Independents and blockbusters reap year’s success

By: Grant Vance ~Staff Writer~

Photo courtesy of,,,, | Mad Max: Fury Road, Spotlight, The End of the Tour, The Diary of a Teenage Girl and Batman Vs. Superman are among the many cinematic successes shown in theaters this year.

Going to the movies: an experience that can be anything from the benchmark of a budding relationship to a meaningless two hours of escapism.

Whatever the motive may be for attending the cinema, there’s nothing like an enlightening retrospective to remind us all of our repressed memories of that guy who continually yelled “jokes” during the runtime or that scene that understood you more than anyone in years.

The 2015-16 year had a lot to offer, distinguishing itself with its medley of refined independents and especially well-crafted blockbusters.

Not all of the underground films released throughout the year received the recognition they deserved, but hopefully they’ll find a place in the hearts of those who had a chance to catch them.

For instance, The End of the Tour, a small drama chronicling Rolling Stone journalist David Lipsky’s travels with David Foster Wallace at the tail end of his tour for Infinite Jest, is as memorable as it is haunting.

On the topic of film and journalism, let’s not forget Spotlight, the Academy Award winner for Best Picture. More widely recognized thanks to its prestigious win, this film did a wonderful job telling the Boston Globe’s tale of uncovering the injustices that were happening behind the scenes of the Catholic Church.

Other notable independent films include Oscar nominees Room and Anomalisa as well as the vastly overlooked Diary of a Teenage Girl and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

As a perfect segue from lesserknown fare to commercial blockbusters, there are films that gain attention primarily for their creators. This year supplied us with some of the best, with Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight), the Coen Brothers (Hail Caesar), Richard Linklater (Everybody Wants Some), Shane Black (The Nice Guys) and Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special) all offering new films to enjoy.

Superhero movies are slowly taking over the blockbuster palette, with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Deadpool all raking in profitable returns for their respective studios, and more entries on the way with Suicide Squad, Captain America: Civil War and X-Men: Apocalypse on the horizon.

Not every blockbuster is clad in tights and justice, however. This year also brought us well-crafted returns to some of the most respected franchises of all time with Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

This only scratches the surface of what 2015-16 brought to film. Without getting into more genre-specific films like comedy (Trainwreck) or horror (The Witch), there are plenty more that deserve a look.

I hope this year in cinema treated you well, and I hope that one guy’s shouting commentary wasn’t too off-putting.