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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The 2015 RyMickey Awards - Best Ensemble

While I don't think Best Ensemble is a category the Oscars can honor, I appreciate the Screen Actors Guild for having this be their top award every year.  While they have some silly rules determining who makes up "the ensemble" (the person has to be billed on their own title card on the screen), the RyMickey Awards do no such thing.  The point of an ensemble is honoring some of those "lesser known" folks whose agents may not have the pull to get them their own singular title card, but who nevertheless add to the overall story and aesthetic of the film.  Now, I'm not saying my awards are more prestigious than a SAG award, but they sometimes make a lot more sense.

The biggest difficulty I faced this year in this category (which is one of my favorites) was the fact that there were several fantastic films with relatively small casts that excelled in the acting department.  I had to draw the line somewhere and I will admit to giving a little more credence to films with bigger casts when it comes to this award.

Best Ensembles of 2015
(SoN = Streaming on Netflix // SoA = Streaming on Amazon // SoH = Streaming on HBO)

The Magnificent Duos
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong - Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg (SoN)
The Last Five Years - Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan (SoN)
Wanted to give a quick shout-out to the two films mentioned above.  Seeing as how there were essentially only two speaking roles in each film, I couldn't quite give them spots in the Ensemble category.  That said, the two duos excelled as they played off each other and created believable relationships.

(in alphabetical order)
Everest (SoH)
McFarland, USA 
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (SoH)

Honorable Mentions
#10 - Spotlight (SoN)
Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Brian d'Arcy James, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Jamey Sheridan, Billy Crudup, Len Cariou, and Michael Cyril Creighton

#9 - Danny Collins (SoA)
Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Plummer, Nick Offerman, Josh Peck, Melisa Benoist, and Giselle Eisenberg

O'Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown, Jr., Aldis Hodge, and Paul Giamatti

#7 - The Big Short (SoN)
Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, John Magaro, Finn Witrock, Hamish Linklater, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Adepero Oduye, Marisa Tomei, Melissa Leo, and Brad Pitt

Billy Crudup, Michael Angarano, Moises Arias, Nicholas Braun, Gaius Charles, Nelsan Ellis, Keir Gilchrist, Ki Hong Lee, Thomas Mann, Ezra Miller, Logan Miller, Chris Sheffield, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, James Wolk, and Olivia Thirlby 

And the Top Five...

#5 - Circle
Fifty relatively unknown actors -- the epitome of an ensemble -- full list found here
While Circle may not be the best film on this list and, quite frankly, may not have the cast that moved me emotionally in any way, it's pretty difficult to not include it on this list.  A cast of relatively unknown actors -- some character actors you may have seen before, some bit actors presumably struggling to make a living, some making their debut -- stand around a circle and talk for ninety minutes as one by one they are killed by a mysterious entity.  Despite a heavy premise, this low budget film is all about the talking and, naturally, actors must carry the burden of the script and these folks do a great job of communicating the terror of their story. (SoN)

Golshifteh Farahani, Shahab Hosseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Mani Haghighi, Merila Zarei, Peyman Moaadi, Ahmad Mehranfar, Rana Azadivar, and Saber Abar
A talented cast with a script that gives characters individualization while being inherently steeped in its Iranian culture, About Elly isn't so much about the mystery that drives its story, but rather the characters' reactions to said mystery.  (SoN)

Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Issac, and Sonoya Mizuno
Ex Machina would perhaps have inched its way to the #2 spot (maybe) had there been more than the only three major characters that drive the story.  Still, Gleeson, Vikander, and Isaac keep this incredibly talky piece compelling while adding layers to their characters that are rather unexpected in science fiction films such as this. (SoA)

Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Perla Haney-Jardine, Ripley Sobo, and Mackenzie Moss
Masterfully executing screenwriter Aaron Sorkin's incredibly quick dialog is a difficult task and the entire ensemble of Steve Jobs excels in this area.  Not only that, but none of them come off as being overly loquacious, instead using the dialog to further their characters' emotional drives.  (SoH Sept. 24)

#1 - Brooklyn
Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Julie Walters, Jane Brennan, Fiona Glascott, Jessica Paré, Eva Birthistle, Eileen O'Higgins, Eve Macklin, Emily Bett Rickards, Nora-Jane Noone, Jenn Murray, Brid Brennan, Mary O'Driscoll, and James DiGiacomo
The dinner table scenes in Brooklyn are pitch perfect examples of how an ensemble should be created by a casting director.  Some of these folks aren't even in any other scenes in the movie, but they've created characters in their short time onscreen that feel lived-in, real, and relatable.  Even beyond the dinner table sequences, the entire acting ensemble (from an Irish-American who speaks a few lines in a courthouse to a co-worker at the department store who has one scene opposite the main character) is so finely assembled that it's impossible not to fall in love with everything you're seeing onscreen.  Add to that, a fantastic leading cast with nary a bad apple in the bunch and you've got a film that you must see. (SoH)

Previous RyMickey Award Winners
2014   ---   2013   ---   2012
2011   ---   2010   ---   2009

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