THE BIG SHORT
(US, 2015) Dir: Adam McKay. Stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt. "Filled with bravado, this edgy, darkly cutting film about greed, corruption and the 2008 financial crisis left me feeling outraged and terrified. Terrified about the system; human nature; the future," says Louise. "It's a riveting film, depressing in its critique of a system that was built on greed and fraud - and rebuilt after the crash with taxpayers’ money, only to continue its brazen practices today," says Andrew.
(UK/US, 2015) Dir: Todd Haynes. Stars Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara. "The storytelling is sublime, as is the look of the film. It is a work of sheer beauty ... Blanchett is breathtaking in the title role," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Sean Anders, Stars Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg. "Sometimes we all need a dose of nonsense, and this zany comedy fits the bill perfectly with its continual stream of hilarious jousting between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg," says Louise.
THE DANISH GIRL
(UK/Ger/US, 2015) Dir: Tom Hooper. Stars Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander. "There is much to say about this film with its sensitive subject matter, extraordinary performances and portrayal of exquisite beauty - cinematically and emotionally. It's one of the best of the year - any year," says Louise. "I surprised myself how easily the film seduced me into its world, despite the setting being at odds with the cast and their voices," says Andrew.
(US, 2015) Dir: Stars Robert De Niro, Zac Effron, Julianne Hough, Aubrey Plaza, Dermot Mulroney. "Cringeworthy on every level, this gross-out American Pie comedy for seniors is an all time low for Robert De Niro, who is complicit in the tirade of crude language, expletives, masturbation, simulated sex acts, drug orgies and embarrassing behavior," says Louise.
THE GOOD DINOSAUR
(US, 2015) Dir: Peter Sohn. Voices Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Maleah Nipay-Padilla. "It plays a little long, but the visuals are spectacular in Pixar’s holiday film about family and overcoming fear. It’s a curious blend of coming of age story, buddy movie and mid west adventure," says Louise.
THE HATEFUL EIGHT
(US, 2015) Dir: Quentin Tarantino. Stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Bruce Dern."The film is big, bold and beautiful and true to Quentin Tarantino's distinctive style, the action is a mix of explosive confrontations, explicit violence, colourful language and bleak humour," says Louise. "It's an event, not just a movie, as Tarantino intended, something to savour, not to rush," says Andrew.
LOOKING FOR GRACE
(Aus, 2015) Dir: Sue Brooks. Stars Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburgh, Odessa Young.
"A jigsaw puzzle of insignificant things form the canvass on which Sue Brook's drama about guilt and loss are set... (they) do come together, although some like me, may not be satisfied by the outcome," says Louise.
(US, 20165 Dir: Alejandro González Inarritu. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson. "If suffering on screen gets you an Oscar, Leonardo Di Caprio certainly deserves one. He spends almost his entire time on screen as Hugh Glass, in pain: badly mauled by a grizzly bear in Canada’s remote frontier, buried alive, painfully crawling towards safety, tumbled down a wintry waterfall, stabbed in the hand ... and all the while mourning the murder of his half caste son," says Andrew. "Inarritu's film is cinematic, powerful and raw," says Louise.
(Ireland/Canada, 2015) Dir: Lenny Abrahamson Stars Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay. "It's powerful and arresting, although it may fall short of delivering the psychological impact for which the novel is known," says Louise. "The first half of the film, all taking place inside Room, filled with action and suspense, is intense, engaging and intriguing, with the best, most inventive writing. It isn’t sustained, though, as the screenplay runs out of ideas what to do or what it is trying to say," says Andrew.
(US, 2015) Dir: Jason Moore. Stars Amy Poehler, Tina Fey. "There's no shortage of comedic talent on screen, yet Sisters plays a bit like a raunchy stand up routine, loosely stitched together by a narrative that begs for more than crass, out-to-shock verbal torrents," says Louise.
SNOOPY & CHARLIE BROWN
(US, 2015) Dir: Steve Martino. Voices Bill Melende, Noah Schnapp, Alex Garfin.
"Crisp clean animation on a sea of colour form the foundation of this endearing family film that brings Charles M. Schulz’s beloved comic strip characters to the big screen," says Louise.
(US, 2015) Dir: Tom McCarthy. Stars Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber. "As a piece of cinema, Spotlight (the name of the investigative team at the Boston Globe) is exceptional," says Andrew. "The stench of a dead rat in the corner is a fitting analogy to the film's theme about the church cover up to child molestation. Like Truth, the film plays out like a gripping procedural," says Louise.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
(US, 2015) Dir: J.J.Abrams. Stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Domhnall Gleeson. "The old and the new are seamlessly interwoven in this swashbuckling intergalactic adventure that satisfies on every level with its superb storytelling, endearing characters, splashy visual effects and a masterful score," says Louise. "Well, was it worth the wait and the anticipation? In my book, yes," says Andrew.
(US, 2015) Dir: Sarah Gavron. Stars Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter. “While the film resonates on many levels with its meticulous production design and authentic reflection of the times (1912 London), the composite nature of the characters makes the narrative feel somewhat contrived. This stops a good film from being a great one,” says Louise.