This past year has been a tremendous year in movies, with summer blockbusters as big as “Jurassic World,” and record breaking box office numbers from the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” With awards season upon us, the buzz is nonstop about top runners such as “The Revenant,” “Spotlight,” “Room,” and others. Every year during awards season, we remember the ones getting nominated for the top awards. Every year, great films go forgotten, and 2015 is no different. From the summer of 2015, here is a list of five such films, films that might otherwise go overlooked.
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
One of the first movies I saw this summer was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The Grand Jury Prize and Audience award winner at Sundance captured two seniors in high school befriending a terminally ill classmate. First time director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon takes on this coming of age story, with a unique style that worked perfectly. With playful camera movements, bizarre humor, and amazing script, this movie stood out as one of the best films released this year. With so many coming of age movies , it’s hard to avoid cliché, but Gomez-Rejon succeeds in making a funny and touching story about friendship and growing up, all while avoiding the sappiness of recent failures.
It’s hard to imagine getting another great coming of age story in the same summer as Me and Earl, but Dope managed to go above and beyond. This other Sundance hit featuring a diverse cast managed to find a way into one of my favorites of this year. Writer/Director Rick Famuyiwa telling the story of three high school nerds growing up in a rough neighborhood of Inglewood, California. By a crazy turn of events, they end up with a bag full of drugs that they have to get rid of. Aside from the incredibly diverse cast, what makes this movie special is the clever editing, and great original soundtrack by Pharell Williams. Dope manages to create a relatable story by its hilariously awkward and quirky protagonists.
- The End of the Tour
Loneliness and isolation was a common theme in 2015, and one that tackled it possibly the best was James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour. The story follows writer David Lipsky, covering the last part of David Foster Wallace’s book tour for his epic novel Infinite Jest. Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel star as Lipskey and Wallace respectively. Segel steps away from his typical slapstick comedy roles and pulls off his best and most heartbreaking performance yet. The success of this movie could not be without the brilliance of the performances, and the incredibly well-crafted script. The chemistry between the two leads brings this true story to life. Days after the credits rolled, I was still thinking about it, and that’s the power of this film.
- People Places and Things
Some stories can be told simple and short, which is the case with James C. Strouse’s People Places and Things. The story follows a graphic novelist who deals with a sudden break-up, leaving him to split the time with his two young twin daughters with the mother. The concept seems simple at a first glance, and with the length falling at 85 minutes, it doesn’t need to be more complex than it becomes. The incredible charm of Jemaine Clement and the two adorable twin daughters creates a quirky comedy with witty dialogue that doesn’t adhere to that of a typical Hollywood film. The humor and cynicism of the lead kept me laughing and smiling throughout the entire film.
- Shaun the Sheep Movie
Animated movies have always found a way into my heart. While the two big animated movies that got the most box office attention were Minions and Inside Out, one movie didn’t get the attention it deserved. From the people behind Wallace & Gromit, and Chicken Run, Shaun the Sheep Movie delivers as a family friendly hilarious treat. The movie has zero lines of dialogue, so it relies entirely on visual comedy, which it pulls of tremendously (I laughed in the first five seconds). With a fun soundtrack, and unexpected references galore, this stop motion gem is a blast the whole way through.
Written by Trevor Howell