Since this is our inaugural year for The Vikies, we're taking a more in-depth look at each category and nominee to help give you some context for the awards.
This is by far the most cut and dry category in the entire ceremony, so let's get to talkin' about these five terrific films...
I doubt anyone thought this franchise had much fuel left in the tank, but septuagenarian director George Miller shocked the world when he released the fourth film in the Mad Max series, blowing the other three films before it out of the water. Fury Road is a non-stop action thrill ride that wasn't just the best action movie of 2015, but is very firmly in the discussion for best action movie of the decade. Add in a career best performance from Charlize Theron, another terrific Tom Hardy performance, amazing stunt work, incredible production design, and some of the best action set pieces of the year, and you've got a film that defied typical wisdom about genre films.
It will come as a surprise to no one that Pixar hit all the right notes with their fifteenth feature film, but Inside Out managed to not only meet the high standards the studio established twenty years ago, but exceed them. A film that can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter their age, this hilarious and heartbreaking film about the inner emotional turmoil going on inside the head of an eleven year old girl is both simple and brilliantly complex. Add in a tear jerker of a third act and some of the best voice acting in any animated film, and you've got the makings of one of the great family films of all time.
Star Wars hasn't had fans for years, it's had apologists. Being a Star Wars fan prior to 2015 meant having to either defend or ignore George Lucas' prequel trilogy, but thanks to Disney's top notch revival of the space fantasy saga brought fans back in a big way, and created lots of new fans too. My daughters liked the original Star Wars films, but taking them to see The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D made them fans for life. It's not a perfect film, but it's a nearly flawless Star Wars film, and it's the same kind of revitalization effort that J.J. Abrams brought to Star Trek in 2009. And let me say, for the record, I couldn't be happier he's handing off the reigns before the next one.
"Smart" films are seldom entertaining. If a film is heralded for its brains, it's often in an effort to direct your attention away from the fact that it's going to be a slog to get through. Alex Garland's directorial debut was a masterpiece of world building and character development, all of which played out like a crack thriller, but with tons of big questions and smart conversations happening around it. Oscar Isaac does some of the best work of his career, Domhnall Gleeson is equally strong, and Alicia Vikander blew the roof off the film world thanks in no small part to her incredible work in the film. Smart and fun no longer have to be two separate things.
Speaking of smart and fun, The Big Short was the most outrageous film of the year, but likely not in the way you're thinking. Adam McKay traded in Will Ferrell comedies for this sly deconstruction of the 2008 financial collapse that takes more than a few well deserved pot shots at that other film you hear it compared to a bunch, The Wolf of Wall Street. Rather than revel in the wanton and hedonistic lifestyle of despicable people, however, McKay wants his audiences to feel as enraged as his characters and succeeds beyond your wildest expectations. Add in note perfect performances from Steve Carell, Baby Goose, Brad Pitt, and Oscar nominee Christian Bale, and you've got one hell of a great comedy that will leave you feeling angry, but in a good way.
Click here to see the full list of nominees and check back this Friday, February 26th at 4pm EST when we unveil the winners!