Danielle Waggoner, Social Media Analyst
2015 was an undeniably strong year for film, leaving moviegoers constantly questioning what they should see next at the theater. The star-studded cast of Spotlight, lead by Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo, proved the clear standout. They captivated audiences, telling the compelling true story of the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer-prize winning investigation into abuse allegations surrounding the Catholic Church.
Writers Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer penned a screenplay that played as both a heartbreaking story of an institutional-wide smoke screen and a love letter to the days of credible investigative journalism. Spotlight leaves viewers on the edge of their seats from beginning to end, as they watch one of history’s biggest cover-ups unfold on screen.
Joe Matas, Account Manager
Pop Culture: LGBTQ Representation
Pop culture is a double-edged sword – it can be responsible for superficial trends or influence the way we see people different than ourselves. 2015 was a perfect example of the latter for the LGBTQ community. It seemed that LGBTQ visibility was higher than ever before last year; however, it was the diversity and complexity within this growing visibility that made 2015 the most groundbreaking year yet.
The most notable imprint came from transgender representation in pop culture. Whether it was Caitlyn Jenner’s iconic Vanity Fair cover or critically acclaimed films like The Danish Girl and Tangerine, pop culture gave a face and a voice to a community largely misunderstood and underrepresented.
LGBTQ roles on television also reached new heights. From new shows like Empire to established shows like Broad City and Transparent, characters finally resembled real life – complex, diverse and not defined by their sexuality.
Rich Calabrese, Vice President
TV: Game of Thrones - Is Jon Snow Really Dead?
Since June 14, 2015, there hasn’t been a week that’s gone by where my friends, co-workers or the entertainment media at large hasn’t discussed whether the Lord Commander, Jon Snow, is indeed dead.
In any other show, when a character is shown stabbed repeatedly while staring aimlessly into the sky, there’s strong reason to believe that character is dead. However, with GoT we can’t presume anything. No TV show in 2015 has left viewers conspiring daily and exchanging theories about a single character’s existence. It’s because of this consistent search for clues over the last 6 months (“Kit Harrington hasn’t cut his hair yet!, George R.R. Martin said…”) that this moment is one of my favorite pop culture moments of 2015.
Logan Dodd, Account Manager
Film: It Follows: The Little Horror That Could
It Follows broke Weinstein Co./Radius expansion records by going nationwide. For the independent horror community, that’s like winning gold in the horror Olympics. Apart from that, the film is phenomenal. It’s intriguing. Inventive. Invasive. And that score! The “Title” track is something reminiscent of John Carpenter’s beloved Halloween theme. Now I’M “passing it on,” and may it rest alongside the Halloweens, Fridays and Nightmares in your collection. It followed me home that night in March, and never left.
Ben Carlson, Co-President
I do not like musicals. At all. So when I finally succumbed to the buzz around Hamilton – Lin-Manuel Miranda’s historical “mixtape” of a Broadway show – I listened to the soundtrack out of pop culture curiosity. Little did I know it would be the best, most creative thing I would experience in 2015.
The music defies genre. It has a hip-hop heart, but the musical themes run from Brit-pop to anthemic rock to, yes, more traditional Broadway. And while Miranda struck narrative gold by telling of one of the most outsized American lives ever lived, the way he found the emotional core of each character is a magic act of creation. With efficient storytelling, we are introduced to a large cast of characters and quickly invested with them all.
I was in LA on a long business trip when I first listened to the Hamilton soundtrack. I reached the last song while boarding a red-eye flight at LAX. My fellow midnight travellers were concerned about me as tears streamed down my face. It wasn’t the story that (spoiler alert) ends in tragedy that provoked my emotional reaction. It was experiencing something so creative, so original, so daring, so perfect that I was choked up. I remember feeling that way about Pulp Fiction – not knowing that a film could do what that film did. I felt that way about Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – an album that was so dense, yet beautiful that I couldn’t decode it after thousands of plays. But those were works of genius I was expecting – I loved indie rock and indie film before experiencing those works of brilliance. Hamilton blindsided me.
I can rap along with Guns and Ships, sing every part in Non-Stop, and could belt out My Shot if awoken from a dead sleep. Thank you, Lin-Manuel, for creating something that made me realize I can like musicals. So much that one is my favorite thing in entertainment in all of 2015.
Jina Beery, Jr. Data Analyst
Netflix has done it again with this mesmerizingly gripping original series. The season begins with Danny, the “black sheep” eldest brother, returning to the Florida Keys for the celebration of his parent’s 45 years of running a beachside hotel with his other siblings. From here, everything goes downhill and turns to utter chaos through betrayal, manipulation and secrets. As it sounds like a typical outline for a crime thriller show, the impeccable acting and writing is handled in such a brilliant way that it’s moving to watch. The characters are relatable enough to make you feel like you know them; John the “white knight, by-the books” second oldest, Meg the “perfect” attorney sister, and Kevin the “laid back” youngest brother. As the suspenseful story unfolds, the family is challenged and their true colors show. This show makes me feel like I’m a fly on the wall; seeing things I’m not supposed to about the neighbors I’ve lived next to the past 20 years.
Jennifer Evans, Data Analyst
This fall I discovered Matoma as a happy accident when I won tickets to see the Chainsmokers downtown at Old National Center. The Chainsmokers had FOUR openers and Matoma was the last. In my opinion, he was by far the best to perform that night. Matoma’s beats are fun and catchy, and many of them have a bit of a Lion King vibe. He works with noteworthy pop and hip-hop artists (ex. Akon, Jason DeRulo, Nico & Vinz) to create a sound that I can’t get enough of. I love every song, but my top three are The Wave, Try Me and Stick Around. I have high hopes for Matoma and I can’t wait to see what he comes out with next!
Lauren Bronowski, Project Coordinator
ABC’s Quantico, starring Priyanka Chopra, was added to my must-watch TV list this past fall. The drama flashes between FBI recruits during their time at training and how they are linked to an attack shortly after graduation. The show keeps you on edge with the thrill of government conspiracy mixed with some steamy love plots. And the show has a diverse cast and references to current events and hot topics.
Quantico is definitely TGIT worthy. Is TGIM (thank god it’s Monday) going to become a thing? That’d be a yes for me!
Clay Gillespie, Social Media Analyst
Pop Culture: Shia LaBeouf
Near the beginning of 2015, it seemed like Shia LaBeouf’s mind had gone far off the deep end. Many people lost faith in the actor after his plagiarism scandals, his paper-bag appearance at the Nymphomaniac premiere and his #IAMSORRY performance piece. In all honesty, it seemed like his life was becoming a reality TV show as it started to crumble. But 2015 was all LaBeouf, as he pushed forward with an unexpected role in Sia’s “Elastic Heart” music video, an unintentional “Just Do It” meme, a public heartbeat monitor stunt at SXSW and a free-to-the-public, live streamed movie marathon. At the beginning of the new year, many are starting to question whether he’s crazy, a genius, or both.
Kimberly Gerhart, Account Manager
Film: The Year Of The Remake
2015 was the year that made the hearts of 90s kids flutter with news of remakes and revamps of movies from our past being brought back to the cutting room floor. While some had us reaching for our paper fortune tellers to find out our fate of marrying Chris Pratt in Jurassic World others had us tweeting our favorite Dumb and Dumber quotes of the past, “Pullover” “No, it’s a cardigan, but thanks for noticing.” The sheer announcement of others (Ghostbusters, Zoolander 2 and Independence Day 2) made us instinctively reach for our landline to call our grade school BFF.
Other Remakes/Revamps include:
- Point Break
- Hitman Agent 47
- Man from U.N.C.L.E
- Dumb & Dumber 2
Thanks for the rekindled memories 2015!