Tag Archives: Spotlight

Top 10 Movies of 2015

best of 2015

I know that it’s a little late (2-3 months) for me to be posting my best of the year, but I deliberately held off making the list because I wanted to watch many of the later released films like Steve Jobs and Carol. Time went on and progress on my best of the year had been slowed down, but now I’ve finally completed it. I should mention that I haven’t watched every movie, so movies like The Hateful Eight and Room won’t make this list, though I’m sure that I would’ve included them in this list, had I watched them. And yes, I’m going to make a worst of the year list.

Honourable Mentions

Ant Man

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..© Marvel 2014

This movie proved to me that Marvel can do no wrong, at this point they could probably do a Howard the Duck movie and I’d be confident that it would be great. This movie doesn’t have an easy concept to adapt to the big screen but somehow they made it work. Paul Rudd made for a likable character, the supporting cast of Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena and Corey Stoll were also great. It was also a breath of fresh air from the ‘save the world’ type superhero movies and went much smaller scale and the movie really benefited from that. Ant Man is another solid entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and along with Age of Ultron, shows that Marvel are showing no sign of slowing down.

My review of Ant Man

The Big Short

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

The Big Short didn’t have an easy task: it had to create a story about the collapse of the economy while making it entertaining and interesting for the general going audience, but this movie in my opinion succeeded at doing this. Director Adam McKay (Anchorman) made his directional debut in drama and seeing this makes me think that he might have more success in drama than comedy. The performances from Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and others added even more to the movie. As I said in my review, the film doesn’t always get it right as some of the details did get confusing but the fact that I understood some of the concepts showed how well written and directed this movie was. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

My review of The Big Short

Avengers: Age of Ultron

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Avengers Age of Ultron is a movie that I’ve noticed get a lot of criticism. It’s been compared to the first Avengers quite of bit, and is often called lesser in comparison. In some ways I think that it is better than the previous movie. The characters are more developed (particularly Hawkeye) and the story does go bigger and does everything a sequel needs to do. James Spaders’ Ultron was a little divisive for some people but I actually thought that he made for a pretty entertaining villain. On its own I think Avengers Age of Ultron is a really good movie, whether you compare it to the first film or not. It’s not perfect, but neither was the original film. My trust in Marvel has not wavered after this movie, if anything it has been strengthened.

My review of Avengers: Age of Ultron

Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

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The Mission Impossible Franchise has been on the rise ever since its third instalment. No one thought that Ghost Protocol could be topped, with its actions and particularly with the stunts. However Christopher McQuarrie has successfully created a sequel which in my opinion stands at least at the same level of Ghost Protocol. Tom Cruise shows once that he can still be great in action films, his supporting cast also does great an Rebecca Fergusson was awesome in this movie (and will probably now be in more movies now). This movie has all the action you can hope for, a water scene, a motorbike chase scene, a car chase scene, and of course, Tom Cruise doing a risky stunt with the airplane. The Mission Impossible franchise is getting better and better the more the series is going on and I’m looking forward to see is get even bigger and better, it’s hard to imagine that happening at this point.

My review of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Steve Jobs

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Despite a lot of hype, Steve Jobs didn’t get the acclaim that it deserved, both by the critics and the box office and I personally don’t understand why. The direction by Danny Boyle was excellent and stylish, working quite well for the movie. The cast also did quite well, Michael Fassbender was magnificent as Steve Jobs, and the supporting cast with Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen and Jeff Daniels were also great, they all added to this movie and had their moments. But what tied it all together was Aaron Sorkin’s excellent screenplay. The dialogue, the focus on three important segments of Steve Jobs’s life, everything was well put together. If you haven’t seen Steve Jobs, you really should, it is a dialogue driven movie so it’s not for everyone but even if you aren’t a fan of those types of movies I think this film is worth a watch anyway, it might change your mind.

My review of Steve Jobs

10. Kingsman: The Secret Service

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2015 was a big year for spy movies and in my opinion, Kingsman: The Secret Service was the best out of all of them. With Matthew Vaughn’s excellent direction, Kingsman ended up being one of the most fun cinema experiences I’ve had. The action was so well filmed by Vaughn, in particular the church scene which is completely insane and over the top and fun. The humour was so well put in, it poked fun at the spy genre while being a great one itself. The acting was also great, with newcomer Taron Edgerton impressing, Colin Firth showing that he can do action and Samuel L. Jackson having a ton of fun as an over the top villain. I heard that the sequel is being planned for a 2017 release and after seeing this movie twice, I’m looking forward to seeing it.

My review of Kingsman: The Secret Service

9. The Martian

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Ridley Scott has been making some films that weren’t that good recently (take the Counsellor for instance) but with The Martian, he seems to have made a welcome return. It did do well at focussing on one character struggling to survive, which is no easy task. The cast was great, consisting of Matt Damon, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and many others but it really is Matt Damon’s show here, whether or not this movie would work depends on him. Damon pulls off an excellent performance just right for the film. Unlike a lot of isolated survivor films, his character is very likable and entertaining to watch, and Damon conveyed all of this in a great way. I don’t know if Ridley Scott will go back to making above average films and I don’t know how Alien: Covenant will turn out but at the very least we can say that The Martian is his best film in a long time.

My review of The Martian

8. Inside Out

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Inside Out shows once again how great animated movies can be. It tackled a subject that I didn’t think a kids animated movie would tackle very competently: emotions. However this turned out to be one of the best written and smartest animated movies I’ve seen, I actually think this film was actually more suited to adults. I don’t know if there is any spin offs or sequels to the original movie being planned (nor do I think they are necessary) but in whatever case, Inside Out is quite an excellent movie on its own and one of the best animated films I’ve seen in a while.

My review of Inside Out

7. Sicario

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Denis Villeneuve has proven with Prisoners, Enemy and now Sicario that he’s one of the best directors working today. Everything on the production value was perfect, from the excellent cinematography from Roger Deakins, to the soundtrack from Johann Johannson, and the action scenes so brilliantly filmed by Villenueve, everything is so well put together. The performances were also great from Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro (the latter being a particular standout). With a new film from Denis Villenueve coming out this year (as well as him directing the new Blade Runner), I’m excited to see much more of his work.

6. Spotlight

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Spotlight was one of the best written films of 2015. The way that the dialogue was written, the way the film was paced, the way we learned information about the Boston Priest Molestation scandals at the same rate as the protagonists, everything was nicely strung together by writer and director Tom McCarthy. The ensemble cast consisting of Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton and even more added much more to the movie. Now whether the movie deserved Best Picture or not, that’s up for debate. But ignoring the awards, Spotlight really is a great and important film by itself and if you haven’t watched it, you really should.

My review of Spotlight

5. Creed

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I’m not a huge fan of the Rocky movies, I’ve only watched the first film before Creed. I wasn’t particularly excited for this film, sure it had director Ryan Coolger, Michael B. Jordan as well as Sylvester Stallone returning to the role of Rocky but I wasn’t sure of what to expect. Creed was one of the biggest surprises this year. Although it had many beats from the original it did manage to add its own spin on the classic story and made it even better than the original (in my own honest opinion). Creed also had fantastic performances from Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (the latter particularly giving an Oscar worthy performance), and their pairing is what tied the film together. I heard that there is going to be a sequel in 2017, I don’t see how they can top this movie, especially with rumours that Ryan Coogler won’t be involved. I think that Creed can stand on its own as a great movie, and one of the best of 2015.

My review of Creed

Now these top 4 movies could honestly be put in any order, they are all 10/10 movies to me.

NOTE: My top 4 of the year had changed since I’ve made this list. Further below I will list the order.

4. The Revenant

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The Revenant was one of the most intriguing cinema experiences I’ve had. As I said in my review, The Revenant is one of the best directed movies I’ve ever seen. Everything looked real and there were times when I could honestly not know how they managed to shoot certain scenes, take the bear attack scene for instance. Fantastic performances by actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter elevate this movie even further. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has proved along with Birdman that he is one of the best directors working today. I know that The Revenant has some divided people and to be fair, I know that this film isn’t for everyone. But even if you don’t like it, I hope you appreciate some of the strong aspects of the film. I know I gave The Revenant a 9 in my original review but months after seeing it, I have to say that it is a 10/10 movie.

My review of The Revenant

3. Carol

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Carol is one of the best romance films I’ve seen in a long time and director Todd Haynes crafted this entire film perfectly. First of all the setting is right from the 50s with great attention to detail, whether it comes to production design, costumes, you name it. However the excellent acting is the highlight of the film, with Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett shining and delivering some of the best performances of their career, and that’s saying a lot. The subtlety in their relationship is what makes the love story so great and along with the writing, both actresses convey that perfectly. Carol has unfortunately not gotten enough attention from a lot of people, especially when it comes to awards. If you truly appreciate film, I recommend checking out this movie.

My review of Carol

2. Mad Max Fury Road

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As I said in my review, Mad Max Fury Road is one of the best action movies of the decade so far. It blended in practical effects with minimal CGI effects and it was the perfect balance, not one moment did it feel overly fake or CGI. The action scenes were some of the best I’ve ever seen but it’s not just the action scenes that impressed me. The film can do so much with so little, it had a story but achieved it through visual means, not requiring a lot of dialogue to explain what was going on. It is one of the most visual immersive movies I’ve ever seen and it will be remembered for years to come. On a side note I know that some people are unhappy that this movie didn’t win Best Picture but I think I should say that it’s an achievement in itself that Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie that could be just considered a non stop action movie, was recognised by the Academy with a nomination.

My review of Mad Max: Fury Road

1. Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens did what Creed and Mad Max Fury Road has done: create a new instalment in a franchise while making it a great movie on its own. The new cast with Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac and others show great promise and the next films look great. I will say that The Force Awakens is my third favourite Star Wars movie, in front of Return of the Jedi and behind A New Hope. The fact that The Force Awakens is anywhere near as good as the original trilogy is an achievement in itself. I am truly excited to see what these new Star Wars films have to offer in the years to come.

My review of Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens

NOTE:
Now my top 4 of the year is as follows:
1. Carol
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Mad Max Fury Road
4. The Revenant

So what do you think of my picks for the best of the year? Do you agree with them or disagree with them? What are your personal picks?

2016 Oscar Predictions

When you look at it in the grand scheme of things, movie awards really don’t matter. There are plenty of movies that should win but don’t, some of them don’t even get nominated, and there are some movies that don’t really deserve to win, but win anyway. So no matter what happens during the awards ceremony, it doesn’t really matter. But still, it’s fun to predict what movies will win and at the same time state what you think should win. Since everyone else is doing it, I decided to give my predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards. I have watched most of the films in the major categories but occasionally there’s a movie like The Hateful Eight which I can’t or just haven’t seen, so just keep that in mind.

* – Haven’t seen yet

BEST PICTURE

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The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room*
Spotlight

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Carol

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Best Director

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Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room*
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Will Win – Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Should Win – George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Todd Haynes – Carol

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BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

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Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Will Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Should Win – Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

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BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

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Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room*
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years*
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Will Win – Brie Larson, Room
Should Win – Cate Blanchett, Carol
Should’ve Been Nominated – Rooney Mara, Carol (instead of being nominated for supporting)

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BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Will Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should Win – Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should’ve Been Nominated – Benicio Del Toro, Sicario

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

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Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight*
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Will Win – Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Should Win – Rooney Mara, Carol

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BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Left to right: Steve Carell plays Mark Baum and Ryan Gosling plays Jared Vennett in The Big Short from Paramount Pictures and Regency Enterprises

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room*

Will Win – The Big Short
Should Win – The Big Short
Should’ve Been Nominated – Steve Jobs

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BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

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Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina*
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton*

Will Win – Spotlight
Should Win – Spotlight
Should’ve Been Nominated – The Hateful Eight*

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

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Anomalisa*
Boy and the World*
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie*
When Marnie Was There*

Will Win – Inside Out
Should Win – Inside Out

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BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
Sicario – Johann Johannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams

Will Win – The Hateful Eight
Should Win – The Hateful Eight
Should’ve Been Nominated – Mad Max: Fury Road – Junkie XL

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BEST SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

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Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

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Carol
The Hateful Eight*
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Will Win – The Revenant
Should Win – The Revenant
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

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Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared*
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST COSTUME DESIGN

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Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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BEST FILM EDITING

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The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should’ve Been Nominated – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win – Mad Max: Fury Road

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So what are your thoughts, what do you think will win, what do you think should win and what do you think should’ve been nominated? Comment below and let me know your predictions for 2016.

Spotlight (2015) Review

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Spotlight

Time: 128 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language and Content that may Disturb
Cast
Mark Ruffalo as Michael Rezendes
Michael Keaton as Walter “Robby” Robinson
Rachel McAdams as Sacha Pfeiffer
Liev Schreiber as Marty Baron
John Slattery as Ben Bradlee Jr.
Brian d’Arcy James as Matt Carroll
Stanley Tucci as Mitchell Garabedian
Director: Tom McCarthy

In 2001, editor Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber) of The Boston Globe assigns a team of journalists to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Matt Carroll (Brian D’Arcy James) and Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams) interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The reporters make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

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Spotlight had my interest ever since I saw the huge and talented cast involved but the story behind it also interested me, and it sounded like a story that should be told. The large amount of Oscar nominations also increased my interest in seeing this film. With the great performances and most importantly the fantastic script, Spotlight really is a must see movie and is one of the best movies of 2015.

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First off let’s get it right out of the way, the script by Tom McCarthy is excellent. The dialogue, the way the story moved, the plot points, everything fell nicely into place in telling this very fascinating story. The pacing is also set at just the right speed and the entire movie is so captivating the entire runtime, despite its lurid subject matter. Another thing is that everything felt so real, at some point this movie started feeling less like a movie and more like a well put together documentary. There isn’t really anything noticeably wrong with the movie, but if I had to be a little nit-picky, I would say that the beginning of the movie, like the first 5-10 minutes was a little slow. This beginning segment didn’t bother me a lot but I did feel like it could’ve been paced a little faster and it does take a little while before the plot starts happening. Aside from that aspect, everything fell nicely into place. I can’t say for certain how accurate this entire movie was to the events that took place, but the way it was done made it definitely seem credible.

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The cast in this movie is big and talented with Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Liev Schreiber and many others being a part of this movie. All of them do excellent work and get to shine. I said earlier how this movie felt so real and at some point felt like a documentary, this also applies to the performances. There aren’t any moments where the actors gave ‘an Oscar moment’. Instead they are all thankfully subdued and feel much more like real people, they really felt like journalists trying to find the truth.

Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d'Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery play Boston Globe journalists in the film, Spotlight.

There isn’t much to say about the actual direction of the scenes as it’s mostly the script and the performances that are the highlights of Spotlight but I will say that the film and scenes are very well directed by Tom McCarthy. The soundtrack by Howard Shore was also good and fit the rest of the movie perfectly.

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Spotlight is one of the best movies of 2015 and in my opinion it is actually a pretty important movie. From Tom McCarthy’s great direction, to its grounded performances from its huge and wonderfully talented cast as well as its realistic and fantastically written screenplay, Spotlight is a great movie that succeeds on just about every level. Definitely check it out when you have a chance, I know that it’s not an easy movie to watch given its subject matter, but even so, I still think that it’s really worth seeing.