31 December 2015

The Very Best of 2015.



TOP TEN:

1 BY THE SEA/CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
Passionate, polyglot observations of the processes we set up for ourselves. We are unexceptional rocks; the beauty comes from what is revealed in the collisions of living, and loving, and engaging in amateur pharmacology, and exorcising the legacy of lovers past, and finding the way back to ourselves. Finding that victory, that pure sense of creation, and accomplishment, is a terrifying and amazing journey that goes through the weird shit. I clutch these films to my chest; there is always a way through whatever lies before us.

2 MAD MAX FURY ROAD
Everything people have been saying is true. A grand new myth for the coming horrors of our collective annihilation. Creates and passes the DodecaBechdel Test as well.

3 PHOENIX/SAINT LAURENT
A hall of elegant mirrors, where the wearing of clothes and the telling of tales seeks to hammer in place a vision of a life composed of moments, memories. Let's dig deep and get at the Who. Let's swandive into the shadows and see what we can find.

4 CAROL
Aesthetically flawless, semiotically charged, and filled, ultimately, with a fierce hope. When Carol Aird says “We are not ugly people,” it's the cinematic moment of the year. But in the actual world outside, in 2015, what with the Trumpery and the Tennessee state legislature, maybe that's not the case anymore. An immaculate jewel.

5 THE ASSASSIN/THE HATEFUL EIGHT/LI'L QUINQUIN
How is it that we psychotic apes have managed to survive as long as we have? The land itself bears the scent of our sickness, with blood spilled clinging to us like an unremovable shroud that tangles the knees and clouds the will to try and do better. Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from vomiting in terror. Sometimes you have to stay the course of the procedural to keep from slipping off the rails and into the abyss. Upholding expectations is not, however, an inherently moral act. And that awareness defines us.

6 MAGIC MIKE XXL
A utopian vision of egalitarian, pleasure-driven lives where the primary commodity is joy, not money, and smiles and orgasms are how a good day are properly measured.

7 THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY/TOM AT THE FARM
Gloriously surreal maps of human desire, bound in exterior, 'other' spaces. Humor and horror only a heartbeat away at any given moment.

8 ARABIAN NIGHTS/CHI-RAQ/HARD TO BE A GOD/THE TRIBE
How does one actually forge a community? Is what we perceive as civilization a starting point, a hard-won but tenuous victory, a delusional pipe dream, or a hiccup on the metaphorical road to something else?

9 JUPITER ASCENDING/STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
Joyful intergalactic romps that reexamine (and in some cases gleefully explode) the structures that keep our imaginations (and selves) locked in a tiny corner of ignorant space. Mapping desires onto new bodies, new stars, and offering the widest continuua of enjoyment.

10 INSIDE OUT/LOVE 3D/THE MEND
Messy, maddening, meaningful visions of the heart and soul in crisis. The ritual brings catharsis. Sadness and helplessness fuels adaptation and evolution.

BEST DIRECTOR:

Bertrand Bonello (Saint Laurent)
Guillermo Del Toro (Crimson Peak)
Xavier Dolan (Tom At The Farm)
Fabrice Du Welz (Alleluia)
Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights)
Todd Haynes (Carol)
Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson (The Forbidden Room)
George Miller (Mad Max Fury Road)
Gaspar Noe (Love)
Angelina Jolie Pitt (By The Sea)
Sam Taylor-Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (Jupiter Ascending)

BEST ACTOR:

Matt Damon (The Martian)
Benicio Del Toro (Sicario)
Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies)
Stephen Plunkett (The Mend)
Bernard Pruvost (Lil' Quinquin)
Gaspard Ulliel (Saint Laurent)
Leonid Yarmolnik (Hard to be a God)

BEST ACTRESS:

Cate Blanchett (Carol)
Luisa Cruz (Arabian Nights Volume 2: The Desolate One)
Anne Dorval (Mommy)
Lola Duenas (Alleluia)
Amy Everson (Felt)
Nina Hoss (Phoenix)
Rinko Kikuchi (Kumiko The Treasure Hunter)
Lola Kirke (Mistress America)
Teyonah Parris (Chi-Raq)
Charlize Theron (Mad Max Fury Road)
Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina)
Arielle Walker (Heaven Knows What)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

Louis Garrel (Saint Laurent)
Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)
James Marsden (The D Train)
Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton)
Michael Pena (Ant-Man)
Colin Quinn (Trainwreck)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Steve Jobs)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak)
Deanna Dunagan (The Visit)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Anomalisa)
Julianne Moore (Maps to the Stars)
Jada Pinkett (Magic Mike XXL)
Kristen Stewart (American Ultra)
Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria)
Mickey Sumner (The Mend)
Mya Taylor (Tangerine)
Tessa Thompson (Creed)
Katherine Waterston (Queen of Earth)


BEST SCREENPLAY:

Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria)
Bruno Dumont (Lil' Quinquin)
Joel Edgerton (The Gift)
Rick Famuyiwa (Dope)
Drew Goddard (The Martian)
Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa)
Max Landis (American Ultra)
John Magary (The Mend)
Phyllis Nagy (Carol)
Abderrahmane Sissako and Kessen Tall (Timbuktu)
Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight)


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

Peter Andrews (Magic Mike XXL)
Sean Baker and Radium Cheung (Tangerine)
Christian Berger (By The Sea)
Roger Deakins (Sicario)
Josee Deshaies (Saint Laurent)
Stuart Dryburgh (Blackhat)
Erdely Matyas (Son of Saul)
Vladimir Ilin and Yuriy Klimenko (Hard to be a God)
Alwin Kuchler (Steve Jobs)
Dan Laustsen (Crimson Peak)
Mark Lee Ping-Bin (The Assassin)
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
John Mathieson and Seamus McGarvey (Pan)
Sayombhu Mukdeeprom (Arabian Nights)
Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight)


BEST 3D:

In the Heart of The Sea
Jupiter Ascending
Love
The Martian
Pan
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension
Point Break
The Spongebob Squarepants Movie
The Walk

BEST EDITING:

Clouds of Sils Maria
The Gift
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Last Shift
Love
Mad Max Fury Road
Saint Laurent

BEST COSTUMES:

Crimson Peak
Eden
Jupiter Ascending
Love
Saint Laurent
Tangerine

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:

Crimson Peak
Hard To Be A God
Jupiter Ascending
Mad Max Fury Road
The Martian
The Night Before
The Revenant
Saint Laurent

BEST DOCUMENTARY:

Amy
Approaching the Elephant
The Black Panthers: Vanguard of The Revolution
The Creeping Garden
Don't Think I've Forgotten
In Jackson Heights
The Look of Silence

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Chappie
Ex Machina
The Last Witch Hunter
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

“The Final Derriere” (The Forbidden Room)
“Flashlight” (Pitch Perfect 2)
“Grip” (Creed)
“Love Me Like You Do” (Fifty Shades of Grey)
“Mean Ol' Moon” (Ted 2)
“None of Them are You” (Anomalisa)

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

Alleluia
By The Sea
Carol
The Creeping Garden
The Duke of Burgundy
For The Plasma
Girlhood
The Hateful Eight
It Follows
Mad Max Fury Road
Maps To The Stars
The Revenant


BEST RESTORATION:

The American Friend
Until The End of The World
Rocco and His Brothers
The Decline of Western Civilization Trilogy
The Swimmer
Out 1
The Miracle Woman
The Apu Trilogy
Apocalypse Now


BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai
Alleluia
Arabian Nights
Eden
Girlhood
Hard to Be a God
Lil' Quinquin
Saint Laurent
Timbuktu
Tom at The Farm
The Tribe

BEST SUPPORTED ACTOR:

Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation)
Louis Garrel (Saint Laurent)
Tom Hardy (Mad Max Fury Road)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Olafur Darri Olafsson (The Last Witch Hunter)
Michael Pena (Ant-Man)
Stephen Plunkett (The Mend)
James Ransone (Sinister 2)
Clemens Schick (Point Break)
Michael Stuhlbarg (Steve Jobs)


WORST PICTURE:

Black Mass
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
The Lazarus Effect
Seventh Son
Stonewall
Terminator: Genisys



SONGS OF THE YEAR: 2015

1 Brandon Flowers/Lonely Town
2 Carly Rae Jepsen/Your Type
3 Sparks/The Final Derriere
4 Chvrches/Clearest Blue
5 The Weeknd/The Hills
6 Madonna/Ghost Town
7 Sufjan Stevens/John My Beloved
8 Ryan Adams/Style
9 Jidenna/Classic Man
10 New Order/Plastic
11 Chromatics/Yes (Symmetry Remix)
12 Adele/Hello (NOLA Bounce Mix)
13 JR Castro/Get Home
14 One Direction/Perfect
15 Jeremih/Royalty
16 Hailee Steinfeld/Flashlight (Math Club Remix)
17 Jonny Telafone/The Prayer
18 Prince/Screwdriver
19 J. Cole/Wet Dreamz
20 Taylor Swift/New Romantics



ALBUMS OF THE YEAR: 2015

1 Carly Rae Jepsen/E MO TION
2 Chvrches/Every Open Eye
3 Sufjan Stevens/Carrie and Lowell
4 The Weeknd/Beauty Behind The Madness
5 Shamir/Ratchet
6 (tie) Robyn & La Bagatelle Magique/Love is Free EP
Susanne Sundfor/Ten Love Songs
7 Trickfinger
8 New Order/Music Complete
9 Giorgio Moroder/Deja Vu
10 Grimes/Art Angels


TV OF THE YEAR: 2015
(in alphabetical order)

Broad City
Community
Difficult People
Grace and Frankie
Hannibal
Inside Amy Schumer
Key and Peele
Nathan for You
Penny Dreadful
Review
Rick and Morty
Sense8

24 December 2015

At the movies: The Hateful Eight.

I have no idea how the public is going to react to this movie.

What's the best way to see the new Star Wars picture in Middle Tennessee?

In another of my expedition pieces (see also the last Paranormal Activity film), I decided to see The Force Awakens in the formats it is available to be seen in locally and compare them. The resulting sixteen hundred word blurt is available for you to investigate.

At the movies: Out 1.

I got to write about Out 1. Which is, and was, a daunting task.

At the movies: By The Sea.

If you missed seeing Angelina Jolie Pitt's third film as director, By The Sea, during its tragically abbreviated theatrical run, then let this missive serve to pique your interest until it surfaces in a home media format. It's an exceptional film that got shit on by lots of folk, and that's a damn shame.

10 November 2015

Talking with Great Artists: Guy Maddin and Geoff Tate.

I've been fortunate as of late, being able to talk to artists whom I think help enrich the world. For instance, I've gotten to talk with both filmmaker Guy Maddin and comedian Geoff Tate. These are two of the funniest people alive, though they express it rather differently. Have a read, why don't you, and experience their world...

24 October 2015

An Overview of the Fifty-Third New York Film Festival.

As I've done for every year since 2002, I went to this year's New York Film Festival. Here's my thoughts on a lot of what I saw (In my ten days in Manhattan, I saw twenty-six features and eighteen shorts.)

Why is it so hard to see Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension?

Nashville, my home base, is one of the cities affected by the current disagreement between Paramount Pictures and a few like-minded exhibitors (Regal, Carmike, Cinemark). So I decided to investigate, as well as see and review the latest (supposedly the last) in the Paranormal Activity series.

15 October 2015

At the movies: Crimson Peak.

I love a good Gothic tale of murder most foul, and Crimson Peak certainly has that. It's an astonishing achievement, and I recommend it highly. How highly, you ask? Read on...

Famous People Talked at Me: Steven Spielberg.

A fun condensation of the post-premiere Q&A that Steven Spielberg gave at this year's New York Film Festival. You know me, camera theory wins many battles.

14 October 2015

The Decline of Western Civilization 2 and Wes Craven's New Nightmare.

 I am fortunate to have an outlet for publication that will follow me into some weird-ass places. Thus, you have this number, wherein I discuss how you could spend one night at the same theatre watching both Wes Craven's New Nightmare and The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years. Just give it a read- I have a theory and such.

Famous People talked with me: Robert Zemeckis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

A fun condensation of The Walk's press conference from this year's New York Film Festival. I dug the film a lot, though it had too much voiceover and I spent the last fifty minutes in twitchy nervous unease.

18 September 2015

Famous People Talked to Me: Katya Zamolodchikova.

It's no secret that I was Team Katya on Season Seven of Drag Race. So I was quite happy to be interviewing her. Give it a filthy read, won't you?

At the movies: Queen of Earth.

If you wanna take a bunch of acid and get real with it at the movies, this is a pretty good choice.

At the movies: The Visit.

Sometimes a film just has the ability to get into your sense of self and start jiggling things around. The Visit does that.

At the movies: Phoenix.

Phoenix is an exceptional film that I have gotten in a lot of disagreements regarding. I advise anyone interested in film and history to check it out.

At the movies: Tangerine.

A unique film with a lot to say.

At the movies: Eden.

Eden hit me in a lot of different ways and a lot of different waves. It's one of the best movies about dance music and DJing yet made, and it haunts your soul like the best of classic ghost stories.

24 July 2015

At the movies: Trainwreck.

Amy Schumer has made a great movie. And yes, Bridget Everett is along to spice things up, gloriously.

At the movies: Ant-Man.


Paul Rudd is Ant-Man. Peyton Reed does a good job, but we're all a little disappointed that we couldn't see the full-on Edgar Wright vision.

A Tribute to a dear friend.

The landscape of Nashville dance music culture changed irrevocably recently with Ron Slomowicz's move to Chicago. Having known him for what seems like an eternity (actually, since 1991), I talked to him for the Nashville Scene about his time here, the changing perception of the GLBT community, and landmarks devoured by progress. Take a look, if you will.

10 July 2015

At the movies: The Gallows.

I talk a lot about movies. Often I write that way as well. So occasionally, I like to try and Dogme things up a bit, and use an exacting word count to try and distill my thoughts on a film to the bone. So for this particular film, my editor and I agreed on 100 words. What do you think?

20 June 2015

At the movies: Saint Laurent.


The best movie in town currently is this. It has lots of sex, uncompromising nudity, drug use, cute dogs, hot guys, gorgeous women, amazing clothes, seductive music, and a heap of amazing acting. It's artsy, unafraid, and essential viewing.


Bianca Del Rio's Rolodex of Hate.

I had the opportunity to write about Bianca Del Rio's Rolodex of Hate tour before her Nashville appearance. It was everything you might expect- pure filth from beginning to end, and more than enough material to make you feel guilty as well as entertained. The T was spilled, and shots were given to the truly offended. If you enjoy RPDR, it's well worth your time for a glimpse behind the curtains.

09 June 2015

At the movies: Insidious Chapter 3.

It's back.The little horror franchise that could keeps thwarting expectations (especially after that dumb shit in the second one), and I'll happily proclaim this chapter the best in the series. It's a prequel, which is fine, because the Lambert family's story is not quite as interesting as Elise Rainier and the Spectral Sightings boys. Truthfully, I'd like to see the series focusing on them, either theatrically or on one of those subscription-based networks that have yet to find the right kind of serialized horror (no offense to Hemlock Grove, whose first season is a fun mess and whose second season is actually good, like a real TV show).

20 May 2015

At the movies: Clouds of Sils Maria.

One of the best films I've seen in ages. So much going on about identity and persona and the escape and prison of the theatre versus film. It gets exponentially better with each subsequent viewing, and it was damn masterful on the first viewing. Do not miss this.

At the movies: Avengers: Age of Ultron.


At the movies: Unfriended.


This is a ghoulish and emotionally brutal film that I can't help but recommend. Whether in a decently packed theatre or alone, on a laptop with headphones, it will get into your places of security and shred them. 

05 April 2015

At the movies: Furious Seven.

This was a difficult film to write about. For a lot of reasons. But I think I got at what didn't work, as well as how difficult the circumstances under which the film was made and finished were.

06 March 2015

At the movies: Maps to the Stars.

A new Cronenberg film is always a sign to rejoice. And this one is a humdinger, to be sure. Violent, moody, offputting, and relentless and bereft of pity- this is something very special indeed.

01 January 2015

My Very own Superlatives in Film of 2014 List.

Well, 2014 was definitely something. It was a great year for movies and a pretty terrible one for human rights, social issues, and American decency. So I come to the annual ritual of putting a year end film summation together, and I find that it's more fun and liberating to do this thing the way I want to.

I've already voted in Indiewire's 2014 poll and for SEFCA, my Critics' Guild. I'm thinking of making my ballots for those public, just so you can see how mercurial my sense of things are in how things have changed from one list to the next.

My dream in life is to have my own awards show for film. I am just as legitimate (if not moreso) than the Golden Globes people, and I'll challenge any of them on their theory and genre background just to prove a point. But my awards show would be awesome. Winners would receive a classy statuette of a film reel and a hard drive in a tasteful yet provocative embrace, as well as a vintage bottle of Shawhan family bourbon (see above photo). I would call these awards the Andys, after my deceased paternal grandfather, whose tendency to have a couple of Manhattans and go to bed early when I would stay with him in Ohio during Junior High summers led me, through HBO and Cinemax, to discover a whole new world of film and a means by which to understand aesthetics. They could just as easily be named after my maternal grandparents, whose home my mother and I lived in for awhile, and who had a satellite dish. Once again, there was a reach that let me explore the world of film in all sorts of varieties.

I never talked about film, really, with any of those grandparents. I went to movies with them, but we never really discussed them as an art form (something that I am continuously grateful my parents and I can and do). But it is thanks to them that the cinema I take joy in spans impenetrable art trudges, trashy horror knock-offs, psychedelic freakouts, and hard-hitting melodrama. My love for them and my love for film are of a piece- an unreasonable, inexhaustible fact that defines how I aim to shape discourse with the world.

After I got long-quoted by moviecitynews.com regarding my process for assembling a Top Ten list, I had a dark moment where I reread what I wrote and thought I sounded like a crazy person. Some readers may agree. But I stand by my processes, because maybe that strikes a strong reaction (whether positive or negative) in you. What makes a critic useful is insight first and foremost, but also an ongoing act of aesthetic calibration. Growing up, the premier voice in film criticism for me was Joe Bob Briggs. But the things I like are not exactly or necessarily his. I swear by Carol Clover and Vera Dika, but their aesthetics are not absolute when it comes to mine. As you read more critics, you figure out where your interests line up and where they scatter, and the best course of action is to read more critics. Spend some time with b. ruby rich and Chas. Balun, with J. Hoberman and David Schmader, with Glenn Kenny and Nicole Brenez, with Robin Wood and Chuck Stephens. And you know what, maybe I can help with that process too. It's why I do what I do.

So let's talk about 2014 in Film. And then we'll get to the nominations for this year's Andys.



MY 'TOP TEN':

1 INHERENT VICE (Paul Thomas ANDERSON)/YOU AND THE NIGHT (Yann GONZALEZ)
A libertine hero of strong character drifts through a mysterious underworld of conspiracies, half-truths, and fantasies while attempting to set right a fissure between devoted lovers. A deeply moving pair, with Anderson's '70s Los Angeles and Gonzalez's out-of-time French netherworld both casting a haunting spell that ends not with pat resolution but a vital call to withstand moral crisis. Hazy, druggy epics about the labyrinth of the Internal with exquisite musical choices and a tactile sense- a scent, a touch on the neck- that reaches beyond the screen.

2 ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (Jim JARMUSCH)
Possibly a requiem for humanity, but a soothing and beautiful one. Care and curate both derive from the same Latin word, and it's not hard to imagine that long after the majority of humanity is gone, that Eve and Adam will remember us much more kindly than we deserved. Would that the two could have a spin-off film with Benicio Del Toro's Guardians of the Galaxy Collector- the very thrill of it.

3 THE GUEST (Adam WINGARD)
After four viewings, I more and more am thinking this lean bruiser of a flick could be the best film about post-9/11 America to come along in the past decade. 'David' wants us to be happy and safe, and valued. But corporate concerns and national security have rendered him incapable of pursuing his more altruistic and genial interests past a certain point, so it all ends in orange and green and so much red. Also, one of the best and most nuanced portraits of a High School kid who's just a bit different but not capable of giving it a name just yet. “Because you're my friend, aren't you?”

4 GONE GIRL (David FINCHER)
A glorious, Verhoevian rollercoaster for misanthropes. Watching this movie in a drive in was the kind of surreally comic madness that makes life worth living, and I treasure each of its fucked up turns. I've been a Fincher supporter since Alien3, even when the studio cut of that film was the only extant version. He's doing his thing, and the mirror is the method.

5 THE BOOK OF LIFE (Jorge GUTIEREZ)/THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY'S TEARS (Helene CATTET/Bruno FORZANI)
Meticulous design taken to opposite extremes. The Book of Life's overwhelming character design is reflective of how much effort went into creating these characters on the page as well, with remarkable awareness of gender issues and the interplay of friendships and families. So much color, so much joy, and provocative and joyful cosmology! Cattet and Forzani continue to explore the serrate edge of stylized hommage, with their psilocybin love letter to the baroque insanities of Italian gialli eschewing nuance and character, instead diving into near-complete abstraction of psychosexual terror. I would love to introduce the two Belgians to Gutierez- I think if they blended their strengths they could make something that no one has ever seen before.

6 ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Catherine BREILLAT)/CHEAP THRILLS (E.L. KATZ)/VIC + FLO SAW A BEAR (Denis COTE)
To call these films inspirational dramas could be considered misleading, but each involves the circumstances of overcoming very specific adversities. It is that specificity that keeps these achievements from being seen on the level of sports stories and traditional biopics, and it's a damned shame. Each is completely honest, and defiantly true to its characters. No allegiance to form or expectation. No coddling of alpha male fantasies or shoring up tired old white legacies.

7 WE ARE THE BEST! (Lukas MOODYSSON)
I have a tradition of giving a copy of Ul de Rico's The Rainbow Goblins as a gift when friends have children. I shall add this film to that tradition, to be given on the twelfth birthday.

8 THE BABADOOK (Jennifer KENT)/THE DANCE OF REALITY (Alejandro JODOROWSKY)/NOAH (Darren ARONOFSKY)/OCULUS (Mike FLANAGAN)
There were no better portraits of family in crisis than these. Brutal and uncompromising, with the slightest bits of hope serving as hard-won victories.

9 THE IMMIGRANT (James GRAY)/THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA (TAKAHATA Isao)/UNDER THE SKIN (Jonathan GLAZER)
The Other enters a previously closed system, with a driving curiosity and her own goals for finding a place in the throng of humanity. But the graciousness and cruelties of others render this impossible, as plans collapse and chaos rises. The system remains closed. Memory fades. And darkness eventually falls on the face of the Earth.

10 THE HOMESMAN (Tommy Lee JONES)/A MOST VIOLENT YEAR (J.C. CHANDOR)
What makes a person noble? Or a crook? It's always some form of inexorable exterior force that gets into the soul and clarifies who someone really is. But here, in these films, it's all about the process. Some would call this pair cold and distant, but that's merely because they aren't interested in engaging the viewer's usual signifiers for personal evolution. Jones' hallucinatory Western and Chandor's deliberate and measured crime drama are interested in the way that women define the spaces around them, and how they are in turn defined. There is a pragmatism that flourishes under immense stress, yielding unconventional strength, and an unwillingness to put up with traditional forms of bullshit.


A few others I deem worthy of love, in alphabetical order:
THE AMAZING CATFISH
DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
THE LEGO MOVIE
LUCY
MALEFICENT
NYMPH()MANIAC
STRANGER BY THE LAKE
WHY DON'T YOU PLAY IN HELL?



So here are the nominees for the 2015 Andys. I will announce the winners at some point between the Golden Globes and the Oscars. But seriously, look at these nominees and tell me my awards show wouldn't be more interesting?



BEST ACTOR:
Vicenç Altaió (Story of my Death)
Jesse Eisenberg (Night Moves)
Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Joaquin Phoenix (The Immigrant, Inherent Vice)
Andy Serkis (Dawn of the Planet of The Apes)
Dan Stevens (The Guest)


BEST ACTRESS:
Essie Davis (The Babadook)
Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin)
Carla Juri (Wetlands)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Pierette Robitaille (Vic + Flo Saw a Bear)
Hilary Swank (The Homesman)
Robin Wright (The Congress)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:
Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler)
Albert Brooks (A Most Violent Year)
Gene Jones (The Sacrament)
Nicolas Maury (You and The Night)
Brendan Meyer (The Guest)
Edward Norton (Birdman)


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
Hong Chau (Inherent Vice)
Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)
Rosario Dawson (Top Five)
Uma Thurman (Nymphomaniac)


BEST DOCUMENTARY:
Citizenfour
The Go-Go Boys
Happy Valley
Harmontown
Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait
Tim's Vermeer


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
The Amazing Catfish
The Guest
The Immigrant
Inherent Vice
The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears
Under The Skin


TOP 13 DIRECTORS (in Alphabetical order):
Darren Aronofsky (Noah)
Catherine Breillat (Abuse of Weakness)
Denis Cote (Vic + Flo saw a Bear)
David Fincher (Gone Girl)
Jonathan Glazer (Under The Skin)
Alain Guiraudie (Stranger by the Lake)
James Gray (The Immigrant)
James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive)
Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Dance of Reality)
Takahata Isao (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya)
Lars von Trier (Nymphomaniac)
Ramon Zenker (The Strange Little Cat)

I tried and tried and tried to get hierarchical about this category, but I can't. In a just world, I could give each of them a tasteful statuette and a vintage bottle of the family bourbon. So let's just say that if I am ever tried in cinematic court, I hope these fine filmmakers are the jury (and alternate) who decide my fate.


BEST EDITING:
Bird People
Edge of Tomorrow
The Guest
Night Moves
Oculus
The Strange Little Cat

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:
Jeff Grace (Cold in July)
Mica Levi (Under the Skin)
m83 (You and The Night)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Gone Girl)
Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
Cheap Thrills
Coherence
Dear White People
Test
Why Don't You Play In Hell?
You and The Night

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
Cold in July
Guardians of the Galaxy
Inherent Vice
Muppets Most Wanted
Oculus
We Are The Best!


BEST COSTUME DESIGN:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Incompresa
Inherent Vice
Lucy
Nymphomaniac
You and The Night


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN:
As Above So Below
The Babadook
The Dance of Reality
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of The Galaxy
The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:
Devil's Due
Godzilla
Guardians of The Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies
Interstellar
Noah


BEST ANIMATED FILM:
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Congress
How To Train Your Dragon 2
The Lego Movie
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

BEST 3D:
Dawn of The Planet of The Apes
Deepsea Challenge
Exodus: Gods and Kings
The Hobbit: The Battle of The Five Armies
Nurse
Step Up All In


WORST FILMS OF 2014
1) Sabotage
2) 7500
3) The Adventures of Hercules
4) Ouija
5) Need for Speed
6) Annabelle
7) Congratulations!
8) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
9) Almost Human
10) Jauja
A few other haterations...

Dracula Untold wasn't very good, but it was definitely better than I expected (namely an excellent CG disintegration and unfiltered Sarah Gadon). Birdman and Whiplash both had some great performances and definite amped-up macho energy, but I didn't much enjoy either of them. Whiplash is the kind of movie that will let sociopathic assholes think they're helping people by being horrible, and Birdman is the most incoherent film I've seen since The Dark Knight Rises. What exactly is Birdman about, really? It deals with masculine crisis, sure, and it's about trying to make a stand for art, sort of, and it may all be the timelooped ramblings of an action star who has lost his mind. But there's no there there, barring a great Edward Norton turn that riffs off his poison reputation. Also, The Imitation Game is pretty insidious- designed to impress contemporary viewers with Alan Turing's achievements while completely underplaying the fact that he was persecuted and hounded to suicide by the government he helped save from the Nazis because of his homosexuality. As with Whiplash and Birdman, the acting is great, the films are handsomely made, and you feel empty and icky when they're over.