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Last updated: February 19, 2011
Copyright 2006 Michael R. Colford.
All rights reserved

current nominations ceremonyarchives
special awardsballot

22nd Annual Awards, March 20, 2016

Best Movie

IdaWinner!Spotlight - Based on a true story, SPOTLIGHT follows the Pulitzer Prize winning team if Boston Globe reporters who meticulously investigated the accusations of child molestation against the church. What they uncovered was a monumental cover-up by the Catholic Church. Paced like a thriller, SPOTLIGHT keeps the audience’s attention, but avoids being melodramatic. It is an exceptional piece of ensemble acting in which every character makes a contribution. Add to that solid editing, crisp dialogue, skillful directing and you have not only a best picture nominee, but a film that deals with a very significant and controversial subject. -- vo

BirdmanThe Assassin - THE ASSASSIN is Hsiao-hsein Hou’s long awaited return to cinema and he does it with a stunning visual film that earns him our best picture nomination. From its stunning vistas to its elaborate costumes, it is a wonder to watch. Set in Ancient China and based loosely on a Tang Dynasty legend, the film examines what happens when a female assassin disappoints her teacher and, as a result, is ordered to kill her former fiancé. Though there are a number of well choreographed fight scenes, the film’s strength lies in its ability to capture the heroine’s point of view and it does this jn a way that is both spellbinding and mysterious.-- vo

The Duke of BurgundyThe Duke of Burgundy - Peter Strickland’s one-of-a-kind film is not just a kinky parade of verbal abuse, face-sitting, being tied and locked up and other taboos alluded to behind closed doors; it’s also a profound, intriguing, complicated love story. Come for the dizzying homages to Italian horror, soft-core erotica and the avant-garde cinema of Maya Deren and Stan Brakhage, and stay for a fascinating, eloquent exploration of what it means to play a role in a loving, sexual relationship—and how not fulfilling your partner’s expectations can throw everything out of whack. THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY intellectually and emotionally stimulates in a way only film as a medium can, and it’s the rare feature to do so with an entirely female cast. -- ck

GirlhoodGirlhood - GIRLHOOD centers on a subculture rarely depicted on-screen: black teenage girls growing up in the rough & tumble housing projects outside of Paris. The film is a coming of age story of 16 year old Marieme, who’s grown up in these projects. Marieme moves between different circles and relationships—American football-playing jocks, tough-talking high school dropouts, neighborhood drug dealers and a doting neighborhood boyfriend—and finds herself both easily integrating into these groups and relationships yet keeping a guarded distance. “Marieme is full of contrasts. You have to unfold her,” says Sciamma. “I had this idea that she would try out identities as outfits. Kind of this superhero journey, like, What power does this outfit give me?” The film is an astute social commentary on race, class and gender issues in France. The cinematography is fantastic with sharp clean lines depicting various elements in the story and viewpoints in and outside of Paris. The editing is perfectly done, telling Marieme’s story with its many unspoken yet pivotal moments. The music is seamlessly integrated. This movie is a Tour De Force and not to be missed! -- jb

Like Father, Like SonTangerine - Sean Baker’s approach to TANGERINE has been similar to exploring the worlds in his previous features, TAKE OUT and PRINCE OF BROADWAY. He goes in “without imposing any sort of plot or script” and was inspired by Mike Leigh’s work on HIGH HOPES and SECRETS & LIES in particular in making TANGERINE. The film focuses on Sin-dee, a transgender woman in L.A. on Christmas Eve, on a quest to find a “fish”, a non-transgender woman, who had an affair with her boyfriend, who happens to also be her pimp. Her friend, Mya, joins her on a “road trip” on foot and has dreams beyond working the streets to sing in a night club. As Mya follows Sin-dee, she wants all of her fellow sex workers to come out and support her for her small gigs on stage. While Sean Baker shot the entire film on an iPhone along with Radium Cheung, you think more about the story which is funny, raw, and heartfelt. The shooting medium of a phone forced Sean to “get closer to the actors” making the final film more personal feeling, along with editing the film, which he is sees is an extension of directing his films. -- tp

MommyTimbuktu - Writer/Director Abderrahmane Sissako has created a gorgeous film which is horrifying and scintillating as it cuts to the core of the plight of many North Africans who attempt to live regular lives while constantly plagued by warlords and barbaric marauders. The main story of TIMBUKTU is the plight of a family of nomadic herders whose lives are upturned when an unfortunate incident occurs involving a cow in a pond. -- bk

MommyWhite God - Director and co-writer Kornél Mundruczó offers a modern fable about the dangers of subjugation and abuse of those perceived to be powerless (and therefore undeserving of care). In a not-too-distant future, the Hungarian government has announced that all dogs must be licensed (at cost to the owners), and a steep fee will be added for all mixed-breed dogs. All unclaimed strays will be euthanized. Meanwhile, Lili (Zsófia Psotta), a young teen, is sent to live with her estranged father for 3 months; Lili brings with her a stray mixed-breed dog. During an argument between Lili and her father over the cost and aggravation of keeping her pet, he stops the car on a busy thoroughfare and dumps the dog by the side of the road. The dog and girl cannot forget one another, and each begins a quest to find their lost friend. WHITE GOD includes scenes of simulated dog fights, violence and animal abuse at the hands of humans which may make some audience members uncomfortable; but also several amazing scenes of 250 dogs running through empty city streets (for which I think the production’s dog wranglers and trainers deserve a special award, as well as kudos for finding homes for all of the stray dogs they used in the film). -- kp

MommyWild Tales - WILD TALES (RELATOS SALVAJES), from Argentina, is a wonderfully cohesive anthology of six short films united by a pervasive black humor and a common theme of characters pushed to the brink. Director Damián Szifrón accomplishes with an excellent cast of actors (different in each film), a great score, and a set of stories that capture his characters’ fear, rage, feelings of betrayal, and desire for revenge. In short, there’s something for everyone! The fact that all six films do this so well, and so differently, is quite an accomplishment. -- ad

Buried Treasure

AdvantageousWinnerAdvantageous - Director Jennifer Phang describes ADVANTAGEOUS as “an anti-cynicism movie…an attempt to re-engage moviegoers who’ve lost hope.” The film’s lead actress, Jacqueline Kim, co-wrote the film with Jennifer, based on the short by the same name about a middle-aged Asian American woman, Gwen, who makes a tragic sacrifice for the sake of her adolescent daughter’s future. It is set in a futuristic world in a realistic projection from current times - powerfully cerebral, yet understated. The design of the backdrop of the city, the color, music, and lighting were all well thought out to create a dystopian world where youth, perfection, and precise calculation of communication take over. The film hits home for many as it connects to where we stand in the working world and society as we age, even if we are the best. It is philosophical in nature as it is also takes on medical scientific advances and their impact on humanity in what a woman will do to be connected to a constantly changing world. -- tp

ActressActress - ACTRESS is the raw portrait of Brandy Burre who had a recurring role on “The Wire” and then left acting to start a family. The documentary is about her attempt to reenter the acting world and it is not an easy journey. Ironically, her comeback role is as the star of Robert Greene’s raw documentary. Greene was Burre’s neighbor and was able to closely track her life as she transitions back. Burke feels trapped by both her professional and personal worlds. Her life plays like a soap opera. Greene is able to capture the melodrama and present Burre’s reality in a unique way. It is an unusual documentary. -- vo

Appropriate BehaviorAppropriate Behavior - Desiree Akhavan makes a striking debut as writer, director and star of APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, the hilariously touching story of a young Iranian-American woman attempting to achieve balance in her Brooklyn bisexual hipster lifestyle, breaking up with her partner Maxine, concealing her true self from her totally traditional Iranian-American family, and leading a filmmaking class of attention-challenged 7-year-olds in a project to recreate THE BIRDS on a shot-by-shot basis. The work is clearly influenced by creative multi-discipline women artists such as Lena Dunham of "Girls", its ambitions modest and its story completely character-driven, with small gestures that build rhythmically to create a vivid portrait of a contemporary urban woman constantly pulled in different directions politically and culturally. A Gotham Award nominee for breakthrough director, an Independent Spirit Award nominee for best first screenplay, and an award winner at both the Provincetown International Film Festival and the San Diego Asian Film Festival, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR signals the arrival of a significant new voice among women filmmakers in independent cinema. --kr

Charlie's CountryCharlie's Country - Adeptly shot and directed, CHARLIE'S COUNTRY follows the daily life of Charlie as he tries to navigate the confusing and frustrating rules enforced on Australia's aboriginal residents. David Gulpilil not only stars at Charlie but co-wrote the film with director Rold de Heer. --im

People Places ThingsPeople Places Things - It's always a pleasure to find mature, funny romantic comedies. So often, comedies rely on gross-out humor, or middle-school sex jokes. In James C. Storuse's PEOPLE PLACES THINGS, a marriage unwinds leaving a single dad gobsmacked and wondering what happened, while he tries to be a better father to his twin daughters. A year later, he also is slowly finding himself dating again, but he hasn't really gotten over his ex-wife, despite the fact that she's getting remarried. Jemaine Clement, (Flight of the Conchords; WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS) is perfectly cast as the lovable, geeky and somewhat clueless lead, stumbling about trying to figure out what to do, and Regina Hall shows such maturity and subtle comedic chops as a woman he tries to date. Simple, elegant, mature and funny, PEOPLE PLACES THINGS is one of the best movies of the year. -- mrc

VictoriaVictoria - Written and directed by Sebastian Schipper, this German thriller, which has won several foreign film awards, is one of evolving taut and riveting suspense. An opening scene of pulsating dance music in some Berlin club at 4:00am along with lots of alcohol introduces Victoria (Lala Costa), a naive tourist from Madrid, to a small band of seemingly friendly and flirtatious young men. She charms the group as the predawn hours mount, and ends up involved in a bank robbery scheme with them that wildly accelerates the pace and sweeps up the audience as accessories to the crime. This film was shot in a single two hour take without editing so there is a strong real time “You are there” feel to both plot and action. As the sun finally comes up around 6:00 am, the viewer feels drained. The endurance of both cast and cameraman is alone worth the praise for this film. --ph

Best Director

Todd HaynesWinnerTodd Haynes for Carol - Todd Haynes’s vision as a director results in a lush, jewelbox adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 lesbian romance, The Price of Salt. Each detail of the period is painstakingly re-created; Haynes is once again paying homage to the melodramas of Douglas Sirk. Haynes’s subject matter has often gravitated toward women in danger and in distress, and CAROL is no exception. The tension builds deliciously as the titular character and the object of her desire, Therese, are drawn together and then face multiple obstacles to their romance. So much is expressed visually, rather than relying on dialogue. Each moment is carefully framed and suffused with glowing tones, resulting in a lovely, swoon-y film. -- hn

Hsiao-Hsien HouHsiao-Hsien Hou for The Assassin - ASSASASIN is one of the most sumptuous films in cinematic history. Ambiance trumps storytelling in this film and Director Hou is clearly at the height of his powers in bringing all the sensual elements together. The production design, the cinematography, the costumes, and the music all combine into an unforgettable cinematic tapestry. -- bk

Peter Strickland Peter Strickland for The Duke of Burgundy - The world portrayed in Peter Strickland’s THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY is on the surface about a lesbian romance between Cynthia, a stern older woman, and Cynthia, her seemingly shy assistant. It is actually much more complicated than that with many layers and sub texts. Which woman has the power? It is Strickland who is the master manipulator as he plays with this question through out the film., creating for the viewer a visceral experience. What results is a most exquisite and provocative moral story about power, love, aging and sexuality. -- vo

Abderrahmane SissakoAbderrahmane Sissako for Timbuktu - TIMBUKTU had been planned as a documentary; however, director, Abderrahmane Sissako, realized it would be impossible when most of the gunmen surrounding the area were still at large. He mentioned, “You can’t make a documentary where people aren’t free to speak. And the risk is that you make a film for the jihadists – because they’re the ones who are going to do the talking.” Abderrahmane captures the jihadists like real people that at first seem like low grade bullies but with their own lives and families. Then you see their actions build before your eyes prior to killing innocent people beginning with absurd rules like ordering women who sell fish to cover their hands and banning music and sports. He captures people in the community playing soccer with an imaginary ball or quietly meeting and hiding away to play music. Abderrahmane states in these areas that “the townspeople who are hostages, no one’s really interested in”, referring to the international media. In addition to these vignettes, he presents the powerful fable-like main story of a back and forth conflict with a cattle herder and a fisherman showing the communities daily conflicts, together as part of a great layered story. -- tp

Kornél MundruczóKornél Mundruczó for White God - For his knockout direction of the outstanding Hungarian film WHITE GOD, director Kornél Mondruczó received the Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard Award. One of the most discussed screenings at New Directors/New Films, the title was disturbing to many for both its violence toward dogs, and for its notion of dogs turning savagely against humans. There were extensive credits making clear the careful training and safety requirements afforded the animals. Nonetheless, Mondruczó's clear-eyed evocation of a fictional Budapest where dogs not of pure breed have to be reported to government authorities and confined is unmistakably and subversively connected to the Holocaust, corporate greed, income inequality, issues of immigration, racism, fascism, and the hellish needs of some to suppress and destroy others. In short, WHITE GOD causes uneasiness among many viewers with resonances in the current international political situation. Mondruczó develops painstakingly the details of young teenage musician Lili's inability to protect her beloved "mutt" Hagen from concentration camp cruelty, leading inexorably to Hagen's learning from humans how to hate, and how to become vengeful, merciless and murderous. Audience discomfort in learning to hate these humans also, and yearning for violence against them, is inescapable. The canine apocalypse is unforgettably staged by Mondruczó, resulting in a special Cannes Film Festival Palm Dog Award being bestowed upon the two canine stars who portray Hagen. -- kr

Damián SzifrónDamián Szifrón for Wild Tales - Damián Szifron wrote and directed this anthology of six short films with connecting themes of violence, revenge and poetic justice, each story delivered in the blackest of comedic styles: a group of airline passengers and crew discover they all have one acquaintance in common, and he is truly despicable; a loan shark chooses the wrong restaurant; two men engage in road rage one-upmanship; a demolitions expert misses his daughter’s birthday when his car is towed; the father of a teenager involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident tries to buy a scapegoat to pay for his sons crimes; A bride discovers during the wedding reception that her groom was unfaithful. -- kp

Best Actress

Karidja TouréWinnerKaridja Touré for the role of Marieme alias Vic in Girlhood - The role of Marieme (aka “Vic”) in GIRLHOOD was played by Karidja Touré, who made her acting debut when she was cast for this part. Ms. Touré was cast after having been scouted in an amusement park in France and invited to audition for the role. Karidja is a absolute gem, a teenage girl discovered by the brilliant casting director, Christel Baras (PONETTE, TOMBOY, WATER LILLIES). The role of Vic was played with such intelligence, a viewer would never know that Touré was new to acting. Touré successfully represented the real experiences of a black girl living in a tough, low income Paris banlieue (suburb). The challenging nature of this role is characterized by the necessity of playing the part as hip and cool, displaying a toughness that conceals deep adolescent insecurity. Karidja Touré was able to capture these qualities of Vic’s personality with a relaxed realism that allowed viewers to become intimately connected with the teen. The ability to play this role with this degree of authenticity is difficult for even the most seasoned actress, so it’s truly remarkable that this inexperienced 18-year old would carry out such a fine performance. Therefore, Karidja Touré is an indisputable choice for Chlotrudis Society’s Best Actress nomination. -- bca

Charlotte RamplingCharlotte Rampling for the role of Kate Mercer in 45 Years - This is the third Chlotrudis Best Actress nomination for the great Charlotte Rampling, following SWIMMING POOL in 2004, and SOUS LE SABLE in 2002. In her virtually continuous 50-year career, Rampling has amassed a distinguished international chronology, working with directors such as Woody Allen, Bille August, Liliana Cavani, David Hare, Claude Lelouch, Sidney Lumet, Guy Maddin, Lech Majewski, Silvio Narizzano, Nagisa Oshima, François Ozon, Todd Solondz, Lars von Trier, and Terence Young, among many others. Rampling's immensely moving portrayal of Kate, loving wife on the verge of celebrating 45 years of marriage to Geoff (Tom Courtenay), who receives a letter announcing discovery of the frozen corpse of his girlfriend from 50 years ago, the victim of a mountain climbing accident in Switzerland, brings into dramatic focus a tragic event that threatens not only their current happiness, but also their future together. Rampling's performance offers earmarks of the very greatest acting: subtle shifts in tone and bearing from casual activities like walking the dog and talking with the postman, to serious conversations about life-and-death matters only partially comprehended; transition of her humor during dancing about not being 20 anymore into her disappointment about her husband's erectile dysfunction; concern about noises in the night changing to grief upon being handed a photograph of the long-dead girlfriend; the sly tranquillity with which she engages in most of her conversations and relationships, concealing as much worry about her husband's increasingly erratic behavior, as her capacity for a carefully controlled emotional outburst. 45 YEARS is about the passage of time -- changing weather, ticking clocks, ringing church bells, anniversary celebrations -- none of its signifiers sadder than Rampling's eyes as she ascends into the attic to look at photos of an emotional rival dead for decades, fearing if not quite knowing that the secret she will uncover is undimmed in its potential for anguish. --kr

Saoirse RonanSaoirse Ronan for the role of Ellis in Brooklyn - With a tricky blend of naivete' and determination behind the portrayal, Saoirse Ronan embraces the role of the complicated Eilis in the film BROOKLYN. Ronan takes the coming-of-age film genre to a level of depth necessary to provide viewers with a fresh gauntlet of emotions as if experiencing a film of its kind for the first time. Throughout the film, the storytelling in Ronan's eyes alone are compelling enough on their own for awards-worthy recognition. The tale of an Irish-born immigrant setting foot in 1950s America for the first time leaps off the pages of screenwriter Nick Hornby's script in large part due to Ronan's mastery of the bringing the intangible concepts of will, doubt, and eventual self-assurance to a level of physical embodiment. --br

Bel PowleyBel Powley for the role of Minnie in The Diary of a Teenage Girl - In this funny, intense and sexually graphic 1970s coming-of-age tale, 15-year-old aspiring comic book artist Minnie has just lost her virginity. Thanks to Bel Powley’s triumphant, force-of-nature performance, you fully sense the thousands of hormonally charged emotions rushing through her as she both carefully considers while also allowing herself to be swept away by the newness and immensity of it all. This British actress not only makes Minnie a believable American teen (she was 21-22 during filming), her charisma is such that, in the process of bringing Phoebe Gloeckner’s graphic novel to life, she creates a distinct young heroine for the ages (think of Thora Birch in GHOST WORLD, or even Ellen Page in JUNO). -- ck

Ronit ElkabetzRonit Elkabetz for the role of Vivane Amsalem in Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem - Another actress might have portrayed Viviane Amsalem with heroic and stoic resolve, standing up to a system that forbids women to obtain a divorce. Ronit Elkabetz certainly has that in her repetoire, but there is also brittle frustration, resigned resignation, and caustic humor, that allows Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem to transcend a simple story of a woman fighting injustice, and become something more -- a warm, albeit incredibly frustrating story about a woman who merely wants to live her life as she deserves, and will endure anger, loneliness, humiliation and yes, incredible frustration grasping at scraps of power in a situation where she is essentially powerless. It is an acting talent she has shown in a string of Chlotrudis nominated performances (Best Actress, for Or (My Treasure) (2006) and Best Supporting Actress, The Band's Visit (2009) and Late Marriage (2003)). --mrc

Rinko KinkuchiRinko Kikuchi for the role of Kumiko in Kumiko the Treasure Hunter - How do you take the title character in a film like KUMIKO THE TREASURE HUNTER, and make it believable? The story is somewhat, um, fantastical - a put upon Japanese woman thinks the money buried in the movie FARGO is real and gives up everything she has (which granted isn't much) to go to Minnesota and try to find it. You make it believable by putting Rinko Kikuchi in the role. She brings depth and passion to the character; she believes in HER, and sets out to make her real for the viewers. She succeeds brilliantly, so that by the end of the film, you have connected with this very delusional woman and you want her to be successful, even though you know logic says otherwise. THAT'S how you make it work. No better compliment for a performer could be given. -- tck

Nina HossNina Hoss for the role of Nelly Lenz in Phoenix - Nina Hoss is director Christian Petzold’s muse; he, in turn, casts her in challenging roles in films that pass the Bechdel Test. Hoss plays Nelly Lenz, a concentration camp survivor, seeking revenge for her husband betraying her to the Nazis. Facial reconstruction as a result of disfigurement has rendered her unrecognizable. Hoss tackles her role by morphing into her character. The duality of strength and subtlety in Hoss’ acting make the film terrifyingly realistic. -- bk

Best Actor

Christopher AbbottWinnerChristopher Abbott for the role of James White in James White - JAMES WHITE is not an easy character to portray. He is basically a self-destructive distraught train wreck of a young man who is called upon to take care of his dying mother, played wonderfully by Cynthia Nixon. As her condition gets worse, James finds himself totally overwhelmed by emotion, anguish and grief. His basket of coping skills is empty. Christopher Abbot’s nuanced performance allows us to watch James as his life crumbles. It is both tragic and riveting. -- vo

Jason SegelJason Segel for the role of David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour - Memorable movies about writers are rare; THE END OF THE TOUR is one of the best. Framed in the form of a duet between two neurotic and needy writers over a proscribed period dictated by a supposed interview deadline, the film features two great actors at the apex of their creative powers: Jesse Eisenberg as "Rolling Stone" writer David Lipsky, and Jason Segel as suddenly successful novelist David Foster Wallace. Segel finds every vulnerable nuance of loneliness, wariness, and the ease of male betrayal in the wake of sudden fame. His philosophical conversations express details of brilliance, just as his petulance over a perceived amorous conflict reveals childish immaturity. He draws us inexorably into his story as it is revealed the two men have entirely different agendas. The fascination of Segel's performance is its revelation of the ways in which character and creation can be completely disconnected. Months after being profoundly moved by Segel's work, I accidentally stumbled upon the actor on TV in another context and found him totally and shockingly unrecognizable. -- kr

Paul DanoPaul Dano for the role of Brian - Past in Love & Mercy - To step into someone else’s life is, of course, the essence of being an actor. But when the part the actor is playing is a real person, and a time when that person’s grasp on reality is starting to slip, that’s a challenge that one must be an exceptional actor to convey. Just like the performance Paul Dano gives as singer/songwriter Brian Wilson in LOVE & MERCY. Mr. Dano’s talents shine through in this role, showcasing Brian’s genius and vulnerablitiy. There’s a saying that there’s a fine line between genius and insanity, and Mr. Dano walks that line with exquisite skill. -- kb

Oscar IsaacOscar Isaac for the role of Abel Morales in A Most Violent Year - You only have to watch more than one of his performances to get a sense of Oscar Isaac’s incredible range—just compare his mensch of a 1960s folksinger in Inside Llewyn Davis to his unrecognizable, eccentric Ex-Machina robotics engineer. In director JC Chandor’s early ‘80s, New York City-set crime drama, he again plays an entirely different character type: the owner of a small heating oil company fighting to hold his own against his larger, more powerful and corrupt competitors. While Isaac undeniably pays some homage to Al Pacino (whom one could have easily imagined essaying this part during the film’s time period), he ends up transcending such a notion by turning Abel Morales into a protagonist we haven’t seen much of before: the ambitious, charismatic businessman with a conscience, his weariness of resorting to violence increasingly at odds with his desire to survive in a vicious world. -- ck

Jemaine ClementJemaine Clement for the role of Will Henry in People Places Things - As morose everyman, Will Henry, whose marriage ends when he discovers his wife making love to another man in his own bedroom, Jemaine Clement fits the bill. Pudgy, bespectacled, and not conventionally handsome, committed, but not quite sure what to do, he initially quails at the obstacles which vicissitudes have thrown his way, monkey wrenches, really, that upset everything he is used to. To see him grow from a tentative new beginning, to confront and, at last, start to live in and to find reward and direction from the new circumstances of his life as a single father, potential boyfriend, mentor, and friend, even to those who hurt him, is the modest but hard won reward that Clement, in embodying this role, bestows on us. -- jp

Bruce GreenwoodBruce Greenwood for the role of Rene Bartlett in Wildlike - Bruce Greenwood is one of those unique actors with leading man characteristics and character actor chops. Some of his most memorable roles are star turns in such top-notch films as THE SWEET HEREAFTER and MEEK'S CROSSING, but his characters are far from the idyllic romantic hero. In WILDLIKE, Greenwood continues that pattern, softening the character aspects, and capitalizing on his age to take on a strong fatherly point-of-view, albeit reluctantly. As a widower, still mourning for the loss of his wife a year earlier, Greenwood plays a man seeking solitary time on a hike in Alaska. When he finds himself saddled with a teenage girl who is running away from neglect and potential abuse from family, he is at first frustrated, before empathetcially reaching out as a protector and father-figure. Greenwood effortlessly portrays the subtle kaleidescope of emotions burbling beneath a typically male, stoic surface with skill and heart. -- mrc

Best Supporting Actress

Cynthia NixonWinnerCynthia Nixon for the role of Gail White in James White - Cynthia Nixon gives a gritty, touching performance as Gail White, a dying woman. Her son James is adrift in a world of drugs, alcohol and erratic behavior. When he moves back home to be her caregiver, tensions abound. Without hope for her own recovery she struggles to last long enough to reconnect with her son and prepare him for a solo journey. -- bk

Kristen StewartKristen Stewart for the role of Valentine in Clouds of Sils Maria - So massive was the pop culture phenomenon THE TWILIGHT SAGA, its five-film international box office gross in excess of $3.3 billion, and so widespread the media scrutiny of every move made by Kristen Stewart as Bella, the girl beloved of vampires and werewolves alike, that it became improbable Stewart would ever be a subject for critical contemplation in another film. One of the great film surprises of 2015 must be reckoned Stewart's success in Olivier Assayas' CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA as Valentine, personal assistant to Juliette Binoche as aging actress Maria Enders, contemplating a revival of the play that made her a star, albeit in the role of the older woman. One of Stewart's many accolades was a César Award for Best Supporting Actress -- the first bestowed upon an American actress. The brilliance of Assayas' construct is that the characters played by Stewart and Binoche not only shift personality traits during their time together, but also discuss their actual screen personas with increasing specificity, clearly referencing Ingmar Bergman's masterpiece PERSONA. Finally one of the two disappears altogether. In one of the most gripping moments of the film, Stewart observes with regard to the Lindsay Lohan-like Jo-Ann Ellis -- Chloë Grace Moretz, portraying Binoche as a young woman -- "There's no distance there". She seems to be talking about Moretz, but could just as easily be discussing her own career success and emotional troubles. Everything about CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA is memorable, no aspect more so than the brilliant performance of Kristen Stewart as Valentine. --kr

Katherine Waterston Katherine Waterston for the role of Virginia in Queen of Earth - Director Alex Ross Perry's deeply moving portrayal of psychological deterioration during a supposedly restorative summer outing is ably delineated in the performances of Elisabeth Moss as Catherine and her best friend Katherine Waterston as Virginia. Waterston made a vivid impression being either naked or missing as Shasta Fay Hepworth in Paul Thomas Anderson's INHERENT VICE. Here she is present both emotionally and physically for every complicated surge of neurosis or need expressed by Catherine. Moss fearlessly plunges into a miasma of conflicting emotional demands, followed at every turn by Waterston, who excels in demonstrating her ability to accomplish the single most difficult task of acting -- listening. By making herself emotionally available both to the camera and to her friend, Waterston clarifies the unquantifiable complexity of human relationships: Her face seems able to express multitudes of feelings. Virginia takes up with boy next door Rich (Patrick Fugit), who is so disliked by Catherine that she unleashes a fusillade of invective which is the climax of the film. Waterston never relents on her attempts to understand Moss's character. In the film's most heart-rending moment, Moss says to Waterston: "You can get out of someone else's cycle, but you can't get out of your own". --KR

Mya TaylorMya Taylor for the role of Alexandra in Tangerine - Including Chlotrudis’ nomination, Mya Jeanette Taylor has received 9 nominations and 3 awards for her performance in TANGERINE as the transgendered best friend of the film’s lead character, Sin-Dee. In many ways, Alexandra is a more challenging role to play than the lead, because the role of Alexandra requires a range of emotional perspectives that spans a much greater breadth than that required of Sind-Dee. Taylor excels in creating a complex personality in her portrayal of Alexandra, as she is called to reveal a woman with diverse, sometimes conflicting qualities. Alexandra is sweet and loyal, and also tough and aggressive. She’s forced to deal with the ugly side of transgender prostitution and she’s still able to carry herself with her stoic and glamorous style. Mya Taylor does such a superb job with this character; the audience is able to witness the crises erupting beneath Alexandra’s carefully constructed exterior. Thanks to her skillful portrayal, we are able to experience the deep insecurity, self-doubt, and sadness that chronically dwells inside this strong, transgendered woman. TANGERINE is arguably one of the best films to hit the circuit in 2016, and the film’s owes a great deal of its acclaim to the fine work of Mya Taylor in her supporting role. -- bca

Demet AkbagDemet Akbag for the role of Necla in Winter Sleep - Last year, Lydia Leonard was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award for her portrayal of a harsh, bitter woman who pulls out all the stops in her passive aggressive assault on her family in Joanna Hogg's riveting ARCHIPELAGO. As Nuri Bilge Ceylan's equally riveting and brilliant WINTER SLEEP unspooled Necla, played fully and completely by Demet Akbag, is introdued as the main character's sister, staying with him in the hotel he runs. The two share the easiness and camaraderie that many siblings share, but when an argument between them ensues, brace yourself for at least twenty minutes of sustained bickering that just grows in intensity in ways that will seem in some ways familiar (if you have siblings) and in other ways excrutiating. Neither character pulls punches, and despite GET NAME best efforts to end or defer the argument, Necla just will not let it go, and her persistence and hurtful belligerance is a tour de force in an already amazing film. -- mrc

Best Supporting Actor

Michael ShannonWinnerMichael Shannon for the role of Rick Carver in 99 Homes - At this point, Michael Shannon has little to prove regarding his potency as an actor. Whether as a commanding lead (TAKE SHELTER) or in service of a small but pivotal part (REVOLUTIONARY ROAD), you always remember what he brings to a film. Here, he almost feels like a co-lead with Andrew Garfield because his presence feels so towering, so vital. As a cunning sleazeball of a real estate broker bending the housing crisis’ aftereffects to his advantage, his actions and motives contain multiple dimensions. His amazing speech on justifying his practices is chilling in its blunt, unapologetic plain-spokenness—he knows what he’s talking about, and such is Shannon’s charisma and technique, you can’t help but simultaneously loathe and kind of admire him. -- ck

Idris ElbaIdris Elba for the role of Commandant in Beasts of No Nation - Idris Elba, playing the role of Commandant in the BEASTS OF NO NATION, is justly deserving of recognition for his brilliant performance in this supporting role. Elba portrays a brutal, ideological demagogue who rules over a militia of rebels comprised of young men and boys in an unidentified African nation. People are systematically used and ultimately discarded in the perpetual quest for control in this war-torn region. Idris Elba deserves a great deal of praise for his ability to embody a character that represents the futility of such pervasive exploitation by the powerful of the vulnerable, individuals made socially and psychologically insecure by violence. Elba’s successful portrayal of Commandant is likely due to the actor’s ability to change radically over the course of the film from a strong, fierce leader to a broken, weak man, himself a victim at the point of unraveling. Indeed, all characters in the film, including child soldiers, are simultaneously victims and perpetrators of the evil infecting their country. This supporting role is essential to understanding the malignant nature of those atrocities depicted in the film because Elba must work to create a character that is despicable, yet human. As difficult as it must be to make a monster become pitiable, Idris Elba’s work in BEASTS OF NO NATION is commendable because he challenges the audience to adapt their own moral perspectives to accommodate the discordant moral qualities of his character. -- bca

Emory CohenEmory Cohen for the role of Tony in Brooklyn - Awards news centers on the delicately nuanced acting by Chlotrudis-nominated Best Actress Saoirse Ronan, but her work is transfigured in part by the stirring performance of Emory Cohen as Brooklyn boy Tony, besotted with love for her. They meet at an Irish dance, even though he is Italian, and embark on a charming, ultimately deeply moving courtship that is the stuff of old-fashioned drama, but with a depth and detail unusual for film adaptations of beloved books such as this. Tony woos and wins Eilis, although their romance is fraught with impediments when family problems demand her return to Ireland. Cohen makes vivid Tony's desire for Eilis as a sweetheart, but also as a companion for future life together, often with a sidelong glance, or a shift in stance, or a change in tone of phrase. An amusing scene of Eilis' first invitation to an Italian-American dinner with Tony's family is particularly and lovingly observed. No young actor in a role such as this can completely escape references to Marlon Brando as a young man, but it is to Cohen's immense credit that the comparison even arises. An actor who only recently seemed typecast playing troubled teenagers, such as Leo on SMASH and AJ in THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, has gracefully transformed into a gifted leading man with a potentially remarkable future. --kr

Michael FassbenderMicheal Fassbender for the role of Silas Selleck in Slow West - Michael Fassbender makes a good movie cowboy, tall, lanky, laconic, and wily. He carries a secret, as many a laconic cowboy will do, while he chaperones his naïve charge, a boy trailing after his lost love through a dangerous land ruled by self-interest and a quick hand. That the cowboy doesn’t know he has a secret until he meets the boy is a trick the story plays on him, a dilemma imposed. Does he stick to self-interest and guarantee his survival or does he dare to tread a new way with potentially deadlyu consequences? The boy’s story clearly forms the movie’s theme, but the theme is deepened, made more complex by Fassbender’s secondary and supporting role. Without him, the boy is merely a pawn. With him, the boy is still pawn, but someone may have his back. So does Fassbender’s role compel us to watch, to see which choice he will make and decide the boy’s fate. -- jp

Mark RuffaloMark Ruffalo for the role of Mike Rezendes in Spotlight - In SPOTLIGHT, Mark Ruffalo is totally immersed in his portrayal of Boston Globe reporter, Michael Rezendes, As an investigative journalist, he is resourceful and relentless in his pursuit of the truth, determined to get the story right, following all leads and listening compassionately to what he hears. When the “reveal” of the Church scandal is threatened, Ruffalo’s display of emotional outrage is one of the film’s most memorable moments. -- vo

Best Original Screenplay

Wild TaleWinnerWild Tales screenplay by Damián Szifrón - Not one of the six short films in this anthology of revenge lacks a deep core of satisfying black humor. Szifron has created characters in situations many of us have experienced but have tolerated or somehow gotten through so to maintain our self respect. Our conscience prevents us from unleashing the untamed Id in all of us to exact what we really want to do in the face of humiliation and abuse. These characters let it loose and tear through the fabric of social niceties, and that results in hilarious effects and outcomes. Destruction, violence, even murder be damned! Szifron’s script takes us for a race in James Dean’s Porsche Spyder through six tales where civil convention is overturned, and we’re witnessing explosions of impulse that crash the personal injustices and wrongs right into the perpetrators. Damian Szifron knows how to make us sardonically cheer for the underdog and the vulnerable among us. --ph

Peter StricklandThe Duke of Burgundy, screenplay by Peter Strickland - In Peter Strickland’s intellectually and visually fecund screenplay, THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY, two women carry on a sadomasochist love affair. Commentators describe the opening scenes as meant to evoke 1970s, European soft-core pornography, a genre with which the writer is unfamiliar. It is, however, sufficient to know, having seen Mr. Strickland’s earlier film, BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, that his passion lies in meticulous recreation. There is no reason to doubt that he has fallen short in this outing. The story plays out in a lush, archaic villa, along cobblestoned streets and woodsy bikeways, and amid academic gatherings conducted with knife-edged formality and chilly, clipped decorum. Sometimes the women speak spontaneously, but more often their encounters are scripted, and as we begin to discover that premeditation, we also begin to understand where the seat of power lies in their relationship, and the ways it is wielded, and we are turned to a different view from that where we began. The script reveals its turns slowly and draws us along with it.-- jp

Shlomi and Ronit ElkabetzGett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, screenplay by Ronit Elkabetz, Shlomi Elkabetz - GETT is essentially nearly two whole hours of courtroom procedural drama where everyone talks and talks and talks within generally the same four enclosed walls, and every single minute is more riveting than you’d ever expect from that description. In telling the story of an Israeli woman desperately seeking a divorce from a husband she no longer loves (who is exasperatingly unwilling to grant it to her), co-writer (and co-director and star) Ronit Elkabetz takes what could’ve been an unremarkably static, well worn premise and masterfully constructs, scene by scene, a penetrating critique of the lack of rights for women of her culture that is by turns illuminating, mordantly funny and eventually, almost fully devastating. -- ck

Deniz Gamze Ergüven & Alice WinocourMustang, screenplay by Deniz Gamze Ergüven and Alice Winocour - First and foremost, the success of most films lies in the screenwriting. Director Deniz Gamze Ergüven and veteran writer Alice Winocour have crafted a fresh and moving story about five sisters whose lives take a jarring turn when their innocent frolicking with local boys has caused a scandal. In a flash all childhood innocence is erased and the girls are put on the market to get husbands before their reputations are soiled beyond repair. Their script has humor, pathos and brilliant insight into the human condition. -- bk

Tom McCarthy & Josh SingerSpotlight, screenplay by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy - Recipient of considerable recognition for its superlative writing, including Oscar, BAFTA, Independent Spirit, and IndieWire Critics among many others, the SPOTLIGHT screenplay tells the horrifying but riveting tale of Boston newsmen doing their jobs, following leads and clues as they ferret out ecclesiastical concealment of predatory sexual abuse. Reminiscent of another great work about a famous news case, ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, SPOTLIGHT's screenplay focuses on the details of a newspaper team being discouraged and stonewalled at every turn as they face the power and influence of Boston's Catholic Church. Its hierarchy has become consummately skillful at burying stories and diverting attention from criminal behavior, as well as persuading readers of the "Boston Globe" that the problem is either nonexistent or handled. As one victim declares at a meeting, "What this is, is priests using the collar to rape kids". Weaving together various narrative strands with superlative insight, Singer and McCarthy soon expand the scope of their story in a telephone conversation between a "Spotlight" reporter and an abuse victim: "The Church wants us to believe that it's just a few bad apples. It's a much bigger problem than that... Based on the research, I would classify it as a recognizable psychiatric phenomenon". How substantial and insidious that phenomenon is becomes as compelling a tale of the abuse of power as 2015 brought us, and vividly affirms John Dalberg-Acton's maxim that absolute power corrupts absolutely. SPOTLIGHT is a story about American heroes who explore and expose that corruption. -- kr

Jemaine Clement and Taika WaititiWhat We Do in the Shadows, screenplay by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi - Written by (as well as directed by, and starring) Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, this “mockumentary” gives us an hysterical glimpse into the inane, mundane, and blood-stained lifestyle of 21st Century Vampires. Four vampires sharing a house in Wellington NZ, allow a film crew to follow them around the city, capturing their nightly excursions in search of fresh blood, observing their interactions with the larger Supernatural/Undead Community, and their incompetency in dealing with old lovers, frenemies and werewolves. -- kp

Kornél Mundruczó and Kata WéberWhite God sreenplay by Kornél Mundruczó, Viktória Petrányi, and Kata Wéber - Along with his DP, Hungarian director, Kornel Mundruczo, mentioned his main creative partners were his writers that collaborated with him on writing this unique approach to storytelling. It combines several genres, in creating a modern, cross-genre parable. There are parallels between losses of innocence in the girl’s coming of age versus the corruption of the city where she lives. In addition, there is a comparison to struggles of class and race in the world through the eyes of world of homeless, mixed breed dogs in a society that scorns them. To complicate things, the story also has elements expressing the girl’s love for someone, in this case symbolically being her dog and their division and eventual reunion. You see extreme measures of how a mixed breed dog is harshly treated and joining together to conquer those who have hurt them. The girl moves on and gets a taste of the same society that treats these dogs as outcasts, and she, by the end of the story is an outcast and leads the animals to safety. White God, is such a brave film in incorporating such depth of blending this all in one film. -- tp

Best Adapted Screenplay

Emma DonoghueWinnerRoom, screenplay by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel - The atmosphere of a world folded in on itself is perhaps most conducive to the voice of a narrator within the pages of a novel. What screenwriter Emma Donaghue is able to do, however, is transform the prose world of her novel and the atmosphere of seclusion and disillusion through the dialogue of two characters whose only existence are enclosed in the four walls of ROOM. Combine the thematic exchanges between mother and son with the confined limitations landscaped in the pages of Donaghue's adaptation, and tricky prose reconstruction suddenly becomes an ethereal two-person society all on its own in the form of a motion picture. Donaghue allows characters to develop and explore beyond a 10-by-10 foot prison, yet still cleverly tethers each character to the remnants of the room in question, no matter how far any of them attempt to flee it. -- br

Charlie KaufmanAnomalisa, screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, based on his play - ANOMALISA, written by Charlie Kaufman based on his play of the same name, is the story of Michael, a curmudgeonly author on a business trip to give a speech. While there, he meets Lisa, an otherwise unexceptional woman who gives him (at least temporarily), a new lease on life. Two aspects of the script are noteworthy. The writing in capturing the almost suffocating dreariness of Michael’s life is quite effective, straddling the line between portraying him as a sympathetic character and merely an unlikeable man who must reap what he sows. More distinctively with the screenplay is the approach of having everyone in the film apart from the two leads voiced by the same actor. It is this unusual approach that particularly suits the stop-motion animated medium. An otherwise mundane psychological tale adopts an unsettling surreal edge to it in its realization for the screen. -- pe

Colm Tóibín and Nick HornbyBrooklyn, screenplay by Nick Hornby, based on the novel by Colm Tóibín - Nick Hornby, who adapted BROOKLYN from Colm Toibin’s novel, claims “it’s based around a triangle, but the triangle is not in the middle of the book: the first guy comes in half-way through, and the second guy comes in right before the end.” He created the character of Jim portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson “with as much detail as you can so that he is, in the end, a viable alternative for Ellis” played by Saoirse Ronan. He was given little time and movement to stay true to the story, yet engage audiences in writing for screen. Growing up in a different era in Europe, yet yearning for what America could provide over a smaller less sophisticated area could, Nick channeled that inspiration into this story of a young woman in transition. It helps that Nick has worked on both sides in shaping screenplays as a novelist himself, as a screenwriter adapting his own work, and like on BROOKLYN and other projects like WILD or AN EDUCATION (all featuring strong willed female leads). It helps the process as director John Crowley mentions, Nick “stayed very true to the spirit of it and you wouldn't know what had been dropped.” -- tp

David MarguliesDavid LipskyThe End of the Tour, screenplay by Donald Margulies, based on the book by David Lipsky - THE END OF THE TOUR gives a narrowly focused glimpse into David Foster Wallace’s life and inner thoughts. Rolling Stone reporter David Lispky was assigned to interview Wallace and accompanied him on the last leg of his tour. Lipsky recorded several days of interviews during his time with Wallace but the story was never written. 12 years later after Wallace committed suicide, Lipsky transcribed the tapes and wrote his memoir, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself, a 2010 NY Times best seller. In 2011, Donald Margulies read the memoir and was compelled to write a screenplay based on Lipsky's memoir. Margulies sent the screenplay to director, James Ponsoldt, who was also a devoted David Foster Wallace fan. It’s no wonder that these four men working together created a very cohesive, detailed and thoughtful glimpse into the life of David Foster Wallace. --jb

Jesse AndrewsMe and Earl and the Dying Girl, screenplay by Jesse Andrews based on his novel - Jessie Andrews adapted ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL from his young adult novel by the same name. Set in the backdrop of Pittsburgh, PA, it is a creative coming-of-age tale about Greg’s close yet platonic relationship with a girl dying of leukemia, Rachel, who he is pushed to reach out to by his mother. Additionally, there is the character of Earl, Greg’s partner in making movie parodies, who complements Greg and Rachel as the trio connect to each other. Jessie was able to bring this non-conventional take blending comedy and drama without drifting into traditional teen comedy or rom-com territory. The narration choices and animation choices bringing words to screen are quite effective in helping viewers along the story, plot twists and all, making their happiness and plight universal for adults. The film’s screenplay focuses on closure with the closest connection to loss for Jessie was inspired by was loss of his grandfather, where he has mentioned “Closure is impossible, that's the heart of the grief you will carry with you for the rest of your life.” The actors’ words held more weight as the film had shorter more focused dialogue than in the novel. -- tp

Best Use of Music in a Film

TangerineWinnerTangerine, Matthew Smith, Music Supervisor - Given the relatively restricted geography in which TANGERINE resides, it falls upon the movie’s soundtrack to convey a sense of Los Angeles in all of its diversity. Music supervisor, Matthew Smith, culled from Vine, Soundcloud, and other platforms, cuts recorded by up-and-coming but un-signed L.A.-area bands. We get maybe what you’d expect, given TANGERINE’s milieu, cheesy EDM, techno anthems, but, given one character’s Armenian ancestry, there’s also a nod to L.A.’s sizeable Armenian community, including several songs by Vatche, apparently an Armenian superstar and proprietor of L.A.’s most highly regarded Armenian restaurant. With the inclusion of some Arabic pop, the movie also appeals to L.A.’s broader Middle Eastern population and a mariachi piece, reflects L.A.’s Latino heritage. And just for good measure, a little Beethoven and some light opera provide appropriate emotional cues. Sometimes assertive, sometimes tranquil, and always dramatic, TANGERINE’s music suits its environment and its story. -- jp

Gary PuckettBoy Meets Girl, music by Matthew Puckett - Matthew Puckett is an award winning film composer and songwriter based in Los Angeles. His gentle, country-western-themed score beautifully underscores this sensitive film about a transgender young woman living in a small Southern town who dreams of becoming a fashion designer in New York. Puckett's evocative music matches the setting well, and sweetly ehances this lovely story that is rearely seen in American film. --mrc

Cat's EyesThe Duke of Burgundy, Cat's Eyes (Faris Badwan, Rachel Zeffira) composers - Cat's Eyes is the duo of Faris Badwan, British frontman for rock group "The Horrors", and Rachel Zeffira, opera singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist. The combination is as unlikely, and as intoxicating, as their intricately conceived score for writer/director Peter Strickland's THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY, a sado-masochistic lesbian romance between entomologists Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna). If you imagine Jean Genet reinterpreted by Peter Greenaway, you will have a good idea of the style of this unique work. A main title song in G Major accompanying a bucolic bicycle ride in a feathery delivery is reminiscent of Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'" from John Barry's score for MIDNIGHT COWBOY. A highly charged erotic scene between the two women commences with evocation of a string quartet by Mozart but evolves into a synthesizer bath in harmonic suspensions delaying resolution. The oboe that introduces the glass-enclosed butterflies collection transitions into multiple flutes fluttering in a way the butterflies no longer can. A haunting cue for harpsichord with breathy wordless vocalize accompanies a scene of dressing that emotionally is about undressing. A scene of decaying villa transitioning into a library filled with musty books strikingly evokes composer Nino Rota's frequent musical commentary on the decline of European bourgeoisie. A final emotional reconciliation hints at scores by both Rota and Ennio Morricone, with wistful oboe and harp intertwining under high strings in G Minor. Even among the many aspects of film creation that mark THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY as one of the virtuosic highlights of 2015, this brilliant score is a standout. --kr

Jean-Baptiste de LaubierGirlhood, Jean-Baptiste de Laubier, composer - Celine Sciamma’s perceptive coming-of-age study features an arresting score reminiscent of minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Phillip Glass, but it’s only one part of the film’s aural palette. GIRLHOOD also makes great, transformative use of pop songs, and two particular scenes stand out: the opening, where an exuberant techno anthem accompanies a thrilling football match, and a later scene where the four main characters, a group of female teenage friends, dance and sing along to in their hotel room to the Rhianna hit “Diamonds”. In this scene, Sciamma lets the entire song play, and it’s a joy to watch the girls bond and have fun participating in such a common but secretly profound activity. -- ck

Atticus RossLove & Mercy, Atticus Ross, composer - The film presents Beach Boy Brian Wilson's struggle with bipolar/schizoaffective disorder, by dividing that story into parallel lines, flashing forward and back between the 1965-66 recording sessions for Pet Sounds, his magnum opus, and his life in the 1980's, during which his every word, action and decision was scripted for him by psychotherapist and wannabee-rock star Eugene Landy. The soundtrack for the film revels in the brilliance of his musical vision as a composer; the genius hovering over every note of the layered orchestration of the Pet Sounds album,contrasting evocatively with his loss of control over his personal life and relationships with the other members of the band, and descent into drug-use and isolation. The snippets of the bright harmonies and happy cadences of the early surf-music hits produced by the Beach Boys float in counterpoint to the dark and delusional polyphony inside his mind. -- kp

Best Editing

Julien LacherayWinnerJulien Lacheray for Girlhood - Editing is best when it does not call attention to itself, which presents a paradox in describing it. How can you describe something you’re not meant to see? In GIRLHOOD, there is a sequence cited in many reviews, of four girls, Lady, Adiatou, Fily, and their new friend Marieme/Vic (for Victory, and so nicknamed by Lady) performing Rihanna’s song “Diamonds”. It goes like this:

(31:21) - establishing shot, in black and indigo, of Lady close up singing, dolly out to include Adiatou, the two girls lip syncing and dancing
(31:57) - first cut, extreme closeup Adiatou/Lady
(32:04) - second cut, again Adiatou and Lady
(32:26) - Fily enters the dance, a three shot, still extreme cu
(32:32) - Cross cut to Marieme/Vic watching from the bed, smiling, dolly in, Marieme/Vic becoming animated, waking up to the meaning of where she is and who she’s with
(33:02) - Medium shot, Marieme/Vic enters the dance
(33:17) - Vic alone, dancing and singing then Adiatou with her
(33:30) - Adiatou, xcu
(33:38) - More montage, Adiatou/Vic xcu
(33:47) - Vic/Adiatou
(34:08) - Union, they’re all together, Rihanna drops out and the girls themselves sing
(34:28) - Vic ecstatic
(34:50) - Song ends, reunion, dissolve to everyone sleeping.

A whole story and the crux of the film in three and a half minutes with no dialog. The cuts are invisible and natural. That’s the way editing is supposed to work. Editing, according to Eisenstein, has a second function, to reveal, as it takes us from A to B, C, which is not otherwise explicitly stated. What this sequence reveals, both to us and to Marieme, is that there is power available to her, and she need only join in to exercise it. -- jp

Chris WyattChris Wyatt for '71 - Director Yann Demange's superb U.K. political thriller is about "the troubles" in Belfast prior to Bloody Sunday in 1972. Soldier Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is trapped during a military operation in a hostile Belfast neighborhood, and must survive while trying to figure out how to return to his unit, which he cannot do without help. Boundaries between warring ideologies increasingly blur in human terms, as the film builds rhythmically to a shattering climax. Editor Chris Wyatt starts slowly, contrasting the details of military maneuvers with the banalities of everyday life in a war zone. The youth and inexperiences of boys in uniforms with deadly weapons presages a sense of impending dread. Cutting back and forth between closeups and medium shots, he offers details of life lived amid chaos. More and more people are involved in ongoing shoving and shouting, recorded with the blurred dizziness of real life. With startling suddenness, the conflict becomes lethal. The centerpiece of the film is a life-and-death chase scene through largely uninhabitable Belfast neighborhoods. Ranking among the outstanding chase scenes in recent cinema, various sequences of men trying to outrun and outmaneuver each other are edited with a verve and sharpness lacking from corporate cinema gifted by hundreds of times the budget. Soldier Hook seems unable to outrun his pursuers, among which is the camera. For his superlative editing, Chris Wyatt received a nomination for Best Technical Achievement from the British Independent Film Awards, and from the London Critics Circle Film Awards, a nomination for Technical Achievement of the Year.--kr

Affonso GonçalvesAffonso Gonçalves for Carol - A film that revels in visual riches the way CAROL does is dependent upon a superior technical team that clearly excels at every turn. Editor Affonso Goncalves is the champion of each frame of the film and compiles each of the vibrant technical merits for a fluid and captivating look into the complications of an unexpected love affair set against the backdrop of a historical era begging for change. The pacing set in the edits is a hypnotic transport for a 21st century audience into a 1950s classic state of mind. But not only is Goncalves responsible for a visual brilliance that brings back an essence of the 50s, it reinvigorates it. -- br

atyas FeketeMatyas Fekete for The Duke of Burgundy - Youthful Hungarian film editor Mátyás Fekete graduates with honors from the post of Assistant Editor on Peter Strickland's Chlotrudis-nominated BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO to Editor on Strickland's stunning THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY. Orson Welles maintained that "the whole eloquence of cinema is achieved in the editing room", and Fekete's masterful sense of rhythmic flow proves what Welles, as well as Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Alexander Payne, and many others have said with regard to the art of film editing. From the alien aestheticism of insects both mounted in a display and writhing in the wild, to the insinuating eroticism of undergarments heavy with soapy water or spied upon through keyholes, the intricate story of emotional games played by entomologists Cynthia and Evelyn evolves eloquently from seeming sadomasochism to profound pathos. As wondrous as this collaboration is among Writer/Director Peter Strickland, Actresses Sidse Babett Knudsen and Chiara D'Anna, Cinematographer Nic Knowland, Production Designer Pater Sparrow, and Composers Faris Badwan and Rachel Zeffira as Cat's Eyes, there is an indispensable out-of-the-ordinary magic achieved in the editing room by Mátyás Fekete. -- kr

Nathan NugentNathan Nugent for Room - Creative Film Editing is an essential element when dealing with small, confined spaces; without careful editing the viewer could easily become confused or, worse, bored. For the first half of ROOM nearly all the action takes place in a confined space. The finely crafted editing is what gives the viewer a sense of that space and contributes greatly to the understanding the psychological state of the two main characters who are kidnapped and trapped. -- bk

Best Cinematography

Radium Cheung and Sean BakerWinnerSean Baker; Radium Cheung for Tangerine - Director/cinematographer Sean S. Baker and cinematographer Radium Cheung experimented with use of iPhone technology to shoot this film on the streets of Hollywood, resulting in an intense cinema verite experience: a day in the life for two transgendered sex workers, and several of their friends, enemies, acquaintances. Long, tracking shots capture the frenetic energy of Sin Dee Rella (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez), out for vengeance after learning from her friend Alexandra (Mya Taylor) that Sin Dee’s boyfriend (and pimp) was cheating on her, during her stint in jail. The camera draws the audience along for a roller coaster ride, capturing the hot and greasy urban environment and its colorful denizens as Sin Dee and Alexandra weave their way across town -- in and out of donut shops, laundromats, brothels, and open mic bars, while passing bouncers, working girls, pimps and johns all along the way. -- kp

Ping Bin-LeePing Bin Lee for The Assassin - It’s easy to take Ping Bin Lee’s work in THE ASSASSIN for granted: at first, it appears to be another visually sumptuous historical epic in the tradition of CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. And yet, as director Hsiao-Hsien Hou’s longtime cinematographer, he’s honed his craft on a slate of far more intimate dramas, and he retains that overall sense of understatement here. Whether shooting in a natural forest setting or a cozy interior dressed with intricate tapestries, he emphasizes the minute details, like the curvature of a tree branch or the warm shadow a standing candlestick casts upon the floor. Rather than exploding on to the screen, he lets them breathe, allowing us to deftly take them all in. -- ck

Edward LachmanEdward Lachman for Carol - A soft focus on a face through a window. Close ups of people trying to hide their real emotions. A waft of cigarette smoke passing in front of a scene. A shot of two layers, front focus and rear background. The look of the 1950s brought to life. That is what past Chlotrudis Award winner Edward Lachman to the cinematography of CAROL. His focus on faces and expressions, the way they linger, the lighting choices made, where the shadows fall. Everything appears summed up in each view, but then again, maybe not, because there are layers of substance in every shot, every choice of movement, every close up, every tracking shot. It makes for much more complexity than you may see on the surface. And that's why it is absolutely brilliant to watch. -- tck

Nicholas D. KnowlandNicholas D. Knowland for The Duke of Burgundy - Even in 2015 -- a particularly vibrant year for the cinematographer's art -- Nic Knowland's work on writer/director Peter Strickland's singular THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY stands out. Strickland, who is also the creator of the Chlotrudis dual nominee BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, is a genuine auteur, composing his works cinematically, unimpeded by traditional concepts of what it is the writer and director each does. Fans of this film will know to follow the images, not the conversations. Every object is photographed with mesmerizing attention, and each scene is filled with enough details to chronicle multiple stories, especially each time glass cases of exquisitely mounted insects are shown in passing or being lovingly cleaned. The Duke of Burgundy in fact refers to a European butterfly threatened with extinction, the female of which is elusive and spends considerable time at rest. Knowland finds both beauty and bestiality in scenes such as pastel undergarments being washed in frothy soapy water whose bubbles bloom and burst. Occasionally Knowland photographs butterflies in such a way it becomes ambiguous whether we are looking at a representation of a butterfly or the thing itself. So it is also with the romantic sado-masochistic games played by Evelyn (Chiara D'Anna) and Cynthia (Sidse Babett Knudsen), smudging the borders between fiction and reality. Knowland's camera bears witness to events at the same time it manipulates them, drawing the viewer ever further into Strickland's eccentric world of colors, textures, and manners, creating one of the richest chromatic displays, as well as one of the most compelling filmic journeys of the year. --kr

Gökhan TiryakiGökhan Tiryaki for Winter Sleep - As with his last collaboration with director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the Chlotrudis Award nominated ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA, Gökhan Tiryaki favors static long shots of dramatic Turkish landscapes—in this case, the stark, ancient-looking Cappadocia region. Set in and around a mountaintop hotel run by former actor Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), much of the film takes full advantage of its vast exterior settings; however, there are also key, lengthy scenes within the hotel’s interiors that are just as remarkable for their composition and scope. During one that lasts for over twenty minutes, Aydin sits at his writing desk, looking ahead at the camera, while his recently divorced sister, Necla (Demet Akbağ), lounges on the couch behind him. Both the camera and the characters barely move, and as an epic argument plays out between the siblings, the effect is both painterly and hypnotic. -- ck

Best Production Design

The Duke of BurgundyWinnerPater Sparrow for The Duke of Burgundy - The seduction is in the ordinary. While the plot of THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY calls for a complete commitment to the everyday as it unfolds in a well-kempt household, amid this sense of order and rigidity of the everyday is a spark that skews the paradigm of what is orderly and routine. Production designer Pater Sparrow provides the view of the everyday and well-kempt estate, but cleverly ties in the themes crucial to the edgy narrative with an unforgettable set of visual patterns that provide a sense of order all its own: the taxonomic order of Lepidoptera. --br

The AssassinWen-Ying Huang for The Assassin - This is the sixth collaboration between internationally renowned Taiwanese director Hsiao-Hsien Hou and production designer Wen-Ying Huang, who additionally designed the award-winning makeup and costumes and received a producer credit. THE ASSASSIN is a masterpiece of the traditional Chinese film genre wuxia, a total work of art combining literature, music, dance, and martial arts, comparable in Western European art to the idea of Richard Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk. It is the story of a princess abducted and raised to be a killer of corrupt political figures, with attendant complications. The film's key line, spoken to the title character by her teacher/mentor, is: "Your skills are matchless, but your mind is hostage to human elements". There is a deliciousness to this observation, which can be applied equally to the director and each of his magisterial collaborators. In an October interview with "Film Comment", Hou addressed the lengthy process prior to directing the film: "A lot of work needed to go into the design to reach a level of authenticity, from the sets to the costumes, down to the smallest details. It took us years to prepare". Wen-Ying Huang's sublime production design evokes the 9th century Tang Dynasty with breath-taking specificity, from textures of cloth, to placement of artworks in backgrounds, to elements of family interaction during meals, to graceful details of weapons in martial combat, to processions of wealthy dignitaries on horseback, and on and on. "Beneath all the mystical or fantastic elements, you will find traces of daily minutiae, which help you understand the limits that defined life back then", said Hou. It is the accumulation of details in Huang's production design that define the unforgettable world of THE ASSASSIN and invite audiences to share in a truly momentous experience. -- kr

BrooklynFrançois Séguin for Brooklyn - BROOKLYN is a romantic drama featuring stellar performances by Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson and Emory Cohen. The film takes place in New York City and Ireland in 1952 and was shot in just 35 days. Production designer François Séguin meticulously recreated the background settings reflecting the transition of the naïve village girl into worldly woman after struggling to adjust to life in the big city. From the somewhat dingy boarding house to the bright department store to Coney Island to small-town Irish shops, the production design submerges the viewer in a bygone era and works hand in hand with the cinematography to carefully balance a warm nostalgic tone without distracting from the core emotional story. -- pe

CarolJudy Becker for Carol - Period pieces often get the edge when it comes to awards for Production Design because the accuracy (or lack thereof) of set design, costumes, and hair styling are what makes a film ring true. As in FAR FROM HEAVEN, Todd Haynes makes sure every detail pulls us into the 1950s, a time when how things looked outweighed how one's inner self could be explored and displayed. -- bk

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on ExistenceRoy Andersson for A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence - The third film in Roy Andersson’s “Living Trilogy” begins with three hilarious deaths and concludes on two deeply unsettling segments about lack of empathy among “homo sapiens”; in between, we have such dazzling, elaborate sequences as King Charles XII leading modern-day Sweden into battle against Russia (in a diner) and a brief but fabulous flashback to 1943 where one of the film’s contemporary locations becomes the setting for an impromptu musical number. What ultimately connects these theoretically disparate vignettes is that they all appear to exist within the same warped universe: a gloriously odd mélange of static camera shots, excessive long-takes and absurdist black humor, all focused on the interminable, pasty-faced, middle-aged schlubs living in Andersson’s hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden. -- ck

Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast

TangerineWinnerTangerine - "Merry Christmas Eve, Bitch!" is the first line of dialogue in the delightful and poignant TANGERINE. From an industry that increasingly eschews surprise in favor of formula comes this sparkling alternative holiday film shot entirely and astonishingly on an iPhone 5(S) (with a few KickStarter enhancements), with an ensemble cast worthy of George S. Kaufman or Thornton Wilder. Strictly observing the classic unities of time, place, and action, TANGERINE traces events that transpire on the mean streets of Los Angeles from a casual slip of the BFF tongue (Mya Taylor) about her transgender friend's (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) pimp boyfriend (James Ransone) taking up with a hapless white waif prostitute (Mickey O'Hagan) while she is in jail, requiring a vengeful hunt, kidnap, confrontation, and potential resolution. This story intercuts with that of an Armenian taxi-driver (Karren Karagulian), who picks up an outrageous assortment of lowlife street customers, but prefers cruising for "chicks with dicks" to spending Christmas with his clueless wife (Luiza Nersisyan) and suffocating mother-in-law (Alla Tumanian). Every emotional detail rings true, whether pathetic or hilarious; a scene of carwash camouflage concealing a carnal caper is classic. Casting by co-writers Chris Bergoch and Sean Baker, who is also the director, editor, and cinematographer, is brilliant in a way that conceals both craft and insight. You may never again think in the same way about the famous excerpt from William Congreve's The Mourning Bride (1697): "Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorned". --kr

About EllyAbout Elly - In Asghar Farhadi's 2009 film ABOUT ELLY, a group of friends vacation together by the sea every yeara. This year, one of the friends brings Elly, a co-worker along in the hopes of finding a wife for another of the group of friends; the sole single man. When Elly disappears mysteriously soon into the vacation, the actors in this stunning ensemble take each of the characters through a range of suspicions and motivations as allegiances shift, and beliefs are challenged. Each character gets their moment; each character, including Elly, and her ex-boyfriend who is introduced late in the film, have their powerful moments. The talented cast bring Farhadi's superb screenplay to riveting life in yet another astounding, adult drama leaps from the mind of a master filmmaker. -- mrc

MustangMustang - For a film about the stifling constraints of a conservative Turkish Muslim family, “Mustang” is incredibly vibrant. Five sisters, portrayed by young, mostly first-time actors have such a compelling, natural chemistry that they appear to be true siblings. As their grandmother and uncle implement increasingly dire restrictions, keeping them from interacting with the outside world, and turning their home into a “wife factory”, the sisters draw closer, conspiring to protect their liberty and retain their lively spirits. As their situation grows bleaker in each scene, the sisters’ s resilience is an inspiration as each in turn is consigned to a heartbreaking future. -- hn

SpotlightSpotlight - The film SPOTLIGHT tells the story of the investigation by a team of Boston Globe reporters into allegations of child abuse within the Catholic Church. The story is really about the clash of institutions rather than one particular person’s struggle or character growth. As such, it is ideally suited for an ensemble casting approach. From the team of reporters at the Globe (including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams) to the many victims of abuse, to the weaselly members of the church hierarchy, the film’s many performances entwine to explore both the big-picture themes of institutional responsibility and more personal themes like overcoming personal trauma and commitment to truth. -- pe

What We Do in the ShadowsWhat We Do in the Shadows - WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS is a black-horror-comedy, mocumentary that chronicles the day-to-day life and adventures of 4 vampire roommates. The cast as a whole works well together, with especially outstanding performances by Taiki Waititi as Viago, the loveable well-mannered 379 year old 18th century Dandy of the house (who is also the narrator), and Clement as 862-year-old roommate Vladislav, the more manly, seductive torturer. Jonathan Brugh rounds out the main cast of roommates playing 183 year old Deacon the black leather pant clad “badboy”. Stand up comedian Cori Gonzalez-Macuer adds to the cast’s strength playing Nick the group’s newly converted rookie vampire friend who’s braggadocious ways lead to some unfortunate incidents for the group. Stu Rutherford as the gormless Stu, (Nick’s computer programmer friend who enlightens the group to technology), does a nice job as the straight man of the bunch. The cast shines in hilariously portraying a somewhat bumbling nerdy group of guys just trying to make it through every day life, while their special vampire needs and powers create a few scary/funny adventures along the way. -- jb

Best Documentary - It's a Tie!

AmyWinnerAmy - For fans of the immensely talented Amy Winehouse there didn't seem to be much more to say after the endless tabloid coverage of her downward spiral which led to her demise as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. Fortunately, director Asif Kapadia felt otherwise. AMY revisits what we already know but paints a much more complete portrait using interviews with family and close friends and archival footage of Amy's early career. -- bk

Call Me LuckyWinnerCall Me Lucky - CALL ME LUCKY tells the story of Barry Crimmins, iconoclast comedian, prototypical angry young man, and a child victim of abuse at the hands of a priest. Crimmins arrived on the Boston comedy scene in the 1980s, and opened two comedy clubs where he nurtured the careers of Paula Poundstone, Steven Wright, Jimmy Tingle, and his friend and colleague, Bobcat Goldthwait, who directs the movie. Goldthwait gives us interviews with those comrades and many others, who recall Crimmins’s generosity, but also his ferocious criticism. Goldthwait gives us Crimmins as a complicated man, whose demons sometimes threatened to unbalance him. The scenes where he recalls and then confronts his abuse, which eventually leads him to a crusade against the Catholic Church and online child pornography, are harrowing and enlightening. From those events his complications arose. Goldthwait’s portrait is at once loving, respectful, and honest, and leads us to a deep understanding of a consequential man. -- jp

Best of EnemiesBest of Enemies - BEST OF ENEMIES is Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s documentary film on the subject of the 10 televised debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley during the 1968 presidential race. The archival footage, the structure of the narrative flow, interviewees’ keen observation of the historical event, the tight editing, and the content itself all lend to the exceptional quality of this film. Gordon and Neville chose to use the televised debates as the core vein of the film, weaving information about each participant’s history and future throughout the sequential confrontations. As the viewer sinks deeper into the controversy, they become increasingly more familiar with each of the men on stage. The film is, arguably, as captivating to the filmgoing audience as the actual debates must have been to the television viewers in 1968. In fact, the engrossing nature of the events is enough to make us forget that these debates represent the end of what was previously known as civility in public discourse. Ever after, debate as political bloodsport would come to dominate the world of entertainment news. Those who have seen this documentary find themselves grappling with their own guilt-over enjoying the film’s tense, riveting face-off while fully realizing how sad and devoid of meaning political news coverage would eventually become. -- bca

Red ArmyRed Army - Although Gabe Polsky’s RED ARMY is a “sports” documentary, it is really more than that. Its focus is the Soviet Union’s most successful Red Army ice hockey team and its controversial star, Viacheslav “Slava” Fetisov, the former captain and Olympic gold medal winner whose career and life in the world of hockey provides much of the dramatic tension. Through interviews and archival footage that are extremely well edited together, RED ARMY becomes a gripping piece of sports journalism that weaves history, politics and sports into a supremely fascinating documentary. --vo

Stray DogStray Dog - The beauty of this documentary essentially lies within our rigid stereotypes about bikers and southerners. The film shatters what we perceive to be the images we entertain about our small, rural southern brethren. STRAY DOG, may at first seem like a typical doc about a small-town character who embodies an American stereotype, an ethnocentric, patriotic biker from rural Missouri. However, the beauty of this documentary lies within a paradox. This film showcases a group of people in marked contrast to our ordinary perception. It allows us to see the depth of true human spirit when people reach out to help one another. In a society where individualism seems to perpetually triumph over collectivism, the people in this film demonstrate how collective support can accomplish that which seclusion and withdrawal cannot. The narrative focus lies upon a man who works daily to find people in need of support. This man and his friends work to improve the home-life of those people they deem “in need.” But, the reality of their charity lies within the knowledge that others need a true human connection. Thus, his charitable works are not rooted in financial need, but rather within a greater need of communion. --bca

What Happened Miss Simone?What Happened Miss Simone? - Directed by Liz Garbus, the film examines the life of prodigiously talented Nina Simone, who as a child and young woman dreamed of being the first black woman to perform as a solo artist at Carnegie Hall. Born into poverty, hindered by racism, physical abuse and sexual misogyny, she trained as a classical pianist at Juilliard, but to earn a living, she performed a mix of jazz, blues, and classical music (as singer and pianist) at clubs and lounges in Atlantic City, and slowly acquired a fan-base. Her frustration and anger over the obstacles placed in her path as a black woman and artist gave rise to her commitment to political activism in the early 60’s -- speaking at civil rights rallies, and writing songs of protest over racial inequality and hate crimes -- along with a reputation for a mercurial temper. The documentary takes an unflinching look at the artist in the context of the times into which she was born, and the circumstances that directed her away from her true dreams; she was never a saint, but she was a woman of strong convictions with a voice that refused to be silenced. <NB: The documentary title is derived from a poem by Maya Angelou: But what happened, Miss Simone? Specifically, what happened to your big eyes that quickly veil to hide the loneliness? To your voice that has so little tenderness, yet flows with your commitment to the battle of Life? What happened to you?> -- kp