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2014's best movies for business professionals: 11-15

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A sure shot; a modern day Moses; a sci-fi Groundhog Day.

Today’s movies reveal brilliant men who fight against demons, real and imagined, to escape the things that hold them back from realizing their dreams.

15. American Sniper

Starring Bradley CooperSienna MillerKyle Gallner

Directed by Clint Eastwood

What’s it about: Thankfully, what’s it’s not is another movie about the horrors of war. The titular character (Bradley Cooper) is truly alive when in the heat of battle; the horror for him is whenever he’s trying to assimilate to civilian life.

Why watch it: For Cooper’s performance. It’s not a showy role, full of sound and fury. Instead, director Eastwood allows the camera to ponder over Cooper’s blank slate of a face, allowing the viewer to fill in whatever emotion he’s looking for.

Interesting factoid: Bradley Cooper consumed around 8,000 calories a day in preparation for the role. That intake, along with intense, Olympic weight training, allowed him to put on 40 pounds.

Business takeaway: Practice makes perfect.

Memorable scene: The tense, tender moment where Kyle (Cooper) finds a nurse neglecting his newborn child at the hospital.

Memorable quote: 

Taya Renae Kyle: You’re my husband, you’re the father of my children. Even when you’re here, you’re not here. I see you, I feel you, but you’re not here.

Next up: Locke

14. Locke

Starring  Tom HardyOlivia ColmanRuth Wilson

Directed by Steven Knight

What’s it about: Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a family man and a successful construction manager. Before heading home one night, he receives a call that will threaten his family and his career.

Why watch it: The term, tour de force, is way overused when describing acting performances, but not here. The entire movie, except for brief opening and closing shots, takes place inside Ivan Locke’s BMW, and the only actor featured on-screen is Tom Hardy.

Interesting factoid: Tom Hardy filmed his role in a tightly compressed six days, with director Stephen Knight allowing the film to roll continuously, creating a single take that he would later edit. The other actors, though never seen on-screen, were in a hotel room, speaking on the phone with Hardy.

Business takeaway: Sometimes, events transpire in a business that are entirely out of your control. It’s in these moments you have to decide if you’re going to take your hands off the wheel, or meet the challenge head-on.

Memorable scene: Because the entire movie could be considered one scene, I’ll break it down to one moment, where Locke (Hardy) tries to explain to his wife that everything’s going to be okay. While he may have convinced her for the moment, somehow, we don’t get the idea he believes it himself.

Memorable quote: 

Bethan: I love you.

Ivan Locke: Okay then.

Bethan: Can’t you say it back just once?

Ivan Locke: No, but I can be there as fast as traffic will allow.

Next up: Mr. Turner

13. Mr. Turner

Starring  Timothy SpallPaul JessonDorothy Atkinson

Directed by Mike Leigh

What’s it about: An exploration of the later period of the eccentric British painter J.M.W. Turner, who feels unappreciated and misunderstood by the art community of his time. 

Why watch it: Although his early paintings were calm pastorals, the later Turner turned to scenes of stormy seas and skies that seemed to bleed light. It’s beautiful to watch director Leigh fill his shots with the same care and detail as a Turner work of art.

Interesting factoid: The film may be the cause of a rennaissance in the appreciation of Turner’s works. In December of last year, one of his paintings sold at a Sotheby’s auction for 30.3 million pounds ($47.47 million), a record for any pre-20th century British artist. 

Business takeaway: Whatever you create in your life, make it something that will outlast you.

Memorable scene: The scene where Turner (Spall) has himself strapped to the mast of a ship so that he can better paint a storm.

Memorable quote: 

J.M.W. Turner: Mr. Ruskin, can I pose you a somewhat “conundruous” question?

John Ruskin: Please do, Mr. Turner.

J.M.W. Turner: To which do you find yourself the more partial: a steak and kidney pie or veal and lamb pie?

Next up: Selma


12. Selma

Starring  David OyelowoCarmen EjogoTim Roth

Directed by Ava DuVernay

What’s it about: A chronicle of Martin Luther King’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965, which would culminate with President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act.

Why watch it: For its important place in our history; also, for the way director DuVernay captures a “peaceful” march in such a visceral manner.

Interesting factoid: Sadly, the film’s writers had to create new versions of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches because another studio purchased the rights to King’s actual words.

Business takeaway: Never be afraid to stand up for what you believe is right.

Memorable scene: There’s a wonderful cinematic moment where King (David Oyelowo) is giving an electric speech to his congregation, but halfway through, you begin to sense his exhaustion and a hint of indecision over what’s about to take place.

Memorable quote: 

Rev. Hosea Williams: [while making their first attempt at crossing the bridge, Reverend Williams looks towards the water and then at John L. Lewis and asks] Can you swim?

Next up: Edge of Tomorrow 

11. Edge of Tomorrow

Starring  Tom CruiseEmily BluntBill Paxton

Directed by Doug Liman

What’s it about: In short, it’s Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers, with Tom Cruise filling both the Bill Murray (Groundhog Day)  and the Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) roles to help rid the world of an army of angry ETs. 

Why watch it: Because Cruise proves that he has more lives than a feral cat. Although his box office has dipped and his star has tarnished since the infamous couch jumping episode his movie roles have gotten much more interesting, if not always as commercially successful.

Interesting factoid: Cruise‘s first movie (outside of the “Mission: Impossible” series) to gross over $100 million domestically since War of the Worlds.

Business takeaway: Learn from your mistakes.

Memorable scene: The scene where Emily Blunt’s character realizes that Cage (Cruise) shares the same powers as the aliens.

Memorable quote: 

Master Sergeant Farell: Battle is the Great Redeemer. It is the fiery crucible in which true heroes are forged. The one place where all men truly share the same rank, regardless of what kind of parasitic scum they were going in.

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