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Brisbane Film Critics Select 'Mad Max: Fury Road' As Best Of 2015


Since 2011, I have been pulling together a list of the best movies of the year according to the Brisbane-based critics who I run into regularly at preview screenings.  Those films to have topped prior year lists have been Drive in 2011, Argo in 2012, Gravity in 2013, and Boyhood in 2014.

To come up with an overall top 10, I’ve used a simple points system and applied it to the list of each critic. It is as follows:
  3 points – the top film on each list.
  2 points – the films ranked between 2nd and 5th on each list.
  1 point – the films ranked between 6th and 10th on each list.


If two films finished on the same score, the film that appeared on the most number of top 10 lists is ranked higher (as an indication of wider approval).

This year there was a clear winner - Mad Max: Fury Road.   The film featured on 9 of the 12 top ten lists with 4 critics naming it as their top choice.  The film is expected to perform strongly when the Academy Award nominations are unveiled in a few weeks.


Critics were divided when it came to the other selections.  Only 3 films appeared on at least 50% of the top ten lists - Birdman, Inside Out and Sicario

On that note, here are the top 10 movies of 2015 according to Brisbane critics…
 

Brisbane Film Critics - Top 10 Of 2015
  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Birdman
3. Inside Out
4. Sicario
5. It Follows
5. The Lobster
7. Foxcatcher
8. Selma
9. Ex Machina
10. Macbeth

You can view a table of all the votes and final scores by clicking here.

A big thanks to all the critics who were able to contribute. Hopefully we'll do it again next year!

You can check out information on all the Brisbane critics (along with their choices for the best and worst of 2015) below.

 

 

Matthew ToomeyMatthew Toomey

Born in Brisbane, Matt Toomey was introduced to the world of cinema when he landed a job at a video store fresh out of high school in 1995. A few years later, he started his own website and reviewed movies regularly on a community radio station. In 2005, he joined the team at 612ABC and can be heard reviewing the latest releases every Thursday on Brisbane’s highest rated breakfast program with Spencer Howson. He can also be heard weekly on ABC Wide Bay, Capricornia and Southern Queensland.

Website: www.thefilmpie.com
Twitter: @ToomeyMatt

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Inside Out
2. Selma
3. Mad Max: Fury Road
4. The Diary Of A Teenage Girl
5. The Walk
6. Citizenfour
7. Straight Outta Compton
8. Leviathan
9. Still Alice
10. Sicario
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
Citizen Four
Best Performance:
Bel Powley (The Diary Of A Teenage Girl)
Worst Film:
Ruben Guthrie
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Shaun The Sheep Movie
Inside Out

 

Sarah WardSarah Ward

Sarah Ward is a freelance film critic, arts writer, and film festival organiser. She is a film reviewer and feature writer for artsHub, the Australian critic for Screen, a senior writer for Concrete Playground, the editor of Trespass Magazine, and a contributor to FilmInk, Metro Magazine and Screen Education. Her work has been published by the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Junkee, Lumina, Senses of Cinema, SBS Film, Televised Revolution, At The Cinema, and the World Film Locations book series. Sarah also chats about film weekly on ABC radio Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and the ABC's national digital channel.

Websites: www.artshub.com.au
www.trespassmag.com
www.concreteplayground.com
www.filmink.com.au
www.screendaily.com/reviews

Twitter: @swardplay

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Macbeth
2. The Lobster
3. Ex Machina
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Inside Out
6. A Most Violent Year
7. Selma
8. Sicario
9. Far From The Madding Crowd
10. Far From Men
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Carol
2. The Club
3. Brooklyn
4. The Forbidden Room
5. Heart Of A Dog
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
Cobain: Montage Of Heck
Best Performance:
David Oyelowo (Selma)
Worst Film:
Entourage
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Jupiter Ascending
Macbeth

 

Laurence BarberLaurence Barber

Laurence Barber is a film and television critic and freelance writer based in Brisbane. His writing appears regularly at Graffiti with Punctuation, SBS, and Metro Magazine, and his work has been featured at The Guardian, Senses of Cinema, Crikey, The Age, Archer Magazine and News.com.au.

Websites: www.letterboxd.com/Laurence
Twitter: @bortlb

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Inside Out
3. Mommy
4. Inherent Vice
5. A Most Violent Year
6. The Dressmaker
7. Ex Machina
8. Bridge Of Spies
9. Clouds Of Sils Maria
10. Selma
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Arabian Nights, Volumes 1-3
2. Carol
3. 45 Years
4. The Club
5. The Treasure
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Film:
World Of Tomorrow
Best Documentary:
The Salt Of The Earth
Best Performance:
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Worst Film:
Entourage
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
The Age Of Adaline
Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Baz McAlisterBaz McAlister

Baz McAlister is the editor of Qweekend magazine. A blow-in from the wilds of Northern Ireland, he started watching horror films at the age of ten and never fully recovered.

Website: bazmcalister.wordpress.com
Twitter: @bazmcalister

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Kingsman: The Secret Service
4. Ex Machina
5. The Martian
6. Birdman
7. It Follows
8. The Visit
9. '71
10. Top Five
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
He Named Me Malala
Best Performance:
Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
Worst Film:
Jupiter Ascending
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Fantastic Four
Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Garry WilliamsGarry Williams

Garry Williams is a reviewer for the 4ZZZ-FM Film Club broadcast each Thursdays from 6-7pm on 102.1FM.

Website: 4zzzfm.org.au/program/film-club
Twitter: n/a

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Amy
2. Youth
3. Going Clear: Scientology & The Prison Of Belief
4. Birdman
5. Foxcatcher
6. The Martian
7. Cobain: Montage Of Heck
8. Avengers: Age Of Ultron
9. Sicario
10. Truth
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Experimenter
2. My Ordinary Love Story
3. Filmed In Supermarionation
4. Drunk Stoned Brillaint Dead: The Story Of National Lampoon
5. A Sinner In Mecca
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Dressmaker
Best Animated Film:
When Marnie Was There
Best Documentary:
Amy
Best Performance:
Michael Shannon (99 Homes)
Worst Film:
50 Shades Of Grey
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Magic Mike XXL
Amy

 

David EdwardsDavid Edwards

David Edwards is the editor and film critic for The Blurb, a website that provides the latest news and reviews for arts entertainment in Australia.

Website: www.theblurb.com.au
Twitter: @TheBlurbMag

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Birdman
2. Clouds Of Sils Maria
3. Foxcatcher
4. Macbeth
5. Mistress America
6. Ex Machina
7. The Lobster
8. Me & Earl & The Dying Girl
9. Trainwreck
10. Sicario
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Carol
2. The Revenant
3. Sisters
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
Amy
Best Performance:
Juliette Binoche & Kristen Stewart (Clouds Of Sils Maria)
Worst Film:
Chappie
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
The Gift
Birdman

 

Peter GrayPeter Gray

Peter Gray is a Brisbane based freelance entertainment writer specialising in film. Currently the entertainment reporter/film reviewer for QNews, Queensland’s largest LGBT publication, and regular contributor to M/C Reviews and Hush Hush Biz.

Website: hushhushbiz.com
qnews.com.au
Twitter: @ratedPDG

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Birdman
3. It Follows
4. Sicario
5. Foxcatcher
6. Inside Out
7. Spy
8. Top Five
9. The Dressmaker
10. The Martian
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. The Revenant
2. Spotlight
3. The Big Short
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road & Cut Snake
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
Amy
Best Performance:
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Worst Film:
The Gallows
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
The DUFF
Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Gary McDonaldGary McDonald

35 years ago Gary’s movie career began as Publicist in film distribution in Australia and later Internationally.  He moved onto journalism, television production and freelance film work.  His 1st reviews were published late 70’s in full gloss colour street mag ‘Me’.  Over 3 decades reviewing film and tv, he is now with Fairfax Media 4BC and ABC.  His philosophy is ‘Don’t talk about it unless you have seen it’. Gary has current film and television production underway in the UK and USA.  Remember: ‘A good movie reminds us to feel’.

Website: n/a
Twitter: n/a

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. The Theory Of Everything
2. Leviathan
3. The Imitation Game
4. Sicario
5. Far From The Madding Crowd
6. Love & Mercy
7. Southpaw
8. Birdman
9. Foxcatcher
10. In The Heart Of The Sea
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. An
2. The Look Of Silence
3. Theeb
4. Carol
5. Grandma
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Paper Planes
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
That Sugar Film
Best Performance:
Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
Worst Film:
50 Shades Of Grey & Pixels
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Theory Of Everything

 

Dave CreweDave Crewe

Dave is a full-time teacher and part-time freelance film critic. You can mostly find his work at ccpopculture, but he’s also been published by the likes of The Guardian, SBS, Metro Magazine, Screen Education, Junkee and The Big Issue.

Website: ccpopculture.com
Twitter: @dacrewe

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. It Follows
2. The Lobster
3. Infinitely Polar Bear
4. Sicario
5. Dope
6. The Dressmaker
7. Mad Max: Fury Road
8. Foxcatcher
9. 99 Homes
10. Creed
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Sherpa
2. Beyond The Lights
3. Tehran Taxi
4. Spotlight
5. Carol
 
 
Best Australian Film:
The Dressmaker
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
Cobain: Montage Of Heck & Herpa
Best Performance:
Bel Powley (The Diary Of A Teenage Girl)
Worst Film:
Entourage
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Jurassic World
It Follows

 

Jesse ThompsonJesse Thompson

Jesse Thompson is a film critic and radio producer. He contributes to ey-based film reviewing website 4:3 Film and expresses opinions on new release movies each Thursday from 6pm on 4ZzZ’s Film Club.

Website: www.fourthreefilm.com
Website: www.4zzzfm.org.au/program/film-club
Twitter: @je_thom_

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Clouds Of Sils Maria
2. It Follows
3. Sicario
4. Inside Out
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
6. Mommy
7. Selma
8. Inherent Vice
9. The Salt Of The Earth
10. Magic Mike XXL
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. The Assassin
2. Cemetery Of Splendour
3. Hill Of Freedom
4. Breathe
5. Results
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
The Look Of Silence
Best Performance:
Kristen Stewart (Clouds Of Sils Maria)
Worst Film:
Chappie
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
We Are Your Friends
Clouds Of Sils Maria

 

Ella DonaldElla Donald

Ella is a journalism and arts student who decided to start writing reviews when she was 16 because she had too much fun defending why she loved Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch. In addition to writing for her blog Monumental Pictures, her writing has also been featured on many publications, including The Seventh Row, where she is an editor, and An Online Universe. When she’s not trying to write about everything she’d like to she enjoys calling out bad French in English language films, fangirling over various actors, and arguing about Awards Season.

Website: monumentalpictures.wordpress.com
Twitter: @_pingus

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Mistress America
3. Wild
4. The Dressmaker
5. The Lobster
6. A Most Violent Year
7. Selma
8. Mommy
9. Top Five & Magic Mike XXL
10. Girlhood
 
 
Top Unreleased Films:
1. Carol
2. Respire
3. Spotlight
4. Brooklyn
5. Mustang
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road & The Dressmaker
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Performance:
Carey Mulligan (Suffragette), Kristen Stewart (Clouds Of Sils Maria), Suzanne Clement (Mommy)
Worst Film:
Irrational Man
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Paper Towns
Mad Max: Fury Road

 

Shayne GrieveShayne Grieve

Shayne has successfully been able to manipulate his addiction and obsession with film into a full time career. When not attempting to moonlight as a film critic, you can find him indoctrinating the youth in his Film and TV classes. Huge genre fan. Bigger geek. He tears up frequently when attending the cinema. Editor-in-chief @ www.thisisfilm.com. Also contributes to Scene Magazine and Moustache Magazine.

Website: www.thisisfilm.com
Twitter: @ShayneTIF

 
 
Top 10 Released Films:
1. Birdman
2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. The Lobster
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Macbeth
6. Ex Machina
7. Inside Out
8. It Follows
9. Selma
10. Beasts Of No Nation
 
 
Best Australian Film:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Film:
Inside Out
Best Documentary:
None
Best Performance:
Marion Cotillard & Michael Fassbender (Macbeth)
Worst Film:
Fantastic Four
Most Surprised To Enjoy:
Dope, Spy, Unfriended
Birdman

Matt's Top 10 Films Of 2015


For the 20th time, I’ve put together my annual top 10 of the year!  You can check out all my previous lists by clicking here.  I went through the list on 612ABC Brisbane a week or so ago and we took a few calls from listeners.  You can listen to the podcast here.

I’ve seen 190 films in 2015 which isn’t too bad I guess.  I missed a few of the smaller releases but it’s tough juggling up all aspects of one’s life to see so many movies.

I must briefly mention my worst films of the year – Ruben Guthrie, Mortdecai, Hot Pursuit, Fantastic Four, Alex & Eve, The Wedding Ringer, Aloha, Absolutely Anything, Get Hard, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, The Interview, Dumb & Dumber To and Burnt.  That’s enough about them.

Honourable mentions for my best of the year list go to Unbroken, Birdman, Legend, The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby, It Follows, Southpaw, ’71, Mr Holmes, Shaun The Sheep Movie, Holding The Man, Spy, Wild Tales and Madame Bovary.

On that note though, here are my top 10 films of 2015 in reverse order…


Top 10 Films Of 2015
 

Sicario

10. Sicario (out Sep 24) is a stylishly shot thriller about a group of "law enforcement" agents who start acting outside of the law in pursuit of a greater good - bringing down the head of a Mexican drug cartel. Deftly illustrating the blurry line between right and wrong, this is great stuff. Super performances from Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin.


Still Alice

9. Still Alice (out Jan 29) is a moving drama centred on a fifty-something woman (Julianne Moore) battling the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. It's more than just a tear jerker though. The film's even-handed look at the changing family dynamic is interesting and thought provoking..


Leviathan

8. Leviathan (out Mar 26) is a Russian drama that earned a foreign language Oscar nomination. Director Andrey Zvyagintsev challenges the audience by not showing several key events. As a result, you need to focus not on what happens... but rather how characters react. The plot is forever shifting and this is a riveting, unsettling piece of cinema.


Straight Outta Compton

7. Straight Outta Compton (out Sep 3) chronicles the rise of a group of African American rappers (including Ice Cube and Dr. Dre) in the late 1980s. This film has it all - comedy, drama, tragedy and contract law. Some have been critical of its factual accuracy but I found it be an absorbing look inside a world previously unfamiliar to me.


Citizenfour

6. Citizenfour (out Feb 19) is something quite special. It's a riveting documentary that takes us inside the world of Edward Snowden as he blew the whistle on the National Security Authority's secret surveillance activities in 2013. The actions of the NSA will shock. The approach of Snowden will intrigue.


The Walk

5. The Walk (out Oct 15) tells the incredible true story of Philippe Petit. In 1974, he rigged a metal wire between the rooves of the World Trade Centre towers in New York City and used it as a tight rope. Perhaps my fear of heights was a contributing factor but this provides a film-going experience unlike anything I’ve seen this year. Shot using astonishing 3D imagery, it left me with sweaty palms and a light head.


The Diary Of A Teenage Girl

4. The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (out Sep 24) is riveting, disturbing and thought-provoking. Based on the graphic novel and set in the 1970s, it's centered on a 15-year-old girl who enters into a purely sexual relationship with her mother's 35-year-old boyfriend. Not often you see a film that asks so many questions of its characters.


Mad Max: Fury Road

3. Mad Max: Fury Road (out May 14) is one of the more creative action films that we’ve seen in recent years. It begins with a well-choreographed chase sequence that never really stops. Except for a handful of very short detours, this is two hours of unrelenting warfare. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an action film with less dialogue. Intense and easily to follow.


Selma

2. Selma (out Feb 12) was the last of the Academy's best picture nominees to make it to Australia but it was worth the wait. It's a fascinating exploration at the tactics used by Martin Luther King to change voter registration laws in Alabama 1965. Great performances. Great film.


Inside Out

1. Inside Out (out Jun 18) is a Pixar animated feature that takes us inside the head of a vibrant, impressionable 11-year-old girl. It’s a fascinating concept that is rich in detail. The film’s most impressive attribute is the way it explores human emotions and the way they are so often intertwined. A stunning achievement that blends creativity, humour and emotion.
 

Matt's First Predictions In The 2016 Oscars Race


Each November, I throw my hat in the ring with a few early awards season predictions.  The first critics groups announce in early December and then the Golden Globe nominations are revealed on December 10.  By then, the race will be well and truly in progress as we lead up to the Oscars on 28 February 2016.

Not many contenders have already been released in Australian cinemas.  That small list includes Bridge Of Spies, Black Mass, Inside Out, Straight Outta Compton, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian.

Here’s a look at the films being released in Australia over the next few months that are generating some buzz (with the plot overview taken from the IMDB)…

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Release Date:  17 December 2015
Director:  J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Into Darkness)
Starring:  Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong'o
Plot:  A continuation of the saga created by George Lucas and set thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983).

Joy
Release Date:  26 December 2015
Director:  David O. Russell (The Fight, Silver Linings Playbook)
Starring:  Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, Virginia Madsen
Plot:  Joy is the story of a family across four generations and the woman who rises to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.

Suffragette
Release Date:  26 December 2015
Director:  Sarah Gavron (Brick Lane)
Starring:  Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, Brendan Gleeson, Ben Wishaw, Meryl Streep
Plot:  The foot soldiers of the early feminist movement, women who were forced underground to pursue a dangerous game of cat and mouse with an increasingly brutal State.

The Revenant
Release Date:  7 January 2016
Director:  Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman, Babel)
Starring:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter
Plot:  In the 1820s, a frontiersman, Hugh Glass, sets out on a path of vengeance against those who left him for dead after a bear mauling.

Carol
Release Date:  14 January 2016
Director:  Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Velvet Goldmine)
Starring:  Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Sarah Paulson, Jake Lacy, Kyle Chandler
Plot:  Set in 1950s New York, a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman.

The Big Short
Release Date:  14 January 2016
Director:  Adam McKay (Step Brothers, The Other Guys)
Starring:  Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Finn Wittrock
Plot:  Four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed.

The Hateful Eight
Release Date:  21 January 2016
Director:  Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained)
Starring:  Jennifer Jason Leigh, Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen
Plot:  In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?

The Danish Girl
Release Date:  21 January 2016
Director:  Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Miserables)
Starring:  Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts, Ben Wishaw, Amber Heard
Plot:  The remarkable love story inspired by the lives of artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Lili and Gerda's marriage and work evolve as they navigate Lili's ground breaking journey as a transgender pioneer.

Spotlight
Release Date:  28 January 2016
Director:  Tom McCarthy (The Visitor, The Station Agent)
Starring:  Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, Stanley Tucci
Plot:  The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core.

Room
Release Date:  28 January 2016
Director:  Lenny Abrahamson (Frank, What Richard Did)
Starring:  Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers
Plot:  After five-year-old Jack and his mother escape from the enclosed surroundings that Jack has known his entire life, the boy makes a thrilling discovery: the outside world.

Steve Jobs
Release Date:  4 February 2016
Director:  Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours)
Starring:  Michael Fassbender, Kate Winset, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Sarah Snook
Plot:  Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac.

Brooklyn
Release Date:  11 February 2016
Director:  John Crowley (A Boy, Intermission)
Starring:  Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhnall Gleeson, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent
Plot:  An Irish immigrant lands in 1950s Brooklyn, where she quickly falls into a new romance. When her past catches up with her, however, she must choose between two countries and the lives that exist within.

My early predictions for best picture in order of likelihood are: 1. Spotlight, 2. Joy, 3. The Martian, 4. Bridge Of Spies, 5. The Revenant, 6. Brooklyn, 7. Inside Out, 8. Room, 9. The Hateful Eight, 10. Straight Outta Compton.

For best actor, I have to lean towards Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) because he’s well overdue with 4 previous defeats.

Brie Larson (Room) has the front runner status in the best actress category but I’ve seen Brooklyn (it’s brilliant) and so am going with Saoirse Ronan in a huge upset.

Best supporting actor is wide open but as a feature member of Spotlight’s ensemble cast and an unlucky loser last year, my tip is Michael Keaton.

The best supporting actress category appears to be going the way of Rooney Mara (Carol) and it’s hard to bet against here.

I’ve only wagered one bet in this year’s Oscars race so far and that’s $300 on Spotlight to win best picture at odds of $5.00.  It’s the early favourite but as we know, a lot can happen over the coming months.

Interview - Writer-Director Jocelyn Moorhouse On 'The Dressmaker'

Jocelyn Moorhouse

It’s been a record year at the box-office for Australian cinema and the next film trying to add to that total is The Dressmaker.  I spoke with writer-director Jocelyn Moorhouse about the film…

Matt:  You won an AFI award in 1991 for directing Proof and you followed that up with How To Make An American Quilt in 1995 and A Thousand Acres in 1997.  That was your last directorial credit though.  What have you been up to for the past 18 years?

Jocelyn:  My life has been extremely busy and complicated.  I have four children and two of them have autism.  That means that your life changes insanely.  You’re not just their loving parent but you sort of become their therapist as well.

Matt:  Some moments in this film are incredibly light while others are incredibly dark.  It’s such a wild ride.  How easy is it to balance up those varied tones when pulling this film together?

Jocelyn:  I like to think of it as an emotional rollercoaster.  I loved that in the book, you never knew where the author was taking you.  One minute you’re laughing your head off and the next minute you find that you’ve been deeply moved.  I wanted to do the same thing with the movie.  It wanted it to be entertaining, involving and constantly surprising.  It was a tricky balancing act when putting it all together.  Editor Jill Bilcock is one of Australian’s best and she helped make sure that things didn’t get too sad or insane at times. 

Matt:  Without giving anything away, I love the final scene in this movie.  I know it’s important to get everything right in a movie but does extra thought go into that final scene?  To end the film on just the right note?

Jocelyn:  Absolutely.  You have to have to have a big, fantastic finish and that was my goal.  I wanted the audience to be blown away and to then carry the film in their hearts as they left the cinema.  I’m glad you liked it.

Matt:  Kate Winslet is a huge name of any director to be able to attach to their film.  How did you get her on board?

Jocelyn:  I set her quite a few “love letters” with the script attached.  I told her how much I was a fan since he burst onto the scene at 17 years of age with Heavenly Creatures.  I remember seeing that film and going “where did this amazing young girl come from?”  It was then a waiting game.  She gets sent so many scripts a year and she only does 1-2 movies.  I knew it was a long shot but our patience was eventually rewarded.  She finally read the script and said how much she loved Tilly. 

Matt:  I’m a golf tragic so I have to ask – can Kate Winslet actually hit a golf ball?

Jocelyn:  Kate practiced very hard to do the few swings that she did in the movie.  She’s brilliant at other things but I wouldn’t say that golf is her strong suit.

Matt:  She’s been one of my favourite actresses for a long time but Judy Davis is fantastic in this.  She’s such a horrible character at times but she’s also incredibly endearing.  Did she have a lot of fun creating Molly Dunnage?

Jocelyn:  Judy had a blast.  She really loved this character.  She was so excited to play such a cantankerous but hilarious person.  She loves doing comedy so she was happy to sink her teeth into it.

Matt:  What was Hugo Weaving’s first reaction when you showed him the script and his character?

Jocelyn:  Hugo is an old friend of mine so when I approached him, he was doing Macbeth at the Sydney Theatre Company.  He was extremely broody and hairy and masculine.  I then hand him this script and he said this is the exact opposite of what I’m doing right now.  I don’t want to give too much away but he was quite happy to flirt with his feminine side.

Matt:  The film has a huge ensemble cast of recognisable names.  Along with the major stars, there are people like Caroline Goodall, Shane Jacobson, Kerry Fox, Barry Otto, Rebecca Gibney, and Shane Bourne.  Were they all chasing you?  Or were you chasing them?

Jocelyn:  Once word got around that I was making with the film with Kate and Judy, that helped to get a lot of really amazing actors on board.  They all wanted to work with my two girls and they all thought it was a fantastic story.  I was really lucky to have the cream of Australian talent in this film.

Matt:  The film screened at the Toronto Film Festival back in September.  What was it like being there and what sort of reactions did you receive from American audiences?

Jocelyn:  It’s an enormous festival actually.  So many people attend and it was terrifying.  There was a giant red carpet and it screened in the Roy Thompson Hall which holds about 2,400 people.  It was an intimidating screening.  When the movie finished, they all stood up and cheered and gave us a standing ovation.  I nearly cried.  It was pretty emotional.

Matt:  Has there been any interest in releasing the film in America and elsewhere overseas?

Jocelyn:  Definitely.  We’ve already sold it to 21 countries and we’re very close to an American sale.  It’s terribly exciting.

Matt:  We seem to go through peaks and troughs when it comes to Australian cinema.  Adjusted for inflation, this has been our highest grossing year for Aussie films since 2001.  Do you have a view on the sorts of films we should be making?

Jocelyn:  Filmmakers need to be adventurous and try some new stuff.  A lot of original films have come out this year that also have strong stories.  Audiences are reacting to that.  They’re going along and having a good time and enjoying these Australian films.  Word of mouth is getting out too which is an important thing.

Matt:  I’m interested to see what the word of mouth is going to be like with The Dressmaker because there are plenty of surprises in this too.

Jocelyn:  There are a lot of surprises.  I’ve been telling people not to give too much away to their friends.  Let them go and enjoy the ride.

Matt:  I’ll finish up by asking if you have anything in the works at the moment?  Tell me it won’t be another 18 year before you make another movie.

Jocelyn:  My kids are in a good situation now and they’re going to let mum keep making movies.  I’m writing a love story at the moment.  I enjoyed writing the stuff between Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth in this movie and I’m hungry to do more.