Film

The Best in Film in 2015

Emertainment Monthly Movies Writers

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691 movies were released theatrically in 2015, and the movies section writers of Emertainment Monthly have picked the best of what they saw in a variety of categories. You’ll find the full list of winners and runners-up below.

Best Film: Inside Out

The emotions of Pixar's Inside Out. Photo Credit: Disney
The emotions of Pixar’s Inside Out. Photo Credit: Disney

From James Canellos’ top ten: “Inside Out may be one of the most unanimously praised film this year, and it deserves all the acclaim. This candy colored animated creation explores the mental conflict that arises when pre-teen Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) moves from her home in Minnesota to San Francisco. Her emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Fear (Bill Hader) brace themselves for the roller coaster of changes that come with maturing. Inside Out is one of the select movies that’s targeted at children but is just as enjoyable for adults. Director Pete Docter isn’t afraid to tell its younger viewers that it’s okay to feel sad, it’s a necessary part of growing up.”

Runner-up: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Director: George MillerMad Max: Fury Road

Star Charlize Theron with director George Miller on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
Star Charlize Theron with director George Miller on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

From George Huertas’ review: “Miller directs in a way that makes almost all other action movie directors look like amateurs. In this age of CGI over-reliance and of shaky, boringly-staged action sequences, Miller brings a genuine sense of joy and beauty to his action movie.”

Tied runners-up: J.J. Abrams for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant, and Ridley Scott for The Martian.

Best Screenplay: Tom McCarthy and Josh SingerSpotlight

Behind the scenes on Spotlight. Photo Credit: Open Road
Behind the scenes on Spotlight. Photo Credit: Open Road

From Evan Slead’s review: “The greatest strength of Spotlight falls immediately into the writing. The script work by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer is stellar as they take a several month long true life event and condense it all into a tight two-hour experience. This is where the balance is seen the most as the story manages to deliver a great deal of factual evidence but in an intriguing way.”

Runner-up: Alex Garland, Ex Machina

Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprioThe Revenant

Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) in The Revenant. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox
Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) in The Revenant. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox

From Valeriy Kolyadych’s review: “The actors are excellent with performances that are filled with raw emotional intensity. While DiCaprio is a standout, all of the actors have a great command of the necessary emotions: despair, hope, terror.”

Runner-up: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Best Actress: Charlize TheronMad Max: Fury Road

Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in Mad Max: Fury Road. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) in Mad Max: Fury Road. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

From George Huertas’ review: “Despite the limited dialogue, there’s a great deal of weight wrung from the actors’ physicality. An occasional wry grin from Max, the intensity that shimmers from Furiosa’s (Charlize Theron) eyes, or the body language of Immortan Joe’s wives all give the necessary emotions and depth to connect with these characters.”

Tied runners-up: Brie Larson for Room and Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn.

Best Supporting Actor: Mark RuffaloSpotlight

Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight. Photo Credit: Open Road
Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight. Photo Credit: Open Road

From Evan Slead’s review: “Mark Ruffalo as Mike Rezendes is the most noticeable of performances as Ruffalo manages to step outside of his typical “every man” role to portray a quirky and sharp reporter. Its clear that he, along with the rest of the cast, spent a considerable amount of time with the real Spotlight team members.”

Runner-up: Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia VikanderEx Machina

Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina. Photo Credit: A24
Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina. Photo Credit: A24

From Wesley Emblidge’s review: “…the Swedish actress has turned in great work in costume dramas like A Royal Affair and Anna Karenina, and here she makes good on the talent showcased in those movies. She’s both tragic and terrifying, often within the same scene.”

Runner-up: Rachael McAdams, Spotlight

Best Ensemble Cast: Spotlight

Rachael McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian D'Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery in Spotlight. Photo Credit: Open Road
Rachael McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Brian d’Arcy James, Michael Keaton and John Slattery in Spotlight. Photo Credit: Open Road

From Evan Slead’s review: “An amazing aspect to the film’s acting is that it does not rest completely on the top billed cast. The actors playing victims of the priests that the film follows are all fantastic. They seem to be ripped from the streets of Boston with all of their heartache worn completely on their sleeves.”

Runner-up: The Hateful Eight

Best Cinematography: John SealeMad Max: Fury Road

Max (Tom Hardy) looks over the wasteland in Mad Max: Fury Road. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers
Max (Tom Hardy) looks over the wasteland in Mad Max: Fury Road. Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

From James Canellos’ top ten: “Was any other film this year more visually pleasing or as gleefully bonkers? Director George Miller rejuvenated his 1979 passion project in the biggest way possible, thanks to the use of practical effects, some brilliantly choreographed action sequences, and a new iconic female lead (Charlize Theron’s intense Furiosa).”

Runner-up: Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant

Best Score: John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Millenium Falcon evades TIE Fighters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Disney
The Millenium Falcon evades TIE Fighters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Photo Credit: Disney

From James Canellos’ thoughts: “With Star Wars: The Force Awakens John Williams not only created new themes that appropriately capture a new generation of characters he’s transcended and put to new use the musical cues that Star Wars fans have been humming for the past thirty-nine years. There’s no doubt that a new generation will continue to hum the newest editions.”

Runner-up: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

Best Animated Film: Inside Out

Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) in Inside Out. Photo Credit: Disney
Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) in Inside Out. Photo Credit: Disney

From Wyatt Muma’s top ten: “Pixar has not been itself the past few years. Originally heralded as the most creative studios producing content, Pixar has almost become a joke of its former self in the past few years. While the future slate, as well as its most recent entry The Good Dinosaur, leave much to be desired, Inside Out is a great return to form. Pete Docter weaves a crazy original story that made audiences laugh, cry, and cheer for these sentient emotions. In this production, Pixar isn’t just aiming for great filmmaking, but changing the way people think about their own emotions. It’s fantastic and exciting and proves that the Pixar of past isn’t completely forgotten.”

Runner-up: Anomalisa

Best Documentary Film: Amy

Amy Winehouse discovers she's won a Grammy in Amy. Photo Credit: A24
Amy Winehouse discovers she’s won a Grammy in Amy. Photo Credit: A24

From Wyatt Muma’s top ten: “Amy is a tragic masterpiece. Telling the story of doomed songstress Amy Winehouse, director Asif Kapada is able to piece together an honest and beautiful piece of cinema. Watching the film feels like meeting a new best friend, only to see her tragically perish. It’s such a fantastic meditation on the price of fame and talent, as well as a perfect portrait on who Amy was as a person.”

Runner-up: The Look of Silence

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