The 2015 OFCS Awards

2015’s awards season is well underway, and since I belong to the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), I’ve spent the last few weeks catching up with the year’s best non-genre offerings. I was able to put together a slate of nominees I was very happy with, and I’m not completely embarrassed by my votes.

Today the OFCS announced its winners, and I think we did pretty well.

A scene from MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

Best Picture

The nominees: Brooklyn; Carol; Ex MachinaInside OutMad Max: Fury RoadThe MartianThe RevenantRoomSicarioSpotlight

I voted for: Room

The winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

My comments: While Room hasn’t made as strong a showing in awards season as I had hoped, the number of organizations going to bat for Fury Road really warms my heart–it’s truly a great film, proof positive that a genre film can be a big-budget tentpole offering and a crowd-pleaser with mass appeal and a critic’s darling and actually goddamn awesome qualitatively. Also, I’d like to think that every accolade the movie wins is a thumb in the eye of some MRM screwhead somewhere.

Incidentally, if I’m reading the tea leaves right, it looks like Spotlight or Carol will get the Best Picture Oscar. Right now, slight advantage to Carol.

A scene from INSIDE OUT.

Best Animated Feature

The other nominees: AnomolisaThe Good Dinosaur; Inside OutThe Peanuts MovieThe Shaun the Sheep Movie

I voted for: Inside Out

The winner: Inside Out

My comments: Personally I’m a bit sick of how Pixar dominates the animation field. But on the other hand Inside Out really is that good–I don’t think I’ve been impressed with how well a Pixar film managed to every aspect of a film together into a coherent whole since…probably the first Toy Story.

Also on Inside Out’s side is the fact that 2015 has been a bit weak for animation.

A scene from THE ASSASSIN.

Best Film Not in the English Language

The nominees: The AssassinGoodnight MommyMustangPhoenixSon of Saul

I voted for: Goodnight Mommy

The winner: The Assassin

My comments: I don’t want to talk too much about The Assassin, because while it’s very clear it’s a very good film, I’m sure a lot of it flew over my head. The full-length review, which I’d originally wanted to publish this week, has been pushed back so I can rewatch.

That being said, for all the accolades The Assassin has garnered, I still don’t see it usurping Goodnight Mommy as my favorite foreign-language film of the year.

A scene from THE LOOK OF SILENCE.

Best Documentary

The nominees: AmyBest of EnemiesCartel LandGoing Clear; The Look of Silence

I voted for: Going Clear

The winner: The Look of Silence

My comments: I tried to watch The Look of Silence, and I simply couldn’t make it through–its portrayal of the brutality of its subject matter is so frank and matter-of-fact that I find it so very hard to watch. That’s the power of cinema, folks.

I’ll try again to watch it, if not before I publish my year-ends, then at least before the Oscars. Even though I ultimately voted for Going Clear (and am despondent at The Nightmare’s lack of a nomination), I have no problem believing Look of Silence really is the best doc of the year.

A scene from MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

Best Director

The nominees: Todd Haynes, Carol; Tom McCarthy, Spotlight; George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road; Ridley Scott, The Martian; Denis Villenueve, Sicario

I voted for: George Miller

The winner: George Miller

My comments: As much as I love the directorial performances of three of the four runners-up (the sole exception being Todd Haynes), I don’t think there’s ever been any chance I was ever going to vote for anyone other than George Miller. Fury Road is a great example of how to translate what’s in the head onto the screen.

A scene from STEVE JOBS.

Best Actor

The nominees: Matt Damon, The Martian; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs; Michael B. Jordan, Creed; Ian McKellen, Mr. Holmes

I voted for: Matt Damon

The winner: Michael Fassbender

My comments:  I tend to feel that 2015 has been a weak year for leading-man performances; I’ve had a hard time coming up with my own list. I would have liked to see Tom Hardy get a nomination for Legend, but I know it hasn’t been getting a lot of critical love. And I haven’t seen Steve Jobs.

I’m not unhappy having voted for Matt Damon; he was very good in The Martian.

A scene from CAROL.

Best Actress

The nominees: Cate Blanchett, Carol; Brie Larson, Room; Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years; Saiorse Ronan, Brooklyn; Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

I voted for: Brie Larson

The winner: Cate Blanchett

My comments: This is where I reluctantly reveal that while I recognize it as a good movie, I simply don’t like Carol all that much. There’s something about Todd Haynes’s style that leaves me cold; the only thing by him I’ve ever liked was his Mildred Pierce remake, and even then only grudgingly.

I really wasn’t impressed with Cate Blanchett here; while I’ve liked her in a lot of films, I felt she should have disappeared into her role here a lot more. Oh well.

In general, this has been an awesome year for actresses and I’m particularly glad to see both Brie Larson and Charlize Theron on this list.

A scene from EX MACHINA.

Best Supporting Actor

The nominees: Benicio del Toro, Sicario; Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina; Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight; Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies; Sylvester Stallone, Creed

I voted for: Oscar Isaac

The winner: Oscar Isaac

My comments: My man! Oscar Isaac was easily one of the best things about Ex Machina and he’s been at the top of my Supporting Actor list for most of the year. I was pretty sure this was going to go to Benicio del Toro, who, I gotta admit, was pretty awesome in Sicario. In fact, Ex Machina has been doing much better in awards season than I figured it would, which pleases me greatly.

A scene from CAROL.

Best Supporting Actress

The nominees: Rooney Mara, Carol; Cynthia Nixon, James White; Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria; Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl; Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

I voted for: Rooney Mara

The winner: Rooney Mara

My comments: First off, I much rather would have seen Alicia Vikander nominated for Ex Machina.

The one thing I really, really liked about Carol was Rooney Mara’s performance. Therese is a more complex character than Carol–she lacks confidence and self-trust, allows more powerful personalities to dominate her somewhat, is smarter and less flighty than everyone including herself gives her credit for–and Mara absolutely nails it to the ground. With one exception, hers my favorite performance of the year, period.

As far as the “category fraud” controversy is concerned–critics’ organizations, including the OFCS, have received some flak for nominating Mara as a supporting actress instead of as a lead–I’m not too bugged by it. I don’t disagree that Blanchett and Mara should be considered co-leads, but my position is that while Carol may be about Therese’s narrative journey, Carol is the more prominent character.

Also, I have to say, while she’s near the top of my personal Best Supporting Actress list for the year, if I considered her a leading lady she wouldn’t even crack the top five. I don’t apologize for that.

A scene from SPOTLIGHT.

Best Original Screenplay

The nominees: Ex Machina; Inside OutMistress AmericaSicarioSpotlight

I voted for: Ex Machina

The winner: Spotlight

My comments: Hard to be disappointed with Spotlight winning even though I ranked Ex Machina and Sicario above it. It’s a powerful film with a great script.

A scene from CAROL.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The nominees: Brooklyn; CarolThe MartianRoomSteve Jobs

I voted for: Room

The winner: Carol

My comments: In retrospect, I wish I’d voted for The Martian, because that movie really demonstrates how to do big-budget effects-driven science fiction in a way that can engage an audience without talking down to it.

A scene from MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

Best Editing

The nominees: Mad Max: Fury RoadThe MartianThe RevenantSicarioSteve Jobs

I voted for: Mad Max: Fury Road

The winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

My comments: Was there ever a real choice in this category? Actually, yeah: I could see a strong case laid out for Sicario, which might not have worked were the editing not so strong.

A scene from MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

Best Cinematography

The nominees: The AssassinCarolMad Max: Fury RoadThe RevenantSicario

I voted for: Mad Max: Fury Road

The winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

My comments: This is the one category where I really felt pained by the absence of a film I nominated that didn’t make it to the final ballot: It Follows. I really, really wanted to see it get some love. But there were a lot of worthy choices on the ballot (even Carol; I’m not a Haynes fan, but I can’t deny his films are pretty), and I ultimately feel good about Fury Road winning.

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