By: Akram Shaban

10. Straight Outta Compton

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Yo reader… I got somin’ to say! — The hype for a movie on some of the key influences of hip-hop today became bigger and bigger the closer it came to the release date. I expected something mediocre for only the fans to enjoy. I must say, I did not particularly grow up on NWA’s music, but rather more on the rappers they influenced. Nevertheless, I generally enjoyed it. The acting, storytelling, humour was all good. It felt like it lacked consistency in the plot at times, but I wasn’t expecting too much.

 

9. Ant-Man

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This was not the usual Marvel film, this was also a heist movie. I walked into it thinking it would generally be lame, and generic. I expected some typical marvel hero jokes and an okay script. I mean, I was generally right, but there was enough there to keep me engaged. Anthony the ant being one of them. The “Avengers” joke. And most of all, the self-aware jokes, which usually start with a character saying something like “is this the part (of the movie that is) where we (do this).” I like this type of direction and it suited Paul Rudd very well.

 

8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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This movie makes my list mostly because of the issues I had with it. Sound backwards? Not entirely. Sometimes we scrutinize the movies we love and care about the most. We care too much! (tear falls down one eye). But seriously, though, Oscar Isaac should have been a bad guy, I would have hated him, and I would have loved it! So what did I like? Speaking frankly, the first half of the movie made me love the second half. It was that good. It did a lot of things I would expect from a film, especially with the character introduction and development aspect of things. It was almost like an art film, not a lot of dialogue, but a whole lot of, just showing us things.

Our review -> Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

7. Room

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I watched The Babadook this year, so it was fresh in mind when I viewed Room. There are a few similarities when it came to the mother-son dynamics explored in each movie. Another striking difference is the plot. For example, which movie do I think I’m speaking of when I say this: “the movie is about a mother and a son, trapped for the most part in a box, haunted by a monstrous figure.” It would be a little difficult. In both cases they conquer their situation, but after a long and painful struggle. They’re dark in their own way, and it is the key message in Room which makes it truly unique. It is the thought of how you could live your entire life not knowing your own world. It reminds me a little of both Genie the feral child, and, strangely enough, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

Our review -> Room

 

6. Macbeth

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This is a tricky one because I was actually a bit disappointed with the film. But if I were to ignore those particular disappointments, I would say I was generally pleasantly surprised with Macbeth. The disappointments mostly revolve around how I could not hear any of the dialogue. Now it could have been the venue I saw it at, since it was a limited screening. But if you asked me, everyone either whispered their lines, or had too thick of an accent, to the point where subtitles would have sufficed. But, suspending judgment about those concerns, the film was excellent. The line delivery was superb. The cinematography, lighting, and even sound editing was something to take note of. Favorite aspects of the film where how it handled night time (it was mostly done is dark lighting), and the flaming hot forest fire scene.

-> Our review of Macbeth

 

5. Spotlight

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I didn’t know very much about the actual events of the story walking into this film. But I didn’t need. It makes my list mostly because of the subject matter explored, and how it was executed. I feel like it did have some trouble with the pacing aspect of things. And while everybody seems to have loved Mark Ruffalo in the supporting role, his mannerisms were too distracting for me, but eventually, he grew on and was converted to the side of “loving him.” At times, I was thought I was watching a police detective movie, and it mostly was. It truly portrayed investigative journalism at some of its finest moments. The Armenian lawyer is easily my favorite character by the way.

Our review -> Spotlight

 

4. Sicario

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Am I the only who thinks that the poster art of Sicario looks strangely similar to that of Macbeth? Anyhow watching Sicario, I realized that the movie wasn’t what the trailers made it seem to be. And that’s a good thing. Not only was it better than the trailers, it also needed to be different from them. Some movies just can’t have proper trailers without revealing too much. A good example, probably, I think, is Memento, where the plot simply demands a vague trailer. But Sicario wasn’t vague, just different. There wasn’t as much dialogue as I thought there’d be. Emily Blunt was not the star. And the truly great things about it are spoilers. You will notice the narrative structure, and you will love it, and probably debate about it with friends.

Our review -> Sicario

 

3. Ex Machina

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Oscar Isaac is now bumped up to number 3, playing the roles made for him. To me, it is an essentially flawless movie. The script is exceptionally memorable. The back and forth between the characters is very carefully done. Every line has a reason to be there and the themes, while explored in other movies plenty of times before, are still uniquely put into practice. It was very new to me and it is a topic I have wanted to see in a recent movie for some time.

 

2. The Martian

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I never thought a person could survive on Mars. I expected science fiction. But I was convinced of the science by the end. I noticed I seem to like movies involving only a few characters, especially a few at a time. Room mostly involves two, and the Martian mostly involves one. Isolated human struggle is imagined beautifully, and acted very well by Matt Damon. Some of the key punchlines were in the trailers, but there was enough there to keep us laughing. It is not, however, a comedy.

Our review -> The Martian

 

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

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I liked the car chase… If you watch this after Sicario, you’d tell me “Sicario is a speech meet compared to this!” And I would agree. My favorite movie of the year pleasantly surprised me the most. The action, while plentiful, was not excessive. The dialogue, while practically nonexistent, was not lacking. I am a fan of a movie which simply shows you what is happening, rather than tell you. But I simply love seeing an individual, or just a couple characters, simply doing things and figuring stuff out, without much exposition. It is totally immersive and thought-provoking.

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