The Alternative Oscars 2015

oscars_see_no_evil_illo.jpgFilm we most want to see to prove a point: The Interview
Sure, it was terrible, sophomoric and a waste of time but we made sure we saw it just because no hackers (praised by Korean dictators) are going to tell us what we can watch. We should have listened to them — boy did that film stink. But we watched it, so we all lost. Thanks, Kim.

Best scene: X-Men Days of Future Past
The slow-motion scene in X-Men Days of Future Past with new character Quicksilver, all set to the song “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce, was proof that comic-book blockbusters can still be visually brilliant, entertaining and funny. Also worth a mention is the short flight scene from the beginning of WWII film Unbroken — never has being a gunner in a B-24 Liberator looked so scary and exhilarating.

Best-Acting-To-Least-Entertainment Ratio: Foxcatcher
Yes, they were great performances by Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, but man did they try our patience. At times it was so dull they may as well have spoken in French, slapped on some subtitles and changed it all into black and white.

Film Character We Felt Most Sorry For
The unnamed NASA pilot in Interstellar who was set to heroically fly into space to find a new home for humanity after many months of specific high-intensity training… only to be replaced a few days before liftoff because Matthew McConaughey’s farmer character just turned up at the base in a jeep.

The Best-Cast-to-Worst-Film Ratio: The Monuments Men
A heist film set in WWII with a cast that includes George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Cate Blanchett should have been a brilliant caper. Instead it was a weird tonal mix that veered from comedy to savagery (barrels full of concentration-camp victims’ teeth?!) within a few scenes. It deservedly bombed.

Best Big, Noisy Blockbuster: Godzilla
In a year when a slew of comic-book adaptations all largely disappointed, Godzilla was great fun and didn’t follow the obvious blockbuster story-arc conventions. It was also good to see the makers use some of the original Japanese ideals for the titular character.

Worst Accent
Jude Law’s Scottish accent in submarine film Black Sea. And the strangest part is there was no need for the character to be Scottish. If they really wanted that, why not hire one of the many brilliant Scottish actors to play the part? Robert Carlyle would have nailed this role. Robbie Coltrane would have been an improvement. Even Scouser, Robbie Fowler, couldn’t have been any more off-putting.

Best Quality-to-Length Ratio: Whiplash
Whiplash. Funny, touching, inspiring and with some brilliant performances from Miles Teller and JK Simmons, this was probably our favourite film of the last 12 months. And unlike most films — especially critically acclaimed ones — it really doesn’t waste a second or overstay its welcome at a drum-tight 1hr 37mins.

Most Gratuitous Violence: Gone Girl
Not the film itself, but the way it was edited for UAE cinema. Hacked, slashed and left in tatters at key points of the film, it’s just a shame that the cinema didn’t warn us about the horrific violence they’d inflicted upon it beforehand so we could have made up or own minds if we wanted to watch what was left.

Best Psychopath
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler — because some of the scariest psychopaths are not actually killers, and this performance was very creepy.

Biggest Disappointment: A Million Ways to Die in the West.
While Stewie and Brian time-travelling to the Wild West would make a great Family Guy episode, a live action version with the guy who voices both characters was a huge misstep. We’ll always be fans of Seth MacFarlane but his 21st Century witticisms were horribly anachronistic and distracting.

Best Film with too Many Plot Holes: Interstellar
One of the most enjoyable things we saw all year, but it’s really best not to think about it too much. The more you do, the more questions it raises and the less any of it makes any kind of sense.

Cuba Gooding Jr Award for Worst Use of a Career
John Cusack. It always hurts to see an actor you love appear in bad films, but Cusack has increasingly been picking terrible roles. The Bag Man, Reclaim and (straight to DVD) Drive Hard were criminal wastes of a fine actor. Hopefully he’ll get his mojo back playing Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson in the biopic Love & Mercy later this year.

For Esquire magazine

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