Best Original Score:
Rich Vreeland aka Disasterpiece, It Follows
Director David Robert Mitchell has collaborated with composer Rich Vreeland (here credited as Disasterpeace) to achieve a fantastic, spookily 80s synth score and matched it with supremely effective, off-beat cinematography by Mike Gioulakis, who subtly but incredibly creepily apes all the great spooky moves of the great horror films of the 70s and 80s, including the slow zoom in, the slow zoom out, the fish-eye lens, and – my favourite and deployed twice – the 360 degree pan. You can tell all these creatives – and boy are they creative! – spent an enormous amount of time talking about, and probably watching, their favourite horror films. Due diligence is in full evidence.
Best Production Design:
Colin Gibson, Mad Max: Fury Road
Every simple cutaway shot, every prop, every strange growl and weird squeak reveals a richly textured and highly specific cinematic universe. The stage is set, the chase is on, and 200 unique, incredible, mind-boggling vehicles careen across the desert.
Andre Turpin, Mommy
The film is exquisitely photographed (André Turpin, cinematographer), which is all the more astonishing considering that it’s shot in 1:1, an aspect ratio I’ll warrant you’ve never seen in a cinema. Dolan often uses slow motion in a beautiful, tasteful way, and the music is gorgeous and present.
Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
Don’t listen to the already often repeated cliché that it’s a two hour car chase. Like any good movie, Fury Road has its ebbs and flows, a three act structure, and a storyline to be excited by and characters to care about. There is emotion, there are gargantuan stakes, and a very moving emotional connection is made between Max (Tom Hardy) and Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron).
Miroslav Slaboshpitsky’s jaw-droppingly original horrorshow is shot in 34 long takes, performed entirely in Ukranian sign language without subtitles by non-professional deaf actors, features extremely explicit sex and violence and a cast of unlikeable characters involved in, among other things, running a teen prostitution ring from the halls of their school. It’s also unerringly gripping and quite brilliant.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Drew Goddard based on the novel by Andy Weir, The Martian
There are so many things – again, clichés – that could have been in this movie that simply aren’t. No wife and child back home to fret and cry, no President concerned about getting re-elected, no relentless reporter determined to get the big scoop, no Russian space program using NASA’s screw-up to score points on the international scene, no frivolous crap. And it’s funny. It has way more laugh-out-loud moments than many a Hollywood “comedy”, and they all come from an authentic place, arising organically from situation and character. I saw the film with a Sunday crowd of civilians and they were vocally loving it. Some of the laughs had legs, rolling and extending, filled with surprised delight – no one expected this sci-fi tale to be so funny, so joyous.
Best Original Screenplay:
Xavier Dolan, Mommy
The film is about many things – it’s got deep thinking embedded at every level: script, production, post-production – but the primary theme that resonated with me was how we create our own universes. Mother and son construct a life together, and it’s totally at odds with society, as represented by their neighbours and the public places they visit. But it works for them. I felt a great sense of self-analysis: how crazy is my little family? How crazy – or sane – is anyone?
Ensemble Performance Award:
Magic Mike XXL
Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and the absurdly deadpan Kevin Nash play five male strippers travelling from Tampa, Florida to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to participate in a male stripper convention. Along the way they have fun, and so do we. That’s it. That’s totally it. But what fun we have! These guys are an incredible delight to hang out with, and the talent they represent is unbelievable. Each can spin a joke, a character, an outrageous dance move – and they all look like their bodies were sculpted by Michaelangelo in his ab period. It’s ludicrous how much ease they display, while obviously presenting such deep reserves of natural skill and immense rehearsal.
Best Supporting Performance by a Woman:
Imogen Poots, She’s Funny That Way
As our lead hooker with a heart of thousand-carat gold, Imogen Poots once again reigns supreme, gifting her every scene, line and moment with life, spontaneity, energy and comic precision. She’s a serious star, and I bet Woody’s kicking himself he didn’t cast her first.
Best Supporting Performance by a Man:
Benicio Del Toro, Sicario
Second-billed Benicio Del Toro, as a shadowy advisor to Josh Brolin’s shadowy advisor, gives a perfect Del Toro performance (as opposed to a ludicrous Del Toro performance); The Bull has got his groove back. If this film pops up in the Oscar nominations – and it very well might, especially for cinematography, direction and original screenplay (Taylor Sheridan) – expect to see Del Toro get a nod. He’s simply awesome.
Best Lead Performance by a Man:
Paul Dano, Love and Mercy
Dano has been quietly achieving greatness for about a decade now. Completely invisible outside of his work (when was the last time you saw him in a gossip column, on a red carpet, or misbehaving on Twitter?), he has held his own with Daniel Day Lewis and Toni Colette, among others, and picks and chooses his roles carefully – so much so that they seem to pick him. Lord knows no-one casts him because he sells cinema tickets, so there’s something else afoot – he’s the real freakin’ deal. And despite his superb body of solid work, none of his previous roles compare to his Brian Wilson, a performance he has crafted so carefully that the real Brian Wilson, viewed on YouTube, may seem less authentic than Dano’s portrayal.
Best Lead Performance by a Woman:
Anne Dorval, Mommy
It it also possibly the first movie to seriously look at how ADHD truly affects those that have to deal with it; indeed, possibly the first movie to take ADHD seriously as a subject. There are shades of characterisation in this film so delicate and sublime they make you want to weep. I teared up for the first time – for how much humanity was on display – at the one hour and five minute mark. But then I laughed for a long period, before the drama hit me again.
Best Feature Documentary:
Matthew Bate, Sam Klemke’s Time Machine
Matthew Bate found a subject – in this case, an American man whose most extraordinary characteristic was that he’d accumulated thousands of hours of day-to-day footage of himself over decades – and crafted an extremely funny, wise, moving, profound and highly original “weirdo gonzo doco.” Astonishingly watchable and unforgettable.
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
George Miller, supposedly directing not from a script but from 3,500 storyboards he has created over the last decades with Brendan McCarthy (2000 AD), Mark Sexton and Peter Pound, has delivered one of the most kinetic, energetic, vibrant and thrilling action movies ever made. Like Gravity of a couple of years ago, and Avatar before that, Fury Road is a game changer, one of those films that has your jaw on the floor and your head spinning as you wonder just how in the world this thing possibly got made.
Mad Max: Fury Road
It was only about six or seven minutes into Mad Max: Fury Road that I knew that I’d be seeing it again in a matter of days. It was a couple of minutes after that when I realised that this film was going to look freaking spectacular in 3-D (I was watching it traditionally). I was already getting excited for my second viewing not ten minutes into my first. Fury Road is everything you want from a Mad Max film. It’s got the action, the cars and the characters; more importantly, in allegiance with the first three films – and especially The Road Warrior, the classic of the series – it’s got the weird vernacular, the Australian-ness, and the complete commitment to its own unique and totally insane universe. It may have cost a studio hundreds of millions of dollars, but it still feels home-grown, hand-made, and completely deviant.