Courtesy photo | Disney
Time to cut the crap and hand out the real awards
Memo to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences: You’re boring. And stuffy. And conservative. You choose to trumpet the same types of “prestige” pictures every year, and rarely bother to acknowledge the things that make us laugh, the things that we actually paid to see at the theater (like “Star Wars”), the things that are Michael Shannon. So I’ve cut the baloney and come up with the real awards – the 2016 Alternate Oscars. Read; weep. – John Serba
The Most Movie: ‘Furious 7’
Nominees: “Furious 7,” “Jurassic World,” “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “The Hateful Eight,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
So many characters, so many subplots, so many dinosaurs, so many superheroes, so much death and destruction – and that’s just “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” If you gauge the value of your moviegoing dollar by how much muchness a movie has, these five films gave it to you. “Furious 7” takes the trophy because its plot has the convolutions of a small intestine, a cast list from here to eternity and back and enough ear and eye pollution to render us all deaf and blind a dozen times over.
The Least Movie: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’
Nominees: “The Revenant,” “The Ridiculous 6,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Hot Tub Time Machine 2”
Note, this category honors minimalism of all types, from a gut-basic revenge story with significant stretches of only moaning and grunting for dialogue (“The Revenant”), to existential black-hole voids of blank emptiness (“Fifty Shades of Grey”) to laugh vacuums (“The Ridiculous 6,” “Hot Tub Time Machine 2”). The winner goes to Hollywood’s most crass cash suck, “Mockingjay 2,” which is half a movie for which you paid full price – for the second year in a row.
Best Funny Movie that Isn’t Really a Comedy: ‘Carol’
Nominees: “The Martian,” “Trumbo,” “The Big Short,” “The Hateful Eight,” “Carol”
This category is in honor of the Golden Globes, which has a notoriously loose definition of the word “comedy” (and please note, I don’t include musicals here, because nothing is less funny than unrepentant singing and dancing). I know “Carol” is about the sad plight of lesbians trying to find their place in conservative mid-century America, but it features a hapless character named Harge, people having creamed spinach and martinis for lunch and the line, “Don’t be a stupe!” It’s 2015’s most unexpectedly funny movie.
Best Unintentional Comedy: ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
Nominees: “The Divergent Series: Insurgent,” “Fantastic Four,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Furious 7,” “Jupiter Ascending”
No film in 2015 embarrassed itself – or us – more than the long-awaited (cough) adaptation of E.L. James’ prose-mangling pseudo-porn bestseller. Was I supposed to be screaming with painful laughter while watching it? No, I’d argue. But at least it was memorable.
The Al Pacino Award for Most Acting: Eddie Redmayne
Nominees: Vincent D’Onofrio in “Jurassic World,” Johnny Depp in “Black Mass,” Meryl Streep in “Ricki and the Flash,” Eddie Redmayne in “Jupiter Ascending,” Hugh Jackman in “Pan”
Nobody salted, peppered, basiled, paprika’d, marinated overnight, chopped, pre-baked, fricasseed and devoured scenery more than Redmayne in the loony sci-fi mess “Jupiter Ascending.” He whispers. He shouts. He speaks. With. Halted diction. He’s. Insufferable!
The Vin Diesel Award for Least Acting: Jamie Dornan
Nominees: Vin Diesel in “The Last Witch Hunter,” Vin Diesel in “Furious 7,” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in “San Andreas,” Jamie Dornan in “Fifty Shades of Grey,” Adam Sandler in everything Adam Sandler did in 2015
Nobody robotically recited the lines “I’m 50 shades of (expletive) up!” and “I don’t make love. I (expletive). Hard.” then cashed a paycheck faster than Dornan, whose performance so clearly and poignantly conveyed that he’d rather be anywhere else right now.
Most Innovative Movie: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’
Nominees: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Mad Max: Fury Road”
This ended up being a five-way tie for first place. Director George Miller gave us a thrilling two-hour chase that’s way more than the sum of its parts – but those parts are meticulously conceptualized, crafted and presented. Most importantly, he showed us things we’ve never seen before. Visionary, genius stuff.
Least Worst Use of 3-D: ‘The Walk’
Nominees: “The Walk,” “Everest,” a blank screen
The most annoying technological advancement of the modern cinematic age is digital 3-D, which theoretically gives us a more “immersive” experience, but much more frequently results in headaches and a dim, murky picture thanks to those stupid dark glasses. “The Walk,” which dramatizes Philippe Petit’s famed high-wire walk between the World Trade Center towers, reportedly invoked serious acrophobic wooziness in some viewers who saw it in IMAX 3-D. Immersion achieved, I guess.
Most Movie Title: ‘The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared’
Nominees: “The Divergent Series: Insurgent,” “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”
It’s hard to look past egregious double “gent” use and all those colons and dashes – the colon always must come before the dash, it’s a rule – but “T100YOMWCOTWAD” gave headline-writers and serial Twitterers the most fits in 2015.
Best Movie that Probably Should Have Sucked: ‘Creed’
Nominees: “Ant-Man,” “Cinderella,” “Creed,” “Magic Mike XXL,” “The Peanuts Movie”
So little promise in this lineup, so many expectations exceeded. Who would’ve thought that Yet Another Rocky Movie could be so good, so well-directed? With all due respect to Sylvester Stallone’s lovable and Oscar-nominated performance, filmmaker Ryan Coogler is the real star, rendering a weary franchise and genre – “Rocky,” boxing, yawn – fresh, exciting and vital.
Best Blockbuster: ‘The Martian’
Nominees: “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “Inside Out,” “Cinderella,” “The Martian,” “Avengers: Age of Ultron”
This award is limited to movies that grossed at least $200 million domestically, and therefore are the object of snobby snubbing by the Academy. Mostly. “The Martian” is a best picture candidate, but not a serious one, so I’ll honor it here, because honoring “Cinderella” will make me soft, praising “Avengers” will make me a biased fanboy and because something has to win the Best “Star Wars” Movie award.
Best ‘Star Wars’ Movie: ‘Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens’
Nominees: “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens”
The biggest story out of Hollywood in 2015 was the decision to release only one movie all year, “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.” It didn’t debut until December, and by then, our pent-up anxiety to go see something, anything on the big screen resulted in multiplexes flooded with moviegoers, a significant draining of the Federal Reserve’s popcorn ration and the destruction of multiple Toys ‘R’ Us locations in bloody battles over BB-8 action figures. Indeed, it was the most perfect movie the industry has ever produced – not only was it packed with action and significant drama, but it also featured the type of racial and demographic diversity other movies couldn’t touch: young people, old people, black people, white people, orange people, green people, tall hairy growling people and droid people.
Best Performance in a ‘Star Wars’ Movie: Daisy Ridley
Nominees: Harrison Ford, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac
Female in a boys’ club. Strong. Wily. Instinctively knows how to fly the Millennium Falcon. Sweet lightsaber moves. Jedi-mind-tricked the Daniel Craig Stormtrooper. Can pretty much do it all. Underdog actress comes from out of nowhere to anchor world’s biggest franchise. So much to like here.
Best Scene Stealer: Bing Bong
Nominees: Michael Shannon in “The Night Before,” BB-8 in “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” Bing Bong in “Inside Out,” the Doof Warrior in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” It in “It Follows”
Dammit. Now I’m crying. Again.
Best Supporting Michael Shannon: Michael Shannon, ‘The Night Before’
The serial character actor of great and wonderful eccentricity plays the perpetually baked weed dealer-slash-philosopher Mr. Green so perfectly – funny, understated, creepy, wise and so Michael Shannon, only Michael Shannon could have played him.
The John Goodman Award for Achievement in Cinematic Yelling: John Goodman, ‘Trumbo’
Nobody yells like John Goodman. Nobody yells while wearing a 1940s tweed jacket like John Goodman. Nobody yells while wearing a 1940s tweed jacket and smashing up an office with a baseball bat like John Goodman. Nobody.
The Meryl Streep Award for Most Accent: Johnny Depp, ‘Black Mass’
Depp can’t play a role unless it requires funny hair, funny glasses and a funny voice. His portrayal of notorious gangster Whitey Bulger has all three in spades, but it’s his thick and syrupy BAWSTAHN ACKSENT that really sets the BAHH high for regional cadence. It’s WICKED AWWSUM. Or is that WICKED AWWFULL?
The Jude Law Award for Being in a Zillion Movies: Tom Hardy
I believe Jude Law appeared in approximately 73 movies in 2004, so this award is named after him. Hardy, the most intense actor working today, starred in a heaping pile of films this year. Well, actually only three. But “Mad Max: Fury Road” counts as two, “The Revenant” counts as three, and he plays twins in “Legend.” That’s enough to make him the hardest-working person in showbiz.
The Golden Neck Brace: Michael Caine
This award acknowledges the actor or actress who spanned the greatest distance between garbage and greatness during the cinema year 2015. Caine gave one of his career-best performances in the thoughtful drama “Youth.” He also turned up in support of Ol’ Mumblegrunts himself, Vin Diesel, in lunkheaded fantasy flop “The Last Witch Hunter.” You can’t say Caine doesn’t have range.