Top 15 Films of 2015, No. 9 – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a biographical drama directed by Danny Boyle, with a screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, which was adapted from Walter Isaacson’s biography of the same name. The film is divided into three distinct scenes, all taking place behind the curtain before three product launches. The film opens up in 1984 before the unveiling of the Macintosh. Next the film shifts to 1988 as Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender) prepares to announce his NeXTcube. Finally, the film ends in 1998 with the presentation of the revolutionary iMac.

Jobs4Ever since Steve Jobs’s untimely death in 2011, the film industry has become exceedingly saturated with Jobs-related material. In addition to the numerous documentaries about the head of Apple, Ashton Kutcher gave us an unbelievably subpar portrayal of Steve Jobs in Joshua Michael Stern’s 2013 feature Jobs. I mention this recent history of Jobs-related media to highlight that I understand the public’s hesitation to go see another movie about Steve Jobs. But if you have not seen this yet, I desperately urge you to rent this immediately—this movie hits the mark in nearly every way possible!

Jobs2The real geniuses behind Steve Jobs are director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin. Danny Boyle is the filmmaker behind award-winning films like Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, but for me, Steve Jobs is his best work yet. In this film, Boyle taps into his veteran directing style to carefully craft each scene and get the best performances out of his actors and actresses. Despite Boyle’s own brilliance, Aaron Sorkin is the single piece to this puzzle that is most imperative. Sorkin’s credits as a TV writer include heavyweights like The West Wing and The Newsroom, and his movie résumé is just as impressive, boasting scripts like A Few Good Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, and Moneyball. Sorkin is known in industry circles as a preeminent screenwriter due to his rapid-fire technique, and in Steve Jobs, he has provided us dialogue that I have not seen done so masterfully in years. Jobs3The movie lasts for 122 minutes, and, as I mentioned, features only three scenes—this makes Sorkin’s work even more remarkable. The story is supposed to track in real time behind the scenes of these launches, which does not leave Sorkin much time to execute his oral interchanges—he feeds off that pressure. The film (evocative of a play, which Sorkin has penned many of) thrives off conversation, and with every line, Sorkin delivers hard-hitting discourse. Although the actors execute his plans via Boyle’s direction, Sorkin is at the heart of this film’s success for me, and it is an absolute abomination that the Academy snubbed him for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Jobs5The acting performances in this film are exquisite; both Michael Fassbender (as Jobs) and Kate Winslet (as Joanna Hoffman, Apple’s marketing executive) were nominated for Oscars, and rightfully so. Michael Fassbender is by far one of the top five actors currently working in the film business. He has garnered immense praise for roles in Hunger, Inglourious Basterds, Shame, Prometheus, and 12 Years a Slave, and in Steve Jobs, Fassbender has killed it again. Steve Jobs was a once-in-a-generation kind of innovator, but the skeletons in his closets were always present, feeding off his stressful life. Jobs4Jobs’s professional and personal lives often intersected, and Steve Jobs fiercely examines the crash course that resulted. Fassbender was always the best actor for the role, and with dexterity and intricacy, he owns the many personal and professional faces of his character. Kate Winslet additionally delivers an amazing performance, for which she has already won Best Supporting Actress at both the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards. Jobs6Throughout Jobs’s many personal/professional-life debacles in the film, Winslet’s Joanna Hoffman is always the voice of reason that settles these issues. Winslet perfectly articulated Hoffman’s accent (a product of English mixed with her Polish and Armenian origin), and she portrays her as an incredibly strong, independent woman. It is by far one of my favorite Winslet performances of all time. Steve Jobs is rated R for language.

Steve Jobs trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEr6K1bwIVs

Academy Award nominations for Steve Jobs:

Best Actor (Michael Fassbender)

Best Supporting Actress (Kate Winslet)

Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of 2015:

  1. Creed
  2. ’71
  3. Room
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. Beasts of No Nation
  6. The Martian

Fall Preview 2015: No. 10 – No. 6

In this post, I reveal films No. 10 through No. 6 on the list of my Top 10 most anticipated movies coming out during the fall season.  This batch includes some potential heavy hitters, and if you are looking for a great movie to go see in theaters in the next few months, this post will give you some top-notch options among the films that look most poised for success.

No. 10 – Steve Jobs

According to Entertainment Weekly, Steve Jobs follows its titular character, one of the most revolutionary tech giants of all time, behind the scenes of three iconic product launches: “The Macintosh, Jobs’ failed NeXT computer, and the first iMac.” In 2013, Ashton Kutcher played the Apple founder in the blatantly average Jobs. That boring biographical piece is by far the cause for my unconditional anticipation of Steve Jobs. This is due to the fact that the 2013 film proved that there is an amazing story waiting to be unearthed about the visionary behind the iPod, but it simply needs the film industry’s best and brightest to do the tale justice. In 2015, that is exactly what we get!

Sitting in the director’s chair is Danny Boyle, the genius behind Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, and 127 Hours. Leading the cast in the role of Jobs is the rapidly up-and-coming cinematic great Michael Fassbender. And penning the screenplay is one of my favorite writers in the game, Aaron Sorkin (the writer behind A Few Good Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network, and Moneyball). With this incredible team pulling the strings in the newest incarnation of Steve Jobs’s life story, it is destined for Oscar nominations. Steve Jobs is set for a theatrical release on October 9, 2015.

Director: Danny Boyle (127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire)

Starring: Michael Fassbender (Slow West, Frank), Kate Winslet (The Divergent Series: Insurgent, Divergent), Seth Rogen (The Interview, Neighbors), and Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber To, Looper)

No. 9 – Beasts of No Nation

Beasts of No Nation tells the vexing story of Agu (Abraham Attah), a young boy in West Africa who watches as his family is ripped apart from him by terrorizing militants. After, Agu himself is recruited by the leader (Idris Elba) of an army of rebels, comprised of mostly child soldiers. This movie appears to tell a gripping story of a tense and controversial subject matter, and it seemingly has all of the parts to make it a masterpiece: Cary Joji Fukunaga wrote and directed, and Golden Globe-winning actor Idris Elba plays the devilish commander. For all of you True Detective fans out there (I have only seen a few episodes of season 1, but from what I gathered, it was amazing), Fukunaga directed season 1. Take his direction and mix it with Elba, one of my favorite actors in the business, and I think Beasts has what it takes to succeed.

One of the most interesting facts about this movie is that it is Netflix’s very first original feature film. With Netflix already becoming known for its critically claimed original programming (House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), I am incredibly pumped for its journey into original film production—Beasts debuts on Netflix’s streaming service on the same day as its theatrical release. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Fukunaga stated: “It’s really hard to deny the power of 66 million subscribers. If the audience can have an emotional experience with my movie, then that’s everything I want.” Beasts of No Nation is set for a theatrical and Netflix Instant Stream release on October 16, 2015.

Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga (Jane Eyre, Sin Nombre)

Starring: Idris Elba (Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Gunman) and Ama K. Abebrese (Double-Cross, Ties That Bind)

No. 8 – Joy

To keep it simple, Joy is about the inventor of the Miracle Mop, Joy Mangano (Jennifer Lawrence). Treating cinematic visionary David O. Russell’s story to a more in-depth and honest description, it is an epic story about a 30-year span in a woman’s life, charting her ups and downs, successes and struggles. Russell again collaborates in Joy with the trio of superstars (Lawrence, Robert De Niro, and Bradley Cooper) he has featured in each of his last two films (American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook). Take these established relationships and throw in the fact that Russell’s last three films have all been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and movie fans worldwide surely have a cocktail for genius.

Speaking of David O. Russell’s professional relationships with his recurring stars, my interest in this film is most evidenced by Jennifer Lawrence in the leading role. Silver Linings Playbook did feature her as one of the two main co-stars, but the film was mostly about Cooper’s character. Subsequently, American Hustle featured a hilarious supporting performance by J-Law, but it was Amy Adams, Christian Bale, and Cooper taking up the film’s bulk. Therefore, I am beyond stoked to see one of my favorite actresses own the screen time. Lawrence knows her relationship with Russell is special, telling Entertainment Weekly, “Working on his sets is like the Olympics of acting. Everything moves so fast. It’s like watching someone do a giant abstract painting or sculpture and you go, ‘Where is this going?’ And then all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s a Pegasus. It’s beautiful!” Joy is set for a theatrical release on December 25, 2015.

Director: David O. Russell (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Parts 1&2, Serena), Robert De Niro (The Intern, Grudge Match), and Bradley Cooper (Aloha, American Sniper)

No. 7 – The Martian

The Martian follows astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), as his crew mistakenly takes him for dead during a storm on Mars. Stranded on the red planet alone without enough resources to last him more than a few weeks, Watney must defy the odds to ever make it back to Earth alive. Ridley Scott directs this sci-fi thriller, and that is all I need to know to get on board. Scott is the creative innovator behind Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator, and Prometheus, and with an interstellar (pun intended) cast at his disposal, his every cinematic desire will surely play out masterfully on the screen. Although I really did like Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar last year, it was a bit too Inception-esque with its utterly complex structure. From the looks of Scott’s The Martian in its trailer, this film looks to still provide the stunning visual prowess akin to that in Interstellar, while connecting more with the audience.

Scott’s ensemble cast in The Martian is most definitely one of its most impressive features. Matt Damon is obviously an award-winning star, but I am most looking forward to seeing Jessica Chastain. Those familiar with my blog and opinions on film in general know that I have long contended that Chastain is the most skilled actress in the industry. Just like her role in the aforementioned Interstellar, I expect big things from such a Hollywood heavyweight. I am also intrigued by the star power of this film’s supporting cast: the forever fearful of trains Kate Mara (House of Cards anyone?), the always hilarious, but I imagine soon-to-be dramatic Kristen Wiig, and the Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor. A cast this strong is likely to command every last second of the film. The Martian is set for a wide theatrical release on October 2, 2015.

Director: Ridley Scott (Exodus: Gods and Kings, The Counselor)

Starring: Matt Damon (Interstellar, The Monuments Men), Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year, Interstellar), Kristen Wiig (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Welcome to Me), Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber To, Looper), Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Fury), Kate Mara (Fantastic Four, Transcedence), and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Z for Zachariah, 12 Years a Slave)

No. 6 – Legend

In the true-life biopic Legend, set in London during the 1960s, Tom Hardy plays both twin brothers Reggie and Ron Kray, two of the most renowned gangsters in the world. Tom Hardy + Tom Hardy = double the Tom Hardy. Boom! I am in! Just like my devoted contention that Jessica Chastain is the most talented actress in the game, I likewise believe Hardy is the single greatest actor in all of world cinema. He has proven his worth as the titular character in the brutally violent Bronson, the demented supervillain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, the emotionally torn Ivan in last year’s Locke, and the legendary master of madness in this year’s Mad Max: Fury Road. He is the ultimate craftsman, and Legend director Brian Helgeland immediately took notice of Hardy’s seriousness behind the scenes, telling Entertainment Weekly, “he takes it to a point I’ve never seen—just the commitment and the focus. There’s no gag reel.”

Aside from the actual casting of Hardy in Legend, I am fascinated by the fact that he plays both of the Kray twins. Yes, Armie Hammer did a wonderful job as both Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss in 2010’s The Social Network, but Legend is pitched as a badass action adventure, which implicates a completely unprecedented challenge for an actor to take on two roles. While Helgeland initially wanted Hardy to portray only Reggie, the character with the emotional love story at his core, Hardy was smitten with the challenge of playing Ron, the gay and much more outgoing of the twins. Helgeland told EW that “from the time Tom sat down, all he was talking about was Ron. At the end, Tom said, ‘I’ll give you Reggie if you give me Ron.’” The rest was history, and I cannot wait to see the result. Legend is set for a theatrical release on October 2, 2015.

Director: Brian Helgeland (42, The Order)

Starring: Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road), Emily Browning (Pompeii, God Help the Girl), David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, The Fifth Estate), and Chazz Palminteri (Henry & Me, Yonkers Joe)