American Sniper Controversy - We ended 2014 with The Interview controversy then started 2015 with a new controversy. Clint Eastwood movies are always an event and while it looked like American Sniper might go under the radar (it was absent for most early Oscar talks) it came out and to the country by storm. At the heart of the controversy was should Chris Kyle (portrayed by Bradley Cooper) be celebrated as a war hero. And not controversy is complete with out Michael Moore getting involved who tweeted that snipers are cowards who shoot people in the back. The movie caused quite the debate helping 24 hour news channels fill lots of airtime. In the end the movie ended up making lots of movies and breaking some box office records (more on that later) and getting nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor at the Oscars.
#OscarsSoWhite - Speaking of Oscars. At the same time the American Sniper Controversy was going strong a new one developed the day the Oscars announced their nominations. No actor or actress of color were nominated in any of the four acting categories. What seemed to be the biggest omission were David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King in Selma. While the controversy started with the Oscar nominations an important conversation started about the industry in general.
Beasts of No Nation- Netflix has been pushing boundaries since they started their streaming service. First it was revolutionizing the way series are released by releasing all episodes in one day. This year Netflix took on the movie industry and more specifically the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO). Theater owners usually require a certain period after a movie is released before it can come out on home video. Well this year Netflix challenged that status quo with Beasts of No Nation. They released it streaming and in theaters on the same day. It got a very limited release since all the big theater chains refused to screen it, but what it did do is qualify it for Oscars which should be interesting if it can score some nominations. The question is was the risk worth it? And the answer is unclear at this point. But expect Netflix to continue to push the boundaries.
Notable Deaths of 2015 - Each year we lose celebrities and this year was no exception. Three notable movie deaths this year are Leonard Nemoy, James Horner, and Wes Craven.
Leonard Nemoy best known as Dr. Spock from Star Trek died in February from complications with COPD. Mostly identified with his iconic character Nemoy also directed and wrote several Star Trek movies and was a huge influence on sci-fi.
James Horner was one of the best film composers out there died in a plane crash in June. Horner who wrote the score for Titanic which is the highest selling orchestral movie soundtrack of all time. Horner had two movies released after his death Southpaw and The 33 and had worked on the 2016 movie The Magnificent Seven. After working with James Cameron a number of times he was set to score the Avatar sequels. His music contributions will be missed.
Wes Craven one of the best modern horror directors and director of A Nightmare on Elm St, The Hills Have Eyes, and Scream died on August 30th from Brain Cancer. He made a huge impact on the horror genre and it was sad to see him go.
Women in Film - This year has been an interesting year for women in film. At the start of the summer movie season we had two movies that came out that caused some controversy with women groups. First Avengers: Age of Ultron came out and caused some controversy because it featured a woman who was upset that she won't be able to have babies. To make matters worse when all the toys were released there was a toy for all the major characters except Black Widow. Then Jurassic World came out where the main protagonist is a women but ran around a jungle in high heels. Despite these early set back 2015 ended with a year full of strong female protagonists including Furiosa from Mad Max: Fury Road and Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Box Office Bonanza -Well if 2015 will be remembered for anything it will be the amount of money movies made. It seemed like each month we had another movie come out that broke box office records. In January American Sniper performed better than anyone expected and broke records. Then the seventh movie in the Fast and Furious franchise came out and beat all expectations. It became one of the highest worldwide grossing movie off all time. After that we got Avengers: Age of Ultron which had a lot to live up to since the first Avengers was the only movie to break $200 million on opening weekend and all eyes were on if Age of Ultron could break the record. When it fell short a lot of people called it disappointing but $191 million is not disappointing. But the movie that did break Avengers record came out a month later. Jurassic World took the world by storm and opened up with $208 million making it the highest grossing opening weekend of all time. And worked it's way up to become the third highest grossing movie of all time behind Avatar and Titanic. But that didn't last too long. Once December rolled around all box office records were rewritten by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. With $247 million it crushed all previous records and continued to crush records every day. And come years end Star Wars was already number 8 all time worldwide and number 4 domestically with no signs of stopping. How much will it end with? Only time will tell but there is no question it will be number one of all time.
Did you here there is a new film fest coming to Milwaukee in 2016? Earlier this year we here at Milwaukee Movie Talk announced that we will be starting a horror festival in Milwaukee called Milwaukee Twisted Dreams Film Festival. We already have the Wisconsin Premiere of Dark lined up with special guests including Mark Borchardt, Horror Host Dr. Destruction, and Horror Host Deadgar Meyer. Along with performances by world renown magician Luka and Deadmans Carnival. Check out our Facebook page for all the info and more announcements. https://www.facebook.com/TwistedDreamsFF