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Grumpy Northern Critic | Film of the Year + Oscars Predictions

Until diversity kicks in…
John Rushton 27th February, 2016 Grumpy Northern Critic
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Right off the bat I’m going to make it clear that I haven’t seen every film released ever. In this meandering article I’m going to take a little look at the year in film, and then pick out my top film of the year as well as look at my Oscar Predictions ­and if your favourite film from the Oscar window isn’t here, it could just be that I haven’t seen it, or that you’re wrong and have terrible taste in films. Only joking! Or am I? Who cares? Nobody, I expect.

My point, I suppose, is that I know there are some great films not on this short list, and if you feel I have made the oversight of the century in leaving something out, why not write it in the comments below? I definitely read them. Honest.

⚠ Careful now, there might be slight spoilers ahead. I’m not sure to be honest as I haven’t written the next bit yet, but just proceed with some caution. No need to worry about Star Wars spoilers though, as this article is about the the ‘best’ films, not the ‘pretty good, especially when compared to the abysmal Star Wars prequel trilogy’ films. ⚠
 

Faff Awards

Many awards ceremonies start off with faffy awards for films that were the best at doing one bit of being a film ­ so I’m having myself a slice of that action. Before I get to my top film, here is a short section on the films I deem deserving of my more minor awards.

First up is the Moffat Prize for sneaky sexism, and ​Jurassic World is all over that like an aggressive rash. The film led the way, for me, I’m sexist undertones into this year’s blockbuster scene. Thanks to ​Jurassic World kids everywhere can learn that ladies wear high heels (even when running from a T­Rex) and need a big strong Chris Pratt to fix their problems for them.

Spectre wins the Birdman prize for doing long continuous shots. We all see where your clever cuts were, Mendes, but it was a pretty cool way to open an otherwise largely naff affair. Another drab adventure where Bond kills a lot of innocent people and then has sex. Also, am I the only person getting fed up of Christoph Waltz? He always plays the same character in every film ­ just because he can learn lines and speak several languages doesn’t mean he’s a great actor.

The longest trailer ever award goes to “​Avengers: The Several Days of Ultron”. This was an absolutely aimless mess of a film that even broke the Nerd King, Joss Whedon. The flimsy excuse for a plot saw the Avengers unite again to fight some robots again and argue with each other again and then have space­bastard Thanos after the credits again. The whole affair was really just a lot of adverts for the next set of Marvel films,even including the next Avengers film. As far as trailers go it was cracking, but as a film it was maybe my biggest disappointment of the year.

The “why do people still give you money to make films?” award goes to the Wachowskis’ latest car crash, ​Jupiter Ascending. It’s hard to know where to start with it, as pretty much every component of the film is dreadful. From Mila Kunis not wanting to be there, to Eddie Redmayne’s bizarre ​SHOUT­​whispervillain to a plot that made less sense than putting Brett Ratner in charge of X­men 3. Not even Sean Bean could save this mess with his Beaning about (or bee­ing about, heh ­beecause he’s part bee in the film, you see). A close runner­up for this award was ​The Visit, directed by never-­ending shit­storm, M. Knight Shyamalan and close behind that was anything involving Adam Sandler 2015 wasn’t the best year for film to be honest, but there were some very good efforts (​Carol, ​Room, and ​Inside Out to name but three), however one of them stood astride the others like a deranged colossus…

Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller)

Strap yourself in for the maddest Mad Max film yet, a relentlessly gripping pile of nonsense that’s an all­action, non­stop festival of awesome, from the director of ​Babe and ​Happy Feet.

Welcome to a future where water has inexplicably become an incredibly scarce and valuable resource, yet everyone seems to have petrol coming out the wazoo, allowing for an assortment of insane gas­-guzzling vehicles used to bring good, old­fashioned carnage to the post­-apocalyptic Australian Outback. I got have been told that petrol is also meant to be scarce, but I really didn’t get that impression at all from the film ­ but if you’re wanting a film that makes a lick of sense, you’ve come to the wrong place. If, however, you’re wanting a film in which there’s a blind guy, strapped to the roof of a wagon and playing a guitar that sprays fire everywhere, then you’re in the right place. And, trust me,this is the right place.

There isn’t a huge amount going on by way of plot here. Some nasty bloke called Immortan Joe is oppressing the people he tyrannically governs (apparently by virtue of living high up, wearing a way cooler Bane mask than Bane did, and shouting a lot about stuff), so a group of abused women decide to escape by driving off into the desert. The baddies chase them for a bit, and then they all turn around and go back. And that’s pretty much it. But who needs plot when you’ve got the fire guitar guy? The film stars Charlise Theron as Furiosa, a high­ranking, bad­ass, robot-­armed warrior who risks everything to try protect the women Joe has selected to be forced to breed with him. The film also features Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky, a man who is also there for most of this, mumbling in a largely Australian accent. Hardy replaces Mel Gibson, the star of the first three films who has gone too actually mad to carry on in the role. If you haven’t seen the other three films, don’t worry about coming to this one fresh and being confused. I had seen the originals, a couple of times, and I still had no idea what was going on, so we’re all in the same baffling boat here. But it’s a boat with a truck­surfing man playing a fire­jetting electric guitar, so get on board. Seriously.

A huge amount of credit has to go to director/producer/writer George Miller here, who not only had the perseverance to drag this film through something of a development hell (Fury Road had been in pre­-production since 1997), but also for having the vision to shoot the film with minimal CGI. Instead, Miller opted for some of the most audacious practical effects in cinema history, alongside jaw­-dropping stunts, put together by Second Unit Director and Stunt Coordinator, Guy Norris, who utilized Olympic athletes and circus acrobats in his 150­strong stunt team. The film is a visual feast, often funny and always gripping. In terms of its set pieces, Fury Road blew its competition out of the water. ​Avengers? ​Spectre? ​Pixels? (Hahaha, ​Pixels…) Mediocre! ­ as Immortan Joe himself might bellow, as he bellowed at his lackies who failed to successfully pole vault from one high speed vehicle to another. Hugh Keays ­Byrne deserves note for bringing Joe to life. The performance goes beyond scenery­-chewing, to the degree that he’s worked his jaw on most of the equipment too, and is probably now gnawing on some poor crew member’s leg. Mad Max: Fury Road is a real accomplishment for all involved, and will rightfully take its place as one of the greatest action films ever made. You probably won’t know what’s going on, but you almost certainly won’t care. Did I mention that there’s a man surfing on a truck with a flaming guitar?

But can ​Fury Road challenge for the serious awards? Well here are my predictions, most of which I guess I’ll be wrong about…
 

Oscar Predictions

Best Picture

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

It’s a tough one, but my instincts say that Room can pull off a shock win here. The Revenant, The Big Short and Spotlight could all claim the top gong.

Of course, we all know Fury Road *should* win, but it won’t.
 

Best Director

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

Another very close category. I would give this to Abrahamson for Room, but all five would be worthy winners ­ however Iñárritu just seems to have that buzz.

 

Best Actor

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

I would 100% give this award to Cranston for his transformative portrayal of Dalton Trumbo, but this is nailed on for Di Caprio, they just need to give him this award before he hurts himself. I honestly think his is the least deserving performance on the list, and I’ve seen way better than this from him. It’s just rolling about in some snow grunting.

 

Best Actress

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

An easier category in many ways, as Larson’s performance in Room earned her deserving and universal acclaim. She should win and will win.

 

Best Supporting Actor

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

Mumble, mumble, mumble, mumble. Stallone is the best mumbler on this list of mumblers, so he’ll mumble.

 

Best Supporting Actress

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

Carol was one of the films of the year, and for me Rooney Mara’s performance was one of its strongest elements. There is strong competition from Winslet and Vikander, but I think Adams will claim this gong.

So those are my main predictions for this year’s awards, if you’re interested then you can read on and see my predictions for every category (and I mean every category). Enjoy!

 

Best Original Screenplay

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

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

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

 

Best Foreign Film

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

 

Best Documentary Feature

Amy
• Cartel Land
• The Look of Silence
• What Happened, Miss Simone?
• Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

 

Best Animated Feature

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

 

Best Film Editing

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

 

Best Song

• Fifty Shades of Grey
• Racing Extinction
Spectre
• The Hunting Ground
• Youth

 

Best Original Score

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

 

Best Digital Effects

• Ex Machina
• The Martian
• The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

Best Cinematography

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

 

Best Costume Design

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

 

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road
• The 100­ Year­ Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
• The Revenant

 

Best Production Design

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

 

Best Sound Editing

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

 

Best Sound Mixing

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

 

Best Short Film, Live Action

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

 

Best Short Film, Animated

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

 

Best Documentary Short Subject


Body Team 12
• Chau, Beyond the Lines
• Claude Lanzmann
• A Girl in the River
• Last Day of Freedom

 

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