2015 Endy Awards

These are the 2015 Endy Awards, wherein I pretend to give out maneki-neko statues to the best in that year in film. Awards for many other years can be found in the Rankings & Awards Index. Eligibility is determined by imdb date and by whether or not I’ve seen the movie in question. Nominees are listed in alphabetical order. And the Endy goes to. . .


Best Picture:

1. Arabian Nights
2. The Assassin
3. Baahubali: The Beginning
4. Blackhat
5. Cemetery of Splendour
6. Happy Hour
7. Kaili Blues
8. Mad Max: Fury Road
9. Mountains May Depart
10. The Royal Road

Best Director:

1. Miguel Gomes, Arabian Nights
2. Hou Hsiao-hsien, The Assassin
3. Bi Gan, Kaili Blues
4. George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Jia Zhangke, Mountains May Depart

Best Actor:

1. Michael B. Jordan, Creed
2. Wang Baoqiang, Detective Chinatown
3. Samuel L. Jackson, The Hateful 8
4. Aaron Kwok, Port of Call
5. Jung Jaeyung, Right Now, Wrong Then

Honorable Mentions: Jafar Panahi (Taxi), Subaru Shibutani (La La La at Rock Bottom), Tom Courtenay (45 Years), Elmer Bäck (Eisenstein in Guanajuato), John Boyega (The Force Awakens), Li Wen (Li Wen at East Lake), Matt Damon (The Martian), Kurt Russell (The Hateful 8), Nick Cannon (Chi-Raq), Feng Xiaogang (Mr. Six), Guy Pearce (Results), and Tony Jaa (SPL 2).

Best Actress:

1. Shu Qi, The Assassin
2. Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
3. Daisy Ridley, The Force Awakens
4. Zhao Tao, Mountains May Depart
5. Kim Minhee, Right Now, Wrong Then

Honorable Mentions: Rooney Mara (Carol), Tang Wei (A Tale of Three Cities), Crista Alfaiate (Arabian Nights), Lola Kirke (Mistress America), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), Katana Kiki Rodriguez (Tangerine), Jenjira Pongpas (Cemetery of Splendour), Isabella Leong (Murmur of the Hearts), Ai Hashimoto (Little Forest: Winter/Spring), Bai Baihe (Go Away Mr. Tumor), Sarina Suzuki (La La La at Rock Bottom), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years), Elizabeth Moss (Queen of Earth), Carey Mulligan (Far from the Madding Crowd), Nithya Menen (O Kadhal Kanmani), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Agyness Deyn (Sunset Song), Akari Hayami (Forget Me Not) and the entire cast of Happy Hour.

Supporting Actor:

1. Michael Keaton, Spotlight
2. Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk
3. Emory Cohen, Brooklyn
4. Harrison Ford, The Force Awakens
5. Walton Goggins, The Hateful 8

HM: Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina), Michael Ning (Port of Call), Kevin Corrigan (Results), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Liev Schreiber (Spotlight), Adam Scott (Sleeping with Other People), Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Chow Yun-fat (Office), Chico Chapas (Arabian Nights), and Liev Schreiber (Spotlight).

Supporting Actress:

1. Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful 8
2. Greta Gerwig, Mistress America
3. Sylvia Chang, Mountains May Depart
4. Tang Wei, Office
5. Mya Taylor, Tangerine

HM: Cate Blanchett (Carol), Emma Stone (Aloha), Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation), Jessie Li, (Port of Call), Viola Davis (Blackhat), Katherine Waterston (Queen of Earth), Sylvia Chang (Office), Tang Wei (Blackhat), Tang Wei (Monster Hunt), Hana Saeidi (Taxi), and Tessa Thompson (Creed).


Original Screenplay:

1. Evan Johnson, Robert Kotyk & Guy Maddin, The Forbidden Room
2. Luo Li, Li Wen at East Lake
3. Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach, Mistress America
4. Jenni Olson, The Royal Road
5. Don Hertzfeldt, World of Tomorrow

Adapted Screenplay:

1. Miguel Gomes, Mariana Ricardo & Telmo Churro, Arabian Nights
2. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Chu Tien-wen, Hsieh Hai-Meng & Zhang Acheng, The Assassin
3. Phyllis Nagy, Carol
4. Andrew Haigh, 45 Years
5. George Miller, Brendan McCarthy & Nico Lathouris, Mad Max: Fury Road

Tough to leave a pair of adventurous Chinese films out of the Original Screenplay mix: Murmur of the Hearts and Kaili Blues. Laurie Anderson’s script for Heart of a Dog was another painful omission. And of course, the fact that Hong Sangsoo isn’t nominated is major Endy news. In fact, this is only the second year this century (the other being 2005) that neither a Hong nor a Johnnie To/Wai Ka-fai film is nominated for Best Screenplay.

Non-English Language Film:

1. Arabian Nights (Miguel Gomes)
2. The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-hsien)
3. Baahubali: The Beginning (SS Rajamouli)
4. Happy Hour (Ryusuke Hamaguchi)
5. Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhangke)

Baahubali is the big surprise here, as Rajamouli’s gonzo CGI musical epic gets the nod over fine films from established Endy favorites Johnnie To, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Hong Sangsoo.

Non-Fiction Feature:

1. Heart of a Dog (Laurie Anderson)
2. In Jackson Heights (Frederick Wiseman)
3. Junun (Paul Thomas Anderson)
4. The Royal Road (Jenni Olson)
5. The Thoughts that Once We Had (Thom Andersen)

This is the strongest set of five Non-Fiction Feature nominees in Endy history.

Animated Feature:

1. Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson)
2. Inside Out (Pete Docter & Ronnie del Carmen)
3. The Peanuts Movie (Steve Martino)
4. Shaun the Sheep Movie (Mark Burton & Richard Starzak)

Short Film:

1. Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson & Galen Johnson)
2. Greed: Ghost Light (Kim Nakyung)
3. Night Without Distance (Lois Patiño)
4. No No Sleep (Tsai Ming-liang)
5. World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt)

Unseen Film:

1. Aferim! (Radu Jude)
2. Afternoon (Tsai Ming-liang)
4. No Home Movie (Chantal Akerman)

Film Editing:

1. The Assassin
2. 88:88
3. The Forbidden Room
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
5. SPL 2: A Time for Consequences


1. The Assassin
2. Kaili Blues
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Mountains May Depart
5. Night Without Distance

Production Design:

1. The Assassin
2. Baahubali: The Beginning
3. Crimson Peak
4. Office
5. The Witch

Costume Design:

1. The Assassin
2. Carol
3. Crimson Peak
4. Far from the Madding Crowd
5. Mad Max: Fury Road


1. Baahubali: The Beginning
2. Crimson Peak
3. The Forbidden Room
4. Jupiter Ascending
5. Mad Max: Fury Road


Original Score:

1. The Assassin
2. Blackhat
3. Heart of a Dog
4. O Kadhal Kanmani
5. The Revenant

Adapted Score:

1. Arabian Nights
2. The Hateful 8
3. La La La at Rock Bottom
4. Mountains May Depart
5. Office

Sound Design:

1. The Assassin
2. Blackhat
3. 88:88
4. Heart of a Dog
5. Topophilia

Sound Editing:

1. Blackhat
2. Crimson Peak
3. The Force Awakens
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

Visual Effects:

1. Baahubali: The Beginning
2. The Forbidden Room
3. The Force Awakens
4. Go Away, Mr. Tumor
5. Jupiter Ascending


Predictions for the 88th Annual Academy Awards

These are my picks for the winners of this year’s Academy Awards. On Sunday night, I’ll be tweeting out the winners of the 2015 Endy Awards during the Oscar ceremony. You can follow me there @theendofcinema. Here are the current 2015 Endy Award Nominees. We also had a special Oscar edition of The George Sanders Show last weekend, picking our 2015 favorites and discussing two Oscar films from 1946, best Picture nominee The Razor’s Edge and Best Song nominee Canyon Passage. My predictions are the ones in bold.
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Running Out of Karma: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny

Running Out of Karma is my on-going series on Johnnie To, Hong Kong and
Chinese-language cinema. Here is an index.

A straight-to-Netflix multinational English language collaboration that is the sequel to the highest-grossing foreign language film in American history, Sword of Destiny reunites star Michelle Yeoh with the action choreographer from the first film, Yuen Woo-ping. Belonging more rightly to the CGI-driven Chinese wuxias of the 2010s (and the cheaper ones at that: it’s more Reign of Assassins than than Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons) the digitally-aided filmic art house wuxias of the early 2000s, the new film is worlds apart from Ang Lee’s original, and that’s, as much as anything, the difference between Lee and Yuen. What made the first film truly great is the combination their two sensibilities: Lee’s character-based approach to personal drama, romantic relationships constricted by social rules reflected in carefully composed, controllingly symmetrical compositions added to Yuen’s gorgeous choreography, every movement of the actors and stunt performers motivated by an ideology of fighting, reflecting their personalities, their worldview (Chow’s patient precision, Cheng’s wild flailing, Zhang’s exuberant virtuosity, Yeoh’s passionate intellectuality).

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30 Essential Wuxia Films

With the highly-anticipated release of two King Hu masterpieces on home video by the Masters of Cinema organization, as well as the critical success of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin last year, it seems like the wuxia film is making some inroads into the Western critical consciousness. So I thought I’d put together a guide to some of the essential films of the genre. The Chinese martial arts movie is generally split into two primary subgeneres: the kung fu film and the wuxia film. The kung fu film is newer and focuses primarily on hand-to-hand combat, it’s steeped in traditional fighting forms and there’s a general emphasis on the physical skill of the performer: special effects are generally disdained. Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are its most famous practitioners and Lau Kar-leung its most important director.

Wuxia is a much older form, based ultimately in the long tradition of Chinese adventure literature, in classic novels such as The Water Margin or Journey to the West, or more contemporary works by authors like Louis Cha and Gu Long. Its heroes follow a very specific code of honor as they navigate the jianghu, an underworld of outlaws and bandits outside the normal streams of civilization. Wuxia films often incorporate fantasy elements, using special effects to allow their heroes to fly, shoot concentrated chi energy out of their hands (or eyes) and in other ways violate the laws of physics. Strictly speaking, wuxia should probably be confined to stories of code-following traveling knights-errant, but genres are a fluid and conventional thing, especially in Hong Kong, where films regularly mash together comedy, action, romance, melodrama and horror elements into a single impure whole, and as such, stark lines are difficult to draw. King Hu and Tsui Hark are the essential wuxia directors, and Jet Li, Ti Lung and Jimmy Wang Yu the genre’s greatest stars. The following is a list of 30 of the genre’s highlights, taking a reasonably expansive view of generic boundaries and arranged in chronological order:

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