Joe’s Top Picks 88th Academy Awards

Published: February 26, 2016

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With the 88th Academy Awards rapidly approaching Sunday, here is my personal top five list of 2015.

5. “Spotlight”- Finally! A movie about journalism and journalists that actually gets the industry right.

Not only does it get journalism right, but it gets pretty much everything from performances to accents right along with being incredibly entertaining.

Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Leiv Schreiber and Rachel McAdams all do fantastic jobs here as members of The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, trying to break the story of Catholic Church corruption in Boston.



The movie is hard hitting, never holds your hand and if you are like me, will anger you. This movie is a triumph in storytelling and, if it wasn’t a true story, would be hard to believe.

4. “It Follows”- Alright, so here’s where I’m going to need you to hear me out for a minute. I’m a big horror fan, which honestly makes me basically a glutton for punishment.

This year, however, I had the pleasure of sitting through “It Follows.” This movie is, and this is probably a controversial statement, my favorite horror movie ever. Plain and simple, I love this film.

It stole my heart from the beginning with its simple premise. Once you catch the curse, it will follow you. It can look like anyone or anything. When you see it, it will always be walking towards you slowly, at a leisurely walking pace. Nothing will stop it, slow it down or prevent it from catching you. The only thing you can do is pass it along to buy yourself some time.
I love that the movie is simplistic. It doesn’t go into any detail about what the monster is because, simply, it doesn’t need to. The unknown aspect of it makes it so creepy in the first place. This whole thing feels like a love letter to horror fans and I happily return n its affection.

3. “Mad Max: Fury Road”- When I heard that another “Mad Max” movie was coming out, I was surprised. I enjoyed the first couple in a niche, B movie sort of way, so I would probably give this new one a try.

I ended up seeing it three separate times in theaters. Now, usually I can take or leave most action movies. I can enjoy them when they are good (“Die Hard”) and I really fail to enjoy them when they are bad (“Die Hard”….5? Was it the fifth one? Man I’ve lost track at this point).

The action is really well choreographed, the main characters, played by mumblecore pro Tom Hardy and the super-cool Charlize Theron, are fun to watch and the practical effects make a huge difference.

The surprising and very much welcome twist here is that the title character, Max, takes a backseat to Furiosa and her journey to liberate a bunch of pregnant young women from an evil warlord.

Let me give you an example of how heroic this character is. She had a robotic arm that nobody says a word about. No back story about it, no nothing. Her characterization is so strong she doesn’t need a backstory of how she lost that arm. You are just in awe of her persona the whole film.

2. “The Hateful Eight”- I’m a big fan of Tarantino. That’s no secret. It’s also no secret how much I enjoyed this movie.
From the beautiful snowy landscapes, to the brilliant cinematography and the well-written characters, there isn’t much not to love here. I dug the spaghetti western inspiration and the rich detail in nearly every part of the story and character development. I can rant and rave about this movie all day because, in my opinion, it’s one of Tarantino’s best, right up there with Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown.



1. “The Revenant”- This is Leo’s latest attempt at an Oscar and man is it a really good one. I adore this movie. You really feel the cold in this movie. It almost feels as cold as a Northeastern Pennslyvania Winter (almost). Every single scene makes you shiver to your very core and leaves your teeth clenched with anticipation.

The movie’s cinematography is a triumph. Visually, this film is stunning. They get shots in here that I honestly can’t wrap my mind around. The twisting, spinning and slowly creeping camera seems to have a mind of its own. It’s like a snake slithering through the snow and ice, determined to get the perfect shot.

The performances here are the only things that outshine the visuals. Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy shine here, with Leo playing a tracker who is wronged and left for dead by Hardy’s character. Leo’s entire motivation is to find Hardy and survive. This is a snowy romp to vengeance and I adored this. This one might be the one that sends Leo home with that little gold statue.

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