By Sam Merrill
For Unwind magazine
As we reach the end of 2015 and the beginning of award season, two films with star-studded casts and tremendous hype fight for the Christmas Day spotlight.
Concussion, the story of the National Football League’s cover up of concussion research, and Joy, the story of a single mom and entrepreneur trying to balance both worlds, are the contenders, and they take the ring just one week after the release of the highly-anticipated Star Wars Episode VII and one month after The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. II, which could steal box office numbers from both films.
“It could go either way,” freshman engineering major Will Fallon said. “I usually see a movie with my family every Christmas, and either Joy or Concussion could be it.”
Concussion delves into the controversial issue of head injuries in professional football from the perspective of Bennet Omalu, who is played by Will Smith. Omalu combats the NFL to enlighten the public about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disease that affects many football players due to constant head trauma. Directed by Peter Landesman, an up-and-coming director who has a history in films based on true events, and produced by Ridley Scott, this Columbia Pictures film aims to do well in the box office.
Joy is the true story of single mother Joy Mangano, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who tries to balance her home life with her three children and her budding enterprise started by her invention, the Miracle Mop.
“This movie is better for sure — Jennifer Lawrence kills it in everything she does,” said freshman environmental policy major Jack Murphy.
The cast includes noteworthy actors, such as Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper, and is directed by David O. Russell. The group worked together in the films Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and American Hustle (2013), which both did well at award shows in their respective years.
Freshman journalism major Jack Wisniewski believes Joy will do better in both the box offices and during award season.
“The casting is better for this movie, and people will always want to see the movie with the better cast,” he said. “Concussion appeals to football fans, but Joy appeals to a much wider audience.”
Joy focuses on problems such as starting a business and running a family, which is relatable for many moviegoers. Many critics believe this film will do better overall in the box offices because of the well-known cast. However, Concussion is an intellectual film similar to movies such as Lincoln (2012) and The King’s Speech (2010), and this could prove to be the strong point of Concussion going into award season, as both of those films did well in the Academy Awards.
Both of these films are biopics, both have A-list celebrity casts, and both premiere on Christmas Day. The only question remains is which will emerge as the better film?