Saturday, January 16, 2016

The 6th Annual Awards Psychic Awards: Winners

Best Picture - Drama
Winner - Steve Jobs
Runners Up - Spotlight, Love & Mercy, Sicario, and Carol
Commentary - It saddens me that Steve Jobs not an Oscar nominee for Best Picture. It saddens me because it is most likely its box office failures (caused mostly by a too aggressive release strategy), that stopped one of the years best films from reaching the awards heights that it deserved. Staged in three parts, all with different lenses to show the growth, Steve Jobs is a brilliantly constructed film, featuring another rapid-fire script from Aaron Sorkin, brilliant set piece direction from Danny Boyle, and an absolutely jaw-dropping performance from Michael Fassbender, backed by a great cast including Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels, and Seth Rogen. A magnificent film to watch, Steve Jobs has fallen into the trap of its own distribution failures, and I kept hoping that Oscar voters would ignore those issues, and reward this incredible film. It is their loss.

Best Picture - Comedy/Musical
Winner - Spy
Runners Up - Trainwreck and Tangerine
Commentary - Trainwreck proved that Amy Schumer is a star, and Tangerine deserves so much credit for tackling timely subjects, and for its production. But at the end of the day, the funniest movie of the year is Spy. It is ridiculous yes, it is outrageous, yes. It is also a non-stop, always funny action thriller with great performances, great comedy set pieces, and an absolutely stunning performance by Melissa McCarthy (see Best Actress - Comedy). The term "comedy" is so confused right now. You have The Martian (a film I loved by the way) winning for Best Comedy, and half of the so-called "comedies" are either really dramas, or are complete crap. That is why it is so nice to see a big, raunchy, fun comedy that is not only actually funny, but also executed at such a high level.

Best Picture Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
Winner - Star Wars - The Force Awakens
Runners Up - Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian
Commentary - I purposely avoided negative Star Wars articles and comments for the first week, then slowly started to see what the trolls and haters were saying. I was surprised that even in today's culture, there weren't as many negative thoughts. What I have tried even harder to avoid, less successfully, are the nitpicks. Yes, the details matter. Of course the details matter. And yes, some of those nitpickers have made valid points about the plot and the characters. And yes, I'm sure that there are more intricately woven, better written, more fully developed films out there. But I honestly don't care. I know that sounds flippant, and I sound like one of those people that goes crazy anytime some simply counters their opinion. I'm really not, I'm just to the point where I don't care anymore. They have valid points, and if they don't like Star Wars, then they don't like Star Wars, it is a fair opinion. But in the end the movies we remember most are the ones that make us feel. The ones that make us laugh the most, or cry the most; the ones that most remind us of our childhood, or our college years, or our families and friends. And no film excited me, thrilled me, entertained me, or made me feel more joy that Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I loved it, I loved every minute of it. It was a brilliant combination of the old Star Wars that we loved, with new characters who are instantly memorable and are breathing new life into this saga. It was exuberant joy. That is a feeling that simply cannot be replaced.

Best Picture - Animated
Winner - Inside Out
Runner Up - Anomalisa
Commentary - Star Wars was my second favorite film of the year. The best film of 2015 was easily Inside Out. Period. When you consider The Martian, Mad Max, Star Wars, and Inside Out, it was a banner year for studio films. It is so nice that even in this day and age that big studios can produce thoughtful, well-made films that are also big, bold, and daring. And none were more daring than Inside Out. The concept was the most original seen on film in years, it was brilliantly funny, while also being incredibly emotional, and its voice cast was simply perfect, particularly the duo of Amy Poehler and the fantastic Phyllis Smith. Inside Out may be the best film Pixar has ever put out, and when you consider some of their films that is saying a lot. A pure, original, and fantastic triumph.

Best Picture - Documentary
Winner - Amy
Runners Up - Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief and Heart of a Dog
Commentary - Going Clear was the best horror film of the year, and Heart of a Dog is a stunner. But no documentary had the same impact as Amy. It is the most fascinating and most heartbreaking film of the year. To see such a talented and unique person, with such a powerful musical style, fall so hard, hurt so much; to see it get to the point that it ends her life, is just something both hard to watch, and but also important to watch. The price of fame is something that has been covered many times to varying degrees of success. The crew here clearly respected Amy Winehouse. They created a straightforward film that simply tells a story, and in doing so they let us see the real Amy, her real talent, and her real pain. The results were undeniable.

Best Actor - Drama
Winner - Michael Fassbender "Steve Jobs"
Runners Up - Leonardo DiCaprio "The Revenant", Tom Courtenay "45 Years, Michael B. Jordan "Creed"
Commentary - Did I mention that Michael Fassbender was jaw-dropping in Steve Jobs? Unlike the Oscars, I have rewarded Leonardo DiCaprio, and both Tom Courtenay and Michael B. Jordan deserve mention for their incredible work this year. But this was one of the easiest categories to decide in a year of great performances. Capturing the anger, the ego, and the deeply complicated nature of the enigmatic and controversial Steve Jobs, Michael Fassbender delivers the performance of his career. Luckily, even though the film missed the top prize, Fassbender got that Best Actor nomination, and it is well deserved.

Best Actress - Drama
Winner - Charlotte Rampling "45 Years"
Runners Up - Daisy Ridley "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and Charlize Theron "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Commentary - Daisy Ridley was such a bright spot to reignite a franchise, and Charlize Theron was simply a bad ass. But the performance that got to me was Charlotte Rampling  in 45 Years. Rampling has been a fantastic actress for years, and that Oscar nomination was one the highlights of the season so far, and it is so deserving. She is a legend if there ever was one, and this might be her best yet. And that is saying something.

Best Actor - Comedy/Musical
Winner - Matt Damon "The Martian"
Runner Up - Thomas Mann "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"
Commentary - Okay so now I'm a hypocrite because The Martian just won a comedy category. You know what, its my party and I'll cry if I want to. Honestly, there were a lot of solid performances, and The Martian, while not a comedy, was a fun and engaging film, and Matt Damon is the reason why. His Oscar nomination was one of my favorites, because he simply deserves it. He carries one of the year's best films on his back, and he proves why is such a sought after star. He was engaging, emotional, and yes, even funny.

Best Actress - Comedy/Musical
Winner - Melissa McCarthy "Spy"
Runners Up - Kitana Kiki Rodriguez "Tangerine" and Amy Schumer "Trainwreck"
Commentary - This one was so easy for me. Melissa McCarthy has been one of our brightest stars since she was Sookie on Gilmore Girls. I am so glad that Mike & Molly and Bridesmaids introduced her to the rest of the world. But since then, we have been waiting on her to find her perfect movie (St. Vincent was great, but it was really all about Bill Murray and Heat was about the dynamic duo). Finally, McCarthy gets her own lead role, where she gets to shine all by herself. Don't get me wrong, her ensemble cast was hilarious, particularly the fantastic Rose Byrne. But this film was on McCarthy's shoulders, and she proved she could be raunchy, ridiculous, but also emotional and impeccably funny. Most importantly, she proved to all of her critics that she truly is one of our best and brightest stars.

Best Director
Winner - George Miller "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Runners Up  - Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen "Inside Out"J.J. Abrams "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens", and Ridley Scott "The Martian"
Commentary - Pete Docter almost won here, and probably should have, and Abrams and Scott were masterful. But there is a reason that George Miller is winning so many of these directors awards. It takes guts to not only reinvent a classic, but to reinvent your own classic and to do it well. To go back and rethink how a film should be done and to do it at such a high level (not George Lucas and his special edition DVDs) is the sign of a true master. Mad Max is a great film, and from the first frantic second to the last, it is because of George Miller's vision. It is a bold, dirty, brilliant film that doesn't really care about conventions, about its past, and instead blazes a new trail for the future. The results were epic.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner - Harrison Ford "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
Runners Up - Paul Dano "Love & Mercy", Slyvester Stallone "Creed", Walton Goggins "The Hateful Eight"
Commentary - Sly Stallone is getting all of the "reinvention" credit, and he deserves it. But from the first frame that Harrison Ford's beloved Han Solo appears on screen in The Force Awakens, till his last (no spoilers I promise), his presence is simply illuminating. He brings back the swagger and the humor, but also provides two of the films most emotionally important moments. Harrison Ford has been a star for so long, and has never really gotten enough recognition. He is clearly having the most fun he has had in years, and as a huge fan, I can say we all enjoyed the ride along with him.

Best Supporting Actress
Winner - Rachel McAdams "Spotlight"
Runners Up - Elizabeth Banks "Love & Mercy", Alicia Vikander "Ex Machina", Mya Taylor "Tangerine"
Commentary - This is an interesting category for me, and has been for everyone else apparently. But one of my favorite Oscar nods was Rachel McAdams. She has been getting a lot of flack because her performance is understated, and because many believe that the only reason she was getting awards attention was because she was the only major female cast member among a bunch of men. Maybe that is why SAG and Academy voters decided to vote for her, but its not why I am. Yes, it, like all of the performances in Spotlight is understated. But sometimes understated can have the most emotional impact. There are some of her scenes in Spotlight that are the best of the year, and her control was impeccable. Yes, she did stand out among a cast of mostly men, but it wasn't because she was the one woman. It was because she was fantastic.

Best Ensemble
Winner - Inside Out
Runners Up - Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Steve Jobs, Spy, and Spotlight
Commentary - Yes, when thinking of ensembles, animated films are almost always automatically excluded because they aren't obvious. But it was obvious the entire time that the actors behind our favorite characters in Inside Out were the best. They brought to life each character without ever seeing their faces. From Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader, Richard Kind, to the dynamic duo of Amy Poeher and Phyllis Smith, Inside Out easily had the best cast of the year.

Best Voice Acting/Motion Capture Performance
Winner - Phyllis Smith "Inside Out"
Runners Up - Amy Poehler "Inside Out" and Jennifer Jason Leigh "Anomalisa"
Winner - There have been several moments in the last 25 years that voice performances were so good that they should have been Oscar nominees. Robin Williams in Aladdin, Jeremy Irons in The Lion King, Eddie Murphy in Shrek, Ellen Degeneres in Finding Nemo, and Ed Asner in Up are a few that come to mind. You can now add Phyllis Smith to the list. Joy is our star, and Amy Poehler is exuberant. But what separates Inside Out from so many other films is that it is a film whose emotional impact is astounding. I literally cried twice, openly bawling in this film, and was on the verge of crying even more multiple times. That is because Pete Docter and his team realized that you needed Sadness, we all need Sadness to truly grow as a person and understand life, and after this incredible performance, we could all use more Phyllis Smith as well.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner - Aaron Sorkin "Steve Jobs"
Runners Up - J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and Donald Margulies "The End of the Tour"
Commentary - I know that the film fell out of favor, but I didn't think it would cost Aaron Sorkin his Oscar nomination. I am really surprised that the writer's branch couldn't see thorough the bull and reward one of our finest scribes. Apparently, no one is immune to money. But once again, it is their loss, because this rapid-paced, beautifully constructed character piece is another Sorkin masterpiece.

Best Original Screenplay
Winner - Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie Del Carmen "Inside Out"
Runner Up - Alex Garland "Ex Machina"
Commentary - This category is called original screenplay. There was no film released last year that was more original than Inside Out. Period.

Best Cinematography
Winner - John Seale "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Runners Up - Edward Lachman "Carol" and Roger Deakins "Sicario"
Commentary - Mad Max is crazy, and I mean that in a good way. The intensity, the craziness, the brutality, and the beauty of Mad Max were all captured in the legend John Seale's miraculous and stunning cinematography. An easy, and deserving win.

Best Visual Effects
Winner - Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
Runners Up - Jurassic World and Ex Machina
Commentary - Unlike the prequels, J.J. and his team didn't rely solely on visual effects, and used actual sets. Not only did it help the films authenticity, but it made those moments that were effects driven feel more alive, and the ability to blend them seamlessly into the story was fantastic.

Worst Film of the Year
Winner - Aloha
Runner Up - Fifty Shades of Grey
Commentary - Almost Famous is one of my favorite films, heck probably my favorite film, and I think both Jerry Maguire and Say Anything have sentimental value, all proving that Cameron Crowe can make quality films. And I know that Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, and John Krasinski are good actors, and I could spend a while listing all of the great roles that each of them has done over the years. Yet, what I cannot wrap my head around is what the hell happened with Aloha. Stilted dialogue, a ridiculously incoherent plot, and inane characters, Aloha was bad, and it was even worse because it should have been much better.

Top 10 Films of 2015
1. Inside Out
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. The Martian
5. Steve Jobs
6. Amy
7. Spy
8. Creed
9. Spotlight
10. Carol

The Next Ten: 

11. Love & Mercy
12. Tangerine
13. Trainwreck
14. Straight Outta Compton
15. Anomalisa
16. Sicario
17. Ex Machina
18. Bridge of Spies
19. The Hateful Eight
20. The Big Short

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