Roundup: Movies reviewed during 2015

As a final farewell to 2015, I’ve gathered the movies I reviewed in 2015 along with short plot synopses.

Top picks are highlighted in yellow. Stinkers are prefixed with *.

  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 (2015): fourth film in the dystopian The Hunger Games series that completes the rebellion of the Districts against the Capital; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Vw
  • Last Days in Vietnam (2014): documentary that looks at the fiasco that was the US evacuation from Vietnam; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Vd
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): classic holiday film starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed about the profound ways that people influence the lives of those around them; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-UZ
  • The Philadelphia Story (1940): classic starring Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn about a high society dame remarrying and the tabloids sending an undercover reporter and photographer to scope the story; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-UZ
  • Three Kingdoms: Resurrected Dragon (2006): Chinese film based on the 14th century classic about famous generals and battles during turbulent centuries in ancient China; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-UT
  • Batman Begins (2005): the Batman reboot by Christopher Nolan with Christian Bale as Batman that focuses on the psychological and logistical back story of Bruce Wayne’s childhood tragedy and young adulthood; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-UC
  • Tiny: A Story About Living Small (2013): documentary about a guy’s journey to build the tiny house of his dreams interspersed with interviews about others living in tiny houses; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-U4
  • Belle (2013): based on the true story of a girl born to a slave mother and a British man of noble birth who was raised as a noblewoman but struggled to find acceptance and love in 18th century Britain; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-TB
  • Somm (2012): documentary that looks at the grueling world of those seeking to become Master Sommeliers; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Tb
  • The Lunchbox (2013): touching human drama about two lonely people who meet by chance and help each other come to life again; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-T0
  • The Haunted House (1921): starring the master of silent films, Buster Keaton, as a bank teller who is involved in a bank heist and seeks to escape by running into a haunted house; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-RB
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1925): famous silent film starring Lon Chaney as the phantom of an opera house who gives an opera star fame in return for her undying love; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-RB
  • Penguins of Madagascar (2014): animated film of these famous penguins out to save all penguin-kind from Dave, the evil octopus; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Rn
  • Dear White People (2015): film that explores the discovery of one’s identity in the midst of societal labels; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-QR
  • Gosford Park (2001): classic murder whodunit set on posh English estate during a weekend hunting excursion; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-QB
  • The Three Days of the Condor (1975): spy thriller with CIA cell caught between warring CIA factions; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Oo
  • Owning Mahowny (2003): based on true-story of gambling addict; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Q3
  • The German Doctor (2013): foreign film centered on Mengele’s ill-fated encounter with family in Argentina; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-PJ
  • Burning Man (2011): film that challenges one’s superficial perceptions of a man who loses his wife; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-OV
  • The Expendables (2010): action-packed movie of past action heroes seeking to right wrongs; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Pj
  • *Palo Alto (2013): look into the despondent lives of rich kids in Silicon Valley; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-O6
  • Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007): two brothers plot the heist of their parents’ jewelry store only for matters to quickly escalate to murder; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-NT
  • Madagascar (2005): animated film of the Central Zoo animals escaping the zoo and ending up in Madagascar; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-N7
  • God’s Pocket (2014): glimpse into the relationships between members of a neighborhood of blue-collar workers in the aftermath of the death of a young man; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Mt
  • A Most Wanted Man (2014): spy thriller based on John Le Carre’s novel, which is set in Germany and pits the American and German spy agencies against one another in the game of catching the big fish behind the small fish “jihadist”; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Ma
  • 56 Up (2013): British film that documents the lives of several people at age 56, after interviewing them every 7 years of their lives; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-LY
  • Albert Nobbs (2011): film set in 19th century England that shows the life of a woman who has passed herself off as a man her entire life in order to survive and support herself without relying on men as a wife, mistress, prostitute, or lowly servant; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Lo
  • The Station Agent (2014): exploration of one man’s life and the relationships he develops after his friend and business partner dies and leaves him an old, abandoned railroad depot; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-L2
  • Ida (2014): Polish film that explores the questions facing a young novice about to take Catholic orders who finds out about her Jewish past and the fate of her parents during World War II; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-IY
  • Only Lovers Left Alive (2013): vampire film about two star-crossed lovers on separate continents, the clandestine life they lead, and their descent back to their primitive vampire ways; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Iw
  • *Answers To Nothing (2011): the interweaving of different stories around the disappearance of a girl; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Ia
  • Locke (2013): British one-man film focused on conversations between a man who is driving to the birth of his child by another woman and the phone conversations he has with various people on the long drive; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-HS
  • Finding Vivian Maier (2013): documentary of a man piecing together the life of a mysterious, yet talented amateur photographer gleaned from bits and pieces of her life purchased at an auction; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-HB
  • Under the Skin (2014): fantasy sci-fi of alien that takes on the form of a beautiful woman to entice men to their ultimate destruction; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Hm
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014): absurd comedy based on multiple levels of a “true story” about a bell boy and his mentor hotel concierge somewhere in eastern Europe during the twentieth century; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-GU
  • Fed Up (2014): documentary that looks into the obesity epidemic in the US and the possible reasons behind it; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-GD
  • Shrink (2009): shrink who spirals down into despair after personal tragedy and is ultimately helped by the patients that he cannot help; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Gu
  • Life Itself (2014): documentary about the life of Roger Ebert from his early years through his diagnosis and treatment of cancer; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Gn
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune (2013): documentary about Jodorowsky, his vision of bringing Dune to life in film, and the impact his vision had on sci-fi movies for decades to come; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-FX
  • The Secret World of Foley (2014): documentary that shows the world behind the sounds in a movie and the people behind them; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-FM
  • Harry Brown (2009): the exploration of what happens to a man when he watches the descent of his neighborhood into crime and the murder of his only friend; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Fs
  • The Oranges (2011): the friendship of two families strained by the arrival home of a long-lost daughter who upends the status quo; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Ev
  • Sunshine (2007): look at the interplay between team members on a space mission sidetracked by running across a ship from a previously failed mission; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Dx
  • Warrior (2011): a movie about mixed martial arts competitions through the vehicle of a dysfunctional family that is pulled together by the pitting of brother against brother; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-CS
  • Into the White (2012): British and German pilots are thrust together in a small cabin in Norway and forced to collaborate for their own survival; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-BN
  • *Southland Tales (2007): an explicitly dystopian and utterly dysfunctional movie; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-AQ
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000): Chinese martial arts movie set in the Qing dynasty and focused on the robbery and retrieval of a famous sword; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Aq
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011): a bewildering espionage story based on the John Le Carré novel of the same name; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-Ac
  • The Last Samurai (2003): set in the Meiji period when Japan was forcibly opened to the West, an American military expert travels to Japan to train the Japanese military to overcome the holdout samurai and ends up converting to their side; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-zQ
  • Changeling (2008): based on a true story of an abducted child and the police’s forced reunion of an imposter child with the mother; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-zD
  • Spirited Away (2001): Japanese animated film about a girl whose family is moving to a new place and her diversion into the otherworld of a spa for the spirits of the otherworld; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-zi
  • Bernie (2011): a dark comedy based on a true story about a kind, compassionate funeral worker who loses it with a mean older woman that he befriended; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-z7
  • Blue Ruin (2013): a revenge story set in motion by an affair a father had decades before that led to his murder and his son’s subsequent killing of the newly released murderer; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-yY
  • The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004): based on a true story about one man who dreamt of assassinating President Nixon; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-yz
  • *Batman & Robin (1997): Joel Schumacher recounts how Batman got his famous sidekick and how Batgirl came to be; George Clooney as Batman battles the dual villains of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-y8
  • Batman Forever (1995): Joel Schumacher takes over the Batman franchise with Val Kilmer as Batman battling the dual villains of Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face and Jim Carrey as the Riddler; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-xT
  • Batman Returns (1992): Tim Burton’s sequel to Batman with Michael Keaton as Batman battling Danny DeVito as the Penguin and Michelle Pfieffer as the Catwoman; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-xO
  • Batman (1989): the first in Tim Burton’s Batman movies with Michael Keaton as Batman battling Jack Nicholson as the Joker; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-xG
  • A Bronx Tale (1993): a mobster story starring Robert De Niro as a hard-working bus driver trying to keep his son from growing up in the mob; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-xo
  • When Did You Last See Your Father? (2007): touching story of a man coming to grips with his father’s impending death and his conflicted memories of him from childhood; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-wI
  • The New World (2005): an interpretation of the English exploration of Virginia, their encounters with the native Americans, and interactions between Pocahontas and John Smith; full review: http://wp.me/p3Kx2j-wt
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