The Playground of Hollywood

The Playground of Hollywood

Thursday, December 24, 2015

2015 Awards -- American Film Institute Top 10

  • ROOM

THE BIG SHORT achieves the extraordinary -- making sense of the 2008 market collapse and making it entertaining. Adam McKay's whip-smart satire pulses with brazen pacing, pop-up celebrity cameos and AAA performances from Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. This endlessly innovative comedy is also an object lesson in greed's consequences for the many and, ultimately, a tale to break a nation's heart.

BRIDGE OF SPIES is history written in moving images and another chapter in this nation's collective chronicle brought to life by an American master, Steven Spielberg. A brilliant script by Matt Charman and Joel and Ethan Coen serves as code to crack this story of the Cold War, with Tom Hanks proving his place in the canon alongside cinema's great everyman heroes. His charge to defend a Soviet spy -- portrayed in a transformative turn from Mark Rylance -- embodies our nation in its finest hour, fighting for what's right no matter the cost.

CAROL sets the screen aglow with the light of longing as Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara transform a period piece into a timeless cry from defiant hearts. Todd Haynes serves their romance as a restorative cocktail, adding splashes of color to a repressive Eisenhower-ear, when love was often seen in black-and-white. From luminous performances to sumptuous production, this is cinema's promise fulfilled -- a haunting portrait in moving images, painted in the universal hues of heartache and passion.

INSIDE OUT invites audiences on an introspective adventure unlike any other -- bringing to life the emotions that make us whole, while sending them on their own sentimental journey of self-discovery. Presenting this existential exploration as an epic candy-colored confection, Pete Docter and Pixar's brain-trust have created an utterly unforgettable experience -- taking us inside the mind of a young girl to consider the emotional bond between sadness and joy.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD explodes with apocalyptic anarchy -- a journey of fire and blood through which the action genre is razed to the ground and reborn. Visionary director George Miller drives the creative engine that fuels this cinematic fever dream with poetic rage and balletic brutality. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are the hardened heroes of this blockbuster bacchanal, breathing fearless purpose into chaos with steely, human resolve.

THE MARTIAN takes us to another planet to illustrate what it is to be human. This epic tale of survival is directed with cosmic wonder by Ridley Scott, who fills space with breathtaking spectacle but saves the film's greatest wonderment for the mind of man. Matt Damon's singular performance orbits all aspects of human emotion - embodying a united world's boundless capacity for hope, sparked by the soaring power of science.

ROOM opens a window into a world of darkness -- a harrowing nightmare for a mother and son held captive in unimaginable circumstances. Amidst the horror, Lenny Abrahamson creates an expansive space filled with wonder, and tenacious performances from Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay illuminate the power of imagination and hope, while asking us to consider the cost of survival.

SPOTLIGHT puts the power of journalism on the front page. With measure befitting the investigative method, Tom McCarthy presents The Boston Globe's inquiry into cardinal sins without tabloid sensationalism -- creating tension around the team's dauntless pursuit of truth. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Rachel McAdams are the dogged journalists behind the story, standing for an age of integrity in the news media when no one was above question, including those asking the questions.

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS stands as a cultural landmark for generations young and old. J.J. Abrams takes the helm of George Lucas' beloved saga with this epic popcorn opera fueled by the combined power of myth and movie magic. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver join the indelible characters created by Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill -- expanding the iconic galaxy far, far away with this timeless gift to all who love the movies.

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is an American anthem to the explosive power of art. This potent, pulsing story of the rise and fall of N.W.A. is a raging tonic for troubled times -- and F. Gary Gray's ode to the strength of street knowledge stands as a celebration of talent, courage and voices rising against injustice. O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell inhabit their iconic roles as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E with righteous attitude, honoring a rich legacy while expressing themselves to a new generation.

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