With the Oscars airing this Sunday, Hollywood’s annual awards season is drawing to a close. It always seems like there’s a lot of awards to keep track of, with the Golden Globes, Academy Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, and many more. I don’t always keep up with awards season news, since my favorite movies of the year aren’t usually included in these nominations (I don’t think the Academy has the same passion for science fiction and superhero movies that I do). 😉 Still, I am pretty excited that not one but two of the movies from my 2015 top five list were nominated for “best picture” Academy Awards, which is probably the first time this has ever happened. 😉
Anyway, all this awards season buzz started me thinking about what awards I’d like to give out, if I could. I’ve already done my entertainment top five list with my favorite movies and TV shows from 2015, but here’s some highlights from the past year that I think are also worthy of recognition.
Best newcomer: Daisy Ridley
Daisy Ridley may have been a relative unknown when she was cast as the mysterious Rey in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Yet she’s certainly not an unknown now, and her performance as the Force-sensitive scavenger (who’s also possibly Luke Skywalker’s daughter) was absolutely riveting. She played Rey with conviction and genuine emotion, and I can’t wait to watch her hone her Force powers and become a full-fledged Jedi. The best moment of the movie? When Kylo Ren is reaching for Luke’s old lightsaber, buried in the snow, and it flies past him and snaps into Rey’s hand. She’s definitely an actress to watch.
Best villain: Kilgrave
Krysten Ritter was great as the title character in Marvel and Netflix’s new show “Jessica Jones,” but David Tennant was even better as her arch-nemesis, Kilgrave. Kilgrave is one of the most terrifying villains I’ve ever seen in a TV show. He has the ability to control the mind of any person he wants, and he can make them do anything, no matter how horrific. We’re used to seeing Tennant as the quirky, lovable Tenth Doctor from “Doctor Who,” so it’s a rather frightening shift to see him as a completely psychotic villain. The scariest part is that he plays the role with just enough charm to make us think that *maybe* he could be redeemable…but really, that’s all part of Kilgrave’s dangerous act.
Best superhero: Daredevil
We had some great new superheroes on the big and small screen in 2015, including Ant-Man and Jessica Jones. But my favorite was probably Daredevil. The Marvel/Netflix show featuring this character is wonderfully dark and gritty, but star Charlie Cox also gives it a heart and soul. Although the blind lawyer is an unlikely hero, Cox makes him believable. We see him broken and bleeding, and sometimes the burden of being a vigilante becomes too much for him to bear. But he keeps fighting, because he thinks Hell’s Kitchen is still worth saving.
Best surprise hit: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’
This definitely wasn’t on my radar at the beginning of 2015, and I wasn’t too excited about seeing this in theaters. But an almost 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes made me rethink that, and I’m now very glad I watched it on the big screen. It’s a tense, absolutely thrilling two-hour car chase that also manages to highlight great characters and important social themes. I don’t know what its chances actually are, but I’m rooting for it to win “best picture” at this weekend’s Academy Awards.
Best new A-lister: Chris Pratt
2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” may have been Chris Pratt’s first big break, but it was probably “Jurassic World” in 2015 that cemented his status as a bankable movie star. I saw Chris Pratt and raptors in the trailer, and I was instantly hooked (especially since Chris Pratt was riding a motorcycle while wrangling those raptors). 😉 Chris Pratt is funny and talented, and even better, he seems like a genuinely nice guy in real life. I’m glad to see he’s officially joined Hollywood’s A list.
Best underrated film: ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’
This late summer release flew mostly under the radar, and while it’s fair to say that it wasn’t as good as it could have been, it’s still a shame more people didn’t see it. Guy Ritchie’s charming, stylishly retro spy flick features an American operative and a Russian KGB agent who team up on a secret mission. It’s a throwback to ’60s era Bond with a fun cast that includes buzz-worthy newcomer Alicia Vikander. If you missed it in theaters, it’s worth catching on DVD.
Best character comeback: Han Solo
Harrison Ford’s love/hate relationship with the character Han Solo is famous (or infamous). But regardless of how he may or may not have felt about the character in the past, Harrison Ford’s performance in “The Force Awakens” is absolutely sincere. He’s the same sharp-witted man of action we knew and loved from the original trilogy, but he’s a bit more world weary this time, and the man who always beats the odds is finally trapped by his past. The Star Wars universe won’t be the same without him, but Disney gave him a fitting send-off. Just as Obi-Wan lays down his life in “A New Hope,” Han Solo sacrifices himself in hopes that one day his son will turn back from the dark side.
So, what do you think? What’s your personal “best” list from 2015?