The two best performances of the year in the best film of the year.

The two best performances of the year in the best film of the year.

My Top 20:

  1. Carol
  2. The Revenant
  3. Inside Out
  4. Spotlight
  5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  6. Bridge of Spies
  7. The Martian
  8. Steve Jobs
  9. The Hateful Eight
  10. The Big Short
  11. Anomalisa
  12. Black Mass
  13. Ex Machina
  14. Tomorrowland
  15. The Peanuts Movie
  16. Brooklyn
  17. When Marnie Was There
  18. Labyrinth of Lies
  19. Beasts of No Nation
  20. Mr Holmes

note:  The first 12 films are ****, the rest are ***.5.  Ever since 2012, I have been posting these as soon as I can after the Oscars.  However, that means, as I have noted in the last three Years in Film, that there are several films I haven’t seen (45 Years, Creed, Son of Saul, Mustang).  Aside from the films that I was most anxious to see in the theater (Star Wars – 8 times) and the ones that are out on DVD by now, I try to focus most on the Best Picture contenders.  Eventually, this and the three years preceding it will have these Top 20 lists superseded by the Nighthawk Awards, once I get to those years.

Consensus Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Spotlight
  • Best Director:  Todd Haynes  (Carol)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Big Short
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Spotlight
  • Best Actor:  Leonardo DiCaprio  (The Revenant)
  • Best Actress:  Brie Larsen  (Room)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Mark Rylance  (Bridge of Spies)
  • Best SupportingActress:  Alicia Vikander  (The Danish Girl  /  Ex Machina)
  • Best Cinematography:  Carol
  • Best Animated Film:  Inside Out
  • Best Foreign Film:  Son of Saul

note:  Son of Saul had this clinched before some of the awards groups ever nominated and before all the actual groups gave their awards.  It was helped by two critics groups giving their award to films from the year before.  Rylance also clinched early – before the Globes, with three critics awards and as the only person nominated in all four awards groups before the Oscar nominations.  Inside Out becomes the first film to win 10 Best Animated Film Awards.  Spotlight sets a new record with 624 points for Original Screenplay and ties Pulp Fiction‘s record of 9 wins.  This year, none of the categories came down to the Oscars, with Director being the last decided (which was partially because Director is the only one where I include the Satellite and Independent Spirit Awards and the only one where I include second and third place finishes at critics awards).  This year also had two oddities; the first has only previously happened in 1974, 1989 and 2001, in which three of the top four categories had a Consensus winner win the Oscar while the fourth one wasn’t even nominated at the Oscars (in 1974 and 2001 it was Picture, in 1989 it was Adapted Screenplay and this year, of course, it was Director) and the second only happened once before, in 1957, when seven of the main eight categories had the Consensus winner win the Oscar while the eighth wasn’t even nominated, although that time it was Supporting Actress.

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Spotlight
  • Best Director:  Alejandro González Iñárritu  (The Revenant)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Big Short
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Spotlight
  • Best Actor:  Leonardo DiCaprio  (The Revenant)
  • Best Actress:  Brie Larsen  (Room)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Mark Rylance  (Bridge of Spies)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Alicia Vikander  (The Danish Girl)
  • Best Cinematography:  The Revenant
  • Best Animated Film:  Inside Out
  • Best Foreign Film:  Son of Saul

Top 10 Films  (TSPDT):

note:  TSPDT won’t be updating their 21st Century list until March, so I can’t do a list for this at this point.

Top 10 Films  (Awards Points):

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road  –  1970
  2. The Revenant  –  1953
  3. Spotlight  –  1767
  4. Carol  –  1517
  5. The Martian  –  1208
  6. The Big Short  –  1118
  7. Bridge of Spies  –  1086
  8. Room  –  798
  9. Inside Out  –  713
  10. Brooklyn  –  689

note:  We have our third close finish in a row, with the winner literally coming down to the final award on Oscar night.  Mad Max has the fewest points for an overall winner since 2001.  This year joins only 2001 and 2013 where the top two finishers finish within 1% of each other.  Mad Max accounts for only 15.4% of the Top 10 points total, the fourth lowest in history and it’s only the sixth time that the #1 film accounts for less than 1/4 of the points total of the top five films.  Carol becomes only the third film to break 1500 points without an Oscar nom for Best Picture, joining Almost Famous and Leaving Las Vegas.  Also, for the second year in a row the #2 film actually had more raw points but a lower weighted score because of the lack of critics awards.

Top 10 Films  (2015 Best Picture Awards):

  1. Spotlight
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Big Short
  5. Carol
  6. The Martian
  7. Bridge of Spies
  8. Brooklyn
  9. Room
  10. Sicario

note:  Carol is the only film to land in the Top 5 without an Oscar nomination since the Best Picture category expanded in 2009.

starwarsfullTop 10 Films  (Domestic Box Office Gross):

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens  –  $926.04 mil
  2. Jurassic World  –  $652.27 mil
  3. Avengers: Age of Ultron  –  $459.00 mil
  4. Inside Out  –  $356.46 mil
  5. Furious 7  –  $353.00 mil
  6. Minions  –  $336.04 mil
  7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2  –  $281.72 mil
  8. The Martian  –  $228.34 mil
  9. Cinderella  –  $201.15 mil
  10. SPECTRE  –  $199.84 mil

Note:  American Sniper, the #1 film of 2014 would be the #6 film on this list.  There are a number of other tidbits as well:

  • This is, by far, the biggest total for the Top 10 films.
  • Even taking out Star Wars, it’s the fourth biggest total, using just the next nine films.
  • Jurassic World is the fourth highest domestic grossing film of all-time but not #1 in its year.
  • Star Wars accounts for over 23% of the the Top 10 list, the highest in six years.  It also has almost a 30% higher gross than Jurassic World, the highest difference between the #1 and #2 in six years.
  • #1 – 8 are all either the highest, or in the case of Inside Out, second highest grossing film in their respective positions.  In spite of that, this is the first time in four years there aren’t 10 films to reach $200 million.
  • It joins 1982 and 1997 as the only years since 1980 when over half the total gross of the Top 10 films comes from the top three.

star_wars_episode_vii__the_force_awakens_ver8Top 10 Films  (Worldwide Box Office Gross):

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens  –  $2048.0 mil
  2. Jurassic World  –  $1670.4 mil
  3. Furious 7  –  $1516.0 mil
  4. Avengers: Age of Ultron  –  $1405.4 mil
  5. Minions  –  $1159.4 mil
  6. SPECTRE  –  $879.5 mil
  7. Inside Out  –  $856.8 mil
  8. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation  –  $682.3 mil
  9. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2  –  $653.0 mil
  10. The Martian  –  $624.0 mil

Note:  Just like with the domestic list, the #1 film of 2014 (in this case the last Transformers film) would be #6 on this list.  Furious 7, in an oddity, is the #1 international film but comes in third overall worldwide.  Star Wars joins The Dark Knight and Shrek 2 as the only worldwide leaders since 1989 to earn less than 55% of their total overseas.  Furious 7 and SPECTRE are the big overseas films, each earning over 3/4 of their money there.

Nighthawk Golden Globes:


  • Best Picture:  Carol
  • Best Director:  Todd Haynes  (Carol)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Carol
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Spotlight
  • Best Actor:  Leonardo DiCaprio  (The Revenant)
  • Best Actress:  Cate Blanchett  (Carol)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Mark Rylance  (Bridge of Spies)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Rooney Mara  (Carol)


  • Best Picture:  Inside Out
  • Best Director:  Ridley Scott  (The Martian)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  The Martian
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Inside Out
  • Best Actor:  Matt Damon  (The Martian)
  • Best Actress:  Jennifer Lawrence  (Joy)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Christian Bale  (The Big Short)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Raffey Cassidy  (Tomorrowland)
Three time Nighthawk winner, and now, finally, an Oscar winner.

Three time Nighthawk winner, and now, finally, an Oscar winner.

Nighthawk Awards:

  • Best Picture:  Carol
  • Best Director:  Todd Haynes  (Carol)
  • Best Adapted Screenplay:  Carol
  • Best Original Screenplay:  Inside Out
  • Best Actor:  Leonardo DiCaprio  (The Revenant)
  • Best Actress:  Cate Blanchett  (Carol)
  • Best Supporting Actor:  Mark Rylance  (Bridge of Spies)
  • Best Supporting Actress:  Rooney Mara  (Carol)
  • Best Editing:  Carol
  • Best Cinematography:  The Revenant
  • Best Original Score:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Best Sound:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Best Art Direction:  Carol
  • Best Visual Effects:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Best Sound Editing:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Best Costume Design:  Carol
  • Best Makeup:  The Revenant
  • Best Original Song:  “Pray 4 My City”  (Chi-Raq)
  • Best Animated Film:  Inside Out
  • Best Foreign Film:  Labyrinth of Lies

Foreign Films:   As is generally the case at this point, I still haven’t seen any of the main nominees for this year.

He's still the coolest and she's just friggin awesome.

He’s still the coolest and she’s just friggin awesome.

Nighthawk Notables:

  • Best Film to Watch Over and Over:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Best Line  (comedic):  “Congratulations, San Francisco!  You’ve ruined pizza!  First the Hawaiians and now you!”  (Lewis Black in Inside Out)  *
  • Best Line  (dramatic):  “What you make isn’t supposed to be the best part of you.  When you’re a father, that’s what’s supposed to be the best part of you.”  (Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs)
  • Best Opening:  The Hateful Eight
  • Best Ending:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Best Scene:  the lightsaber flying into Rey’s hand in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Most Gut-Wrenching Scene:  the bear attack in The Revenant
  • Most Heart-Wreching Scene:  Joy asking Sadness to touch all the core memories in Inside Out
  • Best Use of a Song (comedic):  “We’re the Monkees”  (Minions)
  • Best Use of a Song (dramatic):  “God Only Knows”  (Love & Mercy)
  • Best Ensemble:  Spotlight
  • Funniest Film:  Inside Out
  • Most Over-Rated Film:  Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Worst Film:  Jupiter Ascending  **
  • Worst Sequel:  Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
  • Performance to Fall in Love With:  Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Sexiest Performance:  Lea Seydoux in SPECTRE
  • Most Awkward Sex Scene:  Trainwreck
  • Highest Attractiveness / Acting Ability Ratio:  Mila Kunis  (Jupiter Ascending)
  • Female Star of the Year:  Alicia Vikander  (The Danish Girl / Ex Machina)
  • Male Star of the Year:  Domhnall Gleason  (Ex Machina / Brooklyn / Star Wars: The Force Awakens / The Revenant)
  • Most Surprisingly Good Performance in an Otherwise Pointless Film:  Arnold Schwarzennegar in Terminator: Genisys
  • Family You Most Don’t Want:  Joy’s family in Joy
  • Coolest Performance:  Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Best Trailer:  Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Best Cameo:  Judi Dench in SPECTRE
  • Funniest Cameo:  Marv Albert in Trainwreck  ***
  • Best Animated Character Performance:  Lewis Black in Inside Out  ****
  • Best Motion Capture Performance:  Lupita Nyong’o in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

*  –  A close second is “That’s not how the Force works!”  (Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
**  –  Not easy in a year with 50 Shades of Grey, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 and Mortdecai.
***  –  LeBron is in Trainwreck too much to count as a cameo.
****  –  By far Black is the funniest performance.  But you can’t overlook Phyllis Smith in Inside Out either.

Film History:  Dheepan wins the Palme d’Or at Cannes.  Desde allá wins the Golden Lion at Venice.  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl wins the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.  Spotlight wins big at the Indies.  Fantastic Four and Fifty Shades of Grey tie for the Razzie, the first time there’s been a tie since 1990.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens and pretty much rewrites all the box office record books, grossing an unbelievable $119 mil in its first day, crushing the opening weekend record ($247.96 mil), as well as the second and third weekend records, grossing almost $400 million in its first week, hitting $500 on day 10 and eventually smashing the domestic record by earning over $900 million.  Even accounting for inflation, it moves into #11 and becomes the fifth highest grossing film of my lifetime.

Leonard Nimoy dies in February.  Christopher Lee dies in June, which is amazing that he lived so long given how many times he was killed on film.  Omar Sharif dies in July.  Maureen O’Hara dies on my birthday.  Overall, a pretty light year, especially in light of the Oscar weighed deaths in 2014.

Academy Awards:  Spotlight becomes the first Best Picture winner with only one other win since 1952 and only the second since 1940.  After only happening once from 1953 to 2012 (Cabaret – 1972), for the second time in three years, a film wins more than twice as many Oscars as the Best Picture winner does.  Spotlight also only has 310 points, the fewest for an Oscar winner since 1952 and second fewest since 1933.  Ex Machina becomes the lowest grossing Visual Effects winner in at least 39 years (just below Innerspace).  57 films have won Best Picture and earned multiple acting nominations and 15 of those have done it without winning any of those acting categories.  Before last year it hadn’t happened since 1997 but now it’s just happened two years in a row.  Emmanuel (Chivo) Lubezki becomes the first Cinematographer to win three straights Oscars.  Before this year, George Miller had directed 10 films which had earned a combined six Oscar nominations; last night his 11th film won 6 Oscars.  Best Supporting Actress goes to a film not nominated for Best Picture for the first time in seven years.  I do have to say this year had the worst group of songs ever nominated by the Academy.

For those of you who read my Points bits in either the Nighthawk Awards or my decade retrospectives of the Oscars, here is how this year scores (so far – subject to change):  The Tech categories score a very good 83.6 and would have been even higher if not for the Editing and Cinematography nominations for Mad Max.  The acting scores a fantastic 94.5, with both Actress and Supporting Actress scoring 100% (both Actress and Supporting Actor only use four for my score because of the one nominee I haven’t seen).  But the major categories only earn a 66.0 which leaves the year with an overall score of 79.0.  Overall, the winners averaged a 3.0 among nominees, which is pretty damn bad.  They averaged an 8.55 among all films, which is also pretty bad.  That’s mainly because the Tech averaged 4.0 among nominees and 13.56 among all films and those are terrible numbers.  I didn’t agree with many of the major winners but I didn’t have much argument with them.  I viciously disagreed with most of the Tech winners.

  • Worst Oscar:  Best Song for “The Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre
  • Worst Oscar Nomination:  Best Song for “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Worst Oscar Omission:  Best Picture for Carol
  • Worst Oscar-Nominated Film:  Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Best Eligible Film with No Oscar Nominations:  Black Mass
  • Worst Oscar Category:  Best Song
  • Best Oscar Category:  Best Actress
  • Oscar / Nighthawk Award Agreements:  Actor, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Animated Film

Golden Globes:  Spotlight is nominated for just Picture, Director and Screenplay – only the fifth film ever nominated for all three without any other nominations (the first since 2009, but only the second since 1987).  But all the other years had at least one other film nominated for all three – Spotlight is the only film nominated for all three.  It’s the first time since 2000 and only the second time since 1983 this has happened, and only the fifth time it has ever happened.  Mad Max: Fury Road becomes the first film in 13 years to be nominated for Picture and Director but nothing else; it’s only the fourth film since 1986 to do this.  Steve Jobs becomes just the fourth film since the start of the century to earn 4 Globe noms without a Picture nom.  When Aaron Sorkin won the Globe he was right to be surprised – it was the first film to win Best Screenplay without a Picture nom since 1982 and the first film eligible for Picture to win without a nom since 1971 and only the second since 1954.  For the first time since 2000 and only the eighth time ever, two films are nominated for Screenplay but not Picture or Director (Steve Jobs, The Hateful Eight).  The Danish Girl become the first film in five years and only the second since 1995 to be nominated for Actor-Drama and Actress-Drama but not Picture-Drama.  A year after not giving Birdman Picture or Director, they give The Revenant both.  It is the first film since 2009, the third since 1983 and only the fourth since 1964 to win Picture and Director but not earn a nomination for Screenplay.  Six of the ten films nominated for Best Picture fail to win an award, the most since 2007.

Awards:  For the third straight year no film wins awards from all six major critics groups.  Spotlight is the biggest winner (Picture / Screenplay from LAFC, NSFC, BSFC) but, with only 646 points, it is the lowest top finished since 1999.  That’s because the splits are everywhere, not just among Picture (it’s the first time in 15 years that the NBR, NYFC, LAFC and BSFC all disagree on Best Actor).  For the first time in five years, no actor or actress wins more than three awards.  Spotlight wins three Best Picture awards but doesn’t win a single Best Director award, joining Wall-E as the only films to do that.  The other two big winners besides Spotlight are Mad Max: Fury Road (Picture / Director from CFC, Picture from NBR, Director from LAFC) and Carol (Picture / Director / Screenplay in New York, Director and Cinematography from NSFC and BSFC).

Spotlight becomes the first film in four years and only the second since 1995 to earn a Picture nom at the BAFTAs with less than 4 total nominations.  For the first time since 2001, the five films nominated for Best Picture are completely different from the films nominated for Best British Film.  Bridge of Spies earns nominations in all five tech categories.  Just like with the Globes, after passing over González Iñárritu the year before, they give him Best Picture and Best Director.

Mad Max has the most guild nominations (16), but The Revenant ends up leading in wins (9) and points (565).  Straight Outta Compton becomes only the second film since 2002 to earn PGA, SGA Ensemble and WGA noms but not earn an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  After it not happening from 1985 to 2009, The Revenant becomes the fifth film in six years to win the DGA without a WGA nom.  With 15 nominations and 390 points, Star Wars becomes the second highest in both (to Pirates of the Caribbean) to fail to earn a PGA, DGA, WGA or SAG Ensemble nom.  The Big Short becomes the first PGA winner since 2006 to fail to go on and win Best Picture at the Oscars.

For the first time in six years no film earns double digits in nominations at the BFCA.  That’s partially because the three films that tie for first place with 9 noms all fail to earn a writing nomination (Carol, The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road).  The only film before this which had even tied for first-place in nominations without a screenplay nom was Avatar and there were two other films tied with it.  It’s especially odd, as they are all passed over for Steve Jobs, which fails to earn a Picture nom.  Steven Spielberg earns a record 6th nomination (Scorsese, with 5, is the only other director with more than four).  The all-time lead in points for an actress continues to flip-flop.  With her nomination in 2011, Meryl Streep took the lead from Blanchett, Blanchett took it back with her win in 2013, Streep took it back with her nomination last year and Blanchett takes it back again with her nomination here for Carol.  Jennifer Lawrence joins Judi Dench as the only four-time BFCA nominee without a win.  With Spotlight taking home Picture but Mad Max dominating the tech awards, for the first time in six years no film earns 400 points.

Best Director:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Todd Haynes  (NYFC, NSFC, BSFC, LAFC, CFC, BAFTA, Globe, Indie)
  2. Alejandro González Iñárritu  (CFC, DGA, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA, Satellite)
  3. George Miller  (LAFC, CFC, NSFC, DGA, Oscar, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Tom McCarthy  (NSFC, BSFC, CFC, DGA, Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, Satellite, Indie)
  5. Ridley Scott  (NBR, DGA, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA, Satellite)

note:  Haynes ended up with the fourth highest points total without an Oscar nom, following only Kathryn Bigelow in 2012, Ang Lee in 1995 and Ben Affleck in 2012.  He is the highest ever without a DGA nom.  Ironically, the next highest director without a DGA or Oscar nom was also Todd Haynes, back in 2002.

  • My Top 10:
  1. Todd Haynes
  2. Alejandro González Iñárritu
  3. Steven Spielberg
  4. Quentin Tarantino
  5. Ridley Scott
  6. J. J. Abrams
  7. Tom McCarthy
  8. Danny Boyle
  9. Scott Cooper
  10. Denis Villenueve

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. The Big Short  (Oscar, WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA)
  2. Carol  (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, NYFC)
  3. Steve Jobs  (WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA)
  4. The Martian  (Oscar, WGA, BFCA, NBR)
  5. Room  (Oscar, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Carol
  2. Steve Jobs
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Martian
  5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  6. The Big Short
  7. Anomalisa
  8. Black Mass
  9. Brooklyn
  10. Mr Holmes

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Spotlight  (Oscar, WGA, Globe, BAFTA, BFCA, LAFC, NSFC, BSFC, CFC)
  2. The Hateful Eight  (Globe, BAFTA, BFCA, NBR)
  3. Bridge of Spies  (Oscar, WGA, BAFTA, BFCA)
  4. Ex Machina  (Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA)
  5. Inside Out  (Oscar, BAFTA, BFCA)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Inside Out
  2. Spotlight
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. The Hateful Eight
  5. Ex Machina
  6. Labyrinth of Lies
  7. Tomorrowland
  8. Xenia
  9. Sicario
  10. Joy

note: There is a huge drop in quality after my first five.

Best Actor:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Leonardo DiCaprio  (BSFC, CFC, Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Michael Fassbender  (LAFC, Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  3. Matt Damon  (NBR, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy, BFCA)
  4. Eddie Redmayne  (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  5. Bryan Cranston  (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Leonardo DiCaprio
  2. Michael Fassbender
  3. Johnny Depp
  4. Matt Damon
  5. Bryan Cranston
  6. Michael Keaton
  7. Eddie Redmayne
  8. Steve Carrell
  9. Tom Hanks
  10. Ian McKellen

Best Actress:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Brie Larsen  (CFC, NBR, Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Charlotte Rampling  (LAFC, NSFC, BSFC, Oscar, BFCA)
  3. Saoirse Ronan  (NYFC, Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Cate Blanchett  (Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  5. Jennifer Lawrence  (Oscar, Globe – Comedy, BFCA)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Cate Blanchett
  2. Saoirse Ronan
  3. Brie Larsen
  4. Jennifer Lawrence
  5. Julianne Moore  (Maps to the Stars)
  6. Charlize Theron
  7. Carey Mulligan  (Far from the Madding Crowd)
  8. Juliette Binoche
  9. Emily Blunt
  10. Lily Tomlin

note:  I haven’t seen 45 Years.  And Jennifer Lawrence, who was great in Joy, is lucky that Mara and Vikander were Oscar nominated in Supporting.  Originally, my Top 5 was Mara, Blanchett, Vikander, Ronan, Larsen.

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Mark Rylance  (NYFC, NSFC, BSFC, Oscar, SAG, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  2. Sylvester Stallone  (NBR, Oscar, Globe, BFCA)
  3. Michael Shannon  (LAFC, SAG, Globe, BFCA)
  4. Christian Bale  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Comedy)
  5. Idris Elba  (SAG, BAFTA, Globe)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Mark Rylance
  2. Mark Ruffalo
  3. Christian Bale
  4. Idris Elba
  5. Stanley Tucci  (Spotlight)
  6. Walton Goggins  (The Hateful Eight)
  7. Michael Shannon
  8. Will Poulter  (The Revenant)
  9. Harrison Ford
  10. Benicio Del Toro

note:  I haven’t seen Creed.

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Consensus Top Five:
  1. Alicia Vikander  (LAFC, CFC, SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, BAFTA – lead, Globe, Globe – Drama, BFCA)
  2. Kate Winslet  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  3. Kirstin Stewart  (NYFC, LAFC, BSFC)
  4. Jennifer Jason Leigh  (NBR, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe, BFCA)
  5. Rooney Mara  (SAG, Oscar, BAFTA, Globe – Drama, BFCA)
  • My Top 10:
  1. Rooney Mara
  2. Alicia Vikander  (The Danish Girl)
  3. Kate Winslet
  4. Jennifer Jason Leigh
  5. Alicia Vikander  (Ex Machina)
  6. Rachel McAdams
  7. Helen Mirren
  8. Rafey Cassidy  (Tomorrowland)
  9. Kristin Stewart
  10. Annette Bening  (Danny Collins)
A visionary glimpse of a better tomorrow. Hopefully.

A visionary glimpse of a better tomorrow. Hopefully.

Under-appreciated Film of 2015:
Tomorrowland  (dir. Brad Bird)

This is the kind of thing I’m talking about when I mention an under-appreciated film.  It made $93 million but that was on a $190 million budget so it’s seen as a commercial failure (one site lists it as the 7th biggest money loser of all-time in terms of absolute dollars).  It has a 60 on Metacritic, which indicates the higher end of mixed reviews.  And at awards time, well, it got a nomination from the Art Directors Guild and two from the Visual Effects Society.

This is the second time that Disney has handed a massive budget for a live action Sci-Fi film to one of the Pixar directors.  The first time it was Andrew Stanton, who had made Finding Nemo and Ratatouille and then lost hundreds of millions of dollars with John Carter (which was a decent film and didn’t deserve to fail as badly as it did, either commercially or critically).  This time it’s Brad Bird who directed The Incredibles and Ratatouille and had already had a big live-action success at Paramount with the fourth Mission: Impossible.  In spite of their financial losses, I would much rather they give money to directors like these who have a vision than anyone giving money to directors like the Wachowskis or Michael Bay.

Tomorrowland is a world not quite like ours.  In it, the 1964 New York World’s Fair wasn’t just a fair – it was the planned coming out for a technologically marvelous world.  But then things went wrong and a young boy, thinking he was entering paradise, found himself expelled and he grows up to be a rather grumpy George Clooney.  He would spend the rest of his life in peace, remembering what he had, if not for the teenage girl who comes knocking at his door.  She’s played by Britt Robertson.  She’s bright, clever and she gets into trouble when she keeps sabotaging the workers who are trying to demolish the NASA base where her dad used to work and where she hoped someday to head to the stars.  That’s what leads Athena to her.

I’m not going to explain Athena because that would give something important away and I really think you should see Tomorrowland.  Athena is played by Raffey Cassidy, who has already played a young Eva Green in Dark Shadows and a young Kristen Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman, but really, to me, looks like a younger Cate Blanchett.  She is a real discovery.  She is, in a way, the heart of this film and her performance is a real find, especially given how difficult it must have been to work her performance in around the CGI but she does amazing work.  Her final scene in the film is touching and even heart-breaking and it’s a reminder that we are all as human as we remind ourselves to be.

Getting back to Robertson, her performance reminds me of one of the best things about the otherwise over-rated Mad Max: Fury Road.  George Clooney might have been marketed as the star of the film, but it’s really Robertson who is.  Her intelligence and spunk are what keep the film moving.  In a world that too often marginalizes women in the fields of maths and sciences, to have a bright young woman who desperately wants to keep alive a chance to go to the stars as the star of the film is refreshing.

Tomorrowland got a lot of crap for actually having a philosophy at the core of its film – as if caring about something and believing in it is a bad thing.  If you don’t want to be preached to, then fine, maybe you might find this film is not for you, especially if breeding fear is what you’re about.  But the theme of this film is to keep hope alive.  I’m not sure how stressing that is really a bad thing.  Sean Penn said it, playing Harvey Milk, and it’s something I keep reminding people of in this era of fear-mongering.  You have to give them hope.

That’s about all I want to say about this film.  It is directed and made with a vision, with amazing effects, visionary art direction and a script that emphasizes the importance of having faith that things can get better.  Like Star Wars, it has a bright young actress at its center, a star in the making.  It is not a great film, but it is a very good one and one that didn’t deserve the drubbing it took from critics who seemed too anxious to attack it for having a message or from the audiences who didn’t seem too interested in seeing it.