It’s almost the end of the year, folks, which means it’s time for our Ace of The Year Awards! This yearly tradition is moving from the podcast to the blog this year, as we took the votes of our staff of writers, artists and filmmakers into account to decide what was the Game, Film, Book, Animated Series and Comic of the Year. We unleashed a new pick every Wednesday, so check out our choices for Game of the Year, Book and Comic of the Year, TV of the Year!
The way the voting process worked was this: The staff submitted their top five choices in each category. A vote of number one was worth five points, and so on down the line – number two was worth four points, number three worth three, etc etc. We tallied those votes and came up with our definitive list of the winners in each category. This morning, we’re talking the Film of the Year. Let’s start with the runner ups:
#5: THE MARTIAN
Ridley Scott’s return to form and apology for Prometheus, The Martian was almost exactly what we were hoping for when it was announced there would be a film adaptation of Andy Weir’s acclaimed novel. Matt Damon was on point throughout, bringing a nerdy sass to the character of Mark Watney, one of our favorite characters in science fiction. Ridley Scott brought a taught sense of danger and fun to the piece that made it a gripping watch throughout. If it didn’t walk away with the top honors, that’s probably because we felt like it could have hewn a little closer to the already excellent source material. But it’s still a fantastic movie, and worthy of a place on this list.
Marvel’s first entry into this list, Ant-man was so, so much better than we were anticipating. After years of rocky development that culminated in the excellent Edgar Wright leaving the film, we thought we’d be about to stumble into Marvel’s first flop. Instead, the boys at the House of Ideas came through again, taking a concept that no one would take seriously and running with it, making a joyous, funny tale of a thief who steals a super suit and becomes a hero. The choice to hand the protagonist role to the second Ant-man, Scott Lang, and make the complex and controversial Hank Pym the mentor figure was an excellent one. Where the film fell short was in everything not involving the main characters – this film had the weakest Marvel villain by far, and took it’s excellent female lead and turned her into a shoehorned in love interest. Hopefully, Ant-Man and the Wasp will fix those issues.
#3: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
Marvel’s sequel could never have lived up to the hype and hope surrounding the follow up to the first, excellent, Avengers film. That film would have likely been our Film of the Year. The sequel, however, when divorced from the desperate hopes that Joss Whedon would be able to deliver a second film exactly as good as the first, is still a very good film. Whedon proved once again that he can take a group of characters who are all the main characters of their own film series, and make them an ensemble cast with friendships, loves, and foibles that make you believe in them as real people. Those are his strengths – the film slipped from the top three by also being a great example of Whedon’s weaknesses, including his desperate, burning need to murder a character every film.
#2: STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS
This is the film we’ve been waiting for. J.J. Abrams and an all star cast of returning leads and newer actors took the hole in our hearts that was made by the prequels and filled it with an excellent, rollicking adventure. The Force Awakens really, truly feels like a Star Wars film, which is one of the highest compliments I can pay it. Almost a week after seeing it, images from the film and questions that I want to see answered still play in my mind, making me feel just like a child in 1977 wanting to know exactly who Darth Vader was or where the Jedi came from. And the new cast, especially Daisy Ridley’s Rey, turn in fantastic performances all around. If there’s something holding this film back from the number one spot, well, it’s because it maybe hit too many points from A New Hope note for note. But it’s still a fantastic work.
That brings us to our number 1 choice. But if it’s not Star Wars, what could it be? There’s only one real choice for Film of the Year, and I’m proud to announce that it’s:
#1: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
We try not to throw around superlative terms like “masterpiece” around here. But George Miller stepped back into the reigns of the franchise that made him famous and made one. Fury Road, on its surface, is a ninety minute action sequence. But it’s so much more than that. Every piece of the film, from the costume design to the blocking, tells a story. You can see Imperator Furiosa’s entire backstory just from her wardrobe and makeup. It’s a film designed to ask you to dive deeper under it’s surface, to pick at the pieces of the world until you have the full story. But even it’s surface – an epically choreographed car chase using more practical effects and stunts than we’ve seen in years – is worthy of the price of admission. Miller took what could have been a cheap cash in and made a masterpiece. And for that, it’s absolutely our Film of the Year.
What do you think should have been the Film of the Year? Let us know in the comments, and take a look at the full vote count below: