Looking Through Time: 2015 Films

Story posted February 20, 2021 in Arts & Entertainment by CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Staff.

The CommRadio arts & entertainment staff revisits some of the most memorable and influential films from 2015.

“Inside Out”

From 2010 to 2013, people have complained about having too many sequels and not enough original movies from Pixar. That is until 2015, when Pixar released their first original movie in 3 years, “Inside Out.”

“Inside Out” follows a 11 year-old girl balancing her new life with her five personified emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. The film sets a new standard for Pixar movies, it is profoundly emotional and funny while discussing topics such as adolescence, growing pains, and even depression.

Directed by Pete Docter, who also directed “Up” and “Soul,” “Inside Out” quickly became another classic in the Pixar library. The voice cast also did a phenomenal job, specifically Amy Poehler as Joy and Phyllis Smith as Sadness.

Poehler captures the optimism of Joy and Smith has the mournfulness in her voice that makes her the perfect companion to Poehler. Richard Kind’s Bing Bong will absolutely make the audience cry by the end of the movie.

The score of the film is composed by the legendary Michael Giacchino, who has composed for films such as “The Incredibles” and “Up.” Giacchino can always compose the most simple yet effective melody that describes each scene to its best.

“Inside Out” has won numerous awards, including Best Animated Feature at the Oscars. It has also been hailed as one of the best films, not just from Pixar, but from the 21st Century by many critics. “Inside Out” is a heartwarming movie that can be enjoyed by people from any age, but it also takes a bold step for Pixar’s storytelling to another level. – Jimmy Lu


“Room”, a film written by Emma Donoghue and adopted from her novel of the same name, is the most emotionally striking movie to come out of 2015. The film is about a mother, Larson, and her son Jack, played by Jacob Tremblay, who are trapped in a room for the span of Jack’s 5-year life before they escape and experience the real world.

Brie Larson delivers a beautiful performance as the brave but damaged mother figure and earned her well-deserved Oscar for “Room.” Tremblay also had all his talents on display and they both showed incredible emotional range throughout the film.

Room is a film that pulls every possible emotion out of the viewer and tests them on their ability to hold back tears. The story is full of uplifting moments, deeply sad moments, and horrifying moments as well.

Donoghue wrote the novel “Room” in 2010 and in 2015 showed her potential as a film writer as well. The film came full circle by the end and had character development that could not have been done any better.

“Room” is a timeless classic that will never age. The story that Ma and Jack go through will always strike the souls of people who watch and will live long past 2015.- Sam Roberts

“The Martian”

Definitely one of the greater and more intriguing movies to come out of 2015, “The Martian” offers viewers a look at an astronaut struggling to survive on the Red Planet.

After being left behind and presumed dead following a storm, the character Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, does everything within his power to stay alive on the neighboring planet until his next chance of rescue arrives four years later.

Directed by Ridley Scott, the film adds yet another fantastic story to his ever growing library of great movies. “The Martian” was met with a great reception and is one of Scott’s highest grossing movies, as well as the 10th highest grossing film of 2015.

The film also did a fantastic job representing science, with the production crew and director constantly talking with NASA to make sure every detail was just right. NASA originally came onboard due to believing the film would promote space exploration.

“The Martian” is a phenomenal movie about space survival and is always worth going back for a rewatch. - Colton Pleslusky

“The Revenant”

The Revenant is the greatest film of 2015 and its time everybody starts acting like it. Though Alejandro Iñárritu’s epic is mostly remembered (or in some cases not remembered at all) as a lengthy drag through the snow that served its purpose of being a vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar.

Yes, the movie is two hours and 35 minutes long. Yes, a lot of screen time is spent on Leo DiCaprio grimacing, wriggling, and crawling around on the snowy ground. 

And yes, Leo absolutely steals the show and brings the performance of a lifetime. All that is true and valid, but the bigger picture is a harrowing revenge story where the brutality of nature clashes with the wickedness of man. 

The first sequence alone makes this movie an achievement. The movie opens with a seven-minute-long uncut shot of an Arikara raid on a fur trading camp.

The viewer is placed directly underneath a hailstorm of arrows and spears, then follows the fur traders as the escape on horseback while they fight off Arikara warriors. The scope of the scene is incredible, dozens of actors, horses, and special effects all in the same take.

Movies like 1917 (2019) or Russian Ark (2002) where the entire movie is filmed in “one take” may have jaded audiences to these kinds of scenes but The Revenant constructs a perfect opening sequence that stands alone as its own story.

The Revenant is an amazing movie and people who have yet to see it are restricting themselves from a true epic. Go see it.- Ian Thomas 

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

The iconic return of the Star Wars phenomenon to the silver screen came in 2015 with “The Force Awakens,” which was to be the first film of another Star Wars trilogy, this time a sequel taking place thirty years after 1983’s “Return of the Jedi.”

“The Force Awakens” was key in establishing the Star Wars franchise’s new partnership with Walt Disney Studios, after Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion. J.J. Abrams also came onboard as the director for the new trilogy.

With a new trilogy, new characters were introduced to the Star Wars universe. This included Adam Driver as villain Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley as the lone-wolf scavenger Rey, John Boyega as former stormtrooper Finn, Oscar Isaac as Resistance pilot Poe and Lupita N’yongo as cantina owner Maz.

Also, Star Wars veterans Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew all reprised their roles in “The Force Awakens.”

“The Force Awakens” performed well during awards season, receiving 32 awards and 85 nominations. Notably, composer John Williams received the 2017 Grammy Award for “Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.”

The film was the fourth highest grossing film of the year, making $1.23 billion at the box office. It received positive reviews from critics, who seemed to be pleased with the combination of familiar and new faces.

“The Force Awakens” was exactly the comeback that the Star Wars franchise needed.-Sarah Simpson


Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jfl5603@psu.edu

Sam Roberts is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email sam.robertspsu00@gmail.com

Colton Pleslusky is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email csp5289@psu.edu

Ian Thomas is a sophomore studying Communications. Contact him @its5054@psu.edu.

Sarah Simpson is a junior majoring in film-video. To contact her, email sus816@psu.edu.

About the Contributors

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Sam Roberts

Sophomore / Telecommunications

Sam Roberts is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications who is a member in the Commradio arts department. He is usually writing reviews for singles, albums, movies, and TV shows.

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu's photo

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu

Senior / Telecommunications

Jimmy (Chien-Hsing) Lu is a senior from Taiwan majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a contributing writer for the CommRadio arts & entertainment department. If you’d like to contact him, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Colton Pleslusky's photo

Colton Pleslusky

Fourth-Year / Telecommunications

Colton S. Pleslusky is a fourth-year from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania majoring in telecommunications at Penn State. He is a director and writer for the CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Department as well as the host on Nittany Stories and a co-host on Nittany Record Club alongside Emily McGlynn. He does behind the scenes tasks, including directing, producing, programming and more for the Centre County Report. To contact him, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Sarah Simpson's photo

Sarah Simpson

Senior / Film-Video

Sarah Simpson is a senior from Irwin, Pennsylvania majoring in film-video, and minoring in Journalism and Spanish at Penn State. She is a member of Centre County Report. She is also the president of Penn State Network Television (PSNtv), Penn State’s student-run television network, as well as the director for PSNtv’s weekly news broadcast PSN News. She has interned with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a photo/video intern and Penn State Athletics as a live video production intern. If you’d like to contact her, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Ian Schauble