Oscar Predictions: 2016 Edition

Anyone who has ever held a conversation with me for more than a couple of minutes or, like, passed me in a hallway at work in the middle of February, probably knows how important the Oscars are to me. That’s not to say that I value the opinion of the Academy. I used to. I used to think they were this wise counsel who knew what films were truly outstanding and deserving of arguably the most prestigious accolades in the film industry.

I… don’t think that anymore. I have been consistently disappointed year after year for nearly a decade. I vividly remember startling the woman next to me on the train when I learned that Despicable Me did not receive a nomination for Best Animated Feature in 2011. I was utterly incredulous. Or when Drive only received ONE NOMINATION. For sound editing. Or all of those times that Leo most definitely, probably should’ve won an Oscar and didn’t. Because The Academy are a bunch of bozos.

Point is, I lost faith in The Academy awhile ago. So, I’m going to tell you who I think should win, and who will most likely actually win. Here we go.

BEST PICTURE

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

I’ve seen 4 of these movies, but I can tell you that the closest race will be between 3 of them. Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, and Spotlight.

Should Win:  I fell recklessly in love with Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller resurrected this franchise with aplomb. He put a bunch of dudes on big, spiky trucks adorned with drums and skulls and all kinds of other shit and had ’em drive around in Namibia. There was a guy, strapped to the front of one of the trucks, playing — ACTUALLY PLAYING — a guitar that was also a flamethrower! This is the type of film that reminds us of why we go to the movies.

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I would be delighted if Mad Max: Fury Road took the Best Picture win, but it’ll probably be…

Will Win: The Revenant. Now, that’s not to say that Revenant doesn’t deserve to win. It is visually impressive and most certainly “Oscar bait”, but there’s also some remarkable filmmaking happening here. Inarritu may become the first Director in history to take back-to-back Best Picture wins.

BEST ACTOR

  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
  • Matt Damon, The Martian
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Should Win: This category could be the biggest upset of the year. Naturally, you think it’s going to be Leo. Even though, in my own personal opinion, Tom Hardy probably should’ve gotten THIS nod instead of supporting. BUT WHAT DO I KNOW?

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Based on my Redmang status (see my Year in Review if you don’t know what that means) I would love to see Redmayne strut those feminine hips up on stage and regale us with some charming British speech in the moments before Leo DDTs him into next year where he’ll win another Oscar. I know in my heart of hearts who it will actually be. But that tucking scene, though. (See the movie if you don’t know what that means.)

Will Win: The obvious answer here is Leo. The Revenant is essentially a graphic depiction of how Leo has scraped and — at times — literally crawled his way to an Oscars win. My boyfriend seems to think it’s plausible, and even probable, that Leo will not win. And maybe he’s right. Maybe tucking your junk like Buffalo Bill is enough to put you ahead of a man who is basically having the shittiest camping trip of all time. But me? I’m going with Leo here.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Cate Blanchett, Carol
  • Brie Larson, Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Should Win: I don’t have much to go on here, aside from the fact that everyone says Brie Larson was out of this world in Room. I haven’t seen the movie, but I’m going to try to before the Oscars. I don’t want Jennifer Lawrence to win. I’m in a place where I’m pretty over her. Saoirse Ronan was better on Stephen Colbert’s show than she was in Brooklyn, Cate Blanchett almost made me have a seizure in The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, and I don’t know who Charlotte Rampling is.

Will Win:

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BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy, The Revenant
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Should Win: I’m so torn up inside over this category. I want Mark Ruffalo to win. I do. More than that, though, I NEED Tom Hardy to win. I understood so many of the words he said in The Revenant. That’s huge! Mark Ruffalo was sublime in Spotlight, but Hardy knocked my socks off.

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Will Win: This is anybody’s game. Bale already has, like, 23 Oscars. My boyfriend saw Creed and went on and on about how he was punching the staff on his way out after the movie and how he’s not allowed back at that theater. Something like that. Evidently it was phenomenal. So it could be Stallone, too. Ruffalo is obviously a front-runner for me personally and in life. And then there’s Mark Rylance! I don’t know who he is. What I can tell you is that the smart money is on Tom Hardy.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Should Win: I didn’t see The Hateful Eight, but apparently Jennifer Jason Leigh should win for Broad Who Can Take A Punch.

Anyway, as much as I loved Rachel McAdams in Spotlight, Alicia Vikander made The Danish Girl better than it would’ve been without her. It was very much her story. I feel like Vikander is what’d you’d get if you mixed Audrey Hepburn and Jennifer Lawrence. She’s got style and finesse, but she’s also a little brassy and crass. And I dig it.

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Will Win: This is the type of thing where you’re kind of like, “I know who’s gonna win for sure.” and then on the night, they announce the winner, and you throw the cat through the TV. I have a strong feeling that Alicia Vikander will emerge victorious, but it could easily be any of the other women.

DIRECTING

  • Adam McKay – The Big Short
  • George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
  • Lenny Abrahamson – Room
  • Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Should/Will/FUCKING BETTER win: George Miller. This is a group of absurdly talented dudes. If George Miller loses, which he won’t, it better be to Tom McCarthy. Because if he does lose, which won’t happen, I don’t want it to be to anybody else. That is the only acceptable alternate outcome that isn’t even necessary to talk about because George Miller is going to win.

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

  • Anomalisa
  • Boy and the World
  • Inside Out
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • When Marnie Was There

Should Win: I haven’t seen any of these. I’ve seen all of the trailers, though. Purely based on that, I’m gonna go with Anomalisa.

ANOMALISA

Will Win: Inside Out. Because it is a movie about feelings that hit everybody in the feels like a feely freight train.

COSTUME DESIGN

  • Carol
  • Cinderella
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

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Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. Immortan Joe’s costume alone is enough to make me confident that this is going to be the winner. That and all of the little details. Jenny Beavan, the visionary behind The Doof Warrior (the guitar player) and his dirty red onesie pajama suit, is a shoo-in.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • The Look of Silence
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Winter on Fire

Should Win/Will Win: I haven’t the foggiest. I’m going with Winter on Fire because it reminds me of Game of Thrones and I am counting down the days until it’s back.

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DOCUMENTARY SHORT

  • Body Team
  • Chau, Beyond the Lines
  • Claude Lanzmann
  • A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
  • Last Day of Freedom

Should Win/Will Win: I mean, I didn’t see any of these. For me to pretend I have any idea what I’m talking about would be ridiculous. A Girl in The River: The Price of Forgiveness is kinda jumping out at me though. I’m gonna go with that one. Final Answer.

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MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  • The Revenant

Should Win: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Because… what? I mean… WHAT?

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Will Win: The Revenant will win. You know how I know that? Because I really felt like I was looking at Leonardo DiCaprio’s insides after the bear attack.

ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction
  • “Simple Song #3” – Youth
  • “Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground
  • “Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre

Should Win: As long as it isn’t Earned It, I don’t care.

Will Win: Earned It. Because The Academy hates me.

ANIMATED SHORT

  • Bear Story
  • Prologue
  • Sanjay’s Super Team
  • We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
  • World of Tomorrow

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I have no idea: I hope it’s Bear Story. And I hope Bear Story is a cartoon based on the POV of the bear from The Revenant.

LIVE ACTION SHORT

  • Shok
  • Stutterer
  • Everything Will Be Okay
  • Day One
  • Ave Maria

Uhh: Stutterer sounds interesting. Let’s go with that.

SOUND EDITING

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

Should Win/Will Win: God, I hope it’s Mad Max. Hearing those drums just pounding away. Creeping up on you from a distance. I mean, it’ll probably be The Revenant, but how cool were those drums in Mad Max?

SOUND MIXING

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

Maybs: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Probs: The Revenant.

FILM EDITING

  • The Big Short
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Spotlight
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Fuggit: Spotlight.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Mustang
  • Son of Saul
  • Theeb
  • A War

Oh boy: Uh… Embrace of the Serpent? That sounds an Anaconda sequel.

ANACONDA: EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT.

ORIGINAL SCORE

Oh! My favorite category!

Howard Shore – Spotlight
Junkie XL – Mad Max: Fury Road
Ryuichi Sakamoto/Alva Noto/Bryce Dessner – The Revenant
John Williams – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ben Salisbury/Geoff Barrow – Ex_Machina

OH WAIT. THAT’S NOT THE LIST AT ALL. That’s just what it SHOULD’VE looked like. But, as I said before, BOZOS.

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Who Cares: John Williams for Star Wars is the only acceptable winner here.

PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Will Win: Probably The Revenant.

VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Ooh!: Ex_Machina!

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Will Win: Hopefully Ex_Machina!

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • The Big Short
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • The Martian
  • Room

Matt Damon: The Martian. I haven’t seen it yet. I will before the big night because I always see all of the Best Picture nominees before the show. Evidently, people who’ve read the book say it’s pretty spot-on. I listen to my boyfriend when he tells me things. Mainly because sometimes he’s like, “I’ve heard the movie was adapted perfectly. You’re really pretty.” He didn’t say that second part right then, but I listened to the first part because I thought he might say that afterwards.

Where am I?

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

Winner-Winner Chicken Dinner: I really want Ex_Machina to win. It stood out from the rest of the releases in 2015 and it is the only movie that was released last year in which Oscar Isaac dances. So.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario

The Revenant: The Revenant. All things considered, this movie was hands-down the most visually appeasing. Not only appeasing, but striking.

Welp, there you have it. My Oscar predictions. I used to love to compare and contrast with Ebert on these. Miss you, good sir. The Academy has only gotten worse since your departure. Don’t worry, I’m keeping these fools in check.

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2015: Year in Review

I saw a grand total of 16 movies in the theater in 2015. Decent, but I can do better. If you count the time that I got to see Jaws for the 40th birthday, it’s 17. I’m not counting it, but I wanted to mention it because I GOT TO SEE JAWS IN THE THEATER.

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My New Year’s resolution is, as usual, to see more movies and write more. So! Here is my dinky little list.

16: Starting us off is the sensation that began as Twilight Fan-Fiction and turned into something far worse. If I could pick one movie from last year to get Ebert’s review for, it’d Fifty Shades of Grey. I hope he would use the term shitshow liberally.

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Jamie Dornan, pictured above with co-star Dakota Johnson, spent a large majority of the film, the taking of that photo,  and — subsequently — his actual life wondering how this happened.

Dornan plays titular character Christian Grey. He is a self-made kazillionare who falls in love with the socially awkward and often self-deprecating Anastasia Steele. I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem. I read all three of those dreadful books. Never in my life have I scoffed so frequently and loudly. Abysmal.

15: The Minions Movie. I mean, what can I say? At least It wasn’t The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. Heard that one was a real dumpster fire but had the good sense not to see it.

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Minions is a cute picture, but I felt there was some material that I wasn’t super comfortable watching next to my 10-year-old niece. Like when the minions are hitchhiking and get a ride with a family of deranged lunatics who then violently rob a bank.

14: I love Paul Rudd, Adam McKay, Edgar Wright, and Joe Cornish. I did not love Ant-Man. I just felt the whole time like the movie was going, “Remember when this happened? Remember that? Cool.” And it was a little tedious.

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I guess as far as super hero movies go, this one just didn’t hit for me. But they can’t all be The Avengers and Captain America.

Make me a buddy comedy with Rudd’s Ant-Man co-stars Michael Pena and Bobby Cannavale and call it, “‘Ey! I’m Walkin’ Here!” I will see it twice!

13: I saw maybe 10 minutes of Sisters. Here’s what I can tell you about it:

  • Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are sisters
  • It takes place in Florida
  • Their folks are selling their childhood home
  • They are going to throw one last rager in said home

Why didn’t I see more? It was a perfect storm of burning the candle at both ends, La-Z-Boy chairs in the theater that recline all the way back, and a glass of wine. So why did Sisters beat out three other movies on my list that I saw in their entirety? There was a Jaws poster in it. Bam.

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Wrong Sisters.

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There we go. Although, you could tell me that Vera-Ellen and Rosemary Clooney were in this movie and I would be out of line in telling you that you are wrong.

12: Had I seen all of Sisters, it probably would’ve taken this spot. However, I enjoy thrillers. Also, watching Jason Bateman run around like a lunatic just ranting and raving and — at times — wildly gesticulating gave The Gift the boost it needed to beat out a Jaws poster.

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Writer/Director/Producer Joel Edgerton plays Gordo, the man from the past who comes back to wreak havoc on Simon’s (Bateman) marriage and stare out windows like a weirdo. He’s kinda just a creepy looking guy, so this role suited him quite well. There are some fun jump scares and a few kinda cool “ah HA” moments, but the ending fails spectacularly in terms of plausibility, and that sort of ruins it.

11: Jurassic World had one job. One damn job. Have cool dinosaur stuff and, like, an explosion or two. Just like Pacific Rim, they blew it. The kids in this one were super lame, too. The kids from the original were one of the best parts! These little bozos weren’t even scared of the dinosaurs. They were just like, “We’re cunning enough to get out of this!” which is not the reaction children should have to dinosaurs. Because they’re DINOSAURS. The rest of it was essentially just Chris Pratt doing Chris Pratt stuff. Which is fine. He’s great. I just didn’t dig it.

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I hope Colin Trevorrow does a better job with Star Wars.

10: Trumbo is the story of the blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. In the late 1940s and 1950s, Trumbo and 9 of his cohorts were blacklisted and some jailed due to their political views. The blacklist was an absolutely absurd time in Hollywood, chastising talented men for their personal choices and disregarding some very fine work. Oscar-winning work. Which used to mean something.

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Solid performances abound from an all-star cast, and I don’t know where it lost me, but I just didn’t feel this one. ‘Grats to B-Crans, though! Get them accolades, baby!

9: The Danish Girl was the biggest disappointment for me personally. I was so damn taken with The Theory of Everything that Liam Neeson was looking for me. It played to a crowd of people more mature than me. That’s for sure. Everybody talked about the bear scene from The Revenant. Nobody, but nobody talked about the tucking scene in The Danish Girl.

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Redmayne, coming off of an Oscar win last year for his dazzling portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, set the bar pretty high. All things considered, he was outstanding. The content is extremely repetitive, though. Same shot of Redmayne discovering womanhood again and again. I get it, movie. Thanks. And this is coming from a Redmang. A Redmang is a mang who is a Redmayne fan. I just made it up. Get at me if you want in.

In all seriousness, easily my favorite part of the movie was Alicia Vikander. She was beautiful and elegant and 1000% lovely.

8: Aww, Brooklyn. This movie wasn’t the greatest, but it was the first movie I saw with my boyfriend. It’s the story of Irish immigrant Eilis (Ronan). She travels to 1950s Brooklyn seeking the opportunities that await her in America. Tony (Cohen), a good Italian boy, falls for Eilis and the two date for a bit before Tony asks Eilis to have dinner with his family. And then the greatest scene in the movie happens. Tony’s little brother, Frankie — played by the delightful and brassy James DiGiacomo — steals the show with this line:

“So, first of all, I should say that we don’t like Irish people.”

And it’s hilarious.

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Also in this movie, the man who didn’t sleep in 2015, Domnhall Gleeson! That’s reason enough to rent it from the Redbox right there. Is it a good date night movie? Sure. Did I love it? Nah.

7: M. Night Shyamalamadingdong! Way to make one of my favorite movies of the year! The Visit is the latest from Shyamalan and a triumphant return at that. This movie stars two of the best child actors I’ve ever seen. Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould play Becca and Tyler. Or as he is known in the rap world, T-Diamond Stylus. Their Mom, played by the wonderful Kathryn Hahn, is sending the kiddos off for a week-long visit with their Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie). Things are clearly amiss, but we’re meant to chalk it up to the fact that old people just do weird shit.

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As it goes with all Shyamalan flicks, there is a twist ending. While it is visible about a mile away, it’s still a creepy surprise. The tiny cast carries the story seamlessly throughout. Also, I just wanna say that I would adopt Ed Oxenbould TODAY. I’d make it work.

Here’s where things get a little tense.

6: The Revenant is my number 6 pick. This was a tough one because I liked this movie very much, and when you get to those top spots it’s like, “Well, no matter what, I’m gonna be conflicted. So let’s put the movie where Leonardo DiCaprio gets mauled by a grizzly bear just outside the top 5.”

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Inarritu really outdid himself on this one. I get why there was so much buzz around Leo’s character. I do. I am, however, blown away at how much nobody gushed about the pure excellence that is Tom Hardy. His performance, by far, stole the show. I knew it was him, but only because he sounded like Bane for a second and I was like, “WHOA! That’s Tom Hardy!”

If Leo doesn’t win an Oscar for this movie, I’ll be surprised. If Hardy doesn’t win, I will be ENRAGED. Also, Domnhall Gleeson! Again! Man, he’s so great. Somebody get his agent an Academy Award. World’s Most Bitchin’ Agent.

I can see The Revenant winning a whole bunch of Oscars. Just a whole bunch. Cinematography. Acting. Director. They’re gonna make shit up and create new Oscar categories just so they can give it more awards. Best Bear Attack. Best Acting By a Bear. Best Bare-Handed Fishing. Etc.

5: My horror movie needs were sufficiently met with It Follows. There can be many interpretations as to what this movie is actually talking about, but I don’t really care about all of that. It’s scary as hell and well acted. They created a time frame that could be 30 years ago or it could be today. You’re not really sure. It’s also got that 70s/80s score by Disasterpeace that expertly reinforces that.

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This movie is essentially about an STD that has terrifying consequences. I suppose with most STDs you have to deal with some pretty horrific fallout, but none that I know of include a giant man trying to murder you when you’re halfway through a bag of Twizzlers. It Follows is also the first movie that actually made me shout the words, “She’s peeing all over!” in the theater. So there’s that.

Domnhall Gleeson is not in It Follows. That’s the only negative thing I have to say about it.

4: Ex_Machina was an outside the box kinda movie. It’s very much a lone wolf. Guess who stars in it. Domnhall F-in’ Gleeson! I hear tell he’s going to do 18 movies in 2016. Kidding. Obviously. But how great would that be? I’d see ’em all!

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Accompanying him in this flick are Oscar Isaac — who is giving men everywhere beard envy and making women swoon — and Alicia Vikander — who is giving women everywhere face envy and making men swoon. All three are fantastic.

Unfortunate Best Original Score snub here for Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow. Behind a great film you’ll often find a great soundtrack, and they knocked it out of the park. Much the way Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross brought to life the trials and tribulations of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Salisbury and Barrow gave this film the score it needed to take the film from excellent to “You haven’t seen Ex_Machina!? LET’S WATCH IT RIGHT NOW”.

If you haven’t seen it, I’ll give you the gist. Caleb (Gleeson) is a programmer who is selected to join Nathan (Isaac) at his insane house where he is creating artificial intelligence of the female persuasion. Alicia Vikander was sublime in The Danish Girl, but she’s superb in Ex_Machina as Nathan’s AI babe, Ava. Perfect pacing and a twist worthy of a better Shyamalan movie made this one a favorite of mine.

3: Spotlight. I loved this movie so, so much. In the late 90s and early 2000s, The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team blew the lid off of a secret that the Catholic Church and a whole bunch of other jerks tried to cover up. The Church hid the fact that as many as 90 priests had been accused of molesting children, mostly boys.

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Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), and Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton) make up The Spotlight team and work tirelessly to get to the truth.

You really couldn’t ask for a better cast. Everyone was completely spot-on. It’s a very difficult story to tell because it’s quite heavy, but Director Tom McCarthy and fellow screenwriter Josh Singer did it brilliantly.

2: This one was the most fun I had in the theater. It is, of course, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

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Force Awakens is way funnier than I thought it would be. I loved the new characters as well. You know all of those people who avoided any and all media related to this movie so that they wouldn’t have any spoilers or even know what it was going to really be about? I inadvertently did that. In the end, it truly did enhance the experience for me.

Newcomers John Boyega, Oscar Isaac (swoon), Daisy Ridley, and BB-8 took all of my expectations and exceeded the shit out of them. I haven’t seen unerring casting for a big movie like this since Star Trek. You take something like this and you cast it and you hope it’ll land with the fans of the original. And it landed, baby!

They also brought back a bunch of the major players from the way, way back and peppered in several actors who basically were like, “Hey, can I be in your Star Wars movie? I’ll do whatever you want me to do” and then you’ve got Daniel Craig in a Stormtrooper suit. I asked and they were like, “How did you get this number?”

So.

Loved the movie anyway. Loved!

And now… my numero uno fave film of 2015…

1:

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Oh, what a lovely day!

I couldn’t possibly overstate my satisfaction with Mad Max: Fury Road. What a film! What a comeback! George Miller deserves that damn Oscar. Give him all of ’em. Best Director. Best Actor. Best Supporting Actress. I want a portrait of him with so many Oscars that he can’t hold all of them and he’s just smiling like, “Why can’t I hold all these Oscars?”

This is a man who worked as an ER doctor to raise the money to make the first Mad Max. And when the budget ran out, he sacrificed his own car! I am so damn happy with this film and Junkie XL is another one who deserved to be on that list of Best Original Score nominees.

I thought that Tom Hardy was an excellent choice for Max. I was able to understand 8 of the 10 words he said. Charlize Theron had a shaved head and one arm and she was still stunning. Nicholas Hoult — nearly unrecognizable — was way outside of what we’re used to seeing him doing and he rocked it.

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It also needs to be said that this wasn’t some CGI free-for-all. These were guys on trucks driving around Namibia banging on drums. That’s nuts! This is why you go to the movies. This movie.

One more thing before I go.

If I had my druthers, this is what the category for Best Original Score would look like (in no particular order):

Howard Shore – Spotlight
Junkie XL – Mad Max: Fury Road
Ryuichi Sakamoto/Alva Noto/Bryce Dessner – The Revenant
John Williams – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Ben Salisbury/Geoff Barrow – Ex_Machina

And an honorable mention to Disasterpeace for It Follows. Also, so happy for Ryuichi Sakamoto who recently found out he’s cancer free!

All of that said, I hope Johann Johannsson wins. Not for Sicario, but for The Theory of Everything. I want them to be like, “Hey, Johann. We really dropped the ball back there. Sorry about that. Here you go, mang.” and he’ll be like, “… Redmang?” and then they’ll hug.

John Williams will probably win. Which is also fine.

Welp, that’s it for me. 2015 was a fun movie year. I have high hopes for 2016. I hope that Leonardo DiCaprio rushes the stage at the Oscars while Julianne Moore is presenting the Oscar for Best Actor, powerbombs her, takes the trophy, and books it outta there. We never see him again. At this point, that may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.

Shout out to my man, Roger Ebert. It’s times like these I miss you the most. I hope you’re in that big movie theater in the sky watching Mad Max.

Spotlight

Spotlight-Image-1Easily one of the best films of 2015, Spotlight showcases an outstanding cast while keeping the pace and telling an incredible story. The sadness of it all can be a bit heavy, but people need to know regardless. Spotlight follows the timeline in which the Boston Globe revealed that around 90 priests in the Catholic Church faced molestation accusations regarding mostly young boys.

There was never going to be a way to tell this story without the looming intensity of it dragging viewers down. This is a real thing that happened in our lifetime and that’s the hardest bit to swallow. Fortunately, Director Tom McCarthy executed the retelling expertly.

Given the subject matter, this movie could’ve easily been overdone and too dramatic. That was not the case. The cast is absolutely stellar as well. Michael Keaton — who came back magnificently after a hiatus — plays Walter “Robby” Robinson who heads up the Spotlight team for the Boston Globe. After a meeting with the new editor at the Globe, Marty Baron (Liev Schreiber), Baron urges Robby to follow up on a story about a pedophile priest by the name of John Geoghan.

Also on the Spotlight team are Sacha Pfeiffer (Rachel McAdams), Michael Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo), Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), and Matt Carroll (Brian D’Arcy James). Each and every one of these people did brilliant investigative work to show the world what the church and so many others worked so hard to cover up, even sacrificing relationships and the oblivious happiness of loved ones in doing so.

Perhaps one of the more shocking bits in the film was the priest who openly admitted to what he’d done, but rationalized it by saying he never took joy from it, therefore absolving him of any fault or wrongdoing. That is the type of thing that makes someone step back and kinda go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa… whoa.”

The storytelling was superb and the performances — all of them — were sublime. Mark Ruffalo brought his character so thoroughly to life that at one point I had to remind myself that he’s come a long damn way from 13 Going On 30. His on screen partnership with the attorney who helped get damning evidence released for public consumption, Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci), was particularly enjoyable.

This movie is just great all over. Howard Shore’s score rounds it out beautifully, as well. As heartbreaking and shocking as it may be, Spotlight moves gracefully through a very difficult period of time that saw more than one tragedy and doesn’t stumble for even a moment. Now we can all just sit back and watch the well-deserved accolades roll in.