Alfonso Cuaron’s 2013 masterpiece drew praise for its sound design and cinematography, which combined to give viewers the sensation of being in space. Following a pair of astronauts adrift in space after their shuttle is destroyed by debris, Gravity explores their personalities and relationship against the backdrop of the cold, all-encompassing void. Dolby Atmos is a great format for the film, where the position and movement of sounds are key to immersing viewers in the physics of space.
The chirping of machines, headset chatter bouncing around in the astronauts’ helmets, and of course, Steven Price’s stirring, layered score all mesh together to create soundscapes unlike anything else in Hollywood cinema. If you have an Atmos setup and want to show it off to friends, Gravity is easily one of the most impressive experiences available.
La La Land is a unique throwback and a stylish ode to classic Hollywood cinema. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play a pair of young Angelenos — a struggling jazz pianist and an aspiring actress, naturally — who come together following a series of coincidental meetings. In classic fashion, the film establishes musical themes with regular reprises, as scenes will suddenly become massive musical numbers and then morph back into regular, everyday life. Critics gushed over Damien Chazelle’s use of contemporary tech to produce an old-school story, and there’s nothing quite like hearing chorus voices from every direction.
After he’s abandoned on Mars, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) uses his NASA training and wits to help him stay alive and send signals back to Earth. Director Ridley Scott’s sense of magnitude and scope makes Damon’s odyssey through Mars equal parts beautiful and desolate. Projecting the film’s excellent soundtrack through an Atmos system gives you a better sense of suspense as the film leads to its adventurous climax, which puts Damon’s character in a life-or-death situation as he’s making split-second decisions and attempting to make a harrowing escape back to Earth. The extended edition of The Martian adds 10 more minutes to the film, as well as a plethora of special features.