Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Best Picture, Best Sound)
Ex Machina (Best Screenplay)
The Revenant (Best Director, Best Visuals)
Straight Outta Compton
Mad Max: Fury Road
Notable others include The Hateful Eight, The Martian, Creed, Spotlight, Bridge of Spies, Dope, Room, White God, The Big Short, and Carol.
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Brie Larson – Room
Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
Emily Blunt – Sicario
Daisy Ridley – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Charlize Theron – Mad Max: Fury Road
Rachel Weisz – The Lobster
Rooney Mara – Carol
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina
Colin Farrell – The Lobster
Corey Hawkins – Straight Outta Compton
Domhnall Gleeson – Ex Machina
Michael B. Jordan – Creed
Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
Michael Fassbender – Slow West
I thought Ex Machina was the movie to beat for a while, but there were a fair amount of flicks that caught me off guard in 2015. Dope was dope. Creed surprised. The Hateful Eight were a likable bunch. The good kind of strange could be found in The Lobster. Straight Outta Compton was a vital watch that’s full of substance. And every frame of The Revenant was shockingly breathtaking. Only one could come out on top, though.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be an obvious choice for anyone who knows me, but that shouldn’t take any weight away from this flick. Movies like this are why I go to the theater. Films are not an escape for me. I watch these to gain a clearer, more focus understanding of reality. They help me explore emotions and trigger thoughts that I might have forgotten about. I can watch movies and relive a joyful moment or reflect on something more critical. The Force Awakens lets me walk in an adult and walk out a child, infused with The Force, and boasting the biggest smile on my face. That’s worth something.
In a greater sense, the story of Star Wars is bigger than any one movie. It’s an event or a celebration. It’s a universe that bridges so many generations and together, now possibly with my own kid, we can explore that galaxy all over again. From my perspective, if a movie is able to do that, it’s a pretty damn good movie.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Best Director)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
The LEGO Movie
Interstellar (Best Visual, Best Sound)
The One I Love
Notable others include American Sniper, The Double, Edge of Tomorrow, Enemy, Gone Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, Locke, A Most Violet Year, Obvious Child, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Under the Skin.
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Elisabeth Moss – The One I Love
Essie Davis – Babadook
Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer
Jessica Chastain – Interstellar & A Most Violet Year
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Jenny Slate – Obvious Child
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler & Enemy
Nicholas Cage – Joe
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Christ Evans – Snowpiercer
Oscar Isaac – A Most Violet Year
Early 2014 brought some great movies like Joe and The LEGO Movie. I was certain Snowpiercer was going to be the flick to beat. Blockbusters like Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Edge of Tomorrow surprised me how good they could be. Smaller films were out in force again with The Double, Enemy, and The One I Love, which was just such a treat. For me, though, one did stand above them all.
Nightcrawler immerses you into a dark and thrilling Los Angeles nightscape that’s threatening, yet hard to leave. Gyllenhaal’s transformative performance guides you through the shadowy and dangerous alleyways, proving again why he’s the most under appreciated actor today. It’s neo-noir that, unlike most modern noir, you watch for more than just the styling. Although lightless, it’s never dreary or grueling, and when it’s done, Nightcrawler is a world you’ll want to revisit again and again.
Universal acclaim, this movie got. I’m wondering if I just watched the same thing everyone else did. I mean it wasn’t bad, but hearing about the concept was far more interesting than what you actually see on screen. Maybe I’ll try it out again in a couple of months.
He was the uncle that just wouldn’t stop talking. You’d get annoyed after a while, but knew you still loved him and would always make you laugh again. As funny as he was, it’s his more dramatic roles that are etched in my memory. Good Will Hunting, Insomnia, Dead Poets Society, and even One Hour Photo. But, hell, who doesn’t love a little Good Morning Vietnam? Robin Williams is one of those people you don’t know how much you’ll miss until he’s gone. RIP
I was wrong. After every horrible thing I’ve said about him for over two decades, I’ve been put in my place. All that merciless bashing of his on-screen abilities just to have it thrown back into my face. Thinking his only positive contribution to the silver screen was going to be Raising Arizona and now I have to eat crow. I just finished watching Joe and I was wrong. Nicolas Cage is a good actor. Clearly, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen so far this year and, doubtlessly, the strongest performance as well.
Please Mr. Cage, don’t do another Ghost Rider movie or go losing your shit again. It’s now acutely obvious that you’re better than that.
Her (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay)
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor (Best Visuals, Best Sound)
Short Term 12
The Wolf of Wall Street
Star Trek: Into Darkness
12 Years A Slave
Notable others include American Hustle, Blue Jasmine, Captain Phillips, The Great Gatsby, The Iceman, Iron Man 3, Nebraska, Only God Forgives, The Spectacular Now, Texas Buyers Club, and This Is The End.
Brie Larson – Short Term 12
Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
June Squibb – Nebraska
Lupita Nyong’o – 12 Years a Slave
Julianne Moore – Don Jon
Oscar Isaac – Inside Llewyn Davis
Joaquin Phoenix – Her
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
Daniel Bruhl – Rush
Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey – Mud
Bruce Dern – Nebraska
This was difficult. Another year of great movies and all strong for different reasons. There’s the wonderful surprise of Short Term 12 with a subtilely heartbreaking performance from Brie Larson. Who doesn’t love a good war movie because we were lucky enough to be treated to Lone Survivor, one of the best I’ve seen in a while. Inside Llewyn Davis which, with help from the thoughtful performance of Oscar Isaac, shows the Coen bothers have filmmaking down to a science. Then there’s movies so unique and considerate that they deserve to stand alone.
Read this: “A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly purchased operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.” Now try and tell me what you just read isn’t utterly laughable. It just goes to show how much acknowledgment everyone involved in conceiving Her really deserves because what they created was the best movie of 2013. Pushing the boundaries of innovation and originality, this flick continuously takes risks in an entirely realized and believable world. It’s modernly romantic and possesses some of the sweetest performance I’ve seen in years. Above all, Her is an extraordinarily powerful glimpse into our avidity for connection and it’s executed to an impactful perfection.