It’s that time of year, Willionaire$! And this means you basically have only one more day to catch-up on some of your 2015 releases. We turn to our panel of Writers here at Mr. Will Wong and ask them which Films were their year’s best and here’s what they had to say!
2. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. The Revenant
6. The Diary of a Teenage Girl
9. Inside Out
10. Me, Earl and the Dying Girl
Brooklyn is perfect. It took me on the journey the main character was taking in a flawless and effortlessly beautiful way. This is the must see Film of the year. Mad Max: Fury Road takes the title for best Blockbuster of the year! Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara both deliver career bests in Carol. Everything about The Revenant is perfect and it should be nominated for everything. The Diary of a Teenage Girl is one of few Films I have seen that correctly depict what goes on in a teenage girl’s mind and life. Meanwhile, Room is the first Film that made me cry in years.
Duke of Burgundy
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Straight Outta Compton
Whittling down my favourites of 2015 was a harrowing task, hence I have not listed these in any particular order.
Two of my top two Docs for 2015 were Kriby Dick‘s The Hunting Ground about rape culture on American college campuses, and Jennifer Peedom‘s beautifully shot Sherpa, about the people who make climbing Mount Everest possible.
If you saw Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight then Chilean Director Pablo Larrain‘s The Club is a must see companion piece. On the opposite end spectrum is the Studio Ghibli Film When Marnie Was There – a Movie that moved me beyond tears to ugly sobbing mess.
1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
4. Me, Earl and the Dying Girl
6. Mad Max: Fury Road
7. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt. II
8. Steve Jobs
9. Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie
10. Jupiter Ascending
Jupiter Ascending proved early on that my love for Sci-Fi would be rewarded throughout the year. Ghost in the Shell’s new Movie was one such reward, whereas Steve Jobs was a reward all its own. The Hunger Games and Mad Max’s fourth installments both portrayed a future of women warriors, while elsewhere I watched men of yesteryear die atop Mt. Everest. Speaking of death, Me, Earl and the Dying Girl portrayed its complexities beautifully. Spectre added to Bond’s body count, and quickly became my favourite Film in the franchise. Chappie debated sentience with an ultra-nuanced aesthetic, and then there was… Star Wars. The Force Awakens, an episode equal to its ancestors, and without question my favourite Film of the year.
2. Son of Saul
3. The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet
5. James White
6. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
7. The Last 5 Years
8. The Danish Girl
Room is a perfect Movie. Two perfect performances. I cannot wait to watch and savour it again and again. The horrors are too real, the ideologies too obscene, the inhumanities too incomprehensible for me to fathom in Son of Saul. I can’t even write about this Movie anymore as it takes me to dark and painful places, as my mother was an Auschwitz survivor, but I am forever grateful for having seen it. Under-seen The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet seamlessly takes every emotional element that makes a Movie a classic and puts an inimitable spin on it. The best performance from Helena Bonham Carter in years. Christopher Abbott, in the title role as JAMES WHITE, gives the bravest performance I have experienced in a long time. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was beautiful, original and has the grip of a pitbull. Alicia Vikander is purely commanding in both The Danish Girl and Ex_Machina. Distinctly different roles, both expertly-executed.
5. The Hateful Eight
6. Mad Max: Fury Road
8. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
10. What We Do In The Shadows
Charlie Kaufman’s absolutely heartbreaking Animated Film was one of my favourite Movies at both TIFF ’15 and 2015 on the whole. The Film looks deep into the soul of its audience and breaks down walls, exposing human nature in its most vulnerable form. I was absolutely blown away by how incredible Brooklyn is. Saoirse Ronan was beyond remarkable. Creed really came out of nowhere to be one of my favourites of the year. Michael B. Jordan took-on the daunting task of taking the reins from Sylvester Stallone and does a remarkable job. Ex_Machina is truly an incredible Film that should be viewed by the masses, and made me a fan of Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander. The Hateful Eight is a welcome return to form for Quentin Tarantino – in my opinion his third strongest Film behind Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Spotlight is a story that needed to be exposed about the truly horrific acts that have occurred within the Catholic Church and frontrunner for Best Picture.
1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
4. Inside Out
5. The Lobster
6. Mad Max: Fury Road
7. The Martian
8. The Revenant
10. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
While we will casually remember 2015 as the year Star Wars roared back into theatres, I will remember it as the year powered by nostalgia. Everything old was new again and ideas that would have sounded ludicrous five years ago, suddenly became the Movies everyone was dying to see. So much of what I saw this year blasted past my expectations, and the stuff that missed the mark really had no chance of keeping up. Here’s hoping 2016 has just as much creativity, imagination and wildly entertaining Movies for us to enjoy!
7. Straight Outta Compton
8. The Danish Girl
9. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
10. Miss You Already
After catching wind of it filming in Toronto last winter, I had no idea that Room what would go-on to be my favourite Film of 2015. I’ve always championed Brie Larson and am glad the rest of the world got to witness the year’s greatest breakthrough performance in the Film. I am enamoured with child actor Jacob Tremblay‘s work here and won’t be surprised if the nine-year-old gets a Supporting Actor nod.
It truly was the year of Cate Blanchett, gifting us with two phenomenal portraits in both Truth and Carol, both I feel are criminally under-seen by moviegoers. I still am mesmerized and affected by Amy Schumer‘s phenomenal semi-autobiographical work in Trainwreck (also starring Brie Larson!) and I am still obsessed with Tilda Swinton‘s unrecognizable transformation!
What makes Straight Outta Compton so impressive is that it was released earlier in the year and still it stands on its own merit. And Miss You Already resonated with me emotionally myself as a Cancer survivor – regardless how unfashionable it is to choose a Chick Flick in my Top Ten. Truly impactful and under-seen performances from Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore.
And because we love Pop Culture on all fronts, a recognition of our favourite Pop Music this year:
1. Lean On – Major Lazer + DJ Snake ft. MØ
2. Hello – Adele
3. Uptown Funk! – Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
4. Fight Song – Rachel Platten
5. Bright – Echosmith
6. One Last Time – Ariana Grande
7. Talking Body – Tove Lo
8. Hold My Hand – Jess Glynne
9. Love Me Like You Do – Ellie Goulding
10. Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift
I absolutely killed Lean On. I love songs that elevate you and even half a year later, I still feel that little bit better when I hear it. If we’re talking albums, Adele‘s 25 is something I can recite start to finish and Hello despite being a great single, is only a taste of the amazing things on that disc. I am unashamed of my love for Uptown Funk! Am holding out for an era revival in Pop-Funk based on its success.
See Mr. Will‘s #SELFIE2015 Video highlighting many of the Celebs who this year snapped a pic with me!
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong/Amanda Gilmore/George Kozera)
Some of you might recall that my dear Friend Jonathan Godfrey, a fellow Film Aficionado has pitched-in a few Reviews here of late. He thought of the brilliant idea of us combining our perspectives together for you all to read right in time for the 85th annual Academy Awards. As it turns out, we have rather different opinions on how we feel the Oscars will unfold. We both live for Oscars Day and these would be our choices if we were given Ballots by the Academy…
SUPPORTING ACTRESS & ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Jonathan Godfrey: Ladies first, I am a Gentleman after all. And when it comes to the fairer sex I must admit my fondness for Anne Hathaway, however when it comes to this year’s Best Supporting Actress, she is not my Flagbearer. Helen Hunt is, and the sexuality she exudes in The Sessions makes her so.
Mr. Will: Although I would agree that the brazen and physically-correct Helen Hunt was superb in The Sessions, it was Hathaway who devastated me most as Fantine in Les Misérables. In fact her performance was so good that if the Academy would allow it, she could well have won Actress in a Leading Role this year. The last two-thirds of Les Misérables never could match that level of intensity it had when she was on-screen. Mark my words, it will be a Hathaway Sweep this Awards season, completed by an Oscar win here. Anne, I’m still on for Soy Lattes and Salon Day some time. Text me, A-Hath!
Jonathan Godfrey: As for Actress in a Leading Role, my choice is far more mainstream. Jennifer Lawrence is unforgettable in Silver Linings Playbook, and such an impression should be adequately awarded.
Mr. Will: Inasmuch as I love J-Law – and I really do – I really just don’t think she’s earned it yet. When you measure her performance here against recent Winners like Natalie Portman in Black Swan, Hilary Swank in Million Dollar Baby/Boys Don’t Cry, Charlize Theron in Monster or Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, her Silver Linings Playbook work just doesn’t stack-up to that caliber. I’m so sorry to say it – don’t Katniss me with a Crossbow! I also would hate to see her peak this early in her career as I think her best work is still ahead of her. The Oscars Curse can be detrimental, ask Mira Sorvino. Therefore, my vote goes to the effervescent Jessica Chastain. Her stone-cold performance as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty in my opinion, dug that extra layer deeper and left an impression with me long after I left the theatre. Kudos also to a then six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis who wowed me in Beasts of the Southern Wild, a born natural. Naomi Watts I adore, starting off so strong in The Impossible, but alas it is her role which didn’t give her as much to work with after she fell ill for most of the Film.
SUPPORTING ACTOR & ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Jonathan Godrey: My choices here are for the pair of Chaps who star opposite each other in The Master. Yes, I was one of those Oddballs impressed by that haunting theological treatise. And so I believe Philip Seymour Hoffman to be Supporting Actor, and Joaquin Phoenix the Actor in a Leading Role. Color me crazy (a suitable shade), for that Film drove me to madness (its own indelible mark).
Mr. Will: Odd, indeed! The Master was this year’s Tree of Life for me. Although sartorially exquisite, it went completely over my head. I appreciate Phoenix‘s daringness and Hoffman‘s conviction here, but it is Christoph Waltz who lit-up the Screen for me in Django Unchained, giving us a performance equally brilliant to the one he gave us in 2009’s Inglourious Basterds. This Man fascinates me: his range, his ability to command a scene and his working chemistry with Quentin Tarantino is just explosive. And can I say what an injustice it is that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t get recognized?
As for Actor in a Leading Role I begrudgingly have to say the incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis is the odds-on choice. And I say “begrudgingly” because I know how Hugh Jackman gave it his all in Les Misérables, finally getting that long-overdue Academy acknowledgment. In any other year it could’ve been him.
COSTUME DESIGN, PRODUCTION DESIGN & ORIGINAL SCORE
Jonathan Godfrey: Though I do not believe I am qualified to comment on every Technical category, I do wish to talk about a few. It may be Paul Delgado’s first nomination, but he is deserving of the gold for Costume Design nonetheless. The Wardrobe he stitched for Les Misérables is inspiring, so is Sarah Greenwood & Katie Spencer’s work on Anna Karenina. To them the aesthetic award of Best Production Design is given easily. They made the stage a character of its own, a truth too often overlooked. Lastly, may Mychael Danna take the Oscar for Original Score in Life of Pi. We Torontonians must stick together.
Mr. Will: I tend to agree with you Jonathan, despite our v. different opinions in the Acting categories. In any given year there are several Nominees in categories such as Short Film – Animated or Short Film – Live Action which we unfortunately don’t get an opportunity to evaluate. In terms of Costume Design, Colleen Atwood has built her own legacy and her work for Snow White and The Huntsman cannot be overlooked as a possible Dark Horse, but yes, the Costumes in Anna Karenina were stunning – a Film defined by its Fashion. I do think though that Les Misérables has more fuel in its tank at this point in Awards Season. I’d give the upper hand to Delgado here for his work in the Musical.
As for Production Design, I’m inclined to say that the Duo of Eve Stewart & Anna Lynch-Robinson for Les Misérables also will be awarded. Hard to believe they made us believe we were amidst the June Rebellion in France all within the confines of a few Soundstages. As for Original Score, I love John Williams as does the Academy making him the choice, although Thomas Newman for Skyfall might give him a run for his money.
I also would like to commend the phenomenal Makeup and Hairstyling in the under-appreciated Hitchcock. You go, Howard Berger, Peter Montagna & Martin Samuel! Anyone who can turn Sir Anthony Hopkins so believably into such a widely-recognizable Icon deserves a round of applause in my books.
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY, ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY & DIRECTING
Jonathan Godfrey: Lucy Alibar & Benh Zeitlin cannot go unmentioned for Adapted Screenplay. Theirs is a story of life, its beauty and opposing struggle. Beasts of the Southern Wild is absolutely brilliant and so is Amour. Thus, for Original Screenplay the statue goes to Michael Haneke. However, as much as I am torn in denying Haneke the Award for Directing, it nevertheless goes to a worthy Opponent. Benh Zeitlin took home the honours at Sundance for Beasts, and here he shall have them again. His Film reminds the World that life is in the living.
Mr. Will: Argo was my fave Film of 2012, so I am pretty much rooting for Chris Terrio to be awarded Adapted Screenplay for his enthralling, humanistic and detailed work. For Original Screenplay, my heart is with Tarantino for Django Unchained; an unparalleled Storyteller, in a league of his own.
As for Directing, it still to this day does not sit well with me that Ben Affleck so cruelly was overlooked for Argo. The Golden Globes, BAFTAs, DGAs and Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards got it right. The Academy, not so much. That being said, the legendary Steven Spielberg is as deserving as he’s ever been for Lincoln, drawing phenomenal performances all around from his superior-caliber Cast, paying a fitting tribute to a Man who changed our World.
Jonathan Godfrey: Beasts of the Southern Wild is my selection for Best Picture. All of the Nominees are deserving of the honour this year, and I believe Les Misérables and Amour to be especially so. That said, Beasts remains my choice, one I have been debating for weeks on-end. In time, I shall see if the Academy agrees with me, and I do not worry if they don’t. I’m happy to have seen all of the nominated Films, and to have enjoyed them in turn. I hope those interested do the same, and come to their own honest conclusions.
Mr. Will: Although I walked away from Zero Dark Thirty thinking for sure it was this year’s Best Picture, I’ve seen both Silver Linings Playbook and Argo gain a huge amount of momentum over the past few weeks, particularly the latter. To be honest, I think Argo is peaking at the right moment to take it all, especially with Affleck‘s snubbing reminding the Academy how badly they’ve messed-up failing to recognize his work as a Director. Argo, it is.
And thank you so much Jonathan for generously sharing your thoughts with us. You definitely have a unique perspective and offer a refreshing take! I do think you’re terribly wrong about Hathaway though and you know it!
ABC airs the 85th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24, 2013 at 7:00 PM EST.
(Photo credit: Mr. Will Wong)
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