BY VINCENT ABBATECOLA
With July having started last week, we are officially into the second half of 2015. Although there are still six months to go until the end of the year, this is the perfect time to list my three favorite films of the year so far, and the three I’m looking forward to the most.
Let’s begin with the favorites:
3) The Wolfpack – Director Crystal Moselle’s unsettling and fascinating documentary tells the story of the Angulo siblings, whose parents have kept them in their apartment in Manhattan’s Lower East Side for their whole lives. The siblings immerse themselves in movies to escape their bleak reality, but their curiosity of the outside world soon gets the better of them, and they decide to venture out into the city streets to see what they have been missing. Moselle provides a terrific amount of detail in her film, focusing on the siblings’deep love of cinema, the tension within the family, the parents’reasoning for sheltering their children, and much more. After seeing the siblings stuck inside their apartment, it’s a rich experience to see them enjoy life beyond their apartment, making this a film you should really try to seek out.
2) Ex Machina – Screenwriter Alex Garland, in his directorial debut, makes a memorable contribution to low-budget science fiction with a film about a lonely programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) who is invited to his CEO’s (Oscar Isaac) secluded laboratory to take part in an artificial-intelligence test with a female android (Alicia Vikander). What first seems like your typical human-and-robot story later unravels in a much different direction as the film gets closer to its conclusion. With an all-around talented cast and a story that explores the effects of blurring the line between humans and AI technology, “Ex Machina”is a refreshing departure from big-budget science fiction.
1) Inside Out – Despite a few missteps in their filmography, Pixar Animation Studios is still a reliable source for intelligent moviemaking, and that is clearly seen in their latest stroke of brilliance. Director Pete Doctor’s “Inside Out” tells the story of a young girl who moves to a new home with her family, and we travel into her mind to see the personified emotions that are helping her adjust to this big change. Having had the pleasure of seeing this film twice, I can tell you that repeat viewings will surely give you the opportunity to appreciate the beauty that runs deep through the film. Featuring a voice cast of hilarious comedic performers, gorgeously vibrant animation, and a story that will surely make you laugh and cry, Pixar gives us another stunning creation that shows us why they are some of today’s best cinematic storytellers.
Will any of these films make it into my top 10 of the year? Be on the lookout for my list this December!
Now, it’s time to head into my top three most anticipated for the rest of the year:
3) Spectre (November 6) – When we first saw Daniel Craig as James Bond in “Casino Royale,”we were given a new approach to the character that was much more intense. While the follow-up, “Quantum of Solace,”didn’t bring back many of the thrills of its predecessor, the next film, “Skyfall,”certainly did. Sam Mendes returns to the series after directing “Skyfall,”which hopefully means that this new Bond film will at least be as good as the previous film. The story focuses on Bond receiving a mysterious message from an organization known as SPECTRE, which will eventually lead him to an enemy from his past. The film also stars Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Ben Whishaw.
2) The Hateful Eight (December 25, limited release; January 8, wide release) – Quentin Tarantino is one of the most distinct voices in modern cinema, which is why it’s always a cause for celebration when he’s about to come out with a new movie. After tackling the western genre with his last film, “Django Unchained,”Tarantino returns to the genre for his latest project. The story takes place in Wyoming, a few years after the Civil War, and tells the tale of bounty hunters who are looking for refuge during a blizzard, but end up falling into a plot of deception. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, and Bruce Dern.
1)Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (December 18) – As if the number-one spot would go to anything else. This movie is turning out to be one of the most anticipated films in recent memory, and the excitement is only going to keep building leading up to December. After the disappointing prequel trilogy, we certainly need a new “Star Wars”film to bring the series back to its former greatness, and J.J. Abrams could be the director who can make that happen. The plot is being kept very secret, so all we know right now is that the story takes place about 30 years after “Return of the Jedi,”but expect some more information to trickle out as we get closer to the release date. Most of the original “Star Wars”main cast will be returning, including Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford, while the new cast members include John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac.