It’s almost time for the Oscars again, which means it’s time to set aside the trivial things in life and ask ourselves the truly important questions: What designer will Lady Gaga be wearing at the ceremony? What political cause will get referenced in the most acceptance speeches? And which famous dead person will get the honor of closing out the “In Memoriam” montage?
In an effort to trim away the production's usual 28-hour run time, the powers-that-be were all set to assign some of the "less cool" awards to commercial breaks. This did not go over well. But if the academy really wants to keep those precious viewer eyes glued to our glowing flat screens, here are a few new award categories to mark the best (and worst) of 2018:
Best movie that should have come out in December:
“Solo: A Star Wars Story”
A late 2018 release wouldn’t have fixed all the issues for Ron Howard’s still-better-than-the-prequels-but-not-nearly-as-good-as-the-originals Han Solo origin story. But a little more distance from the polarizing “Last Jedi” would have helped.
Best documentary about a crazy person climbing El Capitan:
If you were looking for great stories about rock climbing last year, you couldn’t have done better than 2018’s “Free Solo” and “The Dawn Wall.” But unlike the guys in “Dawn Wall,” “Free Solo’s” protagonist was climbing without ropes.
Best family-friendly sequel:
2018 delivered a host of strong-if-not-great family franchise sequels, like “Incredibles 2,” “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and “Sicario 2” (kidding). But none of them could match the charming wit and creative visuals of “Paddington 2.”
Best soundtrack for a so-so movie:
“Bad Times at the El Royale”
Sometimes the silver lining of a mediocre movie is a gem or two on the soundtrack. “Bad Times at the El Royale” wasn’t quite “mediocre,” but without its classic Motown and Phil Spector-infused soundtrack, it would have been utterly forgettable.
Most tragic third act twist:
This creative Peter Jackson-produced post-apocalyptic steampunk sci-fi was already starting to feel a little Star Wars-ish before the story pulled an “Empire Strikes Back” twist that closed a promising movie on a flat note.
Fastest crane climb by a character with a prosthetic limb:
Dwayne Johnson in “Skyscraper”
My “the Rock makes everything better” theory took a hit in 2018. Here’s hoping “Fighting with my Family” and “Hobbs & Shaw” are better than “Skyscraper” and “Rampage.” We need good Rock movies in our lives.
Best gift to '80s kids:
The children of the 1980s have been in vogue for a while, but few gifts felt sweeter in 2018 than a “Transformers” movie that wasn’t terrible, and actually captured the spirit of the original franchise.
Best feature-length ad for Ancestry.com:
“Three Identical Strangers”
People tell me periodically that I look like Bruce Willis, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to find out I was actually Bruce Willis’s long-lost brother. And then find out we were triplets. And then find out we were part of an elaborate sociological experiment after living it up in the 1980s Manhattan party scene.
Best giant-sized celebrity (talk show host division):
Oprah Winfrey, “A Wrinkle in Time”
So, who would win in a fight between a 100-foot-tall Paul Rudd and a 100-foot-tall Oprah Winfrey? Come on, Disney: give the people what they want.
Best ending that is about to become completely undone:
“The Avengers: Infinity War”
Marvel, if you want to imbue your movies with genuine stakes, don’t “kill off” characters who already have new standalone movies on the release calendar. Not that it matters, I suppose.
Best film to see in a theater:
“A Quiet Place”
In a world of glowing screens, constant chatter and chair-kicking (the biggest drawback to stadium seating), John Krasinski’s riveting little horror movie did the best job of reminding us that audiences can still behave in a theater together.
Most tedious expansion of a pre-existing universe:
“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”
I’ve never been the “George Lucas ruined my childhood” type, but as with the "Star Wars" prequels and the "Hobbit" movies, the "Fantastic Beasts" series is yet another case of a franchise that just needs to put on the brakes and let well enough alone.
Best excuse to give Sherlock Holmes a rest:
“Holmes and Watson”
Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly’s milquetoast buddy comedy was a good sign that we might have reached pop culture saturation for the deductive detective.