As the Oscars ring close the movie year that was, I shall also present my more private awards honoring the best of the 2014 movie crop.
And quite an exceptional best it is, too! Though one film dominates the list to follow like nothing has ever dominated the Antagonists in their brief history, the breadth of movies that were absolutely terrific in this way or that continues to amaze me, the more I think about it. 2015 has a lot to live up to.
Goodbye to Language
An unfair advantage: what other film this year (or last year, or the year prior…) actually tried to literally challenge the ways our eyes work while we watch a film? And did that on top of a narrative that twists in on itself while conversations pile up and some of the most academic fart jokes out there proudly march across the screen? In a year with plenty of films that actively questioned what films are and can do, none was so assertive in demanding everything its viewers could offer, and reward them with such a totally unprecedented experience.
1st Runner-Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Meanwhile, pure conservatism: Wes Anderson making the most Wes Anderson movie yet. But the impeccable fussiness of the film’s design is only half the equation; the way that his precise clockwork filmmaking matches with the story’s surprisingly rich vein of mournfulness and self-conscious nostalgia makes it truly special.
-For beautifully marrying style and subject, and telling a story of artistic achievement that mixes the ugly and the beautiful without apology
-For the creation of an absolutely perfect world in service to a roaring satiric broadside against everything shitty in The World Today
Under the Skin
-For creating a work of alienation that’s truly alienating, terrifyingly beautiful, and full of mysteries that have more to do with psychology than sci-fi
Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin
There is a level of tonal control present in every frame of this movie that would be impressive even if we didn’t know how much of it was shot, essentially, without a clear sense of what was going to happen moment-by-moment. It is a brave act of letting the material find its own shape, while also constructing an incredibly precise frame of visuals and concepts around that material. Finding a way to make pure ideas into pure cinema is the greatest challenge a filmmaker can face, and Glazer met it head on here.
1st Runner-Up: Jean-Luc Godard, Goodbye to Language
How fearless do you have to be to conceive of the “split eye” effects, let alone to go ahead and execute them? A lot of it is the same ol’ late-period Godardisms – grumpiness and mild xenophobia when contemplating the state of modern Europe – but the expansiveness of the experiment, trying to rip cinema into constituent atoms and see how it all works, puts it on par with the most adventurous work of a career that has never shied away from blowing things up.
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
-For bringing everyone and everything to the same level of theatricality, but making room for undercurrents of emotion
Jennifer Kent, The Babadook
-For a debut feature that shows more skill for building terror and marrying it to character arcs than directors who have been doing this for years
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
-For the superhuman act of bringing a cast and crew to the exact same artistic and emotional place every year for twelve years, and never letting a seam show
Agata Trzebuchowska, Ida
The ingredients are all simple enough: innocence, loss of identity, confusion at being dropped into a new wide world. But the way they’re combined in the script is anything but simple, and it would be enough work for Trzebuchowska to merely embody the role in a way that makes her character feel authentic and present, with all those demands placed on her. But “mere” is not at all what she’s gunning for, and the rich, complex, sympathetic performance she gives provides the irreducible humane core of a very knotty movie that could easily turn into an explication of idea rather than a character drama, without such a presence in is center.
1st Runner-Up: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
So many challenges! Create a portrayal of not-quite-healed depression that never foregrounds itself, but can’t ever be overlooked – check. Persuasively depict the state of economic panic, but feel more like an individual woman than a signifier – check. Be a movie star in a Dardenne brothers film and sink down to their naturalistic level – check. Simply put, it’s the clear high-water mark of Cotillard’s estimable career.
Leslie Duncan, Le Week-End
-For making domestic ennui feel fresher, angrier, and more fragile than it has in years, without softening a cruel character
Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin
-For playing a non-human as a scared woman surrounded by aggressive men – but never underselling the inhumanity
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights
-For portraying clear-cut melodramatic situations with lacerating acuity, and because who doesn’t like to crown a new star?
Paulina García, Gloria
-For creating a moving, unapologetic depiction of hope, lust, and dissatisfaction in middle age, in the middle of a film whose “official” release year I still haven’t worked out
Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
The best work of character creation in years, period. The unlikable bully, grunting and glaring; the whip-smart art connoisseur whose instincts are tactically sharp and nuanced; the rich, romantic soul required to be such a radical painter; Spall doesn’t seem to stop for even a moment to think of providing keys for how we should seek to link these things together, but simply lets all of them radiate outward at all moments. His Turner is a contradictory figure who nonetheless feels devastatingly real for every second of the film, as messy in his humanness as movie characters ever get.
1st Runner-Up: Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
The character, a written, is a concept surrounded by other concepts; Gleeson’s job is to make him a living, breathing human being, and he does this with beautiful shagginess that could make your heart stop from the simple naturalism. Even though the movie is handed to him on a platter, he always makes sure to earn every bit of it, even managing to convince us of the truth and inevitability of a perplexing finale.
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
-For playing the driest of sophisticated comedy with an arch air, and always making sure that we can feel the heart underneath the fussiness
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
-For the creepy, reptilian intensity of his staring, and his flawlessly-oiled repetition of bromides that he treats as holy writ
David Oyelowo, Selma
-For playing one of the most iconic men in living memory as a man first, an icon never, letting us see the tactician beneath the martyr
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Agata Kulesza, Ida
An arguable co-lead? Yes, but I love best about Kulesza’s powerful acting is the way her worn-out bitterness and devastating awareness of all the shit that the world has to offer is how she defines the shape of the movie for Agata Trzebuchowska to expand into. Her Wanda is a complex, fully-rounded figure with her own needs and problems, but she ultimately functions to contextualise another performance without pulling focus from her co-star. That is the very best kind of supportive acting, and the richness of her character just makes it all the sweeter.
1st Runner-Up: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
A full-on caricature of Ayn Rand as a talking gargoyle, there’s not much nuance or delicacy going on anywhere in anything she does. But is magnificently grotesque. In the early going, as this most erratic of films is still finding its shape, Swinton provides the channels of warped energy where it will end up doing its best work, and the echoes of her work never come close to dying out.
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
-For the quiet frustrations, prideful self-reliance, and frequent exhaustion that all pave the way for “I thought there’d be more”
Alison Pill, Snowpiercer
-For making an unforgettable impression of comedy and terror in just one scene of a massively overstuffed film
Marisa Tomei, Love Is Strange
-For providing an extensive unspoken backstory to a character who’s barely even the fourth-most prominent role of a two-hander
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Ben Mendelsohn, Starred Up
With impressive speed, Mendelsohn has established himself as one of those actors you can always count on, and brutish convict Neville Love might very well be the best work of his career. A father who wants very hard to love his son – also a convict – and without the emotional skill set necessary to make that happen, Mendelsohn’s work glides cleanly back and forth between thuggishness and pathos, never settling in a place that leaves us comfortable or able to predict the next swerve.
1st Runner-Up: Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Hawke and Richard Linklater have already proven themselves one of the most essential actor/director teams in modern cinema, and this long-form act of character creation is yet another triumph for them. A well-intentioned but ultimately immature figure of helpless instability, Hawke creates a father figure easy to like, and important to outgrow, hovering in the background of his film but casting a long shadow over it.
Kristofer Hivju, Force Majeure
-For creating such a vibrant, deep sidekick that it’s hard to wonder why we’re not watching a movie about him
Toby Kebbell, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
-For helping Andy Serkis to legitimise motion capture as a villain with surprising depths of sorrow and sympathy to augment his calculated wrathfulness. That “circus chimp” scene, man…
David Koechner, Cheap Thrills
-For using his comic training to flawlessly play a blowsy satire of the idle rich that invisibly shades into sadism
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Cameo upon cameo, all of them saddled with loopy, goofy dialogue and situations, and nearly the whole cast lives up to precisely the demented level of mannered insanity that Wes Anderson badly needs to inhabit his film if it’s going to have any kind of human anchor at all. Starmaking turns rub shoulders with easy, likable romps by veteran character actors, and all of them in concert help to convince us that this is a real world that could actually be inhabited by all these different people.
1st Runner-Up: Two Days, One Night
The patient march of superstar Marion Cotillard through a collection of wildly dissimilar personality types could easily feel a helpless collision of professionalism and raw amateurs, but instead the vividly-etched supporting ensemble provide a real and entirely plausible collection of personalities and private concerns for Cotillard to define herself against.
The Lego Movie
-For inhabiting comic stock characters with wit and vitality, cheerfully throwing themselves into the fray without any self-consciousness about making a cartoon
-For fleshing out a cartoon British town with wacky miners and sassy gays who feel, down to the smallest role, like lived-in, realistic human beings
-For forming an activist community that feels as lumpy, internally tense, and unified by passion as such things are in life
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Grand Budapest Hotel, by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Adopting a refined, European literary flair inherited from Stefan Sweig, and building a mad ’60s-style caper comedy around it just makes sense, especially in the precise, performative world of Wes Anderson. What pushes the script from “awfully delightful and good” to “damn near perfect” isn’t the nesting doll structure, but the way that structure turns the film into an elaborate commentary; this is how we imagine the past, this is how we keep it alive, this is how we ultimately have to let it go to enjoy the present.
1st Runner-Up: Ida, by Paweł Pawlikoski & Rebecca Lenkiewicz
Once upon a time, brainy tours of post-war Europe with smart characters grappling with complex social questions were far more common than they are now. And even then, Ida would have stood out for its calm insight, its historical literacy, and its remarkable depiction of shifting personalty conflicts.
The Babadook, by Jennifer Kent
-For mixing probing domestic drama with monster horror so perfectly that it’s hard to say which is the strong angle
The Lego Movie, by Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman and Phil Lord & Chris Miller
-For turning the dubious assignment to sell toys into an indictment of formulaic Hollywood filmmaking and referendum on childhood imagination in the internet era
Mr. Turner, by Mike Leigh
-For refreshing the biopic form through quicksilver chronological changes and clincally direct close-study of its subject
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Homesman, by Tommy Lee Jones & Kieran Fitzgerald & Wesley A. Oliver
Movies that deconstruct the myths of the American West aren’t rare, but ones that have the sociological fearlessness of this quasi-feminist psychological thriller surely are. And it’s almost unheard of for films that would dare to navigate the dumbfounding structural game this one sets itself at the two-thirds mark, rebooting itself without changing its town or its thematic ambitions.
1st Runner-Up: Snowpiercer, by Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson
It is not a clever satire; it is not a sophisticated satire. It is an angry, direct, loudmouthed satire, taking place in a hypnotically imaginative world, with bold comic book declarations by its characters (who did, after all, originate in a comic book). And that’s the kind of satire we need more of right now.
Edge of Tomorrow, by Christopher McQuarrie and Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth
-For refashioning a sci-fi thriller into a character drama and commentary on movie stardom
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, by Takahata Isao & Sakaguchi Riko
-For upgrading one of the cornerstones of Japanese literature into a contemporary feel that preserves the piece’s elegant classicism
Under the Skin, by Jonathan Glazer & Walter Campbell
-For challenging the bedrock assumptions of what “genre” means and how narrative reveals itself
BEST FOREIGN-LANGUAGE FEATURE not cited under Best Feature
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Updating folklore is always a tricky task, and the filmmakers achieve that here with a sparse efficiency that pays tribute to the underlying story will giving it urgent new life. Even at their best, Japanese period dramas can have a tendency to formalism and rigidity, but Takahata Isao and company have injected this film with alertness, active vocal performances, and a focus on letting the characters have personalities that drive the story, rather than making the story define them.
1st Runner-Up: Two Days, One Night
The Dardennes’ love of social realist message-telling meets the mechanics of a thriller, and we’re all better for it. This isn’t just an outraged shout for basic decency in an indecent world; it’s gripping, vitally watchable cinema, exciting no matter how grim-faced things get.
-For finding a new urgency in the hoary old “Mexico sure has cartels” framework, heightening both the cruelty and humanity of its scenario
-For grappling with history – both real-world and cinematic – and doing it with visual elegance and acute storytelling
The Raid 2
-For proving that action cinema is still capable of out and out poetry and narrative grandeur of an epic scope
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
“It looks like a moving painting” is an easy thing to say about animation, but this really looks like fine graphic art come to life: the expansive emptiness and emphatic brushwork of Japanese drawing turned into fluid, kinetic animation with all the insight of Studio Ghibli’s best visual experimenter. It is beautiful, it’s unlike any animated feature ever made, and it’s a wonderful demonstration of what can be done in mixing computers and hand-painted art, by people who really feel like pushing the envelope.
1st Runner-Up: Cheatin’
A new high in ambition for American treasure Bill Plympton. It’s a surprisingly nuanced story of passion and betrayal, given that none of the characters speak and can barely change their facial expression. The surprises the narrative takes are pleasing, but the film’s real strength lies in the tension of Plympton’s exaggerated drawings, showcasing emotional beings at their rawest.
-For proving that Laika just won’t give up finding ways to expand their wonderful toolkit in the creation of delicate fables
The Lego Movie
-For the exquisite technique of creating plastic in a computer and then using it with the best humor and manic creative throughout
Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants
-For mixing photorealism and warped design without any doubt, and telling a sweet children’s story of enormous ambition and scale
The Last of the Unjust
An interrogation of what historical documentation even is, Claude Lanzmann’s reckoning with himself as a young man forcing another old man into his own reckoning has layers upon layers simply because of what it is and how it functions. And that it is also an invaluable oral history of one particular corner of the Holocaust, told by a controversial figure right in the heart of that history, it’s hard to imagine what could make it more essential, as cinema or otherwise.
1st Runner-Up: The Missing Picture
A most unconventional memoir told with immense visual care, imbuing a population of still clay figures with lives and histories. Rithy Panh’s attempt to rebuild the testimony of those whose suffering was disappeared by the Khmer Rouge is one of the great humane gestures in modern documentaries.
-For rendering a great museum as a living organism, and quite casually reminding us why art still matters
Purgatorio: A Journey into the Heart of the Border
-For extrapolating from the specific to the universal, without losing sight of the immensely thorny politics and real-life suffering that the specific entails
The Unknown Known
-For allowing a slippery man to present his own history of self-aggrandising contradictions, and allow the very slickness of his testimony to speak against him
Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)
In a year where great works of cinematography were as plentiful as I’ve ever known them, it would take something enormous to be the cream of the crop. I present you with Pope’s unbelievable marriage of digital technology and painterly technique, creating a world that’s both real and more-than-real for the story of a painter to take place. That it’s the most beautiful film of the year is one thing; that it’s beauty is so deliberate and purposeful is what puts it over the top.
1st Runner-Up: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Lyle Vincent)
Shimmering, metallic black and white that plunges us into the urban darkness: it’s as much a visual tone poem as a horror film, and very good at both of those things. The title character is defined, above all things in the script or images, as a shape of smooth blackness, and the cinematography makes certain that all that black hits with merciless impact.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Emmanuel Lubezki)
-For the tossed-off flawlessness of the gimmick, and the playful, intelligent use of color and onscreen light sources
Goodbye to Language (Fabrice Aragno)
-For the sheer effort it took to execute the conceptual ideas, be they inventive 3-D tricks or emphatic distortions of digital media
Ida (Ryszard Lenczewski & Łukasz Żal)
-For the stateliness of its black and white and the brave use of the 1.37:1 aspect ratio with frames that are as startling as they are beautiful
The Raid 2 (Gareth Evans)
The fact that the film’s editor, director, and fight choreographer were all the same man probably explains why the pace and impact of the action is so flawlessly managed with the most ruthlessly precise cuts conceivable. The onscreen movement creates momentum, and the editing then confirms and intensifies that momentum. It’s what all action editing is supposed to do, really, but it’s virtually never this perfect in execution or thrilling to watch.
1st Runner-Up: National Gallery (Frederick Wiseman)
Wiseman’s documentaries are noted for their lack of editorial slant; he presents events within an institution without telling us what to think about them. But he can also shape and guide the direction of our thoughts by combining angles and scenes in an oh-so-precise way that finds National Gallery telling a remarkably clear story about its subject, with intuitive and unexpected juxtapositions all providing a elegant intellectual throughline.
Boyhood (Sandra Adair)
-For turning a twelve-year production into a flow of moments and feelings that invisibly glide together
Edge of Tomorrow (James Hebert and Laura Jennings)
-For making a peerless virtue of repetition, whether to sharpen action, make character relationships more touching, or just to score easy jokes
John Wick (Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir)
-For eliding everything that is unnecessary and focusing the action sequences into expressionist bursts of human movement
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen)
History as a collection of old-fashioned toys, life as a giant cake; the world could not possibly be more artificial and fussed-over, but Stockhausen infuses it with just enough archaic elegance that it not only feels like a place that could exist, in some magical past, but that a place whose passing would trigger precisely the kind of bemused sorrow felt by the characters. It’s like falling asleep and dreaming that you’re in the world’s most delightful cuckoo clock or train set, which even as it gets scuffed up never fails to surprise and entertain.
1st Runner-Up: Snowpiercer (Ondřej Nekvasil)
Given a series of rectangular boxes, Nekvasil creates a panoply of totally dissimilar spaces that each individually suggest some of the most imaginative science-fiction design you could want, while all fitting together in weird, unpredictable ways. It’s pure fantasy, and yet it absolutely convinces us of its existence on its own terms.
The Boxtrolls (Paul Lasaine)
-For foregrounding the deep, abiding love that went into this film, conceiving a thoroughly nonsensical but charmingly evocative storybook backdrop
Interstellar (Nathan Crowley)
-For creating a vividly detailed functional world that’s both fantastic and impressively grounded, telling its stories through implication rather than words
The Lego Movie (Grant Freckelton)
-For committing to the unspoken rules that “ought” to define this world, and using that limitation as a chance to ramp up on the creativity rather than shut it down
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)
The colors, first. Has purple ever looked so purplish? The costumes are, in a rather literal way, the link between the human beings onscreen and the intensely designed world they populate, and a middle ground must be struck between outrageous stylisation on one hand, and enough flexibiltiy for people to feel like people within them, on the other. And this is achieved faultlessly, all while building the elaborate scheme of wholly unnatural colors and their narrative implications.
1st Runner-Up: The Immigrant (Patricia Norris)
Anyone can make costumes that evoke the past. That’s why we call them “costume dramas”. But not anybody can use clothing to tell us about the past, and how people lived and moved in it, and what they thought about themselves. And this is the grand achievement of Norris’s costumes, which split the difference between functionality and picturebook illustration in the most rewarding, eye-catching way.
The Great Beauty (Daniela Ciancio)
-For capturing the way that haute couture is used by the upper classes as weapon and shield alike
Love Is Strange (Arjun Bhasin)
-For capturing what makes its characters fit in their own world and stand out in everyone else’s
A Most Violent Year (Kasia Walicka-Maimone)
-For bringing 1981 to life, and suggesting the way that people present themselves to the world as an elaborate act of living theater
BEST HAIR & MAKEUP
An object lesson in the value of subtlety. Okay, maybe making Steve Carell look like an eagle is the exact opposite of “subtle”, but it’s the work done to Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo that really impresses: altering them in ways that unlocks the life and history of the characters without letting the makeup do all the work for the actors. Somehow, while leaving the cast looking completely recognisable, the make-up managed to knock all of the movie star out of their faces, opening them up to unexpected range and depth.
1st Runner-Up: Only Lovers Left Alive
Here is something of a miracle: this film found a new look for vampires. And, better still, it’s one that feels exactly right, like people who have been bleached in the moonlight for centuries, and have the grime and thinness of lifetimes sucking the energy from their flesh and hair. It is the most otherworldly Tilda Swinton looked in a year where “make Tilda look like a cartoon” was something of an unofficial theme.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
-For the marvelous Tilda aging make-up, but also the elaborate hairdos that all tell unique personal stories
-For capturing the shaggy, sweaty, sandy tenor of 1970 California with laid-back organic ease
-For making life at the end of civilization look persuasively dirty and wearying
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)
Artifice of the most arch, stagey kind; the film sounds like the inside of an Eastern European music box orchestrated by the Looney Tunes at their most fanciful. It could not more perfectly pair with the movie’s overall fussy look and prim settings; and like the script, it has just the right undercurrent of tragedy to feel more bittersweet than its most superficial elements suggest. It’s the most energetic, lively music written for a film since, well, Desplat’s own “The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe” for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.
1st Runner-Up: Under the Skin (Micah Levi)
In places, it’s almost a fair question if this is music at all, or the droning, angry sounds of the inside of an alien mind. The whole film extensively and effectively creates a sense of profound unknowable otherness, and the willfully disconcerting score is quite possibly the strongest tool it has in building that affect. Beautiful and terrifying in succession, just like the movie itself.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Antonio Sanchez)
-For the propulsive adrenaline shot of a boldly original all-drum score
The Homesman (Marco Beltrami)
-For the mixture of classic Western textures and haunting modernist elegy
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Joe Hisaishi)
-For the regal elegance of traditional Japanese forms given Romantic sweep and heartfulness
BEST SOUND MIXING
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The distant sound of tinny music playing in a gas station cues us and the characters to the realisation that electricity has returned to a post-apocalyptic world. It’s the most indelible moments of storytelling through sound of the movie year, and it’s only one of many moments where the careful massaging of offscreen audio creates a whole, tangible world. It doesn’t get more immersive than this.
1st Runner-Up: Goodbye to Language
Immersion, meanwhile, is not the goal of a film whose aggressively formalist use of its audio tracks to compare and contrast with the 3-D images we see alongside the sound. The film is famous for calling attention to how we see cinema; no less impressive is the demands it places on how we hear, and what that cues us to know and believe.
-For not just the messy, confusing presence of war, but the creepy muffled sound of war in the far distance as a looming threat
-For the sheer cacophony of battle surrounding us and devouring us, just as it smothers the poor soul in the heart of it
-For, above all, the creaks and animals noises inside the ark, the most rich, immediate-sounding movie place of 2014
BEST SOUND EDITING
War always sounds one way in movies: bullets pinging, men grunting, explosions rattling. We all know what war sounds like. But set a movie in the cramped, metallic body of a tank, and suddenly war takes on an entirely different auditory texture, one that is muffled and yet horribly present, indistinct and body-shaking simultaneously. War has never sounded quite like it does in Fury, and the film’s presence and impact are indivisible from the care put into tweaking every last effect.
1st Runner-Up: Godzilla
I can only imagine how exciting and terrifying it must be to have the chance to update one of the most iconic roars in of cinema history for a modern popcorn movie audience, but the team who gave Godzilla his new voice did so with gut-wrenching effectiveness. And that’s not to mention the thuds and rumbles that go into giving the film’s massive beasts their weight and physicality.
-For the harsh clarity of gunshots, and the perfection of that television-watching scene
-For the scratching, scrabbling title monster, and the “ba-ba-ba DOOK-DOOK-DOOK” that will haunt me for ages
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
-For the natural and yet disorienting sounds of a not-too-distant future of intelligent apes and the apocalypse
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The work done in Rise of the Planet of the Apes has begun to show its age, but it’s still an example of CGI character-building at its most nuanced and effective. Or it was, at least, until its sequel came along to blow it out of the water. The volume of CGI characters, the complexity of camera movement and lighting surrounding them, and the absolute reliance of every inch of the story on their coming across as psychological actors rather than effects, all combine for some of the most ambitious and effective work of the computer age.
1st Runner-Up: Godzilla
Replacing men in detailed but funny suits with an all-digital menagerie could have gone wrong in so many ways, but the physical presence of this entirely-nonexistent monster is faultless. It’s such a triumph of perfect effects work that it almost immediately ceases to register as any kind of effect at all.
Edge of Tomorrow
-For creating armies of deeply convincing mechas and aliens that provide a realistic backdrop for the story, rather than pulling focus to themselves
Guardians of the Galaxy
-For creating an endless world of fantastic delights and marvelously intimate characters that feels totally authentic throughout
-For combining the tactile with the digital in a complex, utterly persuasive symphony of literal universe-building