Best picture: "Love and Mercy"
Runner-up: "Mad Max: Fury Road"
I thought for sure no movie would be better this year than the non-stop action extravaganza "Mad Max: Fury Road." Then I saw "Love and Mercy." What a powerful, inspiring film. The performances. The writing. The music. "Love and Mercy" is flawless. I cannot find one negative thing to say about this film. Whether you're a Beach Boys fan or not, this movie is so inspiring and really tugs at your heartstrings. It shows the struggles one man went through and how he pulled himself back up with the help of loved ones. This movie is not to be missed.
Best Director: George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road
Runner-up: Bill Pohlad, "Love and Mercy"
George Miller is 70 years old. 70! "Mad Max: Fury Road" is an unforgettable moviegoing experience, the perfect example of what a great action film looks like. All future directors of action films should use this film as a guide, and they should also seek out advice from George Miller.
Best actor: Paul Dano, "Love and Mercy"
Runner-up: Thomas Mann, "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"
As the young Brian Wilson, Paul Dano is spot-on. Not only does he look like Wilson, but he sings well and captures the true passion that he had for "Pet Sounds," his brainchild, an album that today is ranked as one of the greatest albums of all-time. Dano has been around for a while, and he continues to show his versatility as an actor with his best performance yet.
Best actress: Charlize Theron, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Runner-up: Olivia Cooke, "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"
Remember Sigourney Weaver in the "Alien" movies? She was the ultimate female bad-ass action star. Until now. Throughout Charlize Theron's career, she has demonstrated some real acting chops. Her performance in 2003's "Monster" was haunting and brutal, one of the greatest female performances of all-time in my personal opinion. She carries all of "Mad Max: Fury Road" with her physical and emotional strength. She is just outstanding.
Best supporting actor: John Cusack, "Love and Mercy"
Runner-up: Mark Duplass, "Creep" (might be considered actor, but to be honest, I couldn't really think of anyone else for this category).
John Cusack has been around forever, and he is great in everything, even if it's garbage ("Hot Tub Time Machine" comes to mind). It is hard to believe that he has never been nominated for an Oscar before. As the older Brian Wilson, he creates a portrait of a man who went through a very rough time in his life. I never knew the struggles Wilson had, and they are beautifully demonstrated by the incomparable Cusack. He is deserving of an Oscar nomination and win.
Best supporting actress: Elizabeth Banks, "Love and Mercy"
Runner-up: Cate Blanchett, "Cinderella"
What a year Elizabeth Banks is having. First, she proved that she has what it takes to be a successful director with the hilarious sequel "Pitch Perfect 2." Now, she delivers her strongest performance yet as Melinda Ledbetter, the woman who eventually married Brian Wilson and got him the real help that he needed. It is obvious how passionate she is about this role with every moment she is on screen. She and Cusack have an unbeatable chemistry. You really feel the love that sparks between them.
Best original screenplay: "Inside Out"
Runner-up: "Love and Mercy"
What a fantastic concept brought perfectly to life by Disney/Pixar. The thought of each of our main emotions as characters inside our head is pure genius. The story they came up with is so thoughtful and well-developed. This is one of Disney/Pixar's best.
Best adapted screenplay: "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl"
Runner-up: "Mad Max:Fury Road"
A very smart film about teenagers, "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" is, unfortunately, unseen by many. You don't even have to be in high school or young to enjoy it. It has something for everyone. The writing is very smart, and the teenagers are very smart in their interactions with each other and how they handle tough situations. Do yourself a favor and skip "Jurassic World" and "Avengers" and see this instead. Give the small films a chance!