The Envelope, Please



What a year!

Said very few people.

‘sheet movie critic Mark Ryall’s favourite and least favourite moments of drama on screens both big and small this year.

Best Movie: Birdman

Michael Keaton runs through Times Square in his pants, and his career gets a well-deserved boost. Yes, Birdman was released in 2015 (Waaay back on the 1st of January in fact). Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s one-take meta-textual dramedy was hilarious, creative and wholly original. Amongst all the sequels, prequels, reboots and retcons, Birdman was a reminder that mainstream film still has the potential to give us something fresh.

Honourable Mention: Mad Max Fury RoadThe mad, undiluted genius of Dr. George Miller.

Best TV Show: Fargo Season 2

Because The Leftovers was just too damn bleak. Yah sure Fargo’s first season was real good there, but season 2 went back to the 1970s and upped the ante. With a little Bruce Campbell and a lot of Minnesotan weirdness, Fargo was shocking, funny (often at the same time) and thoroughly brilliant. You betcha.

Honourable Mention: This is England ’90 – Shane Meadows’ happy ending. In your face, Linklater.

Best Documentary: The Queen of Ireland

Long live the Queen! Conor Horgan’s documentary is as much a snapshot of Irish society in 2015 as it is the story of a drag queen from Ballinrobe. Chin up, it could be worse.

Honourable Mention: Cartel LandSavage, brutal and utterly compelling. Cartel Land is no fun, but it’s essential viewing.

Best Male Performance: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything).

Daniel DayLewis in My Left Foot is the obvious comparison, but for my money, you’d have to go back to John Hurt’s Elephant Man to find a better physical performance. A tough gig bagged Redmayne the Oscar, and deservedly so.

Honourable Mention: Bertie Ahern (The Banking Inquiry) – I believe I can fly etc.

Best Female Performance: Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Blanchett’s effortlessly elegant turn in Todd Haynes’ homage to old school Hollywood hit every note on the emotional spectrum. From the giddy excitement of first love to the melancholy of heartbreak, Blanchett was profoundly affecting throughout.

Honourable Mention: Emily Blunt (Sicario) . Blunt’s bit-part years finally pay off.

Worst Movie: Love

“I hear you’re a pornographer now, Father.”  If Terry Richardson made a movie, it would be Love. The competition was fierce (I’m looking at you, Entourage), but Gaspar Noé’s meditation on “sexual sentimentality” blew the rest away. I would assume that at least half of the production budget went on class A drugs, which might account for a seven-page script. Exhausting and unrelentingly foul.  And can you imagine the stink on that set?

Dishonourable Mention: Ted 2Like the first one, just without the jokes.

Worst TV Show: True Detective Season 2

Sure, Orange is the New Black was a real chore this year, but True Detective 2 was the biggest anti-climax since the millennium bug. Despite Colin Farrell’s best efforts, nothing could save this mess of miscast actors, clunky dialogue and an underwhelming story.

Dishonourable Mention: Broadchurch 2Pointless, unnecessary, and oh so boring.

Good stuff coming in 2016: The Revenant, Room, Spotlight, Trumbo, The X-Files, Peaky Blinders, Westworld and of course… Twin Peaks.



Yesterday: ‘Damn near Perfect’

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53 thoughts on “The Envelope, Please

  1. Clampers Outside!

    “one-take” like, but not a one-take :)

    If I had to pick one movie this year that sat with me long after viewing… I’d have to go with ‘Cop Car’.
    I just loved it :) …small indie flick, with a touch of Stand By Me about it.

  2. Jonsmoke

    Birdman was different but that doesn’t make it great. It was good.

    I don’t think True Detective 2 deserves a bad review. I really liked it – storyline, acting, atmosphere and visuals.

    1. meadowlark

      Vince Vaughn was really a surprise for me. And I loved Kelly Riley (I hope I have that right) as his wife. Their relationship made for some excellent scenes.

      1. Caroline

        Oh. I thought Vince Vaughn was so out of his depth I was nearly watching it with my hand stretched out to the screen. Him and the wife were comical. I still watched it mind you.

        1. meadowlark

          I dunno. There were scenes where he was genuinely scary. He’s no Tony Soprano, mind. I would have happily seen Rachel McAdams gone in episode 1. A dreadful character.

          1. meadowlark

            I just started rewatching MM and it really is a fantastic show. There’s something new every time I watch. Also Betty.

    1. Drebbin

      Sticking a 5-Speed Magimix up my fundament would have been funnier than the first Ted, and inspired some awe too.

  3. Spaghetti Hoop

    You have to be kidding me. ‘Amy’ wins best documentary hands down and ‘Narcos’ best TV Series.

      1. Squiggleyjoop

        You just accused the write of being someone who ‘goes against the grain’ before asking ‘am I the only one who hated Mad Max?’.

    1. Mikeyfex


      I’m not sure if it qualifies for 2014 or 2015 but I thought ’71 was quite good too, a movie I’d heard nothing about til it magically appeared on the hard drive.

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        A really good film despite the ‘Ra Man stereotyping and the ‘spot the Love/Hate actor’ that inevitably distracts.

  4. Condescending Nana

    Love was great, you’re just not very comfortable with your own body I suspect; have you tried looking at yourself naked in the mirror and reciting “it’s not your fault” over and over? It helps. Also cry.

  5. David

    The Lady in the Van was excellent, highly entertaining, apart from one crappy unimaginative scene near the end. The actual end scene was very good.

  6. meadowlark

    Also Mad Men wrapped up this year. If there was a tv series that has been consistent and well-made it is this. I was only heartbroken when it ended.

    1. Frilly Keane

      And Birdman was 2014
      But I’d rather correct you on another Birdman oversight
      Emma Stone and Zack Gallifana mnah mnah
      The only worthy mentions, besides the premise of Birdman, about Birdman.

  7. Frilly Keane

    Well now I’ve just had a quick scroll down the FrillyCloud for a bitta year that was in it … So as follows

    2015 was a great year for telly
    Scripted and non scripted
    Fictional and Non Fictional

    Some egs
    The showstoppers we waited on, Game of Thrones, True Detective and Fargo didn’t disappoint. And I don’t care what professional critics have’ta say, but asaic, Farrell and Vaughan had their best performances yet in TD2, especially the latter, Who Knew?!?!

    British Bake Off. No explanation necessary

    Narcos. A great achievement for television.

    The Rugbee WC

    And Nurse Jackie did the job again

    As for the fillums:
    Jurassic Park fulfilled its remit, and so did Spectre
    And dare I say it, and Artisans and gobshites will have a stroke, Ha!……Entourage. Great entertainment.

    The sleeper this year, Slow West ( even if that Kerry tramp is in it)
    Rickie and the Flash might have a creep effect too
    Either way both worth the 120 minutes or so

    And how Panti was considered mightier than The War Room for feature length Documentary is beyond me. Which is my cue to remind all the highbrows who look down their noses on Mrs Brown Carroll, CLIME OUT OF YERE ARSES.
    The War Room is a must see IMO

    Some telly that seems to have not reached yere radars:
    • Ballers. (OK. In the interests of transparency, there is a conflict of interest; the Rock Dwayne is in it. )
    • Madame Secretary. Fantastic scriptwriting and some great storylines are packed it. And Tim Daly…
    • Code Black. One word. Authentic
    • Z Nation. A different approach to the Zombie range. But some great new faces getting some great lines.

    And if anyone is like me and wants cheesecake back to back over the Christmas shutdown, follow up on the trails trials and adventures of Raylon Givens and Boyd Crowder.

    2016. Can’t wait for.

    The Hated 8.

    And World War Z is back for seconds in 2017

      1. J

        Subtle, guarded yet unaware,a bolting bambi. Loved her in it. Actor who played her boyfriend was a mistake. Poor casting by the director.

  8. DaithiG

    I just didn’t like Birdman. I kept thinking of the MacBeth episode of Blackadder throughout the whole thing.

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