Supporting Performance: Andy Serkis – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
That’s right, I went there! Pick up your monocles, folks, because I just gave a digital character an acting award. Andy Serkis has been the
king of performance capture since his game-changing, proof of concept-level work on The Lord of the Rings, and his role as Caesar in this
sequel is exceptional in every way. It’s so much more than simple voice acting, as anyone who is familiar with the medium will know. With
Caesar, Serkis hits the perfect balance of the primal and the emotional, and does it as much with his incredible physical presence as his
dialog. Who cares if his character is animated? The character is great, and every aspect of the performance is great. Here’s hoping
someday this type of role will get the credit it truly deserves.
Visual Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
While Caesar was brought to life by Serkis, he was also forged by some of the most photo-real digital character work yet achieved. Serkis’
raw emotions are present in every shot, and the detail of his chipped face paint and fur truly (and immediately) immerse the viewer. We
aren’t watching a computer generated creation, but a character that has the weight and presence of a living, breathing creature. This
incredible artistry extends to the numerous other CG characters, as well as the film’s other outstanding effects. You will see many major
awards give this category to Interstellar, but Apes was the true top achiever.
Sound Mixing: Edge of Tomorrow
As usual, there were a lot of good choices in this category. Edge of Tomorrow stuck out to me, however. This is a movie that strikes a
perfect balance between all of its elements. Effects are aggressive and seamlessly staged, while dialog is always perfectly intelligible. The
score (albeit forgettable on its own) supports the action perfectly. It’s stunning without ever being overbearing. Once again, Interstellar will
probably get all the attention here, but I much prefer the balanced mix of this underappreciated film.
Sound Editing: Fury / Interstellar
He looked on in disbelief before exclaiming, “You can’t have a tie!”
“My name’s on the site! I can do whatever I want,” Greg sneered, laughing maniacally.
Both of these film’s feature extraordinary sound effects work that needs to be acknowledged. Fury immersed us in the mechanical horror of
World War II tank battles, adding to the film’s horrifying realism and inherent sense of claustrophobia.
Meanwhile, Interstellar features a number of stunning sequences that rely heavily upon its incredible, thunderous sound design. These
floor shaking effects helped portray the simultaneous sense of wonder and terror that is space travel. Whether jumping though a wormhole
or journeying through a black hole, the sound effects were absolutely essential to the film, and easily among the best of the year.
Production Design: Interstellar – Nathan Crowley
Interstellar was among the most visually-inspired films of the year, and the astounding production design was showcased front and center.
The film is a true three act play, and the production design follows suit with stunning art direction that could be from three entirely different
movies. There’s the raw, dusty and desolate opening on Earth, followed by the majesty and terror of strange worlds beyond our galaxy. The
final act even delves into the fantastical, with a stunning visual interpretation of a fourth dimensional construct beyond human
Original Score: How to Train Your Dragon 2 – John Powell
In a very competitive category, John Powell’s masterful sequel score earns the top prize. In weaving his wonderful themes (both new and
old), Powell delivers a thrilling and beautiful orchestral score. The original won the Greggy as well, and his work this time is even better.
Powell’s score elevates the film and is as essential to it as any other element. Powell’s music soars with energy and emotion in a way that
only the very best scores do.
Other scores that received serious considerations were: Howard Shore’s The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, James Newton
Howard's Maleficent, and (gasp) Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar.
Makeup: Guardians of the Galaxy
I might not have adored Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s a fun film and very worthy of being awarded in this category. Many of the
characters appear behind heavy makeup and it all looks fantastic, whether it be Drax’s body paint or Karen Gillen’s unrecognizable turn as
forgettable blue villain lady.
Editing: John Wick – Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir
You might not see this one anywhere else, but John Wick was too much fun to deny. Its razor-sharp editing fuels the film’s brilliantly
choreographed action sequences. This is a movie that has no pretenses about what it is- An adrenaline-charged stunt show with
unwavering focus on delivering a fun, thrilling experience. It’s cut to perfection and a surprisingly rewarding experience.
Costume Design: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Bob Buck, Ann
Maskrey, Richard Taylor
The Middle-Earth films have always had incredible costumes, but The Battle of the Five Armies is a true visual extravaganza of different
cultures and races. All of their armor and attire is stunning in both design and texture. I’m no expert in this field, but when I saw Thorin’s
armor, the award had been won.
Cinematography: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Michael Seresin
I thought about going with the safer pick of Interstellar, and while I think that film has some outstanding photography, I’m going with Dawn
of the Planet of the Apes. The film is beautifully shot with its moody, damp forest settings and evocative shots of cityscapes reclaimed by
nature. Despite being shot digitally, Apes sports a natural image that transports us into a richly detailed post-apocalyptic world.
Performance: Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
If you still plan to see Gone Girl, you might want to skip past this category…
Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne was the most delightfully bonkers performance of the year. Through the first half of the film, she is a distant,
sympathetic victim before erupting into a raging tempest of sociopathic behavior. This is a daring, unrestrained performance. And while I
felt the second half of the film was a bit too heavy handed with its nosedive in absurdity, Pike’s performance was so good it almost didn’t
Screenplay: Interstellar – Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan
As they did with Inception, the Nolans’ latest film is a triumph of imagination. Interstellar is a brilliantly constructed story, filled with wonder,
mystery and grandeur. But at its core, this is a very intimate character drama. I loved the film’s three-act structure, opening small before
blasting off into adventure and ending with a climax that asks big questions through the lens of our most basic human emotions. It works as
an adventure, it works as drama, and it works as a jaw-dropping spectacle. Common wisdom says that you can’t have your cake and eat it
too, but Interstellar’s ambitious screenplay triumphs in all areas.
Directing: Interstellar – Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan has been an outstanding director for a long time. If there was one area his films have lacked, it’s in character drama. In a
way, I liken him to Martin Scorsese, a brilliant technical director whose films rarely have an emotional resonance. Interstellar delivers
everything we expect from Nolan in terms of imaginative storytelling and thrilling suspense. He also adds that rare extra dimension, with a
touching story that builds to an incredibly endearing and powerful conclusion.
Nolan gets great performances out of his entire cast, and assembles a first-rate production (including Hans Zimmer’s best score in years).
Nolan previously won this award in 2010 for Inception.
Interstellar is an ambitious and stunning science fiction odyssey that is also heartfelt and poignant. Check out my full review of the film here.
In a well-publisized debacle, WETA Digital visual effects artists left Greg's raw performance capture footage in the first cut of the film,
claiming he looked "enough like an ape already." The reportedly furious Greg demanded to be removed from the film's theatrical release.