The Ford On Film End Of Year Awards 2015: Best TV Show (plus a short tribute to Alan Rickman and Oscar nomination thoughts)
Hello, and welcome to the final part of the Ford On Film End Of Year Awards 2015! Before I get onto the awards, I thought I’d briefly touch upon the two big news stories coming out of today; the sad news of the death of Alan Rickman, and the Oscar nominations.
Alan Rickman was among the most iconic screen presences of his generation. Bursting onto the scene with classic performances in Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Rickman had a long and frequently excellent career, topped off by his generation-defining role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films. The complex, morally-dubious potions teacher who turned out to be the hero of the series, Snape was many people’s favourite character, and Rickman was great whether he was the sneering teacher taking 50 points away from Gryffindor or the wounded hero sacrificing all for the love of Lily Potter. He was among the most recognisable faces in British film, and his presence will be sorely missed. RIP Alan Rickman.
The other news coming out of the film industry today was the announcement of the Oscar nominations. I’ll quickly go through each category giving my thoughts:
Best Picture: No real surprises here, although it’s disappointing that neither Inside Out, Steve Jobs, or Carol have been nominated. Most of these are yet to be released in the UK or have only just come out, so I can’t comment on Spotlight, The Big Short, Room, or The Revenant. I also never got the chance to see Bridge of Spies. Of the films I have seen, I’m not sure any will win the big award, although it’s very nice to see Brooklyn getting a nomination. Mad Max: Fury Road is a nice spectacle but I can’t see it winning (nor would I want it to), and The Martian is a very enjoyable blockbuster but possibly too fun and flimsy to take the win.
Best Director: Excellent to see Lenny Abrahamson, director of the Best Film of 2014 Frank, on the list. I’ve yet to see Room but have heard great things. No Ridley Scott is a surprise, I thought he’d definitely be on there. George Miller, my director of the year, is nominated for Mad Max, and he would thoroughly deserve it. However, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu could quite easily pick up his second win in two years.
Best Actress: All solid picks here. Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, and Charlotte Rampling all made my list of Best Actress of the year, although I’m pleasantly surprised Rampling is nominated; I was sure she’d be forgotten. Jennifer Lawrence was good in Joy, but the film was a dud and she was somewhat miscast, so I hope she won’t win. I haven’t seen Room but Brie Larson is an outstanding talent and should have been nominated for Short term 12. I’d put my money on Larson or Blanchett here.
Best Actor: Very happy to see my actor of the year Michael Fassbender on here for Steve Jobs (which has otherwise been almost completely forgotten about). I’m not convinced he’ll win but I think he has an okay chance. However, most eyes are on Leonardo DiCaprio to finally get the win, and from all accounts he’s excellent in The Revenant. Matt Damon was excellent in The Martian so I’m happy to see him nominated, and Bryan Cranston has deserved as many awards as possible in the last few years. I can’t see Eddie Redmayne winning twice in two years so rule him out.
Best Supporting Actress: Both Kate Winslet and Rooney Mara were deserving of a nom, so I’m happy to see them. Disappointing that Alicia Vikander was nominated for The Danish Girl and not Ex Machina, but at least she’s nominated. Surprisingly, Jennifer Jason Leigh brings in The Hateful Eight‘s only major nomination.
Best Supporting Actor: Where the hell is Benicio Del Toro? Or Idris Elba? or Seth Rogen? All sterling performances left off. Instead, I can’t comment on any performances because I haven’t seen any of them yet. However, my money is on Sylvester Stallone earning late career redemption for his performance in Creed.
Best Animated Feature: My Film of 2015, Inside Out, is bound to win this. However, I’d be very happy if Charlie Kaufman won for Anomalisa. Nice to see Shaun the Sheep get a nod, too.
Best Animated Short: World of Tomorrow better win or I’ll be forced to go to Hollywood and beat the Oscar voters senseless.
Overall, a slightly weird nomination list. Though some surprises (Ex Machina and Straight Outta Compton getting Screenplay nods, Lenny Abrahamson getting a Best Director nom), there are some baffling choices. No Tarantino or Sorkin in Best Screenplay? No Benicio Del Toro for Best Supporting Actor? At least this year’s awards ceremony will be harder to predict.
With those two out of the way, let’s get on with the final award of 2015: Best TV Show. I hate to say it, given the title of this blog, but TV kicked film’s arse this year. There was an overwhelming amount of great shows, some new, some returning, some finishing, from the USA and the UK. Hard-hitting dramas, side-splitting comedies, jaw-dropping documentaries; all served to make 2015 one of the best years for television ever. Without further ado, here’s the list of the Best TV Shows of 2015.
Inside Amy Schumer
Inside No. 9
This Is England ’90
The final part of Shane Meadows’ excellent, horribly realistic drama was possibly the best yet. From the comedic highs of Madchester rave culture to the crushing lows like the dinner table scene (the best and certainly most emotional scene of the year), Meadows gave fans everything they could want from a final series. The talented ensemble cast were all outstanding, particularly Andrew Shim as the disturbed Milky and Vicky McClure as the fiery Lol. Special mention to Stephen Graham, breaking hearts everywhere as the reformed-too-late racist Combo.
The first series of Damien Lindelof’s atmospheric, haunting post-Rapture drama The Leftovers was good, but it couldn’t prepare anyone for just how terrific the second series. Moving the action to Miracle, Texas helped. Spanning between three, equally tormented groups helped even more. Justin Theroux was once again brilliant as the cop who now finds himself unable to die (if you want to see how good his acting is, jut watch his performance of Homeward Bound in purgatory), while the central mysteries became even more ambiguous and fascinating. Still the weirdest show on television.
Known as the documentary that finally locked up serial killer Robert Durst, The Jinx was stunning television. Interviewing the immensely creepy Durst about his past run-ins with the law (getting away with murdering his neighbour and disappearing his wife) and staging the scenes using actors, interviews, and archive footage, The Jinx was great for five episodes, then exploded in the sixth with the most chilling line ever broadcast on television (“What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course”). Astounding.
Better Call Saul
Most people, myself included, assumed a prequel about Breaking Bad‘s shady lawyer would prove to be a big fat disappointment. How wrong we were. Bob Odenkirk is flawless as the ambitious lawyer held back by his pompous, mentally ill brother (played beautifully straight by Michael McKean) and forced to go down the crooked path. Jonathan Banks, as grumpy killer Mike, was equally great, getting to show more dramatic chops than he ever did in Breaking Bad. The year’s best new show, and one that suggests the highs of Breaking Bad might just be in reach.
The first series of Fargo was excellent. the second series is superlative. The best show of 2015, Fargo‘s second series was an incredible mix of excellent acting (especially good cop Patrick Wilson, smooth killer Bokeem Woodbine and loose cannon Kirsten Dunst), complex but gripping plot (it takes a few episodes to work out which families are warring with who), and, in the Sioux Falls Massacre, one of the most audacious action scenes in years. Virtually flawless from beginning to end, Fargo was an easy choice for TV show of the year.
And there you have it. That was 2015 in the world of film and TV. We’ve had some great films, classic acting, and momentous television. Here’s hoping 2016 is just as good.
By Harry J. Ford
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