Movies in 2015 — Best, Worst, and Final Thoughts

Posted on December 30, 2015 at 3:02 pm

A final round-up on the movies of 2015

The best:

Tied For First: “The Big Short” and “Chi-raq,” both all the more ferocious for being as funny and purely entertaining as they are angry
Tied For Second:
“Ex Machina”
“Inside Out”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens”
“Bridge of Spies”

Runners-up: “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “Creed,” “Trumbo,’ “Spotlight,” “Son of Saul,” “Mustang,” “The Shaun the Sheep Movie,” “Mustang,” “Girlhood,” “Straight Outta Compton”

A good year for: movies by and about women: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Miss You Already,” “Chi-Raq,” “Carol,” “Brooklyn,” “Inside Out,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Infinitely Polar Bear,” “Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “Pitch Perfect 2,” “Suffragette,” “Sisters”

Not such a good year for: romance, comedies, or romantic comedies

Popcorn pleasures: “Furious 7,” “Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation,” “Magic Mike: XXL,” “What We Do in the Shadows”

Top five documentaries:

“The Look of Silence”
“Heart of a Dog”
“Best of Enemies”
“The Mind of Mark Defriest”

Breakthrough performers: Alicia Vikander (“Ex Machina,” “The Man from UNCLE,” “The Danish Girl,” “Testament of Youth,” and more, Teyonah Parris (“Chi-Raq”), Jake Lacy (“Carol,” “Love the Coopers”), Raffey Cassidy (“Tomorrowland,” , Brie Larson (“Room”), Amy Schumer (as star and screenwriter of “Trainwreck”), and John Cena, very funny in “Trainwreck,” “Sisters,” and “Daddy’s Home”

And the worst:

“The D Train”
“Unfinished Business”
“The Gunman”
“Fantastic Four”
“Hitman: Agent 47”

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Commentary Critics Lists

Oscars 2015 — Highlights and Low Points, Plus All the Winners

Posted on February 23, 2015 at 12:19 am

It’s kind of unfair that Neil Patrick Harris is so good at so many things, but it sure does make him the ideal Oscar host. Showing the same grace, wit, charm, and star power he brought to the Tony and Emmy awards shows, NPH has made hosting an art form. Opening with a musical number that was almost magical, he appeared in scenes from great movies and not-great ones as well (“Clue?”). Anna Kendrick’s sweet soprano and Jack Black’s “School of Rock” voice-shred provided just the right mix of sugar and spice. As the show went on, he was occasionally out of synch with the mood of the moment, but overall, he did very well.

Best acceptance speeches: J.K. Simmons, for his tender appreciation of his family. He’s right — call home, everyone. And Graham Moore telling all the kids who feel weird that he felt weird, too. It’s always dicey to get political at the Oscars, but it was heartening to see Meryl Streep’s response to Patricia Arquette’s call for pay equity and to hear John Legend and Common on the continuing injustice of our society. Graham Moore’s emotional memory of attempting suicide as a teenager because he felt so isolated and weird was raw, real, and inspiring. Somewhere listening was a kid who feels weird today and will be accepting an Oscar ten years from now who needed to hear that.

Best use of pearls: the dresses of Lupita Nyong’o and Felicity Jones were exquisitely lovely

Best red carpet idea: #Askhermore

Best production number: “Everything is Awesome” lived up to its name. I liked the LEGO Oscars, too. The “Glory” re-creation of the march across the bridge was dignified and powerful.

Best comeback: John Travolta, who was gracious about being ribbed by Neil Patrick Harris and Idina Menzel for the way he bumbled her name last year. “It’s not like it’s going to follow me the rest of my life,” she said. “Tell me about it,” he replied.

Best quote: “Artists are the radical voice of civilization.” Harry Belafonte, quoting Paul Robeson (in a pre-taped segment). Runner-up: “A single person is missing for you and the whole world is empty.” Meryl Streep quoting Joan Didion

Best “I Told You So” moment: Yes, Lady Gaga can sing. And wasn’t it wonderful to hear Julie Andrews say, “Dear Lady Gaga?”

Most touching moment: tears on the cheeks of David Oyelowo and Chris Pine after the very moving “Glory”

Didn’t need to hear about: Neil Patrick Harris’ Oscar predictions and underwhelming reveal

Worst dress: Naomi Watts, especially from the back

Best reference to Michael Keaton’s tighty-whiteys: Alejandro González Iñárritu Worst: Neil Patrick Harris

Best Picture

Best Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”

Best Actress
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Best Actor
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Adapted Screenplay
Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”

Best Original Screenplay
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo, “Birdman”

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Documentary Feature

Best Animated Feature
“Big Hero 6”

Best Film Editing

Best Original Song
“Glory” from “Selma” (written by Common and John Legend)

Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman”

Best Costume Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Production Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Sound Editing
“American Sniper”

Best Sound Mixing

Best Visual Effects

Best Short Film, Live Action
“The Phone Call”

Best Short Film, Animated

Best Documentary, Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”

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Awards Television

SAG Awards 2015

Posted on January 26, 2015 at 9:00 am

The Screen Actors Guild awards for television and movies in 2014 are in and it looks like Patricia Arquette, Julianne Moore, and J.K. Simmons are in line to bring home Oscars on February 22. The tough one to call right now is Best Actor, down to the wire between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.

The winners are:

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role: Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Copyright 2014 Working Title Films
Copyright 2014 Working Title Films

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: “Birdman”


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Mark Ruffalo, “The Normal Heart”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Frances McDormand, “Olive Kitteridge”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series: Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series: Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series: William H. Macy, “Shameless”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Uzo Aduba, “Orange Is the New Black”

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series: “Downton Abbey”

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: “Orange Is the New Black”


Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: “Unbroken”

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series: “Game of Thrones”

Screen Actors Guild 51st Annual Life Achievement Award: Debbie Reynolds

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Actors Awards
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