Sunday, February 28, 2016

Eddie the Eagle (2016)

IMDb plot summary: The story of Eddie Edwards, the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Directed by Dexter Fletcher. Starring Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Edvin Endre, and Jo Hartley.

(Mild spoilers.)

This is a very strange movie. In most ways, it is unrelentingly conventional. Every cliche you can think of, happens, and it happens in a way that is eye-rollingly designed to manipulate the audience into caring. But then every so often, that manipulation goes a little too far and we get these bizarre, almost cartoonish over-the-top sequences that are by far more interesting than anything else we see in the film. I'm thinking of Hugh Jackman's hilarious "LOOK I'M SO COOL" ski jump while smoking, the amazingly melodramatic responses to Eddie's final jump, and the goofily menacing evil of the advanced ski jumpers in the spa. These moments are ridiculous and really do feel like they'd be more at home in a Nickelodeon cartoon than in a live action feel-good sports movie, but they're a breath of fresh air given the by-the-book mundanity of the rest of the movie. As a whole, the flick's pretty harmless if you like that sort of thing, but it's certainly not anything compelling or different... aside from those occasional bits of complete nonsense that made me laugh harder than any of the actual jokes.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Eddie the Eagle < 13 Going on 30
Eddie the Eagle > Mr. Holland's Opus
Eddie the Eagle > Deja Vu
Eddie the Eagle < Larry-Boy and the Fib From Outer Space
Eddie the Eagle < Ghostbusters
Eddie the Eagle < Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Eddie the Eagle < Syrup
Eddie the Eagle > The Toy That Saved Christmas
Eddie the Eagle < Dear Frankie
Eddie the Eagle < The Imitation Game
Eddie the Eagle > Fun Size
Final spot: #1511 out of 2437.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Where to Invade Next (2015)

IMDb plot summary: To learn what the USA can learn from other nations, Michael Moore playfully "invades" them to see what they have to offer.
Directed by Michael Moore.

The various individual topics this documentary covers are good ones. There are interviews with various other first world country leaders, workers, and job creators about how they are improving their social systems, and those are all interesting. Where this movie falls apart, however, is whenever Moore makes himself the focus of the picture instead of letting the comparisons between countries speak for themselves. The gimmicky nature of the "We're conquering you" premise isn't nearly as funny as he thinks it is, and every so often he interrupts the interviews to go on a long tirade about his own political opinions and theories. While some of the things he states may be important or true, he'd have done better to put these together through interviews with others. Coming from him, they end up getting shrouded in such a thick layer of smug confidence that it's hard to take any of them as seriously as he wants us to.

The most compelling moments are in the interviews with the overseas citizens, where we get a solid sense of just how silly and selfish they think some of our policies are, especially those that put individual rights above the common societal good. Those are the moments that can make the viewers think. There's definitely enough in the movie to keep it interesting, but if Moore had cut the gimmick and shortened or excised entirely his own soapboxes, it would be a much stronger film.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Where to Invade Next < The Slipper and the Rose
Where to Invade Next > Mr. Holland's Opus
Where to Invade Next > Deja Vu
Where to Invade Next > Larry-Boy and the Fib from Outer Space!
Where to Invade Next > The Ramen Girl
Where to Invade Next > Bunraku
Where to Invade Next < Talk Radio
Where to Invade Next > Holiday
Where to Invade Next < The Lost Weekend
Where to Invade Next > The Year Without a Santa Claus
Final spot: #1243 out of 2436.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Twin Sisters (2002)

IMDb plot summary: Twin Sisters is an epic love story based on the Dutch bestseller by Tessa de Loo that has been read by more than 3.5 million readers in Holland and Germany.
Directed by Ben Sombogaart. Starring Ellen Vogel, Gudrun Okras, Thekla Reuten, and Nadja Uhl.


This is such a great premise for a movie, and I wish it was more engaging. The primary problem here is that the timeline seems off. More time is spent on their lives as very small children than their re-encounter as old women, and the latter is much more interesting. Once the story of the sisters as young women has been told, the film wraps up somewhat abruptly, never quite dealing with the emotions brought to the forefront. A more successful option would have been to split the time more evenly, perhaps 2/3 of it devoted to the flashback and 1/3 devoted to burying the hatchet in the present, but as it was, the 10 minutes of modern-day scenes seem purposeless since they don't resolve in any believable way. A great idea that stumbles in its execution.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Twin Sisters > 13 Going on 30
Twin Sisters < Argo
Twin Sisters < A Matter of Life and Death
Twin Sisters < Foolproof
Twin Sisters > Alice (1990)
Twin Sisters > Kiki's Delivery Service
Twin Sisters < Away From Her
Twin Sisters < Tarzan
Twin Sisters > The Women
Twin Sisters < Shall We Dance? (2004)
Final spot: #1098 out of 2435.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

IMDb plot summary: A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio's stars in line.
Directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Aiden Ehrenreich, and Channing Tatum.

I have often preferred the Coens' broader comedies to their dramas, but not always (Raising Arizona and The Big Lebowski do nothing for me). This is less an overt comedy and more a lighthearted love letter to 1950s Hollywood. That is when the film is at its best, showing us glimpses of all the different kinds of pictures that are so recognizably not-of-our-time, from Noel Coward-esque play adaptations to singing cowboy pictures to, of course, the titular religious epic.

The story as a whole is funny and engaging but my biggest problem with it is that, like most Coen movies, the ending seems like they just ran out of things to say more than like any kind of thoughtful conclusion. The tiny bits of resolution we do get are tacked on as apparent afterthoughts. I can never help feeling like the Coens always lose the final page of the script and don't end up shooting it, and even though this one tries a bit harder to wrap up the story, it doesn't quite work for me. Not a bad movie, just one that fizzles out.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Hail, Caesar! > The Kids Are All Right
Hail, Caesar! < Argo
Hail, Caesar! > Strictly Ballroom
Hail, Caesar! > Signs
Hail, Caesar! < Bend It Like Beckham (due a rewatch)
Hail, Caesar! < The Thief of Bagdad (1924)
Hail, Caesar! < The Help
Hail, Caesar! > Frances Ha
Hail, Caesar! < Shaolin Soccer
Hail, Caesar! < Collateral
Hail, Caesar! > Liberal Arts
Final spot: #748 out of 2433.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Deadpool (2016)

IMDb plot summary: A former Special Forces operative turned mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, adopting the alter ego Deadpool.
Directed by Tim Miller. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, and Ed Skrein.


I have written and rewritten and rewritten this review several times now because I'm pretty conflicted about this movie and have trouble putting it into words. Every so often I come across a movie that I really enjoy but feel uneasy about enjoying. Deadpool is one of them. It's funny, smart, well-written, and perfectly cast. Ryan Reynolds is great in this, even when all you hear is his voice yelling out snarky bon mots. Right from the opening credits, the movie gets in the fourth-wall-breaking spirit, and it doesn't let up. It's a wonderfully fun ride, but it also frequently makes me uncomfortable.

It's not the gore or the nudity that gives me pause, but the gleeful disregard for human life. Deadpool tells you over and over again that he's not a hero, not a good guy, and yet he makes killing his enemies look so fun and it's hard not to enjoy his witty murder banter. This would probably hit me differently if I didn't already feel that our current cultural climate is one of viewing enemies with an unsettling lack of mercy. Deadpool is a smarter, funnier version of the folks I've had actual real-life conversations with who make numerous jokes about how awesome we are for bombing the Middle East or who casually toss out violent solutions for personal conflict and you sense they're not quite joking. (The moment that made me most uneasy in Deadpool was the scene where he cheerfully applauds someone kidnapping and murdering a romantic rival. That's not even some grand tale of revenge the way Deadpool's quest is framed. That's just a petty tantrum because life didn't go your way. At least he didn't suggest he kidnap and murder the woman, but... this is not much of a step up.)

Is the movie in the wrong for its artistic choices it made here? Eh, I can't say that. At another time it might have been much easier for me to separate it out as "Pffft, it's just a movie" and enjoy the story. And at least Deadpool himself is VERY clear throughout the movie he's not doing the right thing. He's just a selfish jerk, and he knows it. But I can't help worrying as the credits roll what kind of happily ever after could possibly lie in store for him and his newfound love.

So... It was fun. It was interesting. But the more I think about it, it was also kind of terrifying.

3.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Deadpool > The Kids Are All Right
Deadpool < Eat Pray Love
Deadpool > A Separation
Deadpool > Hamlet (2009)
Deadpool < Bend It Like Beckham
Deadpool > Creed
Deadpool < 28 Up
Deadpool > State and Main
Deadpool > Hannah and Her Sisters
Deadpool > A Few Good Men
Deadpool < Gentleman's Agreement

Final spot: #705 out of 2432.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Interstellar (2014)

IMDb plot summary: A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.
Directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine.


Interstellar has been on my radar since its release, so my husband and I finally sat down to watch it together tonight. I admire many aspects of the movie - it looks great, the post-apocalyptic dust-filled world it sets up is interesting, Matt Damon's appearance was marvelous all the way through, the way they dealt with relativity stuff was sensitive and touching - but I found the end deeply unsatisfying. It took what was set up as a serious sci-fi story and turned it into, as my husband put it, "time magic." I can suspend disbelief for time travel, but not time travel powered by love. That is just going to make me roll my eyes alllll the way back. The score, which was nominated for an Oscar, was also just *wrong* the whole way through, escalating several serious moments into accidentally hilarious melodrama.

In short, I wanted to like this and I did like parts of it a lot, but it falls apart at the end and isn't nearly as deep as it thinks it is. What happened, Christopher Nolan?

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Interstellar > Happythankyoumoreplease
Interstellar < Eat Pray Love
Interstellar < A Separation
Interstellar > Cast Away
Interstellar > Bee Movie
Interstellar < Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken
Interstellar < The Man Who Wasn't There
Interstellar < The Revenant
Interstellar > Marathon
Interstellar < Jurassic World
Final spot: #983 out of 2431.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Anomalisa (2015)

IMDb plot summary: A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary.
Directed by Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman. Starring David Thewlis, Tom Noonan, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

(Definite spoilers ahead.)

When I heard Charlie Kafuman was doing an animated film I was intrigued and prepared for something delightfully weird. And what I got was... weird, but certainly not Being John Malkovich-level weird. This is more like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -- one unusual gimmick to tell a very human story that so creatively integrates with the themes that you almost forget it's unusual by the end.

Here, the primary gimmick is that everyone our main character meets shared the same bland almost-monotone voice (Tom Noonan). Everyone he encounters, from the taxi driver to the hotel concierge to the wife and child he calls on the phone, respond in the same quiet, soothing tones, and it isn't until he meets someone who sounds different (played by non-Tom-Noonan Jennifer Jason Leigh) that he thinks maybe he's found a way out of the drudgery he's lived in.

It's a fascinating movie and a fascinating way to tell the story, and I found it especially relevant as someone who is both extremely introverted and deals with occasional depression, two very different angles for being uninterested in people. There are so many ways you could interpret this story and why Michael hears things the way he does, and the fact that it's never delved into very deeply makes it ambiguous in the best way.

Ultimately, I found myself a little more wrapped up in intellectual analyzing of the gimmicks and themes than I did experiencing the emotional arc of the movie. Kaufman's movies are always interesting but often leave me a little cold emotionally (aside from Synecdoche, New York, which filled me with an almost overwhelming sadness). Here I'm not even sure I tried to respond to the emotional side of it, and I'm not sure how it would hold up, but I admired the movie a lot and would definitely like to rewatch it someday.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Anomalisa > Happythankyoumoreplease
Anomalisa > Argo
Anomalisa < High School Musical
Anomalisa > Kiss Me, Stupid!
Anomalisa < Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Anomalisa < The Parent Trap
Anomalisa < Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Anomalisa > The Talented Mr. Ripley
Anomalisa > The Peanuts Movie
Anomalisa > Trainspotting
Anomalisa > The Graduate

Final spot: #437 out of 2430.

Julia (1977)

IMDb plot summary: At the behest of an old and dear friend, playwright Lillian Hellman undertakes a dangerous mission to smuggle funds into Nazi Germany.
Directed by Fred Zinnemann. Starring Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Jason Robards, and Maximilian Schell.

(Mild spoilers.)

This movie was nominated for and won a bunch of Oscars, and I must confess, I'm a little puzzled. Maybe 1977 was a slow year, because I thought this movie was pretty unimpressive. The title is misleading, making you think it's going to be largely about the friendship, but most of the movie is spent with Lillian working on her play or traveling and only occasionally mentioning Julia. Even in the second half of the movie, where it suddenly ventures into spy thriller territory, Julia herself seems to always be an afterthought. The relationship between the two women is barely explored. The epilogue voiceover attempts to tie everything together, but just makes it clear how scattered the movie actually is. On top of all this, I thought Jane Fonda as Lillian was surprisingly bad, with vocal inflections and movements that made her seem like a first-time actress hyper-aware of everyone watching her.

This should have been a much better movie than it was, and clearly the Academy thought it actually *was* that better movie, but I am not so convinced.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Julia < Happythankyoumoreplease
Julia > The Interpreter
Julia < Mickey's Christmas Carol
Julia < Treasures of the Snow
Julia < JFK
Julia > The Enemy Below
Julia > Seasons of the Heart
Julia < Annie (2014)
Julia < Quigley Down Under
Julia > Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed
Julia < Rio Bravo
Final spot: #1762 out of 2429.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Cast Away (2000)

IMDb plot summary: A FedEx executive must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt.

(Mild spoilers.)

This movie was a big deal right as I was heading into high school, but I somehow never got around to seeing it. I hadn't even made any kind of conscious effort to find out about it, but I realized as I watched it that I had a pretty solid idea of how everything played out, just from hearing so many references to it growing up. I think that might have dampened my enjoyment just a little bit, having to navigate around the serious dramatic moments that I'd only known as punchlines up until that point.

That being said, I think it's a pretty good movie. Tom Hanks, unsurprisingly, does a great job carrying the movie and conveying the mental state of the main character. One of the things I appreciated most about it was that it wasn't primarily an escape thriller like 127 Hours or Gravity or, even more recently, The Martian. It spent a good 40 minutes of movie dealing with the aftermath of his experience. It could have just ended with the boat picking him up, but by giving us a window into life after the escape, it refocused it back to being a character drama first and foremost. That's a nice shift, even if it does mean that the movie as a whole feels a bit oddly paced.

3 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Cast Away > Happythankyoumoreplease
Cast Away < Eat Pray Love
Cast Away < Strictly Ballroom
Cast Away < Die Hard
Cast Away > The Age of the Medici
Cast Away > 2012
Cast Away > 17 Again
Cast Away > The Forbidden Kingdom
Cast Away > The Nanny Diaries
Cast Away > Broken Arrow
Cast Away > Short Circuit
Final spot: #1063 out of 2428.

The Fifth Wave (2016)

IMDb plot summary: Four waves of increasingly deadly alien attacks have left most of Earth decimated. Cassie is on the run, desperately trying to save her younger brother.
Directed by J Blakeson. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Zackary Arthur, Nick Robinson, and Alex Roe.

(Very very minor spoilers.)

This movie got a lot of bad press as just another sloppy dystopian future YA story, but, really, as far as dystopian future YA stories go, it's not terrible. The premise is good, if simple, the characters are likable, if not original, and there are some pretty fun disaster porn sequences and entertaining plot twists. Aside from one minor subplot that was eye-rollingly stupid (and that I assume is planned for a bigger role in any sequels), this was a pretty decent little movie, more along the lines of Ender's Game than The Hunger Games. Not the best of its genre, but certainly watchable.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Fifth Wave > Camp Rock
The Fifth Wave < Eat Pray Love
The Fifth Wave < Strictly Ballroom
The Fifth Wave < Die Hard
The Fifth Wave < The Age of the Medici
The Fifth Wave > Sex Tape
The Fifth Wave < Death at a Funeral (2007)
The Fifth Wave > Checking Out
The Fifth Wave < Where's God When I'm S-S-Scared?
The Fifth Wave > Ratatouille
Final spot: #1163 out of 2427.

The English Patient (1996)

IMDb plot summary: At the close of WWII, a young nurse tends to a badly-burned plane crash victim. His past is shown in flashbacks, revealing an involvement in a fateful love affair.
Directed by Anthony Minghella. Starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Defoe, and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Good grief, this is boring, and beyond that, the writing and acting just all seems... off. There's a sense of intense melodrama that keeps me at a distance and never lets me feel like I can buy into the characters. The music swells and the characters laugh and cry, but very little of that feels earned and I cannot for the life of me figure out how this won so many awards because it seems so shoddily made.

There are a few things that do stand out as positives. The scene at the end where he returns to the cave is nicely tragic, the bomb-defusing scene is wonderfully tense, and the cinematography is gorgeous. Some of those desert landscape shots would no doubt have been even more stunning on the big screen. But these few isolated moments out of a 2 hour 40 minute movie did not make up for the rest of it. I'm afraid I have to side with Elaine Benes on this one.

2 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The English Patient < Happythankyoumoreplease
The English Patient > Taxi
The English Patient < Mickey's Christmas Carol
The English Patient < Treasures of the Snow
The English Patient < JFK
The English Patient > 2046
The English Patient > Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
The English Patient > The Misfits
The English Patient > Waltz with Bashir
The English Patient > Drive Me Crazy
The English Patient > Jumper
Final spot: #1745 out of 2426.

Monday, February 1, 2016

One Hour to Die (2011)

No IMDb plot summary because the one on IMDb is clearly a broken mash-up of this movie's synopsis and, for some reason, Jurassic Park's.
Directed by Philip Gardiner. Starring Melanie Denholme, Robert Knowles, Rob Ireland, and Jessica Messenger.

This movie was apparently entirely improvised. The actors got a day of rehearsal to figure out characters and plot, and then they filmed it all in one 90-minute take. That's an impressive attempt, but it's got SUCH bad results. With smarter improvisers, this kind of thing could have worked, but as it is, the acting is wooden, the dialogue ridiculous, and the pace of the movie is ridiculously slow - there's about 45 minutes of random party games before anything actually happens, and that's not even a little bit interesting to watch. It's too bad this is such a miserable failure, because I think something like this is capable of being much better.

0.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
One Hour to Die < Happythankyoumoreplease
One Hour to Die < The Interpreter
One Hour to Die < The Merchant of Venice (2004)
One Hour to Die < Dinner at Eight
One Hour to Die > Bean
One Hour to Die > The Other Sister
One Hour to Die < The Jazz Singer (1927)
One Hour to Die > Love Wrecked
One Hour to Die > Cold Blood
One Hour to Die < Horse Sense
One Hour to Die < Medium Cool
Final spot: #2298 out of 2425.

Rio Bravo (1959)

IMDb plot summary: A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy.
Directed by Howard Hawks. Starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Angie Dickinson.

Right from the start when I got assigned this movie as part of an online movie exchange I did, I was awfully curious as to whether or not this was given to me by someone who knew how tough a sell westerns are for me. Unfortunately, this is not the western that changed my mind.

Like all John Wayne movies, John Wayne is the least interesting part of it. I was drawn in by Dean Martin's character arc and found him very moving at times, and the cinematography was lovely. But as a whole, I had a really tough time keeping my interest in this movie. The main plot never caught my attention, and I found the love story frustrating. I'd happily watch a whole movie focused on Martin's character, but he really only has 15-20 minutes devoted to him here, leaving 2+ hours of things I didn't care about much.

1.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Rio Bravo < The Kids Are All Right
Rio Bravo > The Interpreter (I suppose. I don't remember Interpreter, but I think I found it boring.)
Rio Bravo < Deja Vu
Rio Bravo < Bounce
Rio Bravo < The Children's Hour
Rio Bravo > The Enemy Below
Rio Bravo > Seasons of the Heart
Rio Bravo < House of Games
Rio Bravo < Sharknado (...I'm sorry. But Sharknado was so much more entertaining.)
Rio Bravo > Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed
Rio Bravo < Quigley Down Under (A western someone tried to get me to like during my movie challenge. It just barely wins.)
Final spot: #1758 out of 2424.

Room (2015)

No IMDb plot summary because my experience was way better for having been unspoiled.
Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, and Joan Allen.



OK, let me say this right up front: I went into this movie completely blind, no idea what it was about, and so the first 30-40 minutes or so were me figuring out what exactly was even happening along with the main character. If you don't know anything about the movie, I highly suggest you stop reading now and do the same.

That being said... I LOVED this movie. The world it created for me inside this child's mind was so compelling. The film is split into two distinct parts, and I was so wrapped up in the first half of the story that when it ended, I found myself startled that it had only been an hour and we were only halfway through the movie -- it felt like a very complete story on its own. The second half of the movie, though, doesn't drag at all and instead tells the necessary second half of the saga and how the characters have to adjust or readjust to their "normal" lives.

Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are spectacular here, with their fascinating little world they've built together, and as their world slowly expands (in so many ways), I could not wait to see what would happen next. It's a story that doesn't get told very often, and it's told in a very unique way. This is by far my favorite of the Oscar Best Picture nominees, and even though it won't win, I would be ecstatic if it did.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Room > Happythankyoumoreplease
Room > Eat Pray Love
Room > High School Musical (Which is too high. High School Musical 2, maybe. But the first one? Nah, shouldn't be here.)
Room < Catch Me If You Can
Room > The Matrix (...This movie is soaring because it's going up against a lot of old favorites.)
Room > Chaplin
Room < The Squid and the Whale
Room > Halloween (Rated too high.)
Room > Unforgiven
Room > The Bridge on the River Kwai (Due a rewatch.)
Room < Who Am I This Time?
Final spot: #172 out of 2423. WHOA.

Spotlight (2015)

IMDb plot summary: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.
Directed by Tom McCarthy. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Liev Schreiber.

This is exactly the kind of movie that I expect to win the Oscar - well-written, well-acted, well-directed, has some serious weight, a fascinating story. And I liked it, don't get me wrong, but it didn't blow me away. There are some very moving moments and it's done very capably, but it's also done in a very expected way. As such, it's not my favorite of the Best Picture nominees, but I would have no qualms whatsoever with it winning.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Spotlight > Happythankyoumoreplease
Spotlight < Eat Pray Love (A tough choice, and while I think Spotlight is better made, I think Eat Pray Love is going to stick with me longer.)
Spotlight > Strictly Ballroom
Spotlight > Hamlet (2009)
Spotlight > Bend It Like Beckham (BILB is almost certainly ranked too high, though it's due a rewatch.)
Spotlight > The Boondock Saints
Spotlight < Lethal Weapon (I think. I'm not certain about this one. Lethal Weapon is also due a rewatch.)
Spotlight > Oldboy (2003) (I like Spotlight better bit-by-bit but Oldboy better as a whole. For now, that means Spotlight wins.)
Spotlight > The Return of Captain Invincible
Spotlight < They Came Together
Spotlight < Cannibal!: The Musical

Final spot: #628 out of 2422.

The Martian (2015)

IMDb plot summary: During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left behind by his crew. But Watney has survived and finds himself stranded and alone on the hostile planet. With only meager supplies, he must draw upon his ingenuity, wit and spirit to subsist and find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
Directed by Ridley Scott. Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, and Jeff Daniels.

(Very very mild spoilers.)

One of the things I didn't expect from this movie was for it to be as light-hearted as it is. I'd expected a colder sci-fi thriller, something along the lines of Gravity. When I saw at the end that Drew Goddard had written the screenplay, that made ALL the sense. It's that light-hearted tone that makes this movie stand out at something special, and, interestingly enough, the tone doesn't ever make it feel like not enough is at stake. It just helps us enjoy the ride a lot more.

My husband also brought something up that made me think -- that it was really nice to, for once, have a sci-fi story where everybody was working together for good things, Star Trek-style. The movie wasn't about politics or greed, it was about the bigger question of helping a human stuck on Mars. I think that helps as well. It's a genuinely inspirational movie. It's an interesting Best Picture nominee, and even though there's no way it'll win, I'm happy it was on the list.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Martian > Camp Rock
The Martian > Argo
The Martian < High School Musical
The Martian > Kiss Me, Stupid!
The Martian > The Bumblebee Flies Anyway
The Martian < The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
The Martian > Muppets Most Wanted
The Martian < Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
The Martian < The Gods Must Be Crazy
The Martian < Paths of Glory
The Martian < Edge of Tomorrow
The Martian < Big Hero 6
Final spot: #351 out of 2421.