It was a banner year at the box office thanks to Jurassic World, the return of the Star Wars franchise and the ending of The Hunger Games franchise, but there were a number of films worthy of your attention that didn’t exactly break the bank at the box office. If you looking for something to catch on cable eventually or to spice up your Netflix viewing, here’s 11 films from 2015 worth taking a chance on.
Al Pacino turns in an electric performance as the titular character, a songwriter who could’ve been huge, but chose to rest on his laurels and play the oldies casino circuit. After learning that John Lennon penned him a letter years prior encouraging his songwriting, Danny comes to the realization that he doesn’t like what he’s become and is ready to try again, but not just in music but life. He tracks down his estranged son (Bobby Cannavale) and attempts to reconnect, while also taking up residence in a small town hotel where he inserts himself into the lives of the staff and begins to fall for the hotel manager (Annette Bening).
What happens when a well-read, ’80s hip-hop loving teen (Shameik Moore) finds himself unwittingly pulled into a drug deal gone bad on the same day he’s hoping to go for his interview to help him enter an Ivy League school? This thoroughly entertaining tale finds our book smart hero attempting to use his street smarts to get himself out of a potentially dangerous situation, all while his two best friends (Kiersey Clemons, Tony Revolori) come along for the ride.
3. The End of the Tour
This real-life tale centers on the relationship between reclusive wunderkind writer David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) and Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) assigned to chronicle the final days of his ‘Infinite Jest’ book tour. The film begins with the death of Wallace and is told through the reflections of Lipsky, giving the viewer insight as they delve into such issues of poetic artistry, the trappings of fame, their own insecurities and other assorted amusing and introspective anecdotes.
4. Love & Mercy
The life and struggles of Beach Boys genius Brian Wilson is engagingly portrayed by actors Paul Dano and John Cusack at different periods in his life. We see Wilson as the misunderstood genius dealing with immense pressure from his family as he struggles with his own sanity in his youth, while Cusack plays the latter day Wilson, a man who is now having his life overseen by his physician, Dr. Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti) who is deeply protective and views Wilson as his meal ticket. It isn’t until Wilson meets a car salesman (Elizabeth Banks) and begins a romantic relationship with her that he’s able to free himself from heavily medicated prison that his life has become.
5. The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Modeled after the popular TV series, director Guy Ritchie gave the film an update but kept the aesthetic uniquely British ’60s era style. The trio of Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander keep the interplay fun, flirtatious and the action moves along at a quick pace. We’re not sure anyone was clamoring for a remake of this series and many members of the audience may not be familiar with the source material, but the film was entertaining enough to make us want to see more.
6.Me & Earl & The Dying Girl [Blu-ray]
A humorous yet heart-wrenching tale about a wise cracking teen (Thomas Mann) with a fear of attachment who befriends a teen girl (Olivia Cooke) who has just been diagnosed with cancer at the request of his mother (Connie Britton). Little by little, the walls between the two come crashing down as they bond over his amateur filmmaking venture with his earnest and wise best friend Earl (RJ Cyler). There’s humor, heart and life lessons learned along the way in this truly touching film.
7. Mr. Holmes
Sir Ian McKellen stars as the legendary detective, now in old age and being tended to by a housekeeper (Laura Linney) who doesn’t care for Sherlock and her inquisitive son (Milo Parker) who attempts to help the super sleuth recall the details of his final case while he deals with failing memory. It’s an outstanding performance by McKellen and a look at the heroic detective at a period in his life that most are not that familiar with.
Brie Larson turns in a potential Oscar nominated performance as Ma, a woman taken in her teens and held captive in a storage shack, later giving birth to a young boy Jack (Jacob Tremblay). Seemingly resigned to her fate, Ma gives her son the world in the tiny shack, but once he gets old enough, she begins to plot their escape. The transition to finding out there’s a whole big world out there is an interesting watch as both Ma and son attempt to come to terms with their new life.
9. Sleeping With Other People [Blu-ray]
The rom-com gets a modern raunchy update when former college lovers (Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie) reconnect years later at a sex addicts meeting. They strike up a friendship, attempting to assist each other through love’s pitfalls, but over time become close enough that the chemistry is too much to deny. With supporting co-stars like Andrea Savage, Jason Mantzoukas, Amanda Peet and Adam Scott, this film supplies plenty of non-PC humor with the right touch of heart.
Bryan Cranston turns in a star performance as the titular screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, the top Hollywood scribe of his era who suddenly found his politics questioned during the “red scare” of the ’50s. Spending time behind bars for practicing communism, Trumbo began to reclaim his career on the black market in Hollywood, penning a number of films and unable to claim two Oscars for screenplays he submitted under a pseudonym.
11. Woman in Gold
Helen Mirren stars as Maria Altmann, a woman who decides to take the country of Austria to court to reclaim a portrait of her aunt that was swiped by the Germans during the war, but went on to become one of the most treasured paintings of the country. Aided by an inexperienced and initially reluctant attorney (Ryan Reynolds) and a local journalist (Daniel Bruhl), she eventually decides to fight for her family’s legacy.
What are some of your favorite overlooked films of 2015? Feel free to let us know in the Comments section below.
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