It’s Thanksgiving and there is quite a lot to be thankful for from this year’s films. In fact, appropriate for today, here are 26 of them:
1.) The Best Actress race this year is plentiful. With esteemed names like Brie Larson, Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Lily Tomlin, Charlotte Rampling, Charlize Theron, Carey Mulligan and Maggie Smith are all in the mix, as it's clearly been a banner year for female leads.
2.) Alicia Vikander should be on that short list for “Ex Machina”, but no matter, she was a virtual unknown a year ago, and now she’s one of Hollywood’s breakout stars of 2015. And she's considered the supporting actress frontrunner for her role in "The Danish Girl" which opens wide this weekend.
3.) Speaking of “Ex Machina”, writer/director Alex Garland’s sci-fi three-hander garnered great reviews and box office.
4.) So did “The Martian”, and it proves audiences will line up at the Cineplex for sci-fi, even if there are no drooling aliens or toy chains come to life in it.
5.) Jennifer Lawrence was picked by Entertainment Weekly as their “2015 Entertainer of the Year” and she truly is the biggest, most reliable and endlessly exhilarating talent onscreen these days. And she’s pretty darn hilarious off-screen with her candor, self-deprecation, and friendship with Amy Schumer.
6.) And speaking of Amy Schumer, the brilliant comic became a big movie star this year with her funny and touching turn as both actress and writer of “Trainwreck.”
7.) “Inside Out” was one of Pixar/Disney’s best ever animated features. And to think it’s about what goes on in the brain of a young girl borders on the miraculous from sexist Hollywood.
|Original caricature of Johnny Depp in BLACK MASS. (copyright 2015)|
8.) Johnny Depp returned to greatness with his villainous turn in “Black Mass.”
9.) George Miller aced the reboot of “Mad Max.”
10.) The ubiquitous Tom Hardy shone bright four times this year, in “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Revenant” and twice, playing the notorious Kray twins in “Legend.”
11.) Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa was the best action hero this year.
12.) Truth is stranger than fiction and often more dramatic too. Look at all the heralded films based on true stories – “Spotlight”, “Trumbo”, “The Danish Girl”, “The Big Short” …and those are films that just opened in November!
13.) James Bond may be 50 but with the success of “Spectre”, we’ll be seeing a lot more of 007. (And likely, Daniel Craig too, despite rumblings of retirement.)
14.) The Academy’s Governor Awards went to the legendary Debbie Reynolds, Gena Rowlands and Spike Lee. Bravo! (Next year, how about honoring Catherine Deneuve, Donald Sutherland and Kurt Russell?)
|Gena Rowlands and Spike Lee|
15.) And Spike Lee and Gena Rowlands gave great speeches too. Too bad Reynolds was sick. She would’ve been something accepting her lifetime Oscar for sure.
16.) Chris Pratt lived up to all his hype after last year's "Guardians of the Galaxy." He was the best thing in "Jurassic World."
17.) The horror genre shone bright with the excellent “It Follows”, “The Gift” and “The Green Inferno.”
18.) Joel Edgerton wrote, directed and starred in the aforementioned "The Gift" and excelled in "Black Mass" too. What a year he had!
19.) The ever-versatile Rose Byrne made even her wigs funny in this summer’s hit comedy “Spy.”
20.) Despite being a box office bust, the brilliant summer film “Love & Mercy” is likely to make Paul Dano and Elizabeth Banks strong contenders for supporting acting awards this season.
21.) Eddie Redmayne broke the sophomore curse after winning the Oscar for “The Theory of Everything” last year with a sure-to-be-nominated performance this year for “The Danish Girl.”
22.) And composer Alexandre Desplat finally won gold, after eight nominations, with his whimsical, yet haunting score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
23.) “Bridge of Spies” was brilliant. So was “Steve Jobs”, even if the former is making money and the latter isn’t. And there was so much brilliance in the effects in “The Walk”, it literally took your breath away.
24.) John Williams was finally chosen as an AFI Lifetime Achievement recipient and is the first below-the-line talent ever to be named. Bravo, maestro!
25.) Oscar Isaac’s star continues to rise this year on film (“Ex Machina”) and TV (“Show Me a Hero” on HBO), and it’s only going to be more prominent with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
26.) And indeed, the return of “Star Wars” is a big Christmas gift for film fans everywhere. It’s already breaking early box office receipts. Now, let’s hope it’s more “Empire Strikes Back” than any of Anakin’s backstory.
The force has really been with movies this year in a lot of significant ways, both critically and financially. Hopefully, Tinsel Town will keep up the terrific output, especially in making smaller and more adult-focused films that give us more and more reasons to go to the Cineplex, and not just stay home and binge-watch Netflix. Thankful indeed, all movie fans should be this Thanksgiving.