psychology of a long-term relationship and all of the dirty laundry that comes along with it. Having now been married for about 4 years, it resonated with me on a very personal level and I found myself cherishing my wife and our complex relationship from 1,000 miles away. This is one of those movies that you should go into with as few spoilers as possible, so I won’t give anything away. But if you’re somebody who is in a long-term relationship and is into the more human side of filmmaking, you should give this one a whirl.
Kyle Dunham – Room – Drama, rated R (for language)
There are so many things out here. And sometimes it’s scary. But that’s ok. Because it’s still just you and me…
Room connects with me because it is honest, it is raw, and it is real. It makes you feel like you are on the emotional journey with the two main stars. I won’t say much about the plot line. I will say that I think it is a movie that most people should see. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. It certainly will make you feel high levels of emotion. There are times as a Christian that it will offend you, and it should. You should be offended. Not because they use words you may not agree with. Not because they present things in a way that you thing is wrong. It should offend you because things like this really happen in our world. It has the shades of reality that another movie staring Brie Larson does, Short Term 12. Another movie I believe everyone, especially every Christian, should see. These movies challenges us to see the world as it is not as we wish it was. I believe they can start conversations in the church that need to happen. Do you agree? Do you think these are the kind of movies that should challenge us to make change in the world? Watch and tell me what you think, I’ll be more than excited to have that conversation!
Seth Kuhns – The End of the Tour – Drama, rated R (for language including some sexual references)
With Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg listed as the leads for the movie, it’s difficult not to immediately assume The End of the Tour is primarily a comedy. It’s not. I’m still not sold on Jesse Eisenberg as anything other than your typical “Awkward White Guy” actor (though he has turned in a convincing performance as Lex Luthor in an otherwise mediocre Superman film), but Jason Segel showed some impressive chops in his portrayal of small-time-professor-turned-bestselling-author David Foster Wallace. Segel’s grown quite a bit from his Freaks and Geeks days, and he delivered a mature and nuanced performance as the insecure Wallace. Having never read any of Wallace’s work, the film’s exploration of his troubled genius piqued my interest. I didn’t dive into Infinite Jest, the subject of the tour the title is referencing, but I did read some of his early essays after I saw the movie. One writer interviewing another while traveling in the Upper Midwest isn’t the most enticing premise, but this film did an excellent job of showing a surprisingly deep story on how different writers handle varying levels of success.
Brandon Kauffman – Begin Again – Drama/Comedy/Musical & Performing Arts, rated R (for language)
That’s what I love about music… One of the most banal scenes is suddenly invested with so much meaning! All these banalities – they’re suddenly turned into these, these beautiful effervescent pearls. From music.
When we discussed starting this thread of posts that discuss our favorite films we saw in 2015, I asked if that meant we were limited to films released in ’15. I silently hoped not. If it was limited to that year, I’d have to either discuss the most recent Star Wars film or Spy starring Melissa McCarthy, because those were the only films I knew that I had seen from 2015. Yeah, my 2015 wasn’t that spectacular. I was happy when Seth confirmed that we could discuss any film we saw in 2015, because that meant I could look back on a film that I’ve actually viewed three or four times in ’15.
Begin Again, released in the US in July of 2014, has garnered average reviews from the “top” critics in the industry. While I’ve never seen Once, I imagine that the two are similar, but I believe Begin Again has less of the traditional romantic storyline. Paul (Mark Ruffalo) has a chance, and slightly intoxicated, meeting with Gretta (Keira Knightley) in a New York bar where Gretta reluctantly performs a heartfelt song that is mostly ignored by the crowd. This scene, when presented from Paul’s view, is the stand out scene in the film. At least for me. He, in his mind, crafts an entire musical arrangement of the song while she plays, complete with self-playing instruments, something that only the best music producers in the industry can do. From there, after a little prodding, the two venture out into the city of New York to create awesome songs in awesome settings. That may be a lackluster description of a wonderful story, but I don’t want to go too deep into it. There’s really nothing to spoil, but I’d rather you take the opportunity to watch the film, if you have the chance, without me giving away too much.