Review: Southpaw knocks out the competition

So right now I am on a beach vacation about 30 miles from my home. When the screening schedule came out for this week, I saw one movie title that stuck out to me: Southpaw. This is a movie with a lot Oscar buzz and an equal amount of hope. The problem with these movies is that they either exceed expectations or drastically fall below them. After screening this movie on Monday, I can tell you that Southpaw is one of the top movies of 2015. This movie will be a major player when comes to award season later this year.

Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhall), the reigning junior middle weight boxing champion, has an impressive career, a loving wife (Rachel McAdams) and daughter, and a lavish lifestyle. However, when tragedy strikes, Billy hits rock bottom and loses everything. He soon found an unlikely savior in Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker) who trains boxers. With his future on the line, Hope fights to reclaim the trust his loved ones.

Jake sure undergoes quite the transformation.
Jake sure undergoes quite the transformation.

Jake Gyllenhall puts on the performance of his career. He undergoes quite the transformation and portrays Billy Hope with such passion. You feel for him as he loses everything and anguish with him as he hits rock bottom. It’s the type of sensational performance that stands out and will speak volumes to many voters when it comes time for nominations for the major awards. However, he isn’t the only person who stands out in this movie.

Antione Fuqua made so many right decisions in making this film that it will be remembered as the best film he’s ever directed. His decision to shoot so tightly on the boxers during the fights and during those emotional moments of the movie made my heart race. His musical and cut-away shots were all wonderful decisions and made the movie that much better.This will be remembered as his opus. Antione Fuqua will be nominated for Best Director this year and has a real shot at winning.

This man should win an Oscar this year
This man should win an Oscar this year.

Forrest Whittaker and Rachel McAdams each brought very layered and tremendous performances to the movie. This, however, is something that we have grown to expect from these two gifted actors. The performance that stuck out to me was Oona Laurence who plays Leila Hope (Billy’s daughter). She brought such pain to the screen that you truly believed that she was watching her father lose it all. She was simply a pleasure to watch. Oona gives such a mature, wonderful performance that she too could be in some serious running for major awards down the road.

Oona Laurence is a name you will hear again come awards season.
Oona Laurence is a name you will hear again come awards season.

Southpaw is a movie that you think is about boxing but about so much more. It’s not a “guy” movie. It’s, without question, a tremendous cinematic experience that is destined to knock out the competition this weekend.

Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
Dewey Singleton - Film Critic
I'm a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and have been doing reviews for many years. My views on film are often heard in markets such as Atlanta, Houston, and satellite radio. My wife often tolerates my obsession for all things film related and two sons are at an age now where 'Trolls' is way cooler than dad. Follow me on twitter @mrsingleton.

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