It’s been a while since I’ve posted a weekly feature here on Showtime Showdown and I’m creating one just in time for the year in review. To see the awards from 2014 or 2013, click on the respective links. For now, I want to give prizes to the movies that will largely go unnoticed for the awards season. These are the movies that are right in the middle. Some need recognition for what they did right, while others did some things, oh so, wrong.
This amazing actress may have had great roles in period pieces, A Royal Affair and Anna Karenina, in previous years, but 2015 was her year. She started the year off by starring as Ava the robot in Ex Machina. She then held her own against Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in The Man from UNCLE. Her most recent role in The Danish Girl will most likely get her an Oscar nom. Her next big role will be starring opposite Matt Damon in the next Bourne movie, possibly titled The Bourne Instigation or The Bourne Redemption.
Runner-up – Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation)
I Can’t Believe That Didn’t Suck More
A fourth Jurassic Park movie had been planned since 2004. Thankfully, with the ideas they had (raptors with guns), the movie was never made. Enter captain charisma Chris Pratt and an up-and-coming director and a new movie gets greenlit. The odds of getting a decent JP sequel was really low. Somehow, the movie surprised everyone by not being horrible. In fact, it was the second best movie in the series. In retrospect, it’s really not all that good, but it’s much better than a T-Rex terrorizing San Diego.
Runner-up – Ant-Man
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
All kidding aside, this is the BEST remake of the year. The hero’s journey from A New Hope has been replicated countless times in other flicks, but I’m amazed JJ Abrams was brave enough to copy Episode 4 in a new Star Wars movie. The guy does like retelling stories and he does it well.
Runner-up – Inside Out (Herman’s Head)
As a kid, I loved Short Circuit and its inferior sequel. Those movies were so perfectly ’80s. Writer/Director Neil Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) decided to create the South African ghetto flick, Chappie in the same vein. But instead of Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy, we get trashy rap group, Die Antwoord, to star. Probably didn’t help that this robot buddy movie is very R rated.
Runner-up – Spectre
Paul Walker in Furious 7
Yes, I’m sure I’ll burn for this. But seriously, they did a pretty good job at handling the character after Paul Walker’s death.
Runner-up – Shaun the Sheep
Van Gogh (Not Appreciated in Its Time)
The Man from UNCLE
Guy Ritchie’s latest movie is viewed as a flop. It was released in August to little fanfare, but is one of the more rewatchable movies of the year. It has also disappeared in a year full of spy flicks. This one does old-school Bond better than Spectre, which really wanted to be old-school Bond.
Runner-up – Steve Jobs
Sadness (Inside Out)
Didn’t you just hate Sadness? Clearly, she’s a necessary evil in the mind of Riley, but did she have to ruin everything? I view her as a villain because it seemed she was purposely trying to corrupt Riley’s core memories and infect them with her mood. If it were not for her bad influence, Riley never would have let her first world problems lead her to run away from home.
Runner-up – Immortan Joe (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Everyone got really pumped about Marvel’s big bad when the trailers were released. It also didn’t hurt that James Spader voiced the menacing foe. This is a robot that is behind the deaths of most of the Marvel universe in the comics. Yet, in the movies, he’s a wise-cracking robot that is too busy writing his stand-up act to actually be evil. Joss Whedon might as well have voiced the robot, considering all the glib monologues he made.
Runner-up – Balem Abrasax (Eddie Redmayne) in Jupiter Ascending
Most Squandered Premise
Pixels was an Oscar winning short movie just five years ago. The concept of ’80s arcade games attacking the populous is a fun idea that, with the right cast and writers, should have been a sure-fire hit. Well, somewhere between the idea and the Adam Sandler squad being on board, Pixels became a very bad thing. It’s one alien movie where I rooted for the aliens to win.
Runner-up – Tomorrowland
Mad Max: Fury Road – The Entire Movie
Seriously the entire movie is a two hour chase across the desert and it’s candy for the eyes. The best part is that there is very little reliance on CG effects. Explosions and demolition are abound, and it’s all beautifully violent choreography. If George Miller didn’t use Cirque De Soleil as consultants, they should be paid for their inspiration.
Runner-up – The Church Scene in Kingsman: The Secret Service
Hug Your Family Right Now (inspired by The Impossible)
Yes, this movie came and went quickly. It was a bit silly at times and maybe a little bit racist, but this Owen Wilson thriller was terrifying. Essentially, he and his wife try to flee a southeast Asian country with their two daughters in tow, and an entire military force seeks to kill them. It may just be the fact that I have daughters, but I had to rush right home after the movie and hug them.
Runner-up – Room
M. Night Shyamalan for The Visit
M. Night, I missed you. You got so prideful for a while there and your movies were nearly intolerable. Suddenly, you filmed a movie on the cheap, did little promotion for it and somehow it’s actually good. Once again, you’ve made me laugh, cringe and scream. And I was feeling this way with you, not at you. Please keep this up.
Runner-up – Johnny Depp in Black Mass (Though sadly he’s going back to silly roles)
Best New Hero
Furiosa (Charlize Theron) from Mad Max: Fury Road
In a movie named after Max, there was a clear hero of the story and it wasn’t him. Furiosa owned this amazing return to the post-apocalyptic franchise. If I’m ever live in a world where life is expendable and water is a commodity, I’m seeking Furiosa out before I do anything else.
Runner-up – Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) from Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation
“Bees are genetically designed to recognize royalty.” – Jupiter Ascending
Runner-up – “Because I’m fifty shades of ****ed up, Anastasia.” – 50 Shades of Grey
It’s extremely rare to find a horror movie that won’t be forgotten as soon as you see it. It Follows was a festival favorite because it seems to exist as a meta-statement on horror flicks. Above all else, it values the old horror adage of the virgin being the last one to die. This movie immediately creates a great mythos, that is sadly undone when it breaks its own rules.
Runner-up – Trainwreck
And finally the award that once went to Taylor Lautner and Chris Hemsworth…
Gratuitous Loss of Clothes
Alexandra Daddario in San Andreas
Alexandra Daddario plays the Rock’s daughter in this earthquake schlock-fest. From the early scenes, you know the assets that she brings to the movie. You can almost picture the pitch meeting where they created scenes just so she could swim and lose a layer of clothing every 20 minutes.
Runner-up – Magic Mike XXL (obviously)