Highlights and Lowlights of 2015 (So Far)

5-to-7This is my rundown of the best and worst of the first six months of the year. Right now, at the very beginning of July, I’ve seen just a hair over 150 films. Among those, I’ve seen my fair share of excellent work, along with some terrible things as well (plus some total mediocrity). As such, I’ve opted to slightly cheat and include things that I’ve already seen but won’t be out until the second half of 2015. Honestly, I looked at the list with a strict cut off of having to have been released before July 1st, but this is just a more interesting list, so that’s what I’m choosing to go with. The format is the usual one, running down the best and worst films, the best performances, and giving out some awards. I hope you enjoy and let your voice be heard as per the usual on the first half of the year in the comments section at the end. Enough talk though, time to get to brass tacks…

Without any further delay, here we go!

The 10 Best Films of 2015 so far

thumbnail_2230110. Grandma – Everything you’ve heard from Clayton and company about how good this one is, well, it’s absolutely true. Lily Tomlin is excellent, Sam Elliot has a brilliant supporting turn, and filmmaker Paul Weitz manages to make a comedy centered around abortion also be incredibly touching. This is one of those movies where it’s a cliche to say that you’ll laugh and cry, but it’s also true. This was a delightful surprise at the Tribeca Film Festival for me. It could very well be an Academy Award contender in the making as well, so expect to hear more from this one over the summer/the fall movie season.

bbcb751a-368e-4f15-8859-0c697e10b36f-620x3729. Heaven Knows What – Ever since the New York Film Festival last year, I’ve been singing the praises of this gritty look at life on the streets of New York as a drug addict. In my review (found here), I wrote:

“It’s an understatement to say there’s a compelling backstory that really enhances an already tremendous film in Heaven Knows What. This cinematic gem looks at heroin addiction, life on the streets of New York City, and just junkie lifestyle on the whole with an absolutely uncompromising steadfastness. There’s a startlingly effective commitment to depicting the world that’s being lived in here. When you factor in that filmmaker brothers Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie (credited as Josh and Benny Safdie, by the by) based this on the real life of star Arielle Holmes, well, that makes this something special indeed. Your heart breaks for her while also being horrified at what she went through and how those in this world act. Both Holmes and Caleb Landry Jones are sensational here in their parts, vividly portraying this sort of life. The camera sits back and just observes. It’s truly something to behold.”

I’ve been saying it since last fall, so I clearly stand by it still today. Especially for the performance by Arielle Holmes, you should seek this one out ASAP.

thumbnail_206838. Magic Mike XXL – A last minute addition to this list, I was blown away earlier this week by how good a sequel and film in general this is. If you didn’t see my review yesterday (here), I wrote:

“…Magic Mike XXL comes like a bolt from the blue to be one of the most purely enjoyable times at the movies so far in 2015. Despite not having the presence of scene stealer Matthew McConaughey or director Steven Soderbergh at the helm (the MVPs last time out), you immediately are delighted to again be hanging out with the Kings of Tampa, led one more time by Channing Tatum, at his most charismatic. This time around, everyone gets moments to shine, especially Matt Bomer, Joe Manganiello, and even Kevin Nash. Soderbergh is still on the fringes of the production, but directing Magic Mike XXL is protege Gregory Jacobs, who doesn’t miss a beat. This is the sort of sequel where everything is bigger and “more” is the operative word, but instead of seeming obligatory, it’s just a ton of fun. In fact, one scene, set in a convenience store, might be the most amusing scene of 2015 so far.”

I’d watch Channing Tatum in this role once a year and never complain. For a good time right this moment, this is the one to check out. It’s a blast, and sex positive to boot.

slowwestpastorsignifiershousegood7. Slow West – The biggest surprise at the Tribeca Film Festival this year for me was this western. Not only is it beautiful to look at and features some top notch acting from Michael Fassbender as well as Ben Mendelsohn, it also has a streak of dark humor running through it that I loved. Black comedy in unexpected places is a great bonus in the right setting, so to find that on display here was like the icing on the cake of a great little film. It deserved a bigger audience than it found, but luckily it’s about to hit Blu-Ray and DVD this month.  Read Clayton’s review here.

NEgmvND20hOojj_1_b6. The Stanford Prison Experiment – I’ve been dropping hints about how powerful this drama is, but now I can expand a bit on that. Kyle Patrick Alvarez‘s film is dark and disturbing, but a brilliant depiction of the real life psychological study. The cast is uniformly excellent, especially Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun, Billy Crudup, Thomas Mann, Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, and Olivia Thirlby, though everyone shines. It’s a hard movie to sit through at times, but the unwavering way in which Alvarez depicts the interactions of students playing prisoners and prison guards is impossible to look away from. Stay tuned for more on this one later in the month.

720x405-TheEndoftheTour_still25. The End of the Tour – At this point, I think James Ponsoldt is a truly underrated filmmaker. He gets incredible performances each time out, with Jason Segel just the latest, though he might be the greatest. Playing David Foster Wallace, he’s amazing doing his best work to date (which I hope the Academy notices), while Jesse Eisenberg is excellent as well. I’ll have a full review up soon, but the best way to describe this one is to say that it’s like listening in on a fascinating conversation you wish like hell you could be a part of, just because it’s so intellectually stimulating. Especially if you know anything about Wallace, there’s a quiet sadness to the story. Sit tight, as I’ll wax poetic about it on a larger scale soon.

SWOP 7-9-14-345.CR24. Sleeping with Other People – I raved about this raunchy romantic comedy at Tribeca and stand by how shockingly great it is. My festival review (which can be found here) said:

“Like a breath of fresh air, Lesyle Headland‘s sophomore feature Sleeping with Other People gives the Tribeca Film Festival a completely unique romantic sex comedy. Too often, only one or two of those descriptors are utilized, but Headland is prepared to give you all three in equal measure, with some effective and unexpected drama thrown in for good measure. Her debut film behind the camera, Bachelorette, showed some of these skills, but this movie establishes her as one of the most excited voices in the genre. She gives both Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis easily their best roles to date, challenging them with comedy and drama that goes to uncomfortable yet hilarious places. It’s hard to make a film that deals frankly with sex and still goes for the funny bone or pulls at your heartstrings, but Sleeping with Other People is that rare success.”

This rom com is coming out in September, so expect more from me on it then, especially in terms of the performances from Alison Brie and Jason Sudeikis.

The-First-Trailer-For-The-Film-Me-And-Earl-And-The-Dying-Girl3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Initially, I resisted the quirk of this indie dramedy, but it won me over in a big way, as many of you know by now. My rave review (check that out here) had this to say:

“…despite a few moments of quirk that threaten to ruin the flick, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl manages to be a unique and thoroughly moving film. I was truly surprised how much I responded to this YA adaptation, which continues to make me rethink the genre on the whole. Writer Jesse Andrews (adapting his own novel) and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon have such affection for the characters here that they all come vividly to life. Obviously, the cast helps…but the unique style and filmmaking choices on display help boost this. As mentioned, some of the quirk threatened to turn me off, as I got Napoleon Dynamite vibes early on (that’s a warning sign for me, just so you know), but that wore off by the end of the first act. By the time we’re in the heart of the third act, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl completely had me. As such, that made the choices towards the end of the film all the more moving and powerful in my eyes. This is an often hilarious movie, but it’s touching as well. A different beast entirely from the similarly high quality The Fault in Our Stars, I loved Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.”

I know some have resisted its charms, but I’m not one of them, particularly when it comes to Olivia Cooke‘s work. It’s brilliant stuff.

it-follows-fb-img-12. It Follows – By and large, I have a soft spot for horror, but rarely do I get my socks knocked off by a film in that genre. This is one example of that, as I wrote about in my review (found right here), which was an absolute rave. It said:

“In order to show you all just how much I loved this movie, I’m going to start off with some incredibly high praise. It Follows is easily the best horror film since You’re Next (much better than the highly overrated The Babadook, in my humble opinion, at least), and possibly even the best since The Cabin in the Woods hit theaters. Yes, David Robert Mitchell‘s sophomore feature (after the effective debut coming of age tale The Myth of the American Sleepover) is the most artfully made fright flick in some time. I really was blown away by Mitchell’s take on the genre, as it’s unlike almost anything that’s come before it. From the striking imagery and brilliant cinematography to the addictive score, everything behind the camera is fairly perfect, so it’s a delight that the acting holds up too, particularly the lead performance from Maika Monroe. Mitchell has his young actors and actresses behave age appropriately, which is fairly revolutionary for horror these days. When the scares aren’t coming (though they’re pretty consistent, which is another rare quality in recent horror), you could easily be mistaken for thinking this is another character study/coming of age story by Mitchell. I’m a huge fan of this movie”

If I had my way, this would be in true contention for a Best Cinematography nomination from the Academy, with David Robert Mitchell up for Best Director as well. That’s how high I am on it.

5-to-7_592x2991. 5 to 7 – Over a year later (I first saw this at Tribeca 2014), it remains a moving piece of art that I can’t get out of my head. My only four star review of the year so far (found here) started like this:

“Not only am I a sucker for a movie that can get genuine emotion out of me, I’m also a sucker for a cinematic surprise. When I first saw 5 to 7 at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, I was absolutely blown away. The film delivered a punch to my gut (and my heart), one that was initially unexpected. Going in, I knew that it was a romance story, but little more than that, and certainly not how funny it was going to be. That being said, writer/director Victor Levin balances out the laughs with some real emotion and some profound sadness, making the rare film of this ilk that can walk that line all but perfectly. Led by a career best performance to date by Anton Yelchin along with a lovely turn by Bérénice Marlohe (not to mention whip smart and amusing supporting roles for Glenn Close, Frank Langella, and Olivia Thirlby), 5 to 7 was one of last year’s most surprising films, bar none. Not just the best movie of Tribeca 2014, it now becomes the best thing I’ve seen in 2015 so far. This flick has something real to say about love and what the act of falling in love does to a person. The details of the story itself may be a bit unique, but the moral and the emotions that encompass it are universal. I’m not ashamed to admit that while I laughed a lot during the first half, there were a few times during the final moment where I got choked up, and one part of the last scene brought on the tears.”

At least in terms of how I saw it, this is basically a perfect little indie from Victor Levin. I love it, deeply and purely.

Honorable Mentions: ’71, Gabriel, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, The Hunting Ground, Inside Out, Irrational Man, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Love & Mercy, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Time Out of Mind

The 10 Worst Films of 2015 so far

grace-of-monaco-210. Grace of Monaco – I’m slightly cheating and including this would be Oscar hopeful on the list, mainly because it’s such trash and deserves a dishonorable mention like this. Nicole Kidman tries her best, but this is so ineptly done that you just spend the whole running time shaking your head. Yuck.

the-loft-gives-clue-on-the-murderer9. The Loft – This thriller was delayed seemingly forever from theatrical release, with the final product cluing you in as to why. It’s low rent garbage, filled with people sleepwalking their way through it, and rightly so. I always want films on the shelf to see the light of day, but if this had never come out, I would not have minded one little bit.

AP_jupiter_ascending_02_jef_150206_16x9_9928. Jupiter Ascending – As I mentioned in the most recent DVD column, I initially expected solid things from this sci-fi epic. Original science fiction is usually something to look forward to…but then I saw it. The movie doesn’t make a lick of sense, the actors are left out on an island to starve for good dialogue, and it’s (poor) style over substance in the worst way. A total missed opportunity and a waste of Mila Kunis as well as Channing Tatum.

the-boy-next-door-97. The Boy Next Door – The erotic thriller is a relic of the past, and while that’s sad, it’s crap like this that makes me not mind one bit. My pan of a review (found here) said:

“Easily the funniest film of 2015 to date (though I’m sure that wasn’t the intent), The Boy Next Door is a B movie through and through. Sadly, it’s also pretty terrible. Jennifer Lopez is reduced to essentially a scream queen in director Rob Cohen‘s preposterous erotic (though it’s never even close to being sexy) thriller. I’m sure Cohen and Lopez thought at the outset that they were taking producer Jason Blum‘s money and making a gender reversed Fatal Attraction for the modern generation, but what they made was almost an unintentional parody. Moment after moment of this film just makes you shake your head in disbelief. The script by Barbara Curry is pretty atrocious, while Cohen’s direction is all over the place, and that’s being charitable. The Boy Next Door is what you think of when you think of January releases, and that’s not a compliment. When you laugh at a thriller more than you’re shocked, surprised, or even entertained, that is never a good sign.”

Jennifer Lopez deserved better.

chappie26. Chappie – Another film I’d initially had some high hopes for, this dreck makes me think that Neill Blomkamp isn’t quite the filmmaker we thought he was. My puzzled review (found right here) began by saying:

“Up until now, I had no clue who the South African rave-rap group Die Antwoord were. Sadly, after seeing Chappie, I now wish that I didn’t, remaining in blissful ignorance. I can’t remember the last time I actively hated the protagonists of a film as much as I did here in director/co-writer Neill Blomkamp‘s latest sci-fi tale. Moments after their first appearance (and long before I realized they were in fact the main characters, which only annoyed me more) I began to eagerly anticipate the moment where Watkin Tudor Jones/Ninja (he apparently goes by both) and Yo-Landi Visser would have their characters killed off and the actual story with the robot would begin. Sadly though, Blomkamp wants this to be about them too, so we get far more of them than of the title character, and that’s a crippling mistake. I’m not sure that Chappie works even with a different focus, but it surely would have been a more enjoyable film, as opposed to this grating one.”

The mere fact that I know who Die Antwoord are now makes me sad, but combined with this movie, it infuriates me as well.

fifty-shades-of-grey-01_612x3805. Fifty Shades of Grey – Here’s a great idea…take a poorly written piece of fan fiction pornography and make it a glossy erotic drama. Wait, that’s a terrible idea? You must have seen this flick as well. One of my longer reviews ever (found here) had this to say on the matter:

“I completely understand why a movie adaptation of the literary (a term I should probably be using loosely) phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey exists. I even understand why this particular version was made. What I don’t understand is who this film is for. Far too tame to truly titillate as anything erotic, yet too out there in terms of its BDSM interests to really interest those usually into romantic dramas, this is a terrible flick that’s likely to disappoint anyone who sees it. It’s not good drama, it’s not good romance, and it’s not even good porn. Now, I recognize that I’m in no way the ideal audience, but as I mentioned, there really is no audience that’s going to be thrilled by this. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson and writer Kelly Marcel tried their best I’m sure here, but it’s putting lipstick on a pig. Sure, Dakota Johnson shows signs of having the potential to be a star in the making, but Jamie Dornan is flaccid (no pun intended), with absolutely no sparks flying between the two. Had their been chemistry, it’s possible that Fifty Shades of Grey would have been at least sporadically hot. Instead, it’s limp, thinks that it’s kinkier than it is, and presents some troubling thoughts on sexuality and the female mind, resulting in a film that’s mostly about a woman who needs to please a man.”

Seriously, just go look up some porn instead. It might even be a better made movie than this one. E.L. James laughed all the way to the bank once again.

hot-pursuit-trailer4. Hot Pursuit – Buddy comedies usually work on me, but boy oh boy did this one fail in getting any laughter out of me. In my review (which you can read here), I wrote:

“I’m not sure if this is actually the worst movie of the year so far, but it certainly felt like it over the nearly 90 agonizing minutes I spent at this screening. Director Anne Fletcher manages to make a significantly worse road movie than the mediocre The Guilt Trip a few years ago, wasting Reese Witherspoon‘s talents in the process. Witherspoon, along with Sofia Vergara, are absolutely abused by this dreadful piece of cinematic trash. The worst part is how it can’t even stick to its already poor premise, flipping the script on how the women are mismatched almost at will. It’s annoying, making an already bad movie that much worse, while wasting what might have been otherwise a throwaway comedy with the occasional odd couple based laugh to be had. Hot Pursuit really left a bad taste in my mouth, offering up only one scene that I didn’t actively dislike, while failing almost completely to illicit any laughter from me. I even started feeling bad for everyone involved.”

Reese Witherspoon needs to stay far away from broad comedies, at least for a little while. They just don’t suit her.

Old Fashioned - Movieholic Hub3. Old Fashioned – It seems like every single year now there’s a religious propaganda flick that winds up on a list of mine. I swear (no pun intended) that it’s not intentional, but they’re just so poorly made. This attempt at Fifty Shades of Grey counter-programming is trying to make a case for abstinence, but besides that dated notion being dangerous to teens, it just makes for a terribly made and boring film. Abstain from seeing this one.

420308115496858630872. Accidental Love – Less a movie than a look at what a troubled assembly cut of a film could look like, you wonder just who thought they could release this in the first place. I’m sure it was meant to capitalize on the presence of Jake Gyllenhaal and the fact that David O. Russell is an A-list filmmaker now, but with neither truly involved at this point, you get a mess that’s basically incomprehensible. This is a cautionary tale about not letting a director finish his movie, while also showing you just how far something comes from shooting to a finished product. Unless you’re strictly looking at this as an educational tool, don’t subject yourself to it.

Screen-Shot-2015-05-06-at-9.36.36-AM-620x4001. The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) – I’ve returned to this franchise over and over again for some reason, hating it more and more each time out. In perhaps my most negative/longest review ever (found here), I said:

“It somehow got worse. A franchise that began as a mediocre horror title given undeserved controversy in The Human Centipede (First Sequence) has progressed to a carnival freak show aiming to shock in The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) and now something even poorer. Yes, The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) might not be quite as gory as the last one, but it’s even more over the top and has delusions of grandeur to boot. Believe it or not, filmmaker Tom Six harbors the notion that his trilogy is “important”, making this final outing a political satire. It’s bad enough that Six is a poor writer and director, but he’s bizarrely chosen to more or less repeat himself on a loop, as if his concept is so ingenuous and so essential to cinema that he owes it to the world. There’s no art to be found here, not that you should consider it a surprise, but it’s just so unoriginal and often boring that it stands out like a sore thumb in this trilogy. Sure, there’s some horrific things to be found here, but nothing scary. Six is at times seeking to blindly shock, as if the prior sequel was a modern classic that demanded to be one upped. It’s such an overt miscalculation on Six’s part that you have to wonder if he’s all there.”

The 5 Most Underrated Films of 2015 so far

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5. Irrational Man – Is it top tier Woody Allen? No, but it’s above average for sure, with Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone making for a solid couple debating Allen’s thoughts on crime and punishment. I’ll have more to say fairly soon about this one, but it’s an interesting outing of his, without question. As such, I was surprised that so many dismissed it at the Cannes Film Festival. It deserves better.

4. The Stanford Prison Experiment – Though well received at Sundance, I don’t know why more people aren’t raving about this one. There are so many great performances here that it’s almost impossible not to be blown away by at least one member of the cast (folks love Ezra Miller, so why not more buzz here?) post screening. I know most liked it, but I loved it and have to believe that others will eventually follow along when it begins screening more in the run up to its theatrical release later this month.

3. Sleeping with Other People – In a similar fashion, audiences at Sundance and Tribeca definitely liked this rom com, but few seem as over the moon as I am. Perhaps it’s just a genre that I’m more susceptible to than other pundits, but I maintain that this is refreshingly honest, especially when it comes to sex. Lesyle Headland should be praised heavily. You’ll see what I mean in a few short months.

2. Lost River – On the flip side, the Cannes Film Festival last year made Ryan Gosling their whipping boy when dissecting his directorial debut. Well, I’m here to say that it’s a flawed effort, but an insanely compelling one. Like I said in my review (found here) at the time:

“This is an art film through and through, and I’m pretty sure Gosling intended it as such. Despite having his name involved as co-producer, writer, and director, along with an ensemble cast that includes Christina Hendricks, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Saoirse Ronan, and Matt Smith, the movie is deeply experimental. We’re basically watching Gosling’s student thesis film, though luckily this has much more going for it than some of the times we’ve seen James Franco do that (though to be fare, he’s getting better. That’s neither here nor there, however). Here, Lost River is a look at a lot of things, though never done with a straight focus. That can be frustrating at times, but for some reason, I was able to find the themes and the emotion that might elude a less patient viewer. This is a look at the decomposition of Detroit, the struggle for what’s left of the American dream, the fight for family and to keep what little of yourself that you still possess, and what happens when a human is pushed to their breaking point. It’s done with some poetic visuals, dialogue, and a disregard for a traditional narrative, all of which makes this somewhat of a mess. At its core though, it’s a mess that works.”

I wish more folks had given this one a fair shot.

1. 5 to 7 – I barely know of any one else who even bothered to see this one, let alone shout from the rooftops about it like I have for the last 14 months and change. My placement of it as the number one film of 2015 so far is evidence enough that I find it to be horribly underrated, but it just goes to show how a small film can easily slip through the cracks. Alas. Victor Levin‘s work is deserving of better.

The 5 Most Overrated Films of 2015 so far

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5. Maps to the Stars – It’s probably the best David Cronenberg film since A History of Violence, but that speaks more to the slump he’s been in as opposed to anything else. My review (found here) stated:

“…this flick is tonally all over the place, mean in all the wrong places, and completely goes off the rails in the third act. For between a third and half of the running time, Cronenberg has you hooked, but at least in my case, he totally lost me before all was said and done.”

Plenty of folks disagreed with me, but I maintain that this was still a misfire.

4. Clouds of Sils Maria – The acting here is terrific (notably Kristen Stewart), but everything else just felt good, as opposed to great. My review (which is here) summed it up as such:

“Ever since first seeing Clouds of Sils Maria back at last year’s New York Film Festival, I’ve had the supporting performance of Kristen Stewart stuck in my mind. That’s a great thing, no doubt, but sadly it’s really the only thing that’s really struck me as noteworthy about this solid yet somewhat unspectacular drama. The film is worth recommending, of course, but I found myself not being nearly as bowled over as most others are.”

It’s a good film, but not as good as many have made it out to be.

3. Jauja – I still maintain that this very experimental flick makes absolutely no sense. A number of colleagues of mine expressed the same sentiment at NYFF, so while I know it has some fans, my dissent is hardly a solo endeavor. My review (found here) began with:

“I’ll be blunt folks (much like I was when I first saw this at the 2014 New York Film Festival)…I have almost no idea what Jauja is about. A deeply experimental film with no interest in making any overt sense to its audience, Lisandro Alonso‘s latest movie apparently fits in perfectly with his prior work, if the festival word was to be believed. I’ve yet to see anything else by Alonso, so I perhaps I was ill prepared for the flick, but the rather drowning silence to which this played back at the NYFF screening I attended suggested to me that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get it. Admittedly, it’s often beautiful to look at and happens to have a very solid Viggo Mortensen performance contained within…this has sporadic accessible elements, but overall is an impenetrable film.”

It’s a puzzle that some seemed to solve, but I just could not. At least Viggo Mortensen was good, but that wasn’t nearly enough for me.

2. Young Bodies Heal Quickly – Almost no one else saw this coming of age story, but those who did seemed to be quite fond of it. I’m not though, as I found it back at Tribeca last year to be plodding and without much of a coherent plot. My review from then (found here) began as such:

“I really don’t know what to make of Young Bodies Heal Quickly. To be sure, writer/director Andrew T. Betzer has a singular vision and is uncompromising in executing it. That being said, I kind of wish that he hadn’t subjected me to it. I’m not sure how other folks at the Tribeca Film Festival felt about it, but personally I was often bored, sometimes puzzled, and rarely entertained by this flick.”

I can’t quite dismiss it totally, but I don’t get the praise either.

1. Mad Max: Fury Road – Let me remind you up front…I like this film. I’d even go so far as to say that I like it a lot. But the love most of you have for it? I don’t share that, no. George Miller directs the hell out of it and Charlize Theron is great, but aside from hat it’s just a well made action flick. I like those as much as the next person, but I can’t rave about it. Maybe I’m just nuts.

The Most Surprising Film of 2015 so far: Magic Mike XXL

The Most Disappointing Film of 2015 so far: Chappie

The 10 Best Male Performances of 2015 so far

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10. Michael Fassbender in Slow West
9. Jack O’Connell in ’71
8. Rory Culkin in Gabriel
7. Anton Yelchin in 5 to 7
6. Michael Angarano in The Stanford Prison Experiment
5. John Cusack in Love & Mercy
4. Jason Sudeikis in Sleeping with Other People
3. Paul Dano in Love & Mercy
2. Sam Elliot in Grandma
1. Jason Segel in The End of the Tour

The 10 Best Female Performances of 2015 so far

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10. Elizabeth Banks in Love & Mercy
9. Emma Stone in Irrational Man
8. Glenn Close in 5 to 7
7. Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria
6. Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Arielle Holmes in Heaven Knows What
4. Olivia Cooke in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
3. Alison Brie in Sleeping with Other People
2. Lily Tomlin in Grandma
1. Maika Monroe in It Follows

Male Honorable Mention: Billy Crudup in Glass Chin/The Stanford Prison Experiment and RJ Cyler in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Female Honorable Mention: Julia Garner in Grandma and Christina Hendricks in Lost River

Half Year Awards
(Winners in BOLD, runners-up in ITALICS)

Best Picture: 5 to 7, The End of the Tour, It Follows, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Sleeping with Other People

Best Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez for The Stanford Prison Experiment, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road, David Robert Mitchell for It Follows, and James Ponsoldt for The End of the Tour

Best Actor: Rory Culkin for Gabriel, Paul Dano for Love & Mercy, Jason Segel for The End of the Tour, Jason Sudeikis for Sleeping with Other People, and Anton Yelchin for 5 to 7

Best Actress: Alison Brie for Sleeping with Other People, Arielle Holmes for Heaven Knows What, Maika Monroe for It Follows, Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road, and Lily Tomlin for Grandma

Best Supporting Actor: Michael Angarano for The Stanford Prison Experiment, Billy Crudup for Glass Chin, John Cusack for Love & Mercy, Sam Elliot for Grandma, and Michael Fassbender for Slow West

Best Supporting Actress: Elizabeth Banks for Love & Mercy, Glenn Close for 5 to 7, Olivia Cooke for Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Christina Hendricks for Lost River, and Kristen Stewart for Clouds of Sils Maria

Best Adapted Screenplay: The End of the Tour, Mad Max: Fury Road, Magic Mike XXL, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Stanford Prison Experiment

Best Original Screenplay: 5 to 7, Grandma, Inside Out, It Follows, and Sleeping with Other People

Best Cast Ensemble: Grandma, Magic Mike XXL, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Sleeping with Other People, and The Stanford Prison Experiment


Other Awards

Best Animated Feature: Inside Out (only animated film seen so far this year)

Best Documentary Feature: The Hunting Ground (runner up Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief)

Best Foreign Language Feature: White God (runner up The Look of Silence)

Best Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road (runner up It Follows)

Best Cinematography: It Follows (runner up The Stanford Prison Experiment)

Best Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road (runner up Tomorrowland)

Best Film Editing: It Follows (runner up The Stanford Prison Experiment)

Best Makeup: Mad Max: Fury Road (runner up Spy)

Best Sound: It Follows (runner up Lost River)

Best Original Score: It Follows (runner up Inside Out)

Best Original Song: Flashlight from Pitch Perfect 2 (runner up Love Me Like You Do from Fifty Shades of Grey)

Best Visual Effects: Mad Max: Fury Road (runner up Ted 2)

Now on to the second half of 2015 and the Oscar season…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!