Ever have one of those years so studded with highs and lows that it essentially gives you an emotional whiplash? These stars can relate.
Early on Moore hit a high note with Still Alice, winning her first Academy Award for Best Actress. Regrettably, this victory came on the heels of the long-delayed release of the critically scorned fantasy adventure Seventh Son. But buzz about her follow-up Freeheld was good. That is until it actually hit the festival circuit. Moore’s hopes for an Oscar repeat died by the time that dismal drama hit theaters.
Like his Savage Grace co-star, Redmayne’s Oscar win for The Theory of Everything came hand-in-hand with the release of a delayed genre offering that bombed with audiences and critics. You might remember his was the Wachowskis’ misfire heard around the world, Jupiter Ascending. But despite controversy over his casting as the lead in The Danish Girl, Redmayne is on the rise again. Picking up acting nominations from the Golden Globes and SAG, he could be an Oscar contender once more.
Critics cheered the Fassbender-fronted Slow West last April. But we’re a fickle bunch, and coming into the mad frenzy of Oscar bait season, many forgot to put this fantasy-Western on their top 10s. No matter, right? After all, he still had the Aaron Sorkin-scripted Steve Jobs coming. But that bravado-packed biopic has seen a dizzying mix of goods and bads. Good: it received generally positive reviews along with a growing string of acting nominations for the German star. Bad: Its tanking upon national release was blamed (in part) on Fassbender not being a big enough name. Worse: Speculators are saying the poor box office performance could kill Fassy’s chances of scoring an Oscar nod for playing the
complex jerkwad tech icon.
Matt Damon starred in one of the biggest movies of the year, The Martian, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe. And he announced that he would be returning to the Bourne franchise with Paul Greengrass. On the other hand, for the first time in his career, Matt Damon was criticized in the media for exhibiting his white privilege on his own show, Project Greenlight, after he whitesplained diversity to the only black woman in a room full of producers and executives. He did himself no favors in the media afterwards trying to explain himself. — Dustin Rowles
After two huge box-office flops Battleship and John Carter completely derailed Taylor Kitsch’s once-promising career, he landed a career saving role in True Detective, which completely tanked (in part, because of Kitsch’s terrible performance), once again derailing his career again. Welcome to your Redbox future, Kitsch. — Dustin Rowles
After a few low-profile years, Rachel McAdams was all over the place in 2015. She kicked the year off as the love interest in Cameron Crowe’s problematic (Internet word!) box-office flop Aloha, and landed the female lead in one of the most coveted television series of 2015, True Detective, which proceeded to sh*t the bed (in spite of her great performance). She also was overlooked once again in a well acted but poorly written boxing film, Southpaw. However, all of those were just a precursor to her stunning turn in Spotlight, which has made an actress once mostly associated with rom coms a legit Oscar contender. Landing a starring role in Doctor Strange was just the icing on the cake of prolific year. — Dustin Rowles
After earning startling scorn through its festival run, this adored director’s Adam Sandler-fronted dramedy The Cobbler hit theaters with a thud, being called “Sandler’s biggest flop yet.” Adding salt to this wound, McCarthy made a rare cameo in his buddy’s sexist, stupid garbage movie Pixels as “Michael the Robot,” a character I have already completing scrubbed from my memory. And then, came Spotlight, a drama about the Catholic Church’s cover-up of mass molestation that is so humane, thoughtful, and entertaining that it’s being heralded as one of the best films of 2015, a serious contender for Oscar’s Best Picture, and one of the best films about journalism ever.
Way to finish 2015 strong, Tom. Now lose Sandler’s number.
Sure, Avengers: Age of Ultron made all kinds of bank around the world. But fans were raging about the now canon shipping of Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and Scarlet Johansson’s apparently baby-craving but barren Black Widow. Yet, Ruffalo’s 2015 won’t be defined by fan disappointment, because he doled out not one but two performances getting award season buzz. The Spotlight ensemble as a whole are getting nods, while Ruffalo’s been singled out for supporting actor honors. And thanks to the wonderful and underseen summer indie Infinitely Polar Bear, Ruffalo has snagged a Best Actor nomination at the Golden Globes, and could be a dark horse in the Oscar race.
Despite the combined star power of Kevin Hart and this SNL alum their profoundly offensive buddy-comedy Get Hard was reviled by critics. But who cares, when it made $90 mil domestic? Still, Ferrell scored better reviews and headline-snagging ratings when he teamed with Kristen Wiig for the Lifetime TV movie A Deadly Adoption. How will 2015 turn out for him? That’ll depend on the success of his upcoming double-hander with Mark Wahlberg, Daddy’s Home.
With $1.5 billion worldwide, Furious 7 is on track to be one of the highest grossing films of the year. Plus, it won praise from critics and fans for how it handled the tragic death of Diesel’s bro-star Paul Walker. But it seemed the loyalty from this burly leading man’s fanbase faltered when it came to his passion project The Last Witch Hunter. The D&D-inspired flick was savaged by critics and bombed domestically, hurting Diesel’s chances to get the sequel he dreams of.
Michael B. Jordan
This summer, he brought us one of the worst reviewed movies of the year with the superhero flop Fantastic Four. Then, three short months later, this intriguing ingendude gave us one of the best reviewed with Creed! As Johnny Storm, Jordan’s natural charm was extinguished amid a mess of poor storytelling and uninspired CGI. But remarkably, a sequel that many snarked at in its making became a powerful stand up and cheer drama thanks in large part to Jordan’s intense and always earnest performance.
Both of Kate and Rooney Mara have had brushes with big budgeted bombs and critically celebrated hits this year. For Kate, we cringed over Fantastic Four, where her Sue Storm was senselessly sidelined and topped with a painfully bad wig. Then Rooney scored eyebrow raises of her own as a whitewashed Princess Tiger Lilly in the who-even-is-this-for reboot Pan. Then Kate showed lady scientists can be competent and fun with her supporting role in The Martian, while Rooney began steadily picking up acting honors and nominations for her tender turn in the so-beautiful-it-hurts lesbian romance Carol.
For reasons obvious, Mad Max: Fury Road is being lauded as the years best film, and is gaining momentum for Oscar success despite being a sci-fi action movie. So that’s good news for Hardy even if he’s not earning as much award season buzz as his co-star Charlize Theron. But that’s cool. He’s scoring praise for his brutal yet layered turn in Academy Award-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant. Less good, Hardy’s had two other movies out this year you may not have even heard of. The first was the already forgotten flop Child 44 in which he starred with his personal acting idol Gary Oldman. Then Legend was a biopic about a pair of gangster bruvas running reckless in London’s swinging ’60s. But despite offering twice the Hardy for the ticket price, the latter got a lukewarm reception from critics and made no waves at the box office.
She’s not the one who wore white and high heels through the Jurassic Park sequel. So that was good. As was the reception of The Martian, where she played the commander in an out of this world mission. Less good: the reception of her turn in Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak. The Gothic romance underperformed and recieved mixed reviews from critics, some of whom dared to call Chastain’s performance as the twisted sister Lucille Sharpe “over the top.” Well, they’re wrong. And if you didn’t see Crimson Peak in theaters, you’re wrong. It was awesome. Chastain’s is a performance that will some day be properly recognized as comparable to Bette Davis and Joan Crawford’s in What Ever Happened to Baby Jane. Then. Chastain and I will be vindicated!