The 2015 REEL BRIEF nominees for Best Original Screenplay are:
A phenomenal sci-fi thriller that shocks film goers with philosophical questions not only about the human psyche, but also our future existence. As a sharp, young computer programmer visits an underground laboratory at the invitation of the facility’s researcher, he finds a robot with human features that he must quiz to determine her actual intelligence level.
This computer whiz kid, more correctly called a “Coder”, is asked to perform a Turing test on this artificial intelligent (AI) machine named Ava. These series of questions were developed by Alan Turing, known as the Father of Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, and the same cryptanalyst portrayed in last year’s Oscar-nominated best film “The Imitation Game”. In “Ex Machina”, Turing’s test described in his 1950 paper is used to find Ava’s ability to exhibit behavior equivalent or indistinguishable from that of a human. From here, viewers realize that this story is less about research and more about survival. Our survival.
As the “core feelings” inside Riley’s head, Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader), Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) take turns showing us why humans think and act the way we do. It’s the stream of consciousness, train of thought and how our core feelings and memories interact that Inside Out pries and probes diligently—elevating this movie from just a compilation of one-liners into a mind-blowing study on human nature.
Leaving behind her closest friends, familiar school and beloved sport of hockey, Riley experiences all the range of emotions, feelings and past memories one associates with a life that’s turned upside down. Those core feelings of emotions, coupled with her long and short-range memories, are the issues Riley must acknowledge, deal with, and ultimately, find coping mechanisms for. It’s there, in Riley’s head, where viewers find themselves in this captivating, funny and powerful film that touches every moviegoers’ emotional spirit–regardless of age.
Love and Mercy
In 1961, just as a British band set out from Liverpool to begin their “Beatlemania” ascent into international stardom, across the Atlantic Ocean an American version, albeit from California, was formed. Love & Mercy is the gripping and powerful biopic story of Brian Wilson, the singer, songwriter and leader of The Beach Boys.
With sensational dual performances by Paul Dano and John Cusack as the younger and older life versions of Wilson, both provide a chilling and fascinating peek into one of music’s most influential creative forces of all time. Together they take us back to the 1960s and 80s, educating audiences on the real life mental and physical struggles of abuse, drug addiction and mental illness. Love & Mercy demonstrates how one young man, with a talent only found in music albums once or twice per generation, transformed dance songs into lyrics and harmony for listening.
With a focus on getting to the truth, the newspaper’s investigative “Spotlight” unit shines light on the cover-up of child molestation by exercising the fundamentals of news reporting; accuracy, objectivity and impartiality. “Spotlight” depicts a news organization where facts are followed–allowing the story to tell itself. The newspaper’s editor confidently willing to put fresh eyes on an old lead. Where the reporters aren’t the story, but rather the conduit to truth.
Writer-Director Thomas McCarthy (“Up” 2009) provides keen insight into a covert newsroom, with less than a handful of reporters, who are given the time to get the big story right. After all, being first to report news that’s wrong only leaves the public misinformed, not enlightened. The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team that uncovered the secrecy and abuses within the Catholic Church did get the big story right—even earning the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2003.
Straight Outta Compton
The origins of hip hop gangsta rap music trace back to the mid ’80s and a trio of young, hard-pressed blacks attempting to escape the dangerous streets of Compton, California. Facing a nearly certain future of either being “locked-up or laid down”, the group musters together to produce the only thing they know—hard-hitting, profane rap music.
This biographical film follows the controversial lives of Andre Young, O’Shea Jackson and Eric Wright as they achieve notoriety, fandom and their more commonly known rapper names of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E. Creating music with incendiary lyrics and violent rhymes, these street-savvy rappers take on everyone and everything standing between them and platinum-selling albums. “Straight Outta Compton” is an intense and raw film. The movie’s story is yet another key dot which must be connected in order to have an honest, complete conversation on black-white relations in America.
Bridge of Spies
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