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2015 Movies in Review: The Year of Refresh

The Oscar Season is upon us and whether you want to give The Oscars the attention it demands or not. This seems to be the season for looking back on 2015 and reliving the year’s cinematic successes and failures.

Looking back on 2015, I think it’s pretty fair to say that it was a fairly weak year. A majority of the movies sucked. Yet 2015 seems to be the launching point for some much needed changes in Hollywood only to continue in the years to come.

To be fair, 2015 brought some pretty big movies that were widely received and equally loved, but all of those movies would have found their audiences regardless! They were all big block-buster movies marketed to the widest possible audience. They did exactly what they were supposed to do, make money. Now whether that qualifies a movie as being good is a whole other discussion and realistically it’s tough to truly just any form of art objectively – but for arguments sake, I think it’s fair to say that 2015 was extremely underwhelming.

As biased as I may be, I feel confident saying that 2014 was a stronger year. Looking back comparatively, I walked away from 2014 very satisfied. We were spoiled with good movies, from The Lego Movie, to Whiplash, if you look up a list of the big movies that aired in 2014 most of them will be extremely memorable and some may even be instant classics and automatic favourites. Just think of all of the “indie” titles that came out leading into the Holiday 2014 mad dash, Imitation Game, Whiplash, Birdman, Theory of Everything, Gone Girl, Foxcatcher, Boyhood, Selma, Nightcrawler. Whether you like all of those titles or not, it cannot be argued that everyone seemed to have been talking about how great they were! Come 2015, “Huh? What’s Anomalisa?”

Now think back briefly to 2015, the things that everyone seems to have stand out as their high points are –

Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars the Force Awakens.

Yes of course there were a ton more, but aside from The Revenant most of the “Oscar Worthy” and other notable heavy hitters of 2015 flew under the radar. This isn’t to say that they weren’t any good movies, but people just seemed to not care about them. The question as to what people DID care about brings up an interesting view on the major theme that seemed to reach across the entire spectrum of the movies. The movies of 2015 served a much needed refresh to the Hollywood landscape through the diversification of cast and crew, and the rebranding/rebuilding/restarting/rebooting of old beloved franchises in a way that was both respectful and valuable in it’s own right.

Let’s be real, Hollywood is very much a white, male dominated field, both on scree and off. For years’ people were speaking quite loudly for some much needed diversification and 2015 was the first year to really show that landscape change. 2015 brought back Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Mad Max and Rocky back to life, and aside from Jurassic World, each of those classic titles finally gave the audiences what they wanted; diversity. Star Wars brought back the old cast but was fronted by Daisy Ridley and John Boyega who both did a fantastic job of mixing the old and new and making audiences fall in love with the classic franchise all over again. Creed brought back Stalone with some diversification both on screen and off with Michael B Jordan and Ryan Coogler (Black Panther whut whut!!) who were both such a pivotal reason as to why the entire movie was made. Personal favourite Mad Max brought back a cheesy action franchise but didn’t shy away from setting the lead title character Max aside in favour for Charlize Theron and her band of misfit female-badasses as they fought what can only parallel the modern corporate, societal, political and Hollywood landscape of controlling and car-frenzied dudes.

Frick, all of my favourite movies/TV shows that came out in 2015 were fronted by fantastic female characters! Star Wars with Rey, Mad Max with Furiosa and Jessica Jones with Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones! This of course was rounded off by the rest of fantastic actors and actresses that finally got their much needed spotlight; Evangeline Lilly in Ant-Man, Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Carol, Britt Roberston and Raffey Cassidy in Tomorrowland, Jessica Chastain and Kristin Wiig in The Martian, Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn and last but not least Emily Blut in Sicario…

The list goes on…

Have we finally passed that threshold where people don’t fight change and enjoy it? I really hope so because I’m loving, loving new characters! The most beautiful part about this is that although rebooting a beloved franchise is a fairly safe move – studios did this with fresh, new, diverse faces. Love them or hate them, rebooting is an easy way to drawn in an audience, but the fact that studios are finally learning is a very good sign. They are both physically and metaphorically passing on the torch to a younger and much more diverse generation – one that is shaping things for the better.

No, we haven’t solved all of the problems, but this is a much needed refresh to the previous landscape. It is as if old-school Hollywood made it’s last hurrah in 2014, and 2015 is the pivot point the new-school Hollywood to take off. A testament to the fans and filmmakers have been fighting towards this for years.

Dear 2016 and 2017;

You have tough competition.  Please.  Don’t.  Suck.

One part film student, one part photographer, one part comic book reader and four parts nerd.

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