Back in the Spring, Alex Garland's dulcet sci-fi Ex Machina was making the rounds on the arthouse circuit, earning strong notices for its heady ruminations on consciousness and artificial intelligence, and especially for Alicia Vikander's enigmatic robotic performance.
Many a pundit foresaw 2015 being a breakout year for Swedish ingenue Vinkander, appearing in four domestic releases. She may even land an Oscar nomination for the upcoming awards-courting biopic The Danish Girl, but this effort is what planted her flag as a star-in-the-making with legit talent. Her sentient A.I., Ava as she's called, is a complex, beguiling creation with a lot more going on under her skin than hyrdaulics and circuitry.
I also took an hour and a bit out of my busy schedule to distract myself with Aardman's summer romp Shaun the Sheep. I don't remember half of the visual gags or slapstick guffaws, despite the fact that they did indeed make me "guffaw", but this is very much a hallmark of the beloved British claymation studio.
Meanwhile, shaking (rather than stirring) up the box office for two straight weeks was our reliable Mr. Bond in Spectre -- reliable both in his covert sleuthing and in his ability to pack movie houses globally. Surely, though, we can attribute some of its bank to piggybacking on the success of Skyfall, to which this new effort doesn't hold a candle.
MVPs? I'd have to give DoP Hoyte van Hoytema and composer Thomas Newman the hat tips there, for at least making Spectre look and sound like a film that should have a stronger script. LVP? Christoph Waltz. Future generations will look back and wonder how the hell this guy managed to milk a multi-Oscar-winning career out of doing the exact same character in every single movie.