Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Second Annual Mickey™® Awards!! In the crowded field of awards, be it the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Tonys or even The Nobel Prizes, The Mickeys™ ® are the ultimate award, the pinnacle of artistic achievement, the highest honor known to mankind or any other life from anywhere in the universe!
A quick rundown of the rules and regulations of The Mickeys™®…The Mickeys™® are selected by me. I am judge, jury and executioner. The only films eligible are films I have actually seen, be it in the theatre, via screener or VOD. I do not see every film because as we all know, the overwhelming majority of films are God-awful, and I am a working man so I must be pretty selective. So that means that just getting me to actually watch your movie is a tremendous accomplishment in and of itself…never mind being nominated or even winning!
Now…about the…unpleasantness…from last years Mickey™® Awards. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know the controversy that erupted following last years ceremony when Emma Stone filed a class-action lawsuit against The Mickey's™® for discrimination against actors due to a discrepancy in prizes awarded to other non-acting artists in different categories. Last year the prizes for winning a Mickey™® were clearly stated as thus…
"The Prizes!! The winners of The Mickey™® award will receive one acting coaching session with me FOR FREE!!! Yes…you read that right…FOR FREE!! Non-acting category winners receive a free lunch* with me at Fatburger (*lunch is considered one 'sandwich' item, one order of small fries, you aren't actors so I know you can eat carbs, and one beverage….yes, your beverage can be a shake). Actors who win and don't want an acting coaching session but would prefer the lunch…can go straight to hell…there are NO SUBSTITUTIONS with The Mickey™® Awards prizes. But if you want to go to lunch and we each pay our own way, or better yet, you pay for me... that is cool."
Ms. Stone and her gaggle of high priced attorneys argued to the Federal court that she should be eligible for the free Fatburger meal instead of the Acting Coaching session, even though the Coaching session costs considerably more than the meal at Fatburger ($100/hr for a coaching session vs. maybe a $10 fat burger meal). The most compelling moment of the trial, and of Ms. Stone's argument, was when she stated through a torrent of tears that, "I just won a Mickey™® Award for Best Actress…I don't need a god-damn acting coaching session…what I need is a F****ing turkey burger and Oreo shake!!"
The judge ruled in Ms. Stone's favor and The Mickey™® Awards appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, then bad luck struck when Justice Antonin Scalia died, leaving the court at a 4-4 deadlock in the case. When the Supreme Court is tied, it reverts back to the lower court's ruling, which in this case means, The Mickey's™® get screwed and must abide by Ms. Stone's request….thanks for nothing Scalia!!
Anyway...With all of that said, the new rules are thus...
The Prizes!! The winners of The Mickey® award will receive one acting coaching session with me FOR FREE!!! Yes…you read that right…FOR FREE!! Non-acting category winners receive a free lunch* with me at Fatburger (*lunch is considered one 'sandwich' item, one order of small fries, you aren't actors so I know you can eat carbs, and one beverage….yes, your beverage can be a shake, you fat bastards). Actors who win and don't want an acting coaching session but would prefer the lunch…can still go straight to hell…but I am legally obligated to inform you that, yes, there are WILL BE SUBSTITUTIONS allowed with The Mickey™® Awards prizes. If you want to go to lunch I will gladly pay for your meal…and the sterling conversation will be entirely free of charge.
To be clear, I hold no ill will towards Ms. Stone and look froward to our lunch date in the very near future.
Now that that awkwardness is out of the way…lets get started…so sit back…relax….and enjoy the second annual Mickey™® Awards!!
Roger Deakins - Sicario: Roger Deakins is one of the great cinematographers working today. He lives up to that billing with his work in Sicario. Deakins masterful camera movement, framing and visual style aren't just beautiful, they tell the entire story of Sicario without a word needing to be spoken. Deakins cinematically vivid work is a vital component in making Sicario the superb movie is is.
Emmanuel Lubezki - The Revenant: Lubezki has won three Best Cinematographer Oscars in a row, solidifying his spot as the top cinematographer in the game today. Besides his Oscar winning work, Lubezki has also shot Terrence Malick's recent work (The New World, The Tree of Life, To The Wonder, Knight of Cups and the unreleased Weightless) which has been visually stunning. Lubezki's dazzling camera movement and his use of setting and visual texture to enhance and tell a story are exquisite.
Cary Joji Fukunaga - Beasts of No Nation: Fukunaga does extraordinary work in Beasts of No Nation, a film he also directed. Fukunaga's use of the lush African setting and how he paints the film with a vibrant and colorful palette, are simply spectacular. There has been talk swirling around Beats of No Nation of visual plagiarism on Fukunaga's behalf, which I find disturbing, but The Mickey's nominating committee, although split, did vote for Fukunaga's nomination this year. I think he might be on double secret probation though. It will be interesting to see his work in the future.
Robert Richardson - The Hateful Eight : Richardson is one of my all-time favorite cinematographers. His iconic earlier work with Oliver Stone was artistically daring and groundbreaking. His work in The Hateful Eight is striking for its intricacy, the opening shot in particular is sublime.
John Seale - Mad Max Fury Road: A confession…due to a jam packed schedule, I did not see Mad Max: Fury Road in the theatre…I know, I am a bad person. After having seen it on cable though, I think I missed the entirety of the brilliance of John Seale's cinematography. The film, even on tv, is arrestingly beautiful. Seale's use of contrasting colors and dynamic camera movement was phenomenal.
And the winner is….ROGER DEAKINS - SICARIO: This year's cinematography category was particularly difficult as all of these men did extraordinary work. Deakins rises slightly above the rest of the nominees through his usual eye-catching and dramatically powerful work. Winning the high and mighty Mickey Award solidifies Deakins standing in the cinematography community.
Alex Garland - Ex Machina : Garland is the best science fiction writer working today because he uses the genre to tell smaller, intimate, human stories, as opposed to using the genre as a vehicle for a special effects festival. Ex Machina is a delicate and compelling story about humanity that uses artificial intelligence to explore and explain the complexities of mankind.
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer - Spotlight: Spotlight is a fantastic script that has absolutely no excess fat or wasted scenes. McCarthy and Singer write a captivating narrative that moves with a winning pace.
Adam McKay, Charles Randolph - The Big Short: McKay and Randolph have done the near impossible, they made finance interesting, entertaining, funny and dramatic. What is even more impressive is that they wove multiple story lines together seamlessly and all without a single mis-step.
Aaron Sorkin- Steve Jobs: Sorkin's writing can be a disaster in the hands of a lesser director, but in Steve Jobs, his writing sparkles. The film is really a stage play with a camera rolling. Sorkin's multi-layered script is the best he has ever written.
Taylor Sheridan - Sicario: Sheridan's script for Sicario is fantastic because it never loses sight of its main characters lack of big picture vision. Sheridan keeps the viewer in the dark right along with his lead character, and the results are dramatically impressive.
And the winner is…ALEX GARLAND - EX MACHINA: In a tremendously tight race, Garland ekes out the history by a nose over McKay and McCarthy, with Sorkin right behind them. Garland's script is like a stage play in a black box theatre except with subtle yet spectacular special effects. A touching, heart breaking and ultimately frightening story. Congratulations Alex!! You didn't win an Oscar, but as everyone knows, The Mickey kicks the Oscar right in the ass!!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Rachel McAdams- Spotlight: McAdams does the best work of her career as an intrepid reporter from the Boston Globe chasing the Catholic church sex abuse scandal and cover up in Boston. Her work in the film is highlighted by a delicate humanity that lights up every scene she inhabits. I hope we get to see much more of McAdams in roles like this going forward.
Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs: Winslet is a wonder. Her career is one fascinating performance after another. In Steve Jobs she completely disappears into her role and brings a formidable power to her performance. Her work in Steve Jobs is so intricate that it is a delight to watch.
Alicia Vikander - Ex Machina: Vikander gives as stunningly precise and meticulous a performance as I've seen in recent years as an artificial intelligence, robo-lady frankenstien in Ex Machina. What makes her so good in the role, is that she doesn't play a robot, she plays it as painstakingly human as possible. A truly terrific performance.
And the winner is…ALICIA VIKANDER - EX MACHINA : A stunning piece of work from Vikander gets her the highly coveted Mickey Award. Winslet was not far behind, but Vikander's performance stayed with me for days afterwards…hauntingly human, seductively beautiful and surreptitiously manipulating, without a doubt, Vikander earned her Mickey…and this lucky lady has a turkey burger from Fatburger waiting for her…on me!!!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Benicio del Toro- Sicario: Del Toro is quietly menacing as a shadowy agent in Sicario. Del Toro is one of those actors who has mastered the two qualities most actors struggle with…stillness and silence. He brings his formidable presence to bear in Sicario and to great affect.
Mark Ruffalo - Spotlight: Ruffalo is on a hot streak, giving many solid performances in the past few years. In Spotlight he embues his character with a secret wound that gives him a captivating presence throughout.
Idris Elba - Beasts of No Nation: Elba's charismatic rebel leader is at once both a father figure and ferocious predator. Without Elba's charming, layered and fearsome performance, Beasts of No Nation would have failed, because it is imperative that the audience fall under Elba's spell right along with the main character.
Christian Bale - The Big Short: Bale can be overlooked as a great actor because he is also a movie star in big budget action films. But Bale's meticulous, yet very fluid work in The Big Short is fascinating. Bale is able to fully inhabit his character and his specific mannerisms without ever falling into caricature, and all while staying present and alive in what feels like, much to his credit, an improvised performance.
Oscar Isaac - Ex Machina: Oscar Isaac has had a few missteps in recent years, most notably in the dishonestly titled A Most Violent Year. But in Ex Machina we see Isaac at his very best. His mad scientist character is part Zuckerberg, part Dr. Frankenstien, and all manipulative asshole. Isaac creates a three dimensional character where other, lesser actors would have simply taken the easy route and played a villain. Isaac at his best is a joy to behold…I hope we see more of him.
And the winner is…CHRISTIAN BALE - THE BIG SHORT : Bale's performance is so fastidious yet vibrant that you can't take your eyes off of him. Bale may be a big movie star, and an Oscar winner…but now as a Mickey winner, he has truly arrived among the elite. Congratulations Christian!!
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs: Fassbender is one of the great actors working in film today. His meticulous and detailed performance in Steve Jobs is an amazing achievement. Fassbender's mastery of the Sorkian dialogue, and his specific character work create a truly outstanding and original masterpiece.
Abraham Atta - Beasts of No Nation: Abraham Atta is the lead actor who drives the entirety of the narrative in Beasts of No Nation. Previously unknown, Atta brings an undeniable charisma and dynamism to his work that fills the screen and is impossible to ignore.
Ryan Gosling- The Big Short: Gosling has been floundering around for a few years in some less than stellar movies. In The Big Short he finally hits his stride and gives a thoroughly potent and engaging performance. Gosling is feverishly funny as the narrator who drives the narrative forward.
Domnhall Gleeson - Ex Machina: Gleeson's performance in Ex Machina was overlooked by the lesser Academy Awards, but The Mickey's are not influenced by those wind bags. Gleeson is stellar in Ex Machina, bringing a damaged and genuine humanity to his role. Gleeson is one of the most interesting young actors working in film today.
Michael Keaton - Spotlight: It bring me great joy to see Michael Keaton back in the mix following his Mickey ward last year for Best Actor. This years performance is a different type of performance…quieter and simpler in many ways, but requiring a deep command of skill and craft. Keaton is back in the game, and his second straight Mickey nomination is a testament to his undeniable talent.
And the winner is…MICHAEL FASSBENDER - STEVE JOBS: Fassbender's performance in Steve Jobs cannot be overstated. It was a Herculean task to overcome the degree of difficulty in Sokrin's script, and create a believable and viable Steve Jobs to carry what is really a stage play on camera for two hours. Mr. Fassbender, a tip of the cap and I raise a toast to you with our milk shakes from Fatburger…SLAINTE!!!
Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn : Saoirse Ronan has the rare ability to dramatically fill a screen without the slightest need for dialogue. She has what all actors crave...presence. Her work in Brooklyn far exceeds the film itself, but it is a testament to her talent that you cannot take your eyes off of her every second she is on screen.
Brie Larson - Room: Larson won the Oscar this year, which is good, but is nothing compared to even getting nominated for a Mickey award. She can now rest easy knowing that her work has been acknowledged by the premier award on the planet. Brie Larson has a really mesmerizing screen presence. She has an allure and a power about her that the camera loves. I hope she gets even better roles going forward, her talent deserves it.
Emily Blunt - Sicario: I had no idea Emily Blunt could be as good as she is in Sicario. Her work is so good, so layered, so specific that it is undeniably captivating. Blunt has a powerfully vibrant humanity that illuminates every scene she inhabits in Sicario.
Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl: Ms. Vikander is certainly having quite a year, a double Mickey nominee for her work in Ex Machina and now in The Danish Girl. Much like last years The Theory of Everything, the female lead in The Danish Girl is really the straw that stirs the drink of the film, and not the more "showy" performance by lead actor Eddie Redmayne. Vikander's double Mickey nomination (and one win) is a testament to her ability…the sky is the limit for her.
And the winner is…EMILY BLUNT - SICARIO: Blunt was overlooked by other awards, but the Mickey's recognize work of true genius. Emily Blunt goes all in, and gives everything she has in Sicario, and it is more than enough. Congratulations Ms. Blunt, and to answer your question, yes, your husband who I will only address as "that guy from The Office", is allowed to attend your Mickey's Award dinner at Fatburger, but he has to pay his own way.
The Big Short - A star-studded and stellar cast do spectacular work bringing the sometimes dry topic of finance to a wider audience by being funny, dramatic and genuine.
Spotlight - As professionally acted a film as I saw all year. Even the smaller roles, like the actors playing abuse victims recalling their victimization, were flawless. A film full of tight and taut performances across the board.
Beasts of No Nation - A cast of newcomers do truly dynamic work in this vivid glimpse into the madness at the heart of an African civil war. Idris Elba gives a staggeringly good job in a supporting role and Abraham Atta is stunning in his debut role.
Steve Jobs - A cast of all-stars live up to their names and the task of conquering Sorkin's mountainous dialogue. Across the board the acting is top notch.
Ex Machina - The three stars of the film, Domnhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander are utterly mesmerizing in this intimate and beguiling film.
Sicario - Emily Blunt leads the way in a film which boasts great performances from supporting actors, like Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, and also from smaller roles, like the menacing special operators who inhabit the world Blunt is trying to navigate.
And the winner is…SPOTLIGHT - This competition was razor thin as The Big Short, Steve Jobs, Beasts of No Nation and Ex Machina were mere percentage points behind The Big Short. Spotlight boasts a mammoth cast and all them hit it out of the park. There isn't a single mis-step among the lot of them. Everyone in the cast is now eligible for a free meal at Fatburger…although to be clear…it is only one meal free split amongst them all.
BREAK THROUGH PERFORMER OF THE YEAR
Emmanuel Nii Adom Quaye - Beasts of No Nation - Quaye plays the mute child soldier Stryka and is absolutely mesmerizing every time he is on screen. Quaye tells the story of Stryka and the civil war all with a simple glance or empathetic look. Quaye's mastery of silence, a skill most actors, even the greatest among us, struggle to adequately refine, is astonishing. His ability to simply be present in a scene and to just live out the circumstances is exceptionally impressive. I hope Quaye can find a path to a career as an actor because he has the eyes of a true artist.
Listen to Me Marlon by Stevan Riley - Stevan Riley's remarkable documentary Listen To Me Marlon, does the near impossible…it let's us mortals get a brief glimpse into the mind of an artistic god and genius. Brando is such great actor that it is hard to tell if he went through life always acting or never once acting. Listen to Me Marlon not only shares with us Brando's intimate thoughts but also how he thought. To the outsider Brando seems a madman, but listening to him here you come to understand that he was not mad, but rather desperately and hopelessly human. In Brando's wounded and genuine humanity is where his genius lies. We will never have another Brando, but with Riley's documentary we get to appreciate and begin to understand the Brando we were blessed enough to have for a time.
Danny Boyle - Steve Jobs : Without Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs would have been a disaster. Aaron Sorkin's dialogue needs a strong hand to guide it, and Boyle provides that and much more as director of Steve Jobs. Boyle's directing was paramount to Steve Jobs being as artistically successful as it was.
Alex Garland - Ex Machina : Ex Machina has a quiet confidcne about it, and I think it gets that from its director Alex Garland. Garland never gets showy and never pushes how story too hard. He lets the viewer get lulled into the hypnotic trance of the possibilities sparkling in the eye of Alicia Vikander's artificial intelligence. Garland wisely let's his Mickey Award winning script and a trio of Mickey nominated actors do all the work in this spellbinding film.
Adam McKay - The Big Short : McKay's previous resume gave no hints to his ability to be able to pull off this. McKay's direction is so unique and interesting that it entertains, informs and never lags or lulls. A previously unthinkable talent and skill residing in McKay emerges with his directing of The Big Short.
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight : McCarthy does a really high quality job of keeping the pace and energy of his film flowing while cutting all of the dramatic fat from the bone. McCarthy is exceptionally good at coaxing great performances from his cast and in shaping the drama of Spotlight. Every scene pops with a dramatic crispness that is a tribute to MCarthy's great direction.
Cary Joji Fukunaga - Beasts of No Nation : Fukunaga reigns in what could have been an unwieldy beast of a story by focusing on the humanity of his main actors. He manages to elicit great performances from a collection of newcomers all while making a visually beautiful and dramatically compelling film.
Denis Villeneuve - Sicario : Villeneuve weaves a mesmerizing story of deceit and power around the moral and ethical struggle which is the war on drugs. In lesser hands, Sicario could have been nothing more than an action film, but Villeneuve creates a complicated moral tale that sparkles from beginning to end.
And the winner is…ADAM MCKAY - THE BIG SHORT : This competition was incredibly close as Tom McCarthy and Danny Boyle tied for second place mere percentage points behind McKay. McKay gets the Mickey™® award though for churning out such a thoroughly entertaining and insightful film that keeps you riveted from start to finish. McCarthy and Boyle are welcome to join Adam McKay and I for our Fatburger feast, but they will have to pay their own way.
All seven of these films are the very best of the best and get my highest recommendation. Instead of giving a top ten list, The Mickey's™® only nominate films that were head and shoulders above the rest. It is no joke to say that every one of these films is a winner by just being nominated for a Best Picture Mickey. You should go watch all of them…now, without further ado...Here, in order, are the very best films of 2015.
7. Listen To Me Marlon : A marvel of a film that gives us a glimpse into the mind of genius. Stevan Ridley masterfully weaves together hours of footage of Brando's thoughts and gives them to us in a coherent way that we can begin to understand the brilliance at the center of this previously misunderstood genius.
6. Beasts of No Nation: A staggeringly good ensemble cast and harrowing story, both supported by Cary Fukunaga's vibrant cinematography make Beasts of No Nation a definite must see for any lover of great films. Exemplary performances by Idris Elba and newcomer Abraham Atta are just two acting highlights from this glorious film.
5. Sicario : A spellbinding film that takes the viewer down the rabbit hole of the war on drugs, where nothing is what it seems. Captivating performances from Emily Blunt and Benicio del Toro, along with the magnificent cinematography of Roger Deakins, make Sicario one of the most compelling films of the year.
4. Ex Machina : An exquisitely intimate film that highlights the weakness of humanity and the darkness that resides deep within all of us. Alex Garland's superb script and outstanding performances from Domnhall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander create one of the most magnificent films of the year.
3. Steve Jobs : Stellar directing from Danny Boyle and dynamic perfomances from the entire cast, but most notably Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet, make Steve Jobs one of the most artistically fulfilling films of the year for cinephiles everywhere .
2. Spotlight : Tom McCarthy gives a masterclass in directing, writing and editing as Spotlight is the tightest and most dramatically taut film of the year. An amazing cast all give stand out performances in this classically structured gem.
1. The Big Short : The Big Short is the film of the year for it's unique narrative structure and entertaining storytelling style. Director Adam McKay keeps the pace up and the performances front and center all while pulling back the curtain to reveal the ugly truth behind American capitalism.
MOST IMPORTANT FILM OF THE YEAR
TIE - Sicario, The Big Short, Spotlight : Sicario, The Big Short and Spotlight are all great films, but they are also all films about pulling back the curtain and exposing the ugly reality behind the facade of our lives. All three of these films reveal to us that things are never what they seem to be on the surface, and certainly aren't what Authority tells us they are. Whether it is because we are too scared, too stupid or too willingly blind, we are usually incapable of seeing the truth even when it is right in front of our eyes.
The deception of the Drug War (Sicario), the scam of American Capitlaism (The Big Short) and the shocking compliance of the church sex abuse scandal (Spotlight), all show us both the institutional and individual, moral and ethical corruption that is rampant in the U.S. This corruption is corrosive on authority across the board in American life, the effects of which are easily seen in our daily lives in our lack of trust in institutions and in our politics run amok. This corrosive effect is not going to stop anytime soon, and it's impact will be felt for generations.
When the American Empire crumbles and is left smoldering upon the ash heap of history, future people will watch Sicario, The Big Short and Spotlight and see what is obvious in hindsight but what eludes us today, namely that the warning signs of our imminent collapse are readily apparent for those with eyes to see…and the courage to look.
We would be wise to learn the lessons of these films and apply them to our decaying country. From Sicario we learn that The Drug War is a moral charade that fronts for tyranny. The Big Short shows us that American Capitalism is a rigged game meant to rob the masses and enrich the exorbitantly wealthy. Spotlight reveals that we are our own worst enemy when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable and holding the powerful accountable.
In my opinion, it is too late for this nation to not only learn those lessons, but absorb and integrate them. Sicario, The Big Short and Spotlight divulge to us the hard truth, that Authority is blatantly and openly corrupt beyond repair, but the populace is too fat, drunk and stupid to be anything but blindingly compliant. We as a people have been pacified, placated and policed into a neutered subservience. In other words, we have met the enemy…and it is us. This is the reality of our world. The game is over, and the good guys lost, or maybe there were no good guys to begin with. Regardless...we just don't have the strength and the courage to see the truth dancing right before our eyes, and, sadly, we will get, and are getting, the country and the world we deserve.
On that cheery note…please remove your head from the the oven and give a warm round of applause for all of the Mickey™® winners this year. I am proud to announce that 2015 was a strong year for quality films…at least we have that going for us!!!
Thus we end our second annual Mickey™® Awards. Thank you for coming and we'll see you again next year!!
TO CHECK OUT THE DARK SHADOW OF THE MICKEY™® AWARDS, CLICK HERE FOR THE 2ND ANNUAL SLIP-ME-A-MICKEY™® AWARDS!!!