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 Road – The 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 Land – Savage, brutal and utterly compelling. Cartel Land is no fun, but it’s essential viewing.
Best Male Performance: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything).
Daniel Day–Lewis 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 2 – Like 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 2 – Pointless, 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’