June is a month of victory for the LGBTQ community. It’s the one time of the year lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people, and all other spectrums of queer sexualities and gender identities come together to honor the queer heroes who rioted, fought, and persevered before us. It’s a time of joy, of marching in parades, dancing in queer nightclubs and seeking comfort, safety, and acceptance as an LGBTQ person. But this year that sacred month of celebration was tarnished by the largest hate crime the LGBTQ community has ever faced.
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts polished their monocles, twiddled the ends of their impeccably-groomed mustaches, cleared the straggling bits of crumpet from their throats, and announced the nominees for the BAFTA Film Awards late last night. Though the awards program does have a highlight category specifically designating the year’s most Outstanding British Film, this English critical body still favored Hollywood productions in its slate of nominees. Many of the films that have emerged as this season’s usual suspects made their expected appearances — why hello, ‘Carol’ and ‘The Big Short’ and ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Bridge of Spies’ — but the unveiling of the BAFTA hopefuls was not without its surprises, both pleasant and un-pleasant.
The National Society of Film Critics, a group made up of fifty-three of the most esteemed, elite American film critics, recently convened for their 50th annual meeting to determine the finest films, performances, as well as other assorted creative and technical achievements in 2015...
By this time of year we usually know who our Oscars frontrunners are. Last year it was Birdman v. Boyhood, and before that 12 Years a Slave and Gravity made the tops of award pundits’ ballots. This year’s race is turning out to be the most unpredictable in years. Earlier this fall Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight slid into the frontrunner spot when it debuted at the Toronto Film Festival. But it’s looking like the praise has reached a plateau now that the Oscar spotlight is beginning to point in other directions. On one hand, it’s a great thing since 2015 has given us such a variety of great filmmaking that slapping labels on films before voting begins is becoming harder and harder. On the other, it makes this race anyone’s best guess.
Lists can be extremely useful, especially when you need to get organized, go grocery shopping or break down all the ways Jon Snow will return on Game of Thrones (very important). I like those kinds of lists, as the many Post-Its littered across my desk (and Macbook and iPhone) will show you. But making a Top 10 for the best movies of the year is a whole other monster, a film writer’s Sophie’s Choice. For someone as ridiculously indecisive as myself, it took days to finalize the final spots on this list.
The Bechdel test has long been a barometer for the quality and prevalence of female characters in fiction, often cited when we discuss the discrepancy of women in meaningful roles in film and television. In a superficial sense, Jessica Jones and Carol don’t have much in common — aside from strong women in leading roles, thoughtful narratives and fantastic performances — yet both of these stories not only serve as living and breathing examples of earning an A+ on the Bechdel test, but of going a step further by defying the basic, antiquated conventions that necessitated the test in the first place.
The end of the year brings lots of top 10 lists from film critics, journalists, your cousin with the weird mustache who thinks seeing one John Cassavetes film makes him an authority…It’s a special time. But some of the most interesting year-end top 10 lists are curated by filmmakers, and the most delightful one of all comes from John Waters, who has revealed his annual list of movie favorites, bestowing good tidings and cheer on us all.