The inevitable result of any critics poll is conventional wisdom. By their nature, polls rule out individual eccentricities in favor of broad-based appeal: They tell you what everyone likes, which is why after a while, they all start to look the same. But The Skandies are different. The annual survey administered by A.V. Club and Las Vegas Weekly critic Mike D'Angelo boasts just 35 participants, including professional critics like Scott Tobias, Joshua Rothkopf, Noel Murray, Matt Prigge, programmers like the Quad's C. Mason Wells and the Wexner Center's Chris Stults, and devoted amateurs who see more movies than many people who get paid to do so, it's a group unlike any other, and so are its results.
Best Picture: "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Director: George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Actress: Rooney Mara, "Carol"
Best Actor: Michael B. Jordan, "Creed"
Best Supporting Actor: Oscar Isaac, "Ex Machina"
Best Supporting Actress: Kristen Stewart, "Clouds of Sils Maria"
Best Screenplay: Phyllis Nagy, "Carol"
Best Scene: "Speak Low," "Phoenix"
"Fury Road's" win for picture and director and Kirsten Stewart's for supporting actress put us in familiar territory. But after that, the Skandies start to diverge. Michael B. Jordan didn't pick up his first critics award until the National Society of Film Critics voted in January, and Rooney Mara's win for "Carol" is the first to acknowledge that her character is the movie's lead — or co-lead — and not go along with the Weinstein Company's opportunistic decision to pitch her as a supporting actress. (This point is not subject to debate: Oscarmetrics whiz Kevin B. Lee did the math.)
On his blog, D'Angelo runs down the 20 top vote-getters in every category and their history with the Skandies, and he also provides clips of most of the top 20 best scenes, which could very easily eat up several very happy hours of your day. The top two — "Phoenix's" shattering ending, which shouldn't be watched (and won't make sense) until you've seen the film, and "Creed's" single-shot boxing match — either aren't embeddable or aren't online at all, but here's #3, from Guy Maddin's phantasmagorical "The Forbidden Room":
Didn't see that one on too many lists, did you?
"The Forbidden Room" finished seventh in the Skandies' Top 10, which also includes Peter Strickland's "The Duke of Burgundy" and John Magary's "The Mend" — two very worthy movies that were almost wholly overlooked by other awards-giving bodies. If you're going to catch up on movies this week, skip the Academy's Best Picture nominees and try The Skandies' instead.
The Skandies' Top 10 Movies of 2015
1. "Mad Max: Fury Road"
3. "The Duke of Burgundy"
4. "Inside Out"
5. "The Mend"
7. "The Forbidden Room"
8. "The Hateful Eight"
9. "Clouds of Sils Maria"