Friends, we are standing on the cusp of 2015. It has been another fine year for film with the tide turning on reboots in favour of Revisitations. Though big studio franchise filcks made the most money there were a number of searing independent cinematic visions on show this year. As always, there’s something for everyone as long as you look for it.
My personal favourite post of the year is this very one: The Truffles. In their sixth year, The
On behalf of everyone here at HeyUGuys I want to wish you all a very happy, safe and fun-lovin’ Christmas.
The ‘Something In My Eye’ Award
The prize for the most brutal assault on the tear ducts is shared this year between Bing Bong’s moment of selfless sacrifice in Inside Out (I’m welling up just thinking about it), and the last 30 seconds of the Comic-Con Behind The Scenes trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens when Han Solo appears for the first time, taking a seat in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon as John Williams’s score fades to a close. A million forty-year-olds simultaneously found themselves partially blinded by the tear-shaped golden memories of their childhood.
The Cannonball Run II Award for Worst Comedy of The Year.
Absolutely Anything (Terry Jones? Really?!), Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (I’m safely assuming), Horrible Bosses 2 (which shares its nomination with the equally pointless and unamusing sequel, Hot Tub Time Machine 2).
And the winner is…
‘What about Hot Pursuit? I love Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara’s pretty funny.’
‘Yeah, but it hasn’t much of a write-up, honey.’
‘Hey, I went with you to see Mad Max. It’s your turn.’
‘I thought we both agreed that Mad Max was actually a feminist action film that was really about Charlize Theron’s chara…OK fine, we’ll go and see Reese Witherspoon.’
‘I thought you wrote film reviews for that website; how could you not know how bad that was going to be?!’
‘I didn’t want to go! I only said yes in case you made us go and see The Cobbler instead!’
Worst night out at the movies since The Phantom Menace.
‘The Dr Hannibal Lecter Award’
This honours a return to form after a run of bad luck; one that reminded us, as the good doctor once put it, that “The world is more interesting with you in it.”
Johnny Depp (stunningly good in Black Mass following The Lone Ranger, which wasn’t actually that bad, and three godawful Pirates sequels, Transcendence and Mortdecai, which really were that bad), Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, the 7th biggest movie of the year, following the box office damp squibs, Jack Reacher, Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow), Pixar Studios (back to making masterpieces again with Inside Out after years of maddeningly unessential sequels).
And the winner is…
That totemic icon of Hawaiian cool has been tumbling down a wormhole of unexceptional cinematic failure since The Matrix in 1999. A pair of sequels so bad they should be painted out of history were followed up by turkeys like the Day The Earth Stood Still remake and 47 Ronin, which might just be the most financially unsuccessful film ever made.
The moment he slipped on John Wick’s natty black suit, we had forgiven him everything, even Constantine. By the end of 2015’s most purely enjoyable action movie, we were in love all over again. Welcome back, dude.
The Shawshank Award for Overlooked Gem Most Likely to Later Gain Acclaim In Later Years.
In September 1994, The Shawshank Redemption opened to some fine reviews, and absolutely no box office fanfare at all. It shuffled out of the cinemas having made back less money than it cost to produce, with analysts claiming that nobody was interested in seeing a movie with such a stupid title.
Seven Oscar nominations later, the film spent the next few years becoming one of the most successful VHS releases of the 1990s and holds the number 1 spot on IMDB’s most rated movies of all time. It’s unlikely that the same fate awaits any of these nominees, but I predict that in years to come their reputations will blossom more colourfully than some of their more immediately successful peers.
The Runners Up…
Tomorrowland, Crimson Peak, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (whisper it, a lot more fun than Spectre), Steve Jobs.
And the winner is.
I know that ‘Based on the novels of Thomas Pynchon’ was never going to be the blockbuster tagline of the year, but this is Paul Thomas Goddam Anderson, fresh off the back of two critically lauded masterpieces, directing one of the best casts of 2015. Yet its eventual worldwide gross didn’t match what Hot Pursuit took on its opening weekend!
Even the critics failed to come to its rescue, divided from the off by its combination of Chandleresque mystery and stoner, almost Zucker Bros-level zaniness. At my wimpily-attended screening, only three of us seemed to be laughing (heavily), and two people walked out.
However, a scan through many critical lists of 2015 shows that the bizarre antics of Doc Sportello still resonate nearly 12 months later and demonstrates that Inherent Vice survives, nay demands repeated viewings. As a celebrated time traveller who celebrated his 30th birthday this year put it, “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet…but your kids are gonna love it.”
The Woody Allen Award for funniest dialogue of the year.
The runners up:
Demented and deluded secret agent Jason Statham’s self-aggrandising rant at Melissa McCarthy in Spy.
“This arm has been ripped off completely and reattached with this f***ing arm!…During the threat of an assassination attempt, I appeared convincingly in front of Congress as Barack Obama!”
(Writer, Paul Feig)
Michael Fassbender demonstrates Steve Jobs’s lifelong struggle with humility.
“God sent his only son on a suicide mission but we like him anyway because he made trees.”
(Writer, Aaron Sorkin)
J.K. Simmons soft-pedals his disappointment when a crucial folder is mislaid before a concert in Whiplash.
“Why would you give it to Neiman, right?! You give a calculator to a f***ing retard, he’s gonna try to turn on a TV with it!”
(Writer, Damien Chazelle)
“Now we know what the C stands for.”
Ralph Fiennes gets the best line in Spectre and gets perilously close to dropping the ultimate swear-word into the family-friendly Bond franchise.
(Writers, John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Buterworth – which amounts to one scriptwriter for every two words)
And the winner is…
Most of the funniest lines of the year turned up in Trainwreck, coming in so thick and fast they eventually overlapped each other. However, nothing quite had me losing control quite as helplessly as Colin Quinn’s opening monologue as he tried to explain the reasons for his impending divorce to his two young daughters.
This kind of belly-laugh stuff would normally front-load a comedy to the detriment of the remaining film, but this was a statement of intent that 2015’s breakout star Amy Schumer spent the rest of the movie living up to. (Pretty much everything John Cena said should have been on this list, but there just wasn’t the space.)
“(Abridged version) Girls, your mother and I are getting divorced. I know you’re upset, I know you’re confused but let me explain it from my side in terms you can understand. You’ve got your doll, right? You love your doll, but what if I told you that was the only doll you’re allowed to play with for the rest of your life? How would you feel? You’d feel sad, of course because there are lots of other dolls on your shelves and they’re making new dolls every year. You want a stewardess doll? How about a slightly overweight cocktail waitress doll? What about a doll who happens to be best friends with your main doll, it could happen, right? What about a doll you only play with one day and never see again? What about a doll where your friend’s playing with a doll and he needs you to, y’know, kind of ‘man up’ with the other doll? You don’t even wanna play with that doll but you do it ‘cos your friend’s playing with that doll and you don’t want to sit there and look at the other doll unattended. So…that’s why me and your mom are getting divorced.”
(Writer, Amy Schumer)
The Worst Nicolas Cage Film of the Year.
All of them.
You wouldn’t know it, but three Nicolas Cage films were released in UK cinemas across 2015. Dying of the Light kicked things off with a January release, while Outcast and The Runner were given Autumn showings, hitting our screens in October and November, respectively. All three films were, to be kind, rather underwhelming.
But which was the worst? We have no idea. All three. All three were the worst.
The Contribution to the Period Drama Award.
Every year several period dramas are released in the cinema, and this year we saw an abundance. Sometimes you get the same faces cropping up, but this year we saw only the same face crop up, and what a lovely face it was, because it belongs to Matthias Schoenaerts.
The Belgian actor starred in Suite Francaise (set during WW2), he was in Far From the Madding Crowd (set in the 19th century), he’s also in The Danish Girl (1920s) and he was also caught sporting a silly wig in Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos (that one is from the 17th century). That’s a true commitment to the period drama, and for that Schoenaerts deserves this award. We just don’t want him to make any more.
Biopic performance of the year.
Marcc Rose (Straight Outta Compton)
There are rumours that rapper Tupac is still alive. Well if he is, then he’s been caught playing himself in the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton. After some brief IMDB research, we learnt that actually it was an actor called Marcc Rose.
Considering this year we saw David Oyelowo command the screen as Martin Luther King, Dane DeHaan tackle the icon that was James Dean, or Michael Fassbender play Steve Jobs – not to mention Tom Hardy cloning himself to play the Kray Twins – this was undoubtedly a tough choice. But Marcc Rose wins it, because to call it uncanny is an understatement.
The award for the ‘Movie about terminal illness that somehow wasn’t annoying’.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
Films about illness are generally annoying. The Fault in Our Stars was annoying. Our Sister’s Keeper, that was annoying. Now is Good, that was annoying as well. But Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, amazingly, was not – and for that it deserves much commendation, and this prestigious award. And to think Miss You Already came close… 2015 really did throw up so many surprises.
The JK Simmons ‘That’s Not my Tempo’ Award.
The annual (as of this year) award for not being my tempo – in other words, something that disappointed and frustrated me this year – belongs to the unlucky recipient, Will Ferrell.
The actor is ridiculously funny – you only need to turn on the telly this Christmas and find Elf (it will be on, somewhere) to know that, or settle in and watch Step Brothers – one of the funniest films ever made (seriously). But this year he appeared in two films and they were both rubbish. Get Hard and Daddy’s Home are the films. Will Ferrell, in 2015, you’re not my tempo *throws chair*
The Daniel Day-Lewis Promotional Prowess Award.
You’ve heard about actors staying in character throughout the full creative process of filming, even remaining in the mould of their respective role when the cameras stop rolling, but one man has taken that and gone above and beyond the call of duty this year in order to promote his film.
Ryan Reynolds is the man and in the news of Deadpool finally being adapted into its own R-rated movie (that we’ve all been waiting for), he has since brought to us many a social media post showing that this guy cannot wait for us to see his film. Halloween poses with the child versions of the X-Men, cheeky log fire poses and so much more, Reynolds has embodied the Merc With A Mouth and then some.
Daniel Day-Lewis would be proud…
Best Marvel Film.
This was pretty much inevitable after Age of Ultron went all over-blown and Fantastic Four went all underwhelming. Ant-Man not only scaled back and kept things simpler and leaner, it balanced wit, levity and serious stakes with aplomb.
We can grieve over what might have been in the hands of Edgar Wright, or we can simply appreciate what we got, which was a great origin story, a perfectly cast hero, a well-rounded villain, a coherent plot, some awesome sight gags, top-drawer SFX and a finale that didn’t result in the destruction of an entire city.
Heck, once the window was fixed and Thomas the Tank Engine was moved on, you’d never have known anything had happened. But it still managed to matter.
Most Distressing On-Screen Visuals.
You can keep your jump-scares and your loud noises. The sight of Amy Winehouse going downhill under the effects of drugs and the influence of people she should have avoided and been protected from was a gut punch. Her emaciation, complexion and obvious physical degradation drew an audible gasp at the screening I attended. More harrowing than a dozen ghouls in the shadows and utterly heart-breaking to boot.
Blockbuster of the Summer.
Age of Ultron had laughs, action, destruction and Joss Whedon’s reliable hand on the tiller. Fast & Furious had ridiculous set pieces and his Rockness. But Jurassic Park delivered where it counts – with dinosaurs. I sat there with my boys, thoroughly drawn in, compelled and thrilled. It was exciting, funny and tense and helpfully erased the bitter after-taste of JPIII.
Adrenaline Rush of the Year.
Mad Max: Fury Road (What Else?)
Both in budget and scope, this probably qualifies as a blockbuster and so should have garnered the previous award too, but MM:FR was just too defiantly independently-minded, too lean, too efficient, too clearly a product of a director’s singular vision rather than script and story by committee or merchandising opportunity, to be seen as a true blockbuster.
Instead it was/is a jolting, thrilling ride, ceaselessly inventive, exciting and stimulating. The depressingly inevitable backlash kicked in almost as soon as the five star reviews started to roll in, but as they say, never mind the haters. This is epic, adrenalised film-making, immediately hitting its stride and maintaining a pace that perhaps only The Raid, Crank and the bonkers martial arts films of my youth can hope to match. Beautiful.
Achievement in respecting the intelligence of children Award.
There is no way that this should have worked – a complex visualisation and personification of the interaction of emotions within the mind of a young girl, with trips through surrealism, the abandonment of imaginary friends, the “tainting” or re-imagining of memories with sadness that wasn’t perceived to be there before and a person coming to terms with feeling sad about things she cannot come to terms with or change. Goodness me.
It could have or should have been depressing, confusing or off-putting but Pixar’s continued commitment to story as king, along with a resolute determination to trust that even younger viewers will understand what you are saying if you say it clearly and present it coherently, resulted in something genuinely magical. To give children permission to embrace sadness without inviting them to descend into melancholy, to trust that their emotional intelligence will enable them to process what they are seeing, makes Pixar as a studio a real gift to the generation that has grown up with their films.
Consider the fear that grips Marlin, the heartbreak suffered by Carl and his wife Ellie, the pain endured by Jessie, the growing up of Andy, the beauty of Wall-E’s dance with Eve. Pixar has a matchless faith in its audience – that they will engage and understand and that even though they may shed a tear or two (I attended an autism-friendly screening of Inside Out and a child behind me declared at one point, “I do not like this film at all!” before being won round later), they will learn something worthwhile.
Honourable Mention – Big Hero 6- To put a child character through that much loss and still give us an uplifting film is commendable to say the least. BH6 decided to put its confidence in children being hardy enough to persist with the film, even when so much tragedy is visited on Hiro. They were right to do so.
Best British Film Award.
This was a real treat. After years of joy at the hands of Horrible Histories we got a big screen effort worthy of the talents of this team. Part Python, part Blackadder, part their own inimitable style. Too many jokes to single one out. Okay, maybe one – “this is our patch, find your own….vegetable….patch”. Beautiful.
Animal Performance of the Year.
Buttercup – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
It has been a strong year for animal performers at the pictures, something of a bounce back after Pudsey the Movie did so much damage in 2014. There was the camel in the woods from The Lobster, the spirit animal fox from The Wild, John Wick’s unfortunate canine, and the career resurrection of the Jurassic Park goat in Jurassic World. They all come pretty close to taking the biscuit, but the winner of this Crufts trumping accolade can be found among the mediocrity of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.
As Katniss marches po-faced towards her Attack of the Clones meadow coda, and all of Panem crumbles around her, the only one to remain stoically calm among the screeching and slinging of pots and pans is Buttercup the cat. What people might not know is that the cat was recast after the first film. So imagine the pressure this tabby had coming into a franchise after the first films phenomenally successful performance at the box office. You thought Elizabeth Shue had it hard in Back to the Future! Only the American Sniper baby remained more static in the face of trauma this year. Which leads us nicely onto……
The American Sniper Award for the Best Fake Baby.
Baby Jeff from American Sniper
The inaugural year for this prize means that there can only really be one winner, and the clues in the title. Despite portraying white knuckle combat and PTSD realism, one thing Clint Eastwood couldn’t get right was baby Jeff.
Coming across as a sub-par $10 Tiny Tears, which was as stiff as an M. Night cameo, never has seriousness been alleviated so quickly by a prop. The filmmakers have since justified the garbage pail kid with a story of sickness and baby no-shows that led to the plastic sprog being given his big break. We can’t wait to see what he does next.
The one film that I don’t think many of you have seen, but I really think you should do, cos I kinda liked it Award.
Son of a Gun
Alicia Vikander is in it. “What isn’t she in these days?” I hear you shout. Ok then, it has Ewan McGregor switching off his autopilot to play a scumbag ex-con organising a heist that in no way will go awry, and it’s so bloody stylish.
Deriving its beats from any number of celluloid crime stories, this Australian saga manages to eschew the unoriginality of the influences it wears so proudly on its sleeves to break out as an impressive calling card for feature debutante, Julius Avery. Like watching HEAT, having had a boot full of dirt kicked into your eyes, Son of a Gun is visceral, gripping, and satisfying on every conceivable level.
Soundtrack of the Year Award.
Sicario – Johann Johannsson
Ordinarily given to a Pulp Fiction style collection that you’re going to listen to on your commute for the next decade, or until Porno comes out, Johann Johannsson’s score for Denis Villeneuve’s heart massaging thriller is incredible.
It’s like a heaving beast of increasing bass boom, spreading like an audio disease over the stunning visuals, and is as much of a character as any of the fallible spectres ushered around Roger Deakin’s beautifully shot locales. It’s a coiled snake of a score, biding its time in the dusty Mexican landscape, before snapping and spitting in moments of brilliantly orchestrated sound.
Dick Van Dyke terrible Accent of the year Award.
Joseph Gordon Levitt
Robert Zemeckis’ The Walk may have featured one of the most outstanding film sequences of the year but it also featured the worst accent since Shia Labeouf made every Englishman cringe in Nymphomaniac. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s attempt at the French accent proved to be one of the funniest things in cinema this year.
Michael Fassbender Film of the Year Award.
Michael Fassbender is one of the best actors working today, and as if to rub it in our faces he has starred in three of this year’s best movies and give knock-out performances in all of them. First off he appeared in Slow West, a western also starring Ben Mendelsohn and Kodi-Smit Mcphee and reminded us just how bad-ass he can be. Then he took on a little known character by the name of Macbeth and blew us all away. His demented performance of Macbeth gave us a new version of the character and it seemed Fassbender was born for the role.
But then he showed us a totally different side and give us the performance that should win him his first ever Academy Award (Sorry Leo) as Steve Jobs. Fassbender’s performance, with the help of Aaron Sorkin’s incredible script was easily the best of 2015 and perhaps even the best of Fassbender’s career so far. The actor has another three films lined up for 2016 as well- so this could well become an annual award.
The well done Pixar, you broke me Award.
Bing Bong- Take her to the moon for me
Damn you Pixar. Back in July I had to sit in a cinema packed with children and cry my eyes out. I won’t spoil Inside Out for those who haven’t seen it but those who have will know exactly what I mean. First we had Up, then Toy Story 3 and now this!? From now on I’m going to watch Pixar films at home, on my own, with a box of maltesers and some Kleenex.
Best Cameo Award.
Hugh Jackman, Me Earl and the Dying Girl
Good cameos can prove very tricky to get right but Me Earl and the Dying Girl nailed it this year with the inspired appearance of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. For those who’ve not had the pleasure- the cameo takes place when Earl is lying on Rachel’s bed trying to figure out how to comfort her.
He looks over at a picture of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine on the wall when all of a sudden it starts talking to him about how long he has been there and how much Earl needs to man up. It’s a surreal moment but it’s absolutely inspired and fits the tone of the movie perfectly.
Best item found at a garage sale Award.
First Edition of Homer’s Iliad- The Boy Next Door.
Back at the start of the year Jennifer Lopez starred in a movie called The Boy Next Door- the film got hounded by critics and made no dent at the box office at all but it did manage to have an impact on Amazon, where it made ‘first edition of Homer’s Iliad’ one of the highest ranked searches of that month.
In the movie J-Lo plays an English teacher and her besotted toy boy gives her a gift- a first edition copy of Homer’s Iliad that he found at a garage sale for a couple of dollars.
That’s right, at a garage sale he managed to find a first edition copy of a poem that was written a good 2,000 years before the invention of the printed press. A google search will reveal that the most expensive edition of the poem is Alexander’s Pope’s famous translation- of which a first edition sold for a whopping $21,000. The man at that garage sale must be feeling pretty darn silly right about now.
Strange use of a Nirvana song ever Award.
Hands up if you liked Pan! No-one? Just me then. Pan was a bizarre movie there’s no denying that but I couldn’t help but find it infectious. The movies most surreal moment, and there was plenty, was when Hugh Jackman’s Blackbeard first arrived in Neverland, being greeted by his legions of slaves singing Smells like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. If one moment captured exactly why I liked the movie it was this- just wacky enough to put a smile across my face through-out.
The Before Sunset Award for I Can’t believe you Just Ended Like That Award.
Todd Hayne’s latest movie Carol is nothing short of phenomenal- a mournful tale of forbidden love clouded in cigarette smoke featuring two of the year’s finest performances. It also has the most intense movie ending of the year, which I won’t spoil here because it has only just hit cinemas.
It’s a moment reminiscent of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset- everything we need to know, like so much before it in the movie is told in a single smile. In my ways it is the perfect ending, but it still left me with my jaw open.