This coming week – on Thursday, January 14, in fact – the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce its 2016 Oscar nominations. Before that happens, I would like to finish with my annual “best of” lists: I already posted my “best film” and “best acting” lists, so today’s post – about the (often) unsung artists and craftspeople who are essential to the filmmaking process – completes the triptych. As always, each movie title’s hyperlink will take you to my review, when I have one (if not, I have a note explaining where the hyperlink takes you). I also hyperlink the artists’ names, as well (mostly to IMDb, but sometimes to their own personal websites), so you can see what other work they have produced over their careers. In the case of best score, I link to the movies’ soundtracks on iTunes, as well. Occasionally, I add a note after the entries, to briefly explain my choices.
For each category, I stick to 5 candidates, in alphabetical order. These are the films where I thought that the work in that particular area truly enhanced the quality of the movie. Enjoy, and feel free to leave comments after you look it over!
- The Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller) – such a smart distillation of a complex hybrid graphic/text novel, which Heller first adapted into a stage play before making this, her debut feature.
- Dope (Rick Famuyiwa)
- 45 Years* (Andrew Haigh) [*the title is linked to my “best of” movie list, where there is a brief capsule review of the film]
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Jesse Andrews) – I prefer the movie to the book, which Andrews also wrote, and am very impressed with the way he adapted (and improved) his own novel.
- Room (Emma Donoghue) – same note as for Me and Earl, above: Donoghue adapted her own novel, and, in my opinion, improved it for the screen.
- Brooklyn (Yves Bélanger)
- Carol (Edward Lachman)
- Ex Machina (Rob Hardy)
- Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)
- Son of Saul* (Mátyás Erdély) [*the title is linked to my “best of” movie list, where there is a brief capsule review of the film] – this is such tour-de-force filmmaking, and mostly because the camera work is such an integral part of the storytelling.
- Amy (Chris King)
- Dope (Lee Haugen)
- Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)
- Red Army (Eli B. Despres & Kurt Engfehr)
- Twinsters (Jeff Consiglio)
[*3 of these are documentaries, which are among the hardest kinds of films to edit, given the huge amount of material to work with, from which one must, somehow, extract a coherent story.]
Best Production Design*:
- Carol (Judy Becker, Jesse Rosenthal, Heather Loeffler, Sandy Powell)
- Ex Machina (Mark Digby, Katrina Mackay & Denis Schnegg, Michelle Day, Sammy Sheldon)
- Mad Max: Fury Road (Colin Gibson, Shira Hockman & Jacinta Leong, Nicki Gardiner & Katie Sharrock & Lisa Thompson & Gena Vazquez, Jenny Beavan)
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Gerald Sullivan, Sarah M. Pott, Diana Stoughton, Jennifer Eve)
- Room (Ethan Tobman, Michelle Lannon, Mary Kirkland, Lea Carlson) – so impressed with the design of the “room,” in which the first part of the movie takes place.
[*I include the Production Designer, Art Director(s), Set Director and Costume Designer, in that order, for each film]
Best Special/Visual Effects*:
- Ant-Man (Damian Fisher & Daniel Sudick & Tony Baldridge & Daniele Bigi & Lersak Bunupuradah & Eamonn Butler & Jon Capleton & Vincent Cirelli & Trent Claus & Adrian Corsei & Jonathan Davies & Russell Earl & Stephen Enticott & Neil Glasbey & Jamie Hallett & Tim Harrington & Dinesh K. Bishnoi & Simone Kraus & Mohen Leo & Jake Morrison & Simon Stanley-Clamp & Greg Steele & Florian Witzel & Alex Wuttke & Dominik Zimmerle & Loic Zimmermann)
- Ex Machina (Richard Conway & Sara Bennett & Stuart Farley & Nicolas Hernandez & John Lockwood & Andrew Whitehurst)
- Mad Max: Fury Road (Rob Gillies & Rob Heggie & Dan Oliver & Arthur Spink Jr. & Thomas Van Koeverden & Andy Williams & Aaron Auty & Dan Bethell & Glenn Burton & Albert Cheng & Anthony Chiarantano & Julian Dimsey & Laurent Hugueniot & Andrew Jackson & David Nelson & Marco Raposo de Barbosa & Katherine Rodtsbrooks & Tom Wood)
- The Martian (Neil Corbould & Steven Warner & Vincent Aupetit & Sara Bennett & Albert Cheng & Justin Cornish & James D. Fleming & Nicolas Hernandez & Anders Langlands & Chris Lawrence & Tim Ledbury & Mohen Leo & Brooke Lyndon-Stanford & Jason McDonald & Adam McInnes & Dale Newton & Louis Paré & Richard Stammers & Martin Waters)
- The Walk (Kevin Baillie & Sébastien Moreau & Viktor Muller & Isaac Partouche & Ronen Tanchum)
[*Too many people to mention all, so I include just the supervisor from the various teams, though the credits are complicated enough that I may be missing folks – or including too many – and for that I apologize]
Best Original Score*:
- Carol (Carter Burwell) – listen on iTunes
- Ex Machina (Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow) – listen on iTunes
- Inside Out (Michael Giacchino) – listen on iTunes
- Red Army (Christophe Beck & Leo Birenberg) – listen on iTunes
- Room (Stephen Rennicks) – listen on iTunes
[*These scores all worked beautifully with their movies, adding much to the storytelling without overwhelming it.]