Yes, it’s the end of 2018, it’s been a while, and it’s time to return to my favourite theme of the year: joke movie awards. Because there’s been enough both good and bad this year to deserve them, and I almost have as many jokes as there are Grammys.
There may be some barbs at 2017 movies as well, as I missed out on doing this last year. This set of awards is brought to you by the Cineworld Unlimited card, without which I wouldn’t see nearly as much rubbish as I do.
And as The Favourite isn’t out until 2019, I think I’ve seen pretty much everything that’s worth seeing that’s out this year. So let’s go…
[FYI: This blog has been edited to fix a typo, and a statement about Steven Spielberg changed because, unfortunately, I remembered about Crystal Skull. Further edits will also be noted here.]
Best Animated Movie: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Effortlessly fun, endlessly inventive, and appropriately respectful to almost every version of Spidey ever put on paper. The best thing Sony have done with any of their Marvel properties without supervision from the mothership, and hopefully the start of more (as long as Lord and Miller can stay in the loop.)
Hon mentions to Isle of Dogs (but then I am a Wes Anderson fan so I would wouldn’t I?), Incredibles 2, and Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Best Superhero Movie: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. See above.
Best Non-Animated Superhero Movie: Black Panther. Hon mentions (in order) to Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and even Aquaman. In fact, it would be a really strong year if it wasn’t for…
Worst Spinoff: Venom. Everyone at Sony, no matter what generation, appear to be obsessed with the idea that Venom is a good character and a decent one to build your spinoff around, rather than the terrible relic of Dork Age storytelling he actually is. And Tom Hardy is not going to save you.
Best Stunt: Tom Cruise quite literally breaking his leg while jumping between buildings in Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
Runners up: The rest of Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which has the single best set of cascading action sequences since Fury Road. The bathroom scene, the terrifying Paris car chase, the helicopter sequence, the dream sequence, the HALO jump, and on and on and on… Chris McQuarrie needs to keep making these until he actually does run out of steam.
Best Documentary: Science Fair, a National Geographic film following a set of students from various means and training levels (but all with tremendous ability) as their talents get them into a massive Intel-sponsored international science fair, held in Los Angeles. So well done.
Best LGBT+ Movie: The outstanding 120 BPM (Beats Per Minute), brilliantly evoking lives of protest, dance, liberation, and just about managing in the era of AIDS. Hon mention to Love Simon, which managed to make a classically constructed teen movie about a gay relationship without being preachy and with being generally charming.
Best Musical: Anna and the Apocalypse, a charming little tale about a Scottish high school girl whose worries and issues with a mediocre life in a place that is not Port Glasgow (but it was filmed there) are washed away by a sudden outbreak of viral zombies. Also, it’s set at Christmas. Brilliant.
Runner up: A Star Is Born, in which Lady Gaga shows that she actually can act – and well. I suspect she’s got the Oscar nailed down, but we shall see. And Mary Poppins Returns, which is very much a do-over with a massive Dawes ex machina as its ending, but a very nicely done one.
Best Moment in a Terrible Musical: Most of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is generally competent but completely dull; you don’t care about anyone, none of them sing anywhere near as good as Agnetha and Anni-Frid (although at least they only give Pierce two lines of S.O.S., bless him), and the plot is a complete nothing. And then almost as you’ve lost the will to live Cher turns up, and is Cher for four minutes, and it almost gets camp enough to work. It doesn’t, but not a bad try.
Best Villain: Daniel Kaluuya as the utterly compelling yet completely terrifying Jatemme Manning, an enforcer and live-wire for his up-and-coming big brother Jamal (an also terrific Brian Tyree Henry), in Steve McQueen’s excellent and underseen Widows. As far away from his Get Out role as it’s possible to get.
Best Supervillain: Michael B. Jordan’s compelling and somehow a little sympathetic Killmonger in Black Panther (which only makes him more fascinating.) Runner up: Thanos, obviously.
Best Ending: Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. FUCK ME.
Best Score: The at turns beautiful, mesmerising, creepy, and all of these things at once score created by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson for Mandy, a film that would be a lot less of an experience without it. Runners up: Daniel Pemberton following up his fantastically varied Guy Ritchie work with an actually good film on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and a decent one on All the Money in the World; plus the quite fun Cousteau-plus score on Aquaman by Rupert Gregson-Williams.
Worst Oscar Snub: That said score for Mandy doesn’t qualify for the Best Score Oscar because its American distributors sent it straight to the iTunes Store during its New York/Los Angeles qualifying run. (Even Netflix are smarter than this, possibly because they know that Roma is going to clean up big time.) Might not have got it, but it deserves a nomination.
Best Joke: Christopher Plummer reshooting all over Kevin Spacey on All the Money in the World, a film which was actually probably improved by the replacement (and which at least is better than Alien Covenant: well done Ridley.) But still not as good as Trust, which while a TV miniseries provided the Infamous to its Capote.
Worst Joke: Deadpool 2 fridging Vanessa (even if temporarily). Not quite as blatant a bad move as Kingsman: The Golden Circle‘s utter bullshit wiping out of every sympathetic female character in one go; but unlike Kingsman, Deadpool 2 was actually a good film and was also 2018.
Shoulda Been Rejected At The Pitch Stage: Four words – Eli Roth’s Death Wish. You don’t even need to add “starring a bored Bruce Willis” to make this seem more like a bad idea. Terrible, terrible, terrible.
This year also featured Show Dogs, which might also apply.
Least Appropriate BBFC Rating: I’d say the 15 for Death Wish, but that was at least a cut version; so I’ll go for the 15 for The Predator, in which a guy gets graphically bisected in the first five minutes (more graphic than a lot of the 18-rated Mandy).
Most Appropriate BBFC Rating: 15 for 120 BPM, a true sign of the times and an entirely reasonable one. Shame no teens will see it cause it’s French; they could really learn something.
Surprised At The Reaction: You would have thought from a lot of the Internet reaction that Ready Player One was a total disaster; in fact, it’s a generally charming piece of work that fixes several of the biggest problems of its overrated source material (notably that no-one has any agency other than its arrogant and loathsome hero, for whom everything falls down like a dominoes record attempt).
Considering how nostalgia cycles, I think the world of the film actually sort of works; and out of Spielberg’s two films this year, I actually preferred it to The Post. That one had far too much of insufferable journalists going on about how someone doing their job is somehow heroic, and with even less insight than its writers’ previous Spotlight, whereas Ready Player One is just really quite fun.
(The Post does have good work from Bob Odenkirk and a nice final shot though. Spielberg has never himself directed a really bad film – with the exception of Indy 4 – but he’s produced a bunch.)
Worst Casting: Clint Eastwood casting the guys that were actually on the 15:17 to Paris, which is more of a philosophical question than it should actually be a casting decision.
Worst Franchise Starter: This year’s had a whole load of films that promised a bit, aimed for a Cinematic Universe, and then fizzled out completely: like A Wrinkle in Time and Mortal Engines. There’s also Peter Rabbit: despite the fact that it made bank, which makes it worse (in a year where Paddington 2, a far superior film in every possible way, got ignored completely in the US). Venom, which similarly seems profitable, is a runner up; but we’ll have to go for what was originally called Robin Hood: Origins before Lionsgate realised how awful that sounds, which literally has a scene in which Robin of Loxley gets a draft notice. For the Crusades. And it’s not meant to be funny.
Worst Franchise Closer: It’s a toss-up between The Maze Runner and Fifty Shades. I’ll take the latter. At least they’re done now.
Worst Delayed Sequel: Oh boy. Some year for this. The Predator, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Escape Plan 2, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Super Troopers 2, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of
Johnny Depp(Colin Farrell was probably still available), Ocean’s 8, Pacific Rim: Uprising. Out of this, I’ll go for The Predator, which has the most promise and fritters it all away; shit title, decent enough first act, I don’t care about any of the characters, really bad sequel-baiting ending.
Best Movie With The Rock In: Jumanji 2 doesn’t count because it was last year, so it’ll have to be Skyscraper. Which is good old fashioned disaster fun with a few clever touches, but a dumb McGuffin.
Weirdest Movie With The Rock In: Who in Hollywood actually comes up with an idea like “let’s make a movie vaguely based on that old Midway game, we’ll steal a few sequences from True Lies, and we’ll stick the Rock in it as a gorilla expert?” Apparently, the people behind Rampage, comfortably the most stupid yet somehow fun film of the year.
I think I’ve come to the end of all the possible awards with that. So let’s end with a little tribute section, because it’s been another very bad year for the arts.
RIP: Jóhann Jóhannsson. Anthony Bourdain. William Goldman. Ursula K. Le Guin. John Morris (who did the Young Frankenstein score). Lewis Gilbert. Nicolas Roeg. Isao Takahata (and if you’ve not seen Grave of the Fireflies, it’s one of those one-and-done films that sticks with you forever). Milos Forman. R. Lee Ermey. Raymond Chow (the Golden Harvest boss without whom we wouldn’t have Bruce Lee movies, at least not in the same way.) Burt Reynolds. Neil Simon. Penny Marshall. Harlan Ellison. Steve Ditko. Stan Lee. And probably more significant people I haven’t named here. So many.
And to play us out: