Wednesday, December 2, 2015


As this year comes to a close, it is that time to look back and honor the best in cinema. The award season has officially begun and critic groups have started to announce their winners. The selections have been quite diverse and there's not one film that is a clear front runner this year although the lesbian melodrama, "Carol" and the exceptional cast of "Spotlight" have made the biggest impression. Here is a run-down of all of the award recognition that has been announced to date:

Today, the New York Film Critics Circle picked "Carol" as their best film of the year. The director, Todd Haynes and the screenplay by Phyllis Nagy were also honored. The real surprise here is in some of the acting categories. Michael Keaton took the prize for Best Actor for "Spotlight" and while he delivered another fine performance, I don't think it's a standout (nor an actual lead). Same goes with Best Supporting Actress, Kristen Stewart for "Clouds of Sils Maria" although she did manage to dazzle the French as they gave her the Cesar Award last year for this role. I doubt either of these actors will get much attention from the Academy due to a very crowded field of more showy performances.

Winners from the 2015 New York Film Critics Circle Awards:

Best Film: "Carol"
Best Director: Todd Haynes, “Carol”
Best Screenplay: Phyllis Nagy, “Carol”
Best Actor: Michael Keaton, “Spotlight”
Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Best Supporting Actress: Kristen Stewart, “Clouds of Sils Maria”
Best Cinematography: Edward Lachman, “Carol”
Best Foreign Film: “Timbuktu”
Best Nonfiction Film: “In Jackson Heights”
Best Animated Film: “Inside Out”
Best First Film: “Son of Saul”

The newsroom drama, "Spotlight" took the top prize at this year's Gotham Awards on November 30th as it was selected Best Feature in addition to Best Screenplay and a special jury prize for the excellent cast. I was thrilled with all of the acting prizes given, particularly for Mya Taylor and her wild and quite fabulous turn in "Tangerine".

Winners from the 2015 Gotham Independent Film Awards:

Best Feature: "Spotlight"
Best Screenplay: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, "Spotlight"
Best Actor: Paul Dano, "Love & Mercy"
Best Actress: Bel Powley, "The Diary of a Teenage Girl"
Breakthrough Actor: Mya Taylor, "Tangerine"
Breakthrough Director: Jonas Carpigano, "Mediterranea"
Best Documentary: "The Look of Silence"

I'm not sure what to make of the selections from the National Board of Review. They certainly went in a mainstream Hollywood direction with their picks this year. I did find "Mad Max: Fury Road" and The Martian" to be fun and entertaining but hardly deserving of these major honors. When I think of an exceptional work of cinema from this past year that will stand the test of time, "Fury Road" ain't it. While I have no opinion yet regarding "The Hateful Eight" or Mr. Stallone's work in "Creed",  I must applaud the group for recognizing Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay's amazing performances in "Room".

Winners from the 2015 National Board of Review:

Best Film: "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Director: Ridley Scott, "The Martian"
Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, "The Hateful Eight"
Best Adapted Screenplay: Drew Goddard, "The Martian"
Best Actor: Matt Damon, "The Martian"
Best Actress: Brie Larson, "Room"
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, "Creed"
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh, "The Hateful Eight"
Best Foreign Language Film: "Son of Saul"
Best Documentary: "Amy"
Best Animated Feature: "Inside Out"
Breakthrough Performance: Abraham Attah, "Beasts of No Nation" & Jacob Tremblay. "Room"
Best Directorial Debut: Jonas Carpignano, "Mediterranea"
Best Ensemble: "The Big Short"
Spotlight Award: "Sicario" for Outstanding Collaborative Vision
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: "Beasts of No Nation" & "Mustang"

Finally, here are the nominees for the 31st Annual Indie Spirit Awards. "Carol" leads the nominations with six including Best Feature with Netflix's "Beasts of No Nation" and "Spotlight" each receiving five. The winners will be announced on February 28th, one day before the Oscars.

The nominations for the 2015 Film Independent Indie Spirit Awards:

Best Feature:

"Beasts of No Nation"

Best Director:

Sean Baker, "Tangerine"
Cary Joji Fukunaga, "Beasts of No Nation"
Todd Haynes, "Carol"
Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson, "Anomalisa"
Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"
David Robert Mitchell, "It Follows"

Best Screenplay:

Charlie Kaufman, "Anomalisa"
Donald Margulies, "The End of the Tour"
Phyllis Nagy, "Carol"
Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, "Spotlight"
S. Craig Zahler, "Bone Tomahawk"

Best First Feature:

Marielle Heller, "The Diary of a Teenage Girl"
Josh Mond, "James White"
Josef Kubota Wladyka, "Manos Sucias"
Jonas Carpignano, "Mediterranea"
ChloƩ Zhao,"Songs My Brothers Taught Me"

Best First Screenplay:

Jesse Andrews, "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"
Joseph Carpignano, "Mediterranea"
Emma Donoghue, "Room"
Marielle Heller, "The Diary of a Teenage Girl"
John Magary, Russell Harbaugh and Myna Joseph, "The Mend"

Best Male Lead:

Christopher Abbott, "James White"
Abraham Attah, "Beasts of No Nation"
Ben Mendelsohn, "Mississippi Grind"
Jason Segel, "The End of the Tour"
Koudous Seihon, "Mediterranea"

Best Female Lead:

Cate Blanchett, "Carol"
Brie Larson, "Room"
Rooney Mara, "Carol"
Bel Powley, "The Diary of A Teenage Girl"
Kitana Kiki Rodriquez, "Tangerine"

Best Supporting Male:

Kevin Corrigan, "Results"
Paul Dano, "Love & Mercy"
Idris Elba, "Beasts of No Nation"
Richard Jenkins, "Bone Tomahawk"
Michael Shannon, "99 Homes"

Best Supporting Female:

Robin Bartlett, "H."
Marin Ireland, "Glass Chin"
Jennifer Jason Leigh, "Anomalisa"
Cynthia Nixon, "James White"
Mya Taylor, "Tangerine"

Best Cinematography:

Cary Joji Fukunaga, "Beasts of No Nation"
Ed Lachman, "Carol"
Michael Gioulakis, "It Follows"
Meadlowland, Reed Morano, "Meadowland"
Joshua James Richards, "Songs My Brothers Taught Me"

Best Editing:

Kristan Sprague, "Manos Sucias"
Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie, "Heaven Knows What"
Julio C. Perez IV, "It Follows"
Nathan Nugent, "Room"
Tom McArdle, "Spotlight"

Best Documentary:

"Best of Enemies"
"Heart of Dog"
"The Look of Silence"
"The Russian Woodpecker"

Best International Film:

"Embrace the Serpent" (Colombia)
"Girlhood" (France)
"Mustang" (France/Turkey)
"A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence" (Sweden)
"Son of Saul" (Hungary)