Once again I did my best to watch every single Best Picture nominee, here are my thoughts.

The Big Short

The Big Short

Released: 2015-12-11

Lots of people talked about what a great job the film does of explaining the financial crisis and the housing bubble. This is very odd praise to me because I found this to be the hands-down weakest aspect of the film.

First off, I found it obnoxious the way the film halts and narrates directly to the audience to explain things. I usually dislike breaking the 4th wall in films, but I especially dislike it when the reason it's done is to cover up weaknesses. For example, when a filmmaker is stumped on how to deliver exposition so we get a bunch of text on the screen, or an actor is unable to convey internal state well so we're treated to voiceover narration. Sometimes it can work, but usually it just seems lazy. In this case, the film was unable to deliver background information and lingo, so the movie grinds to a halt and they just admit that it's "boring" or "difficult to understand" and has a jokey way of delivering it, like Margot Robbie explaining it in a bathtub. A truly good film would have figured out a better way to deliver this information to the audience (or just trusted the audience to be more well-informed).

Secondly, I found the explanations to be generally weak anyway. I watched this movie with my 23-year-old immortal alien sister-in-law who was pretty young during the housing crisis and was exactly the kind of person that this film's narration was meant to help. She's not a dumb person, but I had to pause the movie at least once every ten minutes to explain things to her that the film left totaly baffling for her. The 2 hour, 10 minute film took nearly 3 hours to watch because of how often she asked questions that necessitated pausing the film and explaining things. Why is this movie being praised for making the relevant financial world layman-friendly?

In any case, I did enjoy the film but I felt it was often meandering, I think a substantial amount of it could have been cut and streamlined. I didn't really think Adam McKay did a great job, his comedy roots clashed with the subject matter too often, and characters came off as goofy or unrealistic. The best moment was when the movie was self-aware of its shortcomings in this regard to have Brad Pitt offer a sobering reminder of the seriousness of what was happening on screen. I particularly liked how this moment came after a number of scenes in which are "heroes" are finding that the bonds they're shorting aren't losing value despite the default rate already skyrocketing - it places the audience in a position where they're "rooting" for the market to bottom-out, only to have Pitt remind everyone of how fucked that is. It's a great moment, but then it's right back to goofy comedy and poor lecturing.

I do have to mention that I thought Steve Carell was fantastic. It's so odd to me that Christian Bale was nominated for his mediocre performance in the film while Carell was ignored.

Rating

7

A bunch of guys bet money on the housing market being corrupt, and win! Funny, right?

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies

Released: 2015-10-15

I really enjoyed Bridge of Spies - as a movie it's quite good, but as a Spielberg Movie it's pretty mediocre. It's kind of unfair, but the guy has hit it out of the park so many times that you almost have to evaluate any one of his movies against all of his others.

Bridge of Spies is a story that is built on tension, but ultimately I found the film often lacking in that very thing. It's an interesting story, told very well, but aside from the final scene on the bridge, the movie is really lacking in extremely tense moments, which I think this kind of story should have been able to easily lend itself to. You'd think a movie called Bridge of Spies would have a bit more in this regard.

I think it's a good movie to release given our current political climate, humanizing "bad guys" a bit. Since the film lacks tension and action, the real strength of the film is the dialogue, and points that characters can make through that dialogue. In that sense it's great, and I really enjoyed Tom Hanks's hero character and a lot of his monologues about the importance of defending enemies.

Overall really great but not Spielberg's best. Better than Lincoln, War Horse, and The Terminal, not as good as Munich, Saving Private Ryan, or Schindler's List.

Rating

8

Mid-tier Spielberg is still a top-tier movie.

Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Released: 2015-10-20

I don't understand what Brooklyn is doing in this list. Even the most mediocre Best Pic nom (Bridge of Spies) is far, far more interesting and cinematic than this movie. Honestly, Brooklyn seems like a TV movie whose budget just got out of control.

This whole film is just a shade above a Nicholas Sparks movie, in fact I had to google to see if it was based on a Sparks novel. It's not poorly made or even bad, it's just extremely forgettable, nobody will ever talk about this movie ever again unless Saoirse Ronan or Emory Cohen become enormous stars.

Brooklyn is overly sentimental and melodramatic, I don't feel like the dramatic moments were handled all that deftly, and it seemed like plots often went nowhere. The most interesting thing that happened in the entire movie was when Eilis returns to Ireland for her sister's funeral and seemingly starts to fall in love with Jim Farrell. There's almost something kind of interesting going on there, and a really well-made film would have to very carefully handle something like that without the audience turning against the main character. As Nicholas Sparks-esque it would be, it would have provided some potential serious drama to the film... but then some old lady sort of calls her a whore and she realizes she hates Ireland and moves back to the U.S. right away. Uh, alright, well, thanks for almost doing something potentially interesting.

I rolled my eyes a lot during the film, there were lots of "you're supposed to cry now" scenes, which I think reached their peak with the homeless Irish man singing in Gaelic - all the sound drops out and we just have him singing and slowly panning around, it seemed like a very blatant attempt to get an emotional response out of the audience without earning it. Like a country singer that drops an American flag behind them during the last song of the concert to get an unearned standing ovation from the audience. It's some bullshit.

As a total aside, for all I know this was actually filmed with real sets and I'm just an idiot, but a lot of scenes seemed to feature background CGI that looked fake as hell to me. In particular, scenes on ships seemed to feature an ocean and sky horizon background that looked extremely artificial. Maybe it was a stylistic choice but it bugged me.

Rating

6

Irish girl moves to America, goes back to Ireland, then comes back to America.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

Released: 2015-05-13

I cannot fucking believe this movie was nominated for Best Picture. Don't get me wrong, I loved the movie, I'm just stunned that a movie like this would ever be recognized by the Academy in anything other than special effects and sound categories.

Mad Max was one of the most fun experiences I had in a movie theater all year, and one of the biggest surprises. When the internet was going apeshit for the trailer, I honestly thought it looked like crap - weird crap. To be totally honest I'm not a big fan of Mad Max, I think only Road Warrior is any good and I've always found the mythos very strange. The world has gotten to a point where resources like gasoline are extremely rare and valuable... so everyone gets really into cars? That seems like the opposite of what a globe with the problems of Mad Max's would look like.

So I had no intention of seeing this movie at all, but after it came out people kept talking about how great it was, including a lot of critics I trust. I went to the theater reluctantly and was completely expecting to rant about how overrated it was and how stupid everyone else is, but they were right, this movie is a complete blast from start to finish.

It really is a car chase that never stops, which is really unlike any other movie I can think of. There's almost no downtime, but the movie never feels breathless or overly fast-paced. Dialogue and strong character moments are able to happen, they just tend to happen while in a vehicle that's still moving. And then our heroes decide the best option is to literally turn around and go right back to where they came from - it's so great.

People are going to crazy for this movie and want a sequel, which I think is a terrible idea. For one thing, there's already talk about the sequel following Furiosa. This kind of annoys me, the whole premise of the Mad Max franchise is that we follow Max despite him being a pretty boring character, and each film he finds himself pulled into a completely new and different aspect of this post-apocalyptic world. He should meet new and interesting characters for one film, then move on. But more importantly, I really just don't think any sequel could possibly top this one or even match it. It's one of those movies that would just be better off if it were not diluted with additional franchise installments, the fact that it was so great despite being the fourth in the series is nothing short of a miracle.

The Mad Max series should quit while it's ahead and leave Fury Road as the final memory of the franchise, sometimes when you manage to trap lightning in a bottle and make a perfect film you should just walk away proud.

Rating

9

Deadly road trip

The Martian

The Martian

Released: 2015-09-30

There are a lot of criticisms of The Martian, especially now that it's been nominated for a handful of awards. I've seen the movie often called "science porn" as it's overly reliant on the audience enjoying the scientific aspects of the film, and ultimately the movie is somewhat weak as far as fictional storytelling goes. The book had a lot of the same criticisms.

And I don't care. I love me some science porn.

I'm a complete sucker for any science fiction movie, especially one in Space, that doesn't use the premise as an excuse to make a generic action or horror movie, and that doesn't pull in fantastical elements like aliens or time travel or anything like that. Just a grounded-in-reality science movie, which is why I own Gravity and Interstellar on Blu-Ray, even though I have problems with both films and found Interstellar in particular disappointing. The Martian has also joined my collection, and is the only Best Picture nomination this year to do so.

Like the other movies, I do have issues with The Martian. I think the movie cheats in a lot of ways, like it's clear that the film wanted to stay grounded in the real world and use real science as much as possible, but when the writing was backed into a corner it just relied on the fact that the movie takes place an unspecified number of years in the future and invented technology. For example, the oxygen supply for Watney is a serious issue, and he needs readily available oxygen to make the water for his farm... so we'll invent a futuristic sounding "Oxygenator" and handwave it away because otherwise it's too difficult to write. Obviously NASA is able to produce oxygen, but being able to do it on the surface of Mars in something that is extremely portable is beyond our current reach, so Future-Handwave it is.

Another thing I disliked was the writing on Watney. I understood he needed lots of dialogue, especially to explain what was going on in the film, and I appreciated the use of the video journals to accomplish this, but I often found the dialogue itself kind of grating. He's too jokey, and the jokes aren't great. It sort of has this obnoxious millennial vibe that I can't explain well, but stuff like "I'm going to science the shit out of this" just rubs me the wrong way, it makes me think of the phrase "because reasons".

For the most part I completely loved this movie from start to finish, but ultimately felt it was too short. Yeah, short. I could have easily enjoyed another hour of film, and I felt that once Watney begins his trek to the Ares 4 Lander the movie almost moves too fast, you lose track of how long and boring his journey is even in spite of the "Sol XXX" text.

In any case, this movie actually got me to read the book it was based on after seeing it, which is really rare for me as I don't read fiction often. The book had the same problem as the movie for me, which was that I hated all the stuff on Earth and I just wanted to stay on Mars with Watney the entire time.

Rating

9

Science porn

The Revenant

The Revenant

Released: 2015-12-25

I really enjoyed The Revenant when I was watching it, but it was one of those movies that aged somewhat poorly in my brain. I often refer to this as the "Christopher Nolan Effect", it's when you love a movie in the theater but in the mere time it takes to drive from the theater back to your house, your opinion of the movie drastically declines.

The movie, obviously, is shot beautifully. Cinematography and direction are top-notch in this thing, for sure. But thinking back on it mere minutes after seeing it, I kind of felt like asking, what was the point of it?

I'm not saying every movie needs a message, or some kind of political agenda - in fact I think movies too often suffer from that sort of things - but it seems like there needs to be something to latch onto. Is it a story about extremely engaging characters, at least? In the case of Revenant, no, not really. It's a story about a guy surviving in the wildnerness in order to get revenge. It's fun to watch, but afterwards I'm shrugging and asking, who cares?

Even Tom Hardy's character points out the pointlessness of the movie at the end, pointing out nothing will bring DiCaprio's kid back. This film is the very definition of style over substance.

DiCaprio was fine in the movie, but it's annoying that this became the movie that finally gave him the Best Actor Oscar he's deserved for so many years. It was a performance of mostly grunting. Why did he deserve Best Actor? Because it was difficult? Because they shot in the cold? Because he hate a fish? There's a growing tendency for Best Actor to now be awarded to the Most Difficult Acting role. Subtle, engaging performances are harder to measure and are being ignored in favor of performances where people lose a lot of weight or adopt a disability or shoot in difficult circumstances. His performances in The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and especially Wolf of Wall Street are far superior to his turn in the Revenant. Glad the guy finally got his statue but this was definitely a "lifetime achivement" type award.

Rating

7

Guy survives in the woods

Room

Room

Released: 2015-10-16

I had no idea what this movie was about, aside from not being The Room by Tommy Wiseau. My wife seemed to recognize the movie within minutes and indicated it was based on a book she read. She promised me that it'd be good as soon as she remembered the book.

And it was good... at least the first half was.

Spoiler: I know this is really odd of me to say but the movie is best when they're stuck in Room. I thought it was really interesting to see how they live their lives in this little shack, and there was great tension when Joy started hatching plans to escape using the kid. Training the child to deal with and adapt the escape plan to a world he's never seen and doesn't understand was awesome, and the scene in the truck was an edge-of-your-seat nailbiter. I wish more time had been spent on this section of the film, in fact I'd have preferred if the entire movie ended with them finally escaping.

Spoiler: Instead, they escape about halfway through and the rest of the movie deals with how the world treats them, and how they cope with their newfound freedom. It's during this section of the movie that the individual performances are strongest, especially Brie Larson's phenomenal portrayal of Joy. Jacob Tremblay was amazing as well, and I really enjoyed Joan Allen and William H. Macy's roles (Pleasantville reuinion, yo). I especially enjoyed the take on Macy's character and his inability to love Jack, and I loved that this aspect was never resolved as any kind of happy ending. The revisiting of Room at the very end was a great way to close out the movie, as well.

Spoiler: But while the second half of the movie is probably the strongest from a character standpoint, I felt the first half was the strongest from a premise and story standpoint. I would have loved if we got a lot more of Room and a lot less of the World. I know that, if were the movie, I'd be losing some great stuff but I'd still have preferred it.

Spoiler: My wife tells me that she doesn't remember anything in the book happening after the escape, and that the book pretty much ends that way and she wished that the book had gone more into what happened after they got out. I thought that was interesting, the book reader wanted more world stuff, and the movie watcher wanted more Room stuff. As a result, she liked the movie more than she liked the book, I wonder if I'd like the book more but I probably won't read it.

Great performance showcase overall and a really interesting high-concept sort of premise. This movie got a sort of cursory nomination and it's not being discussed much but honestly I thought it was one of the strongest films nominated. I actually would have been happy if this movie had taken home the Best Picture award, but I kind of wish the first half and second half had been their own films, a movie and it's very-different sequel.

Rating

8

Two great short films smashed together, each one detracting from the other.

Spotlight

Spotlight

Released: 2015-11-06

I am an absolute sucker for movies like Spotlight. The true story about a journalist or a team of journalists cracking some huge story or conspiracy. Give me a character shouting about the importance of "the truth" and I'm in heaven.

Spotlight joins the pantheon of my favorites in the sub-sub-sub genre along with All the President's Men and The Insider, I thought it was just superb. A lot of people say that it was shot fairly blandly and doesn't stand out enough to be a Best Picture nominee (or winner, for that matter) but I just don't agree. It's not flashy stylistically, I'll grant, but it's very competently directed and does a great job of slowly unfolding the story so we can learn along with the characters what's going on. And yeah, it doesn't hurt that it's true and important.

I think it's quite fair that Revenant got Best Director while this movie got Best Picture. That's a split that doesn't happen all that often, but in this case Revenant is stylistically bold and memorable but just doesn't have the substance to truly be Best Picture, while Spotlight is a definitely worthy of Best Picture despite lacking almost any any style.

Spotlight is a great showcase for acting as well - it's often a bit too easy to show off one's acting skills in a movie like this, you get to get in loud yelling matches with other characters and give motivational speeches about the importance of honesty and journalism. So it's interesting that Spotlight won no acting awards whatsoever - I guess the issue is that, because it's an ensemble film, no one singlular performance (or really, any lone aspect) stands out, but instead it marries competent and adequate work in disparate areas to ultimately be assembled into something far greater than the sum of its parts.

Overall, I loved Spotlight the instant I saw it, this is a genre of the film that I simply don't get to see often enough and I'm grateful for every chance I get to watch a good journalism movie.

Rating

9

Priests rape a lot.

Honorable Mentions

Hateful Eight

The Hateful Eight

Released: 2015-12-25

It's hard to evaluate Hateful Eight because I keep wanting to do something unfair with it. The marketing material and my own understanding of what this movie would be before I watched it was something like this: 8 strangers are trapped in a cabin in a snowstorm and have to suss out the identity of a criminal. I knew it wasn't exactly that, but I thought it was sort of like a whodunnit western. I knew Kurt Russell was in it and it was in a snowstorm and scored by Ennio Morricone, so I sort of conjured up images of The Thing, with everyone not trusting each other and fighting. I knew it was a western, had Sam Jackson, and was directed by Tarantino, so I imagined a sort of Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchanged kind of movie, with lots of great tension as characters try to figure out who they can trust and who they can't.

In any case, I built up a movie in my brain that I thought sounded exactly like a movie I wanted to see, directed by the perfect person to do it. Like Clue, but in the old west, and violent.

So while I really enjoyed the movie a lot, I also felt let down by what it actually wound up being. Tarantino has shown over the past few years that he's really becoming a master of dramatic tension, and I always think of the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds as the gold standard for edge-of-your-seat film tension, but Hateful Eight really didn't have much of that. There really wasn't much in the way of a whodunnit mystery, and what little there was of one was simply explained by an ultra-goofy flashback with Tarantino as narrator.

Ultimately, the movie is a huge missed opportunity. There's this awesome, awesome setup and premise with a great cast of characters that could really go somewhere interesting, but instead everyone just shoots each other. It's about as lazy and rote as Tarantino gets, an area where he's so comfortable that the second half of the movie seems downright safe. I think the biggest disappointment was that there were all these clues left around, like when Sam Jackson is interrogating Demián Bichir in the stable and you can tell Jackson is figuring out that he's lying. The reveal of why Jackson knows he's lying is great, and it's at that moment that he lines up all of the still-alive characters, the ones we're not as familiar with because they weren't part of the opening scenes of the film, and declares that he knows one of them is working with Jennifer Jason Leigh's character and he's going to figure out who it is. This was the peak moment of the movie for me, I literally rubbed my hands together and moved to the edge of my seat like "alright, now's when it's going to get really good". But then it turns out it's ALL of them. Fuck - this is literally the least interesting thing it could have been. So much potential, utterly thrown away.

So I really liked Hateful Eight but I also really resent it for wasting such a fantastic premise, setting, cast, and frankly director on what is ultimately a very bland movie that passes for good because of Tarantino's usual fantastic direction.

Rating

8

People kill each other

Ex Machina

Ex Machina

Released: 2015-01-21

Ex Machina is, hands down, my favorite film of 2015. It's well-written, smart, tense, and just a complete delight from start to finish. I don't know if I liked this movie more than others because I really love smart science fiction that doesn't devolve into action scenes, but I almost don't understand how this could manage to not be on someone's best of 2015 list. The lack of Oscar nominations for this movie definitely bothers me, I'd give it Best Picture if I could. It's great.

One particularly weird snub is Alicia Vikander. She plays a robot in a film where the entire point is that the main character is trying to figure out whether or not she has consciousness. That means she can't play it as a "beep boop, does not compute" robot, but she also can't play it as a "commander Data with emotion chip" person either. Her entire performance had to perfectly, PERFECTLY walk the line between machine and human, or the entire film would fall apart. Couple that with how she has to effectively steal audience sympathy from the main characters in the third act, and her performance is absolutely stunning. So the fact that she was nominated for a different movie just boggles my mind - she actually got a nomination this year, but it's for the wrong film.

The movie just keeps heaping tension on the audience and it's relentless - the film starts with a vague sense of foreboding and it just gets worse and worse from there. Caleb's plan to free Ava, the way it goes down, and the twist at the end easily rival some of the most tense sequences in moviemaking, on par with my go-to example of the opening scene of Inglorious Basterds. The movie really is a blast.

Ex Machina left me completely in awe, it's one of those few movies that ends and I just say "holy shit I loved that" out loud as soon as the credits roll. I've shown it to everyone I can, the instant I discover they haven't seen it. It's expertly written and cerebral without being self-indulgent and artsy - it actually tells an interesting and engaging story while also forcing the audience to engage in difficult questions about morality and consciousness. The movie would be an amazing accomplishment no matter what, but as a cherry on top it's not an adaptation of a novel or comic book, not a reboot or a sequel or a prequel, and not the first in an attempt to establish some shared cinematic universe. Just a completely original, written-out-of-nowhere fantastic film expertly directed and acted. It's borderline criminal that this movie didn't get more attention at the box office, and it's very sad that the Academy didn't rectify this by highlighting it more with nominations.

Ya dun goofed Oscars, Ex Machina is the best movie of the year and you didn't even nominate it.

Rating

9

A fantastic, original Sci-fi film is created and ignored, thus ensuring at least six more years of reboots

Going Clear

I understand why this movie was completely overlooked by the Academy. You can't nominate a movie like Going Clear for an Oscar and then have a bunch of celebrities show up at your event. Half of them are Scientologists so, yeah, let's talk about what a great singer some drug-addict was, that's important.

Going Clear is an eye-opening exploration of Scientology. And it's not just some outsider discussing it, there are tons of interviews with Scientology's insiders, including some early church leaders. It's informative and utterly fascinating, I don't think I've heard anyone react to this movie with anything other than amazement.

You really get a sense of the history of the religion as well as how dirty and slimy it is, the movie is a completely obliteration of everything in the church and I wish everyone would watch it. I understand why it wasn't nominated for Best Documentary but I think it's hands-down better than all of the nominees.

Rating

9

Scientology is fucking stupid.

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

Released: 2015-08-13

There was a lot of controversy this year about the #OscarsSoWhite nominations, and a lot of it focused on Straight Outta Compton in particular. When the question of "well who/what deserved to be nominated, but wasn't?" is asked, the answer tends to reference either Creed or Straight Outta Compton. I'm not going to talk about Creed much (saving it for my Rocky marathon post) other than to say, honestly, Michael B. Jordan's performance really wasn't that great and I think people are overreacting to it.

Straight Outta Compton, on the other hand, is another matter. The film was absolutely excellent and it had a lot of great performances. It's possible that a movie about a rap group with a song called "Fuck Tha Police" is just going to rub The Academy the wrong way, but even without that it makes sense to me that none of the main actors were nominated for anything. Quite simply, Straight Outta Compton is an ensemble piece, primarily around 3 characters: Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E. The truth is, none of the actors playing these characters offered a performance that stood out against the other two - all three were really great (though I think Ice Cube's real-life son, O'Shea Jackson Jr, was the weakest of the three), and they all had scenes where they got to showcase some heavy dramatic moments. The reason this is a problem is you can't really nominate any of them for Best Actor - the best you could do is Best Supporting Actor, since it's such an equal ensemble. And you can't really nominate any one of them without the other two, which would take up three of the five Supporting Actor nominations. I just don't think something like that is likely to happen, if Corey Hawkins (Dre) had been weaker as a performer, I think Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E) might have gotten the nomination.

Now, the fact that this movie was overlooked for both Best Picture and Best Director is a bit more baffling. The film is easily better than Brooklyn, and given that Best Picture this year had 8 nominations and can have up to 10, I think Straight Outta Compton should have gotten that nomination. Is it racist that it didn't? I'm not sure I'd jump to that conclusion, but it certainly seems like a snub at least. And yes, I'd happily replace Adam McKay for his uneven direction of The Big Short with F. Gary Gray for Straight Outta Compton.

As for the movie itself, it really was excellent, but it also was frustrating a bit. The movie jumps into things almost right away, we see that Dr. Dre is a fantastic DJ and Producer immediately, with no understanding of why or how he came to be that way. Same for Ice Cube, he's just a master lyricist right away, there's no growth into that. Eazy-E struggles at first with the actual rapping but after a few minutes kicks ass. We very quickly jump to N.W.A. having a big following, and then going on tour. Most of the actual bulk of the film deals with the aftermath of N.W.A.'s formation, such as the public reaction and then all of the interpersonal drama between the members. This is where the film kind of falls down for me, there's simply too much content to cover in the movie, even with it clocking in at nearly three hours. Dre meets Snoop and recruits Tupac, but I wanted to see more about them. We know that Dre eventually discovers Eminem but he's not even mentioned until the epilogue, same for 50 Cent. Cube leaves N.W.A. for Public Enemy but there's no Chuck D, Flavor Flav, and so on. There was so much crazy drama with the early nineties hip-hop scene and this movie only scratches the surface, it makes me wish the movie had been a TV miniseries instead.

The worst omission, in my opinion, is handling Suge Knight with kid gloves. He's in the film, and he's certainly depicted as a ruthless gangster, but the elephant in the room is that neither the murder of Tupac Shakur or Biggie Smalls are even mentioned. In a weird way, the movie ends right before the time when the worst and most intense drama is just about to go down. It's strange that the film chooses Dre, Cube, and E to focus on entirely, relegating all of the other stuff to background material or sometimes not even mentioning it at all. It's almost like the movie is the prequel to a better, more intense film that isn't being made.

In any case, I suppose it's the sign of an excellent film that it can be almost three hours long and leave me feeling like it was too short and skipped too much material.

Rating

8

White people Redbox a movie about 90's hip-hop and watch at home so they can sing along and use the N-word.

Anomalisa

It's a shame that "Best Animated Feature Film" has essentially become "Best Children's Movie" because even though a movie like Anomalisa can be nominated, it cannot possibly win despite being a better film in every respect than its competition.

I loved Anomalisa, there's just something about Charlie Kaufman's work that resonates with me - I also love Being John Malkovich, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and even Adaptation more than most people I know of. They're some of my favorite movies of all time, I'm not sure any other individual writer is as overrepresented among my Top 50 as Kaufman.

When the movie was over, I just declared "I loved that" and my wife responded "really? I mean, it was fine... but you LOVED it?" and I responded "yes, want to watch it again right now?". Great movie.

Rating

10

Animated cynicism

Conclusions

What a complete departure from last year. Last year the two movies in the lead for Best Picture were Birdman and Boyhood, and I kind of wished that nobody would win and the award just wouldn't be given out. But this year when I saw the Best Picture nominees I was floored, I loved pretty much every movie on the list and would have been happy with pretty much any of them winning. 2015 was a really, really great year for film.

I liked seeing the Academy recognize genre movies like The Martian and Mad Max even though I knew they were unlikely to win. I think the Oscars would be better overall if they more often praised movies other than dramas based on historical people and events.

I think Crimson Peak should have gotten a nomination for Costume Design, Cinematography, and Production Design (which I also think it should have won).

Most of all, I think Ex Machina should have gotten more recognition. But for the most part, I really loved pretty much every film nominated for something, and felt that there were still even more films that could have been recognized. Only in the interest of brevity did I not mention Sicario, Inside Out, Cop Car, It Follows, The Gift, Bone Tomahawk, Z for Zachariah, Creed, Carol, The Danish Girl, and of course The Force Awakens. I can't remember the last year where so many great movies came out - I honestly wonder if, looking back, we'll one day view 2015 similarly to how we view 1939, 1967, 1977, 1982, 1994, and 1999 as some of the best years in movie history.

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