The nominations for the 2015 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. Today, I’ll be announcing the winners of said awards. Next week, I’ll cover less traditional categories in what we like to call the Arbitrary Awards, and not long after that, I’ll post my top 10 of 2015. After that, we’ve got the Oscars (predictions and live-tweeting or something) and then it’s on to 2016. But I digress, let’s get on with the awards:
- Best Villain/Badass: Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne in Mad Max: Fury Road. You will ride eternal, shiny and chrome. This was a moderate year for villainy, with only a handful of true standouts. Immortan Joe takes the award and stands tall even amongst the Mad Max legacy villains (though I don’t think he quite takes it from Lord Humungus).
Kylo Ren is probably the runner-up, but he’s held back by his whiny vulnerability and the fact that he got bested by an untrained and inexperienced hero, which is a shame, because he was initially pretty fantastic (and, truth be told, I imagine him being more menacing in the sequel, so I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this topic then). Also of note, Tom Hardy’s performance in The Revenant put him in the running, but even he couldn’t stand up to Immortan Joe. Krampus might have been a good choice, except that he seemed to rely a little too heavily on his various helpers for the bulk of his work. I think I enjoyed the character of Ultron more than most, but then, the concept of the character is squandered a bit, even if he remains a fun little comic book villain.
- Best Hero/Badass: Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road. Despite the title of the film, Charlize Theron owns this movie, and while the Best Hero/Villain awards rarely go to the same movie, they earned it here.
Otherwise, there’s lots of competition, surely an overmatch for the villains (but hey, that’s a good thing, I guess). A few folks who I highlighted more to represent an ensemble than for themselves (i.e. Kurt Russel in The Hateful Eight), and this is something I should probably give its own category for. In terms of runners up, um, I don’t really know, there’s like 5 or 6 folks of roughly equivalent heroic badassery on the list. But Furiosa stands out for sure, so she takes it!
- Best Comedic Performance: Amy Schumer in Trainwreck. This was a tough category to pick, and truth be told, I’m not totally in love with Trainwreck, but Schumer is great in it, and goes to unexpected places. Runner up goes to Michael Peña in Ant-Man, who totally stole the show, but didn’t quite have enough screen time to take the win. Really, the only one not in that I was able to immediately eliminate was Steve Carell in The Big Short. It’s probably not even that funny of a performance, now that I think about it, but there was something about how exasperated his character is at what’s going on (a feeling mimicked by the audience) that tickled me.
- Breakthrough Performance: Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. This was a really tough one, and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was really gunning for the award, but I gave it to Vikander because she had more heavy lifting to do in Ex Machina. I only listed two, but Vikander was also in, like, 500 movies this year, which also helped her case. This was a strong category this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing all of these folks again.
- Most Visually Stunning: The Revenant. I think the movie is about an hour too long, but that hour is mostly glorious landscape shots, so here we are. This award most often goes to a movie that is showy and indulgent, which The Revenant certainly is.
Honorable mentions to Mad Max: Fury Road and The Hateful Eight, which certainly comported themselves well on the visual front (and honestly, had more compelling stories, etc…), though not quite as bombastically as The Revenant.
- Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: The Martian. Perhaps a controversial choice. Not sure it’s the best movie on the list, but as Science Fiction? This award simply needs to go to The Martian. You may have noticed that I’m a big fan of written Science Fiction, but if your conception of SF is based on Movies and TV, you’ve probably got a much different conception of the genre. Problem solving, competence, can-do attitudes, genuine cooperation; these things are often seen as jejune and unsophisticated, but they’re the beating heart of SF. Nothing against the angsty, pessimistic dystopias that dominate the genre in film, but I was so happy to see my favorite parts of the genre on screen that I have to give it this award. The category as a whole is unusually strong, actually, and most of the other nominees would comport themselves well in most years. That being said, I hope The Martian ushers in a new era of throwback SF, even if that’s highly unlikely.
- Best Sequel/Reboot: Mad Max: Fury Road. Another unusually strong set of nominees here, but Mad Max was simply the most astonishing sequel, perhaps partly because I simply couldn’t imagine it being very good at all. Runner up would be Creed, another long-gap sequel to an old, venerated franchise. I gave it a lot of love in the nominations, but I don’t think it’s faring quite as well in the winner’s circle. I will most definitely have to find some Arbitrary Awards to give it, because it was wonderful.
- Biggest Disappointment: Terminator Genisys. A tough choice, as it’s not like I expected Genisys to be that great, but I didn’t think it would be anywhere near as bad as it was. Maybe I’m more harsh on Terminator sequels because I’m such a huge fan of the original, but I always hold out hope that maybe someone can tell a new story in that universe. Meanwhile, I was super excited for Tomorrowland and it totally did not come close to those expectations. A close call, but I went with Terminator for this “award” because it’s clearly the worse film. A close third would be Jurassic World, a movie that has a few decent moments, but which is ultimately pretty pointless.
- Best Action Sequences: Mad Max: Fury Road. I mean, the whole movie is an action sequence, and it’s glorious, so it has to win. Honorable mention to Kingsman: The Secret Service for that Church scene alone, Everly for its video-game-esque progression of minions and boss fights, Sicario for the tense border crossing sequence, Creed for that single take fight, and I could probably keep going, but I’ll stop now because none of them really holds a candle to the sustained excellence of Mad Max…
- Best Plot Twist/Surprise: Predestination. Really happy to be able to throw a spotlight, however small, on this little SF film. Of course, I won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s a doozy. Honorable mention to Focus for actually surprising me a couple of times despite being on guard for it (usually the downfall of a con man movie).
- Best High Concept Film: It Follows. I don’t think the movie could come up with a good resolution for it, but the pure horror conceit at it’s heart is absolutely brilliant, and it’s used to excellent effect. Until, again, you realize it has no idea what to do with the concept. Runner up goes to Victoria for its whole single-take device. I guess that qualifies as high-concept, right?
- 2015’s 2014 Movie of the Year: Housebound. I could have sworn I saw more 2014 stuff in 2015, but here we are, and I do love this little film, one of my favorite discoveries of the year. Gets the award for Morgana O’Reilly’s delightfully snarky performance. Also because she uses a cheese grater as a gauntlet. Highly innovative. Definitely worth catching up with this movie.
And there you have it! Stay tuned for the Arbitrary Awards and (eventually) a top 10…