The Fake Oscars: The year in movies as not told by the Academy

Illustration by Krysten Hayes

In the film industry, 2017 was really more of the same—Hollywood upholding the racist and misogynist structures that exist just about everywhere else but in some ways more publicly and with more money on the line, and more general acceptance due to the industry’s milquetoast liberal politics, and just generally favoring utterly mediocre movies—until it sorta wasn’t. Folks have been pushing the messages behind #OscarsSoWhite and #MeToo and #TimesUp long before the hashtag power or celebrities protesting on the red carpet or production companies deciding to oust a select few offenders. But the heat is visibly rising, and more are paying attention, or at least performing attention.

Once again, the Oscars (which airs March 4) is another sea of mostly white men, many standing in the spotlight with their histories of sexual harassment and assault in the shadows, which says as much about the awards as it does the industry that produces such a narrow pool. The immensely talented Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig have been anointed here as the token black and female filmmakers to dominate categories for “Get Out” and “Lady Bird,” respectively. In a year that was otherwise awful for people of color and women, this was a comparatively better awards season.

But the progress is still deplorable. And even when the Academy does right, it’s not a remedy. Case in point: Mo’Nique, Baltimore native and hey, let’s not forget, a fucking Oscar winner. Mo’Nique shook up the entertainment industry earlier this year with an ongoing boycott of Netflix, claiming gender and racial bias in the lowball, stipulation-laden deal they offered her in exchange for a comedy special—$500,000, way less than Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock, or Amy Schumer, who were each paid tens of millions of dollars. Fellow comedy veteran Wanda Sykes, it turns out, was offered just $250,000.

“How is it that when it comes to these two black female comedians that are still at the top of their game, after 50-plus years being in this business, be offered $750,000 collectively?” she said on “The View.” “Make that make sense.”

There is no sense, at least none outside of the sexism and racism that determines who and what is valuable. Here in The Beat’s first Fake Oscars issue, we try to emphasize that void by dragging what sucked and boosting what film got right in 2017. That’s why we asked illustrator Krysten Hayes to put Tiffany Haddish, the breakout star of “Girls’ Trip” (with Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and oh hey, another Baltimore native, Jada Pinkett Smith) on our cover as a Oscars statue alongside a sunken Daniel Kaluuya, rightfully nominated for an actual Academy Award for his leading performance in “Get Out.” This is not a comprehensive corrective to the actual Academy Awards so much as a snide gesture highlighting the industry’s bullshit and the accomplishments of the few who had the opportunity and access to create good art and get it produced. The Fake Oscars has its roots in alt weeklies like The Beat, and was brought to Baltimore via the now-closed City Paper by then-arts editor Bret McCabe (one of the critics praising and skewering films in the following pages).

“At a long defunct alt-weekly called The Met in Dallas, which gave me my first bylines & then staff job, one of my A&E freelance writers did a sidebar fake-Oscars column one year that we turned into an annual, group-effort make fun of Hollywood’s self-congratulations thing,” McCabe wrote to The Beat. “After The Met was bought/shut down by what is now called Voice Media and I got a job at CP, I suggested the idea to the staff in 2003 or so, and then [Editor In Chief Lee Gardner] christened them the Alties in a subsequent year’s edition as we started doing them annually.”

Locally, this was a big year for movies. Baltimore and its residents served as the subject of three documentary features—Amanda Lipitz’s “Step,” Theo Anthony’s “Rat Film,” and Sonja Sohn’s “Baltimore Rising”—and as the murky ‘60s backdrop for Guillermo Del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” (our city wasn’t recognizable at all in that one, nor was it filmed here, but it’s nice to entertain the thought that our sludge-filled harbor could accomodate a sexy merman-type). In the spring, the Maryland Film Festival reopened the long-shuttered Parkway Theatre as a hub for year-round programming, bringing to the big screen incredible films such as the aforementioned “Rat Film” and “In Between.”

Here, we briefly place under a microscope all these all more, including many contending for actual Oscars this weekend. In the Trump era, we say the best film offsets the industry’s white male favoritism and subverts concepts of respectability, all while transporting audiences away from the bullshit—if only for a few hours. – Maura Callahan, Deputy Editor, Baltimore Beat

Best Picture: “Girls’ Trip”

BEST PICTURE: Girls’ Trip.” A few weeks ago, while walking through a very crowded movie theater lobby crammed full of people waiting to see “Black Panther” it occurred to me that movie-going can be a comfortable, communal experience. It certainly felt that way when I went to go see “Girls Trip.” The movie turned a normal White Marsh movie theater into a big ol’ bachelorette party, with all of us gawking at Kofi Siriboe’s physical perfection and loving literally anything Tiffany Haddish did onscreen. Thank you, Malcolm Lee, for giving the world a movie that showed black women being happy, fun, high, sloppy, even kind of gross. It was a breath of fresh air. (Lisa Snowden-McCray)

BEST DIRECTOR: Dee Rees, “Mudbound.”  Spike Lee disciple Dee Rees (previously known for the relatively small, black, queer, low-key tragedy “Pariah”) adapts Hillary Jordan’s novel about two men returning from WWII and how differently it shakes out for them, one being white and one being black with a mix of contemporary grit and old Hollywood classicism.The movie parses race and class delicately (if we ever get a film version of Edward P. Jones’ “The Known World,” Rees should helm it) and in that sense feels of the moment, but it’s full of big emotions and recalls affecting over-the-top ‘50s melodramas such as “Giant.” (Brandon Soderberg)

BEST DOCUMENTARY: Get Out.” The genius of Jordan Peele’s film is in the details: The Armitages, in all their woke liberal glory (they’d definitely be part of the #resistance), the creepy party of gawking old white people, Rose’s (feigned) racial cluelessness. These are all racial realities that many black people must navigate in real life. The very last moment of terror—when flashing police lights appear on the scene—is scary because the viewer understands that for Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), the police are just more bad guys. The surprising twist (it’s actually Chris’ comic relief best friend Rod behind the wheel of his security job vehicle) works because we recognize the broken system most black people try, with varying degrees of success, to avoid. The debate about “Get Out” for many was whether it was a comedy or a horror movie, but everything about that movie is all too real. (LSM)

BEST DRAMATIC ACTOR: Ben Safdie, “Good Time.” The emotional core of breathless crime flick “Good Time” is not dirtbag whiteboy Robert Pattinson as Connie, ready and willing to rip anybody off, but Connie’s partially deaf, developmentally disabled brother Nick, roped into a robbery and arrested for it as Connie runs wild trying to get Nick’s bail money.The performance by Ben Safdie—who co-directed “Good Time” with brother Josh—as Nick is tragic and touching, and nothing but terse devastating gestures. He’s what the movie is ultimately about. (BS)

BEST COMEDIC ACTOR: Cardi B. The Bronx rapper and personality-and-a-half didn’t star in one Hollywood movie this year, though she did star in hundreds of short movies or moments that she morphed into a year-long star turn—on Instagram, on talk shows, at awards shows, and in some of her music videos. She brought a Gena Rowlands-like eccentricity and sincerity to the proceedings (imagine: “Woman Under The Influence 2018” starring Cardi and Offset) matching funny face comedy with dead-serious rants against bullying, slut-shaming, and well, whatever else is plaguing the news. As Lindsay Zoladz of The Ringer observed, “her shtick feels as indebted to Lucille Ball as it does to Lil’ Kim.” (BS)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Dawnyell Taylor, “Baltimore Rising.” “The Wire” star Sonja Sohn is the force behind this look at Baltimore in the wake of Freddie Gray’s 2015 death released to HBO. There were lots of familiar faces in the film, especially activists Makayla Gilliam-Price and Kwame Rose. But Baynard Woods wrote about a haunting, prescient scene which focused on Detective Dawnyell Taylor, led the investigation into Gray’s death. On the witness stand, she clashed with prosecutors who accused her of sabotaging the investigation and in the film, we see her celebrating as Officer Caesar Goodson is acquitted of Gray’s death: “Taylor’s celebratory fist pump seems almost a confession that she did sabotage the case—or at least clear evidence that she was strongly in favor of the defendants,” Woods wrote. (LSM)

Best Director: Dee Rees, “Mudbound”

BEST FRIENDS: In Between” (“Bar Bahar”). Maysaloun Hamoud’s feature debut finds three young Arab-Israeli women seeking respite from quotidian misogyny and anti-Palestinian sentiment through the underground party scene in Tel Aviv. They each fight their own battles—sitting through dinner after dinner with the family’s lineup of male suitors, discovering an ostensibly woke boyfriend is just as old fashioned as the rest—but come together in active solidarity when one is sexually assaulted. This is a love story about the bonds women form with each other to get through all the bullshit, but also the joy in friendships entirely disconnected from the world of men. (Maura Callahan)

BEST ANIMATED MOVIE: The Lego Batman Movie.” While Christopher Nolan’s Batman films leaned heavily on realism and the darker, grittier elements of the source material, this goofy, over the top “The Lego Movie” spin-off embraced the mythology as a whole. By synthesizing every conflicting tone in the entire history of Batman into one celebratory ode to the caped crusader, this a film that pokes fun at the goofiest side of Batman while applauding the pathos at the character’s core. (Dominic Griffin)

BEST METAPHOR FOR THE TOTAL SUCKING CHEST WOUND THAT WAS AMERICA IN 2017: “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Raped and murdered teenage girl? Backstory. Cancer as unfortunate pre-existing condition? Quirky character trait to carbon offset a police officer’s neighborly negligence. Peter Dinklage cast as the “town midget”? Discrimination played for laughs. A sadistic, misogynistic, racist cop? Worthy of redemptive character arc. And a grown-ass mother’s righteous, barely containable anger about all of the above? An irrational, untamed force that needs to be reminded of her place in the world. (Bret McCabe)

BEST BREAKFAST PORN: Phantom Thread.” There’s no on-screen sex in PTA’s couture ‘n class period piece, but don’t worry, it’s still insanely horny. In their first scene together, DDL’s insufferable Reynolds and seaside hotel waitress Alma flirt over his impossibly decadent breakfast order: Welsh rarebit with a poached egg, bacon, scones, butter, cream, jam, a pot of tea, “and some sausages.” There’s a remarkable, almost overwhelming intimacy in the back and forth between two strangers, culminating in plans for a dinner date. It’s hungry boy season, folks. (Max Robinson)

BEST FEEDING OF THE 5000: Okja.” When McDonald’s already calls itself “a modern and progressive burger company” it’s hard for a satire about a genetically modified superpig version of “5 loaves and 2 fishes” to not hit with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but it helps when it plays like Joe Dante directing a CRASS album. (Adam Katzman)

Best Musical: “Step”

BEST MUSICAL: Step.” Following members of a Baltimore high school girls’ step team as they train, compete, and apply to colleges in the aftermath of the 2015 uprising, Amanda Lipitz’s documentary boasts exhilarating pump-up scenes set to Fifth Harmony and Tate Kobang. But the best numbers come from the girls’ stomping feet and rallying cries fit for both the stage and the streets—especially when Black Lives Matter serves as the crux of their routine. (MC)

SUPERHERO OF THE YEAR: Lil Rel, “Get Out.” Some best friends you can’t even get to help you move a couch on a lazy Sunday, so for Lil Rel’s TSA agent Rod Williams to spend the entirety of “Get Out” searching for his missing buddy like Sam Gerard hunting Richard Kimble is beyond laudable. When’s the last time your BFF saved you from a crazy cult of milquetoast white people hellbent on transporting their minds into your own? (DG)

BEST FAKE NEWS: The Post.” Journalism is rarely about nailing the story and changing the world—it’s a tangle of fuck-ups, apologies, missed calls, ignored (and therefore understandably upset) loved ones, and somewhere along the way words on paper or on a screen that may have some societal impact. Movies like “The Post” (or “Spotlight” from a few years ago) present journalism as this noble profession and, well, it ain’t. We get it, Trump is in office, but resist the urge to valorize journalists like this. Good journalism movies are “Medium Cool” (about the honky callousness of TV news) or “Kill The Messenger” (about Gary Webb, who exposed the connections between the C.I.A. and the crack epidemic, had his career ruined by other journalists who were mad they missed the story, and ended up dead—supposedly a suicide, though Webb was found with two bullets in his head). They are not Spielberg-helmed love letters to fucking WaPo. (BS)

BEST CHESAPEAKE BAE: The Shape of Water.” Dump a man, fuck a fish. (MC)

BEST CUSSING: Allison Janney, “I, Tonya.” Spitting out “poor fucking you” while huffing a slim ciggie and rocking Billie Jean King glasses and a bowl cut is impressive. Casually dropping the c-word on a fellow ice-skating mom is ribald. But Janney takes the cussing-a-blue-streak statue home for her didn’t-I-teach-you-anything sigh to her daughter, at her wedding: “You fuck stupid, you don’t marry it.” (BM)

BEST FASHION SPREAD: “Nocturama.” A vaguely marxist critique of French neo-colonialism where the chickens come home to roost in a shopping mall makes its points primarily through an ironic curation of commodities and pop/political iconography. An aesthetic shock, whose sympathy for its marginalized characters stops short of imagining a revolutionary future. (AK)

BEST ACTOR FORCED TO DO CRAP IN A HOLLYWOOD MOVIE: Idris Elba, “Molly’s Game.” Sure, the just-make-him-James-Bond-already British actor had to free Asgard in fake dreads and glow-in-the-dark contacts in “Thor: Ragnarok,” but that movie was bong-hit fun. In “Molly’s Game” Elba is saddled with playing the intelligent, urbanely liberal righteous dude that Aaron Sorkin writes into nearly everything he pens as a stand in for himself. Elba, naturally, not only crushes an idiosyncratic American accent but makes his lawyer to high-end poker maven Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain) more than just another one of Sorkin’s “The West Wing”-ian imperfect idealists. (BM)

BEST COMPLETE AND UTTER VOID: Dunkirk.” Christopher Nolan is the kind of auteur who peers into his navel and sees a Fabergé egg’s luxe interior. Of course he turns one of military history’s largest evacuations—a nine-day operation of British, Dutch, Belgian, and Irish navy vessels, plus around 850 private boats, that rescued more than 338,000 soldiers off a French beach—into a cinematic mood fugue. Yes, the cinematography is gorgeous, the score is hauntingly minimalist, the combat sequences brutally disorienting, but this approach transforms an actual story of backs-against-the-wall solidarity into a highly polished gemstone that discards the one thing that made Dunkirk’s miracle possible: humanity. (BM)

Best Superhero: Lil Rel, “Get Out”

BEST MORAL BANKRUPTCY: “Detroit.” Because, yes, the name of the largest majority black city in America deserves to be the title of a 143-minute piece of creative license that boils down the lengthy, complex history of systemic urban policy, police brutality, and disinvestment that led to the conditions that produced the city’s 1967 unrest into a horrifying piece of racial torture porn about the bad apple cop who beat and murdered three teenage black men at the Algiers Motel. I don’t have enough middle fingers for this trash. (BM)

BEST SPECTRE HAUNTING EUROPE: “Personal Shopper.” A medium, alienated from their labor, trying on commodities fetishized by their boss, has their work disrupted by what might be a ghost. While the plot derails, the possibilities floated by a whodunit harken back to the greatest spectre of all. (AK)

BEST FILM THAT’S NOT REALLY ABOUT RATS: Rat Film.” OK, the feature debut from local filmmaker Theo Anthony is sorta about rats. But more than an examination of our city’s huge rodent population, “Rat Film” is a demonstration of two things: Baltimore’s pioneering and enduring history of systemic housing segregation (which is intertwined with but outsizes our history of pest control); and, formalistically, how many distinct yet cohesive ways you can tell a story—which Anthony proved is essential in creating a picture of a multitudinous city like this. (MC)

BEST VICE MEDIA CEO: Jared Leto, “Blade Runner 2049.” Not even gonna debate whether Leto’s Niander Wallace is a replicant or not because either way, dude’s a douche. With his slicked-back hair and fondness for the male kimono, Wallace is the kind of tech-bro who sees himself creatively disrupting the world to make a better tomorrow, and his plans involve figuring out how to make replicants, well, replicate. If he needs to exsanguinate a female replicant just because he can to make a point, so be it. Total world domination built upon discarded female bodies, hmm, kinda brings to mind a certain manufacturer of virile viral content. (BM)

BEST YEAH ALRIGHT WE GET IT DUDE: “mother!” Do you remember the scene in “Walk Hard” where John C. Reilly’s drugged out Dewey Cox is really up his own ass and making unlistenable music with 50,000 didgeridoos and animal sounds but none of his friends feel like they can tell him it sucks? This is Darren Aronofsky’s 121 minute, $30 million dollar version of that exact thing. And it suuucks. (MR)

Best Film That’s Not Really About Rats: “Rat Film”

BEST MOVIE YOU DIDN’T SEE: “Colossal.” Anne Hathaway plays the alcoholic we need in writer/director Nacho Vigalondo’s pitch-black sci-fi comedy, which offers the best advice for dealing with violent, manipulative men: Find your inner Godzilla and toss the motherfucker off the face of the earth. (BM)

BEST MOVIE YOU’LL PROBABLY NEVER SEE: Dawson City: Frozen Time.” Dawson City became a town during the Klondike Gold Rush at the 19th century’s end, when people sought fortune in this desolate spot in the Yukon. The prospecting town was also the last stop for many silent films, and in the late ‘70s a trove of roughly 500 presumed-lost silent reels was unearthed there. Found-footage filmmaker master Bill Morrison uses that footage to tell a story about Dawson City, and about how film ostensibly tells history, in this utterly arresting documentary feat. (BM)

BEST “KISS ME THRU THE PHONE”: The Human Surge.” What better way to honor “The Human Surge,” a movie in which the precarity of migrant labor under globalization and the struggle to find wi-fi are only countered by the reliable income of chaturbate, than with Soulja Boy’s eternal anthem of cellular romance. (AK)

BEST VEGAN NIGHTMARE: Raw.” A hazing ritual gives a lifelong vegetarian her first taste of meat in director Julia Ducournau’s “Raw,” which not only suggest that veterinarian school is pure hell on anybody who doesn’t want to eat anything that has a mommy, but that rabbit may be the gateway meat to eating boyfriend. (BM)

MOST REALISTIC DEPICTION OF BATMAN FANDOM: O’Shea Jackson Jr., “Ingrid Goes West.” Nothing course corrects the sad, “The Simpsons”-born Comic Book Guy caricature of funny book fans like casting Ice Cube’s handsome charmer of a son as an aspiring screenwriter obsessed with “Batman Forever.” That his adoration of the character is less about geeky fandom and more about Batman’s larger resonance to his backstory is a sweet touch. Also, a grown man asking a woman to dress up like Catwoman for him in bed and to “tell me my city needs me” is the most authentic nerd shit ever. (DG)

BEST HOLLYWOOD METAPHOR: “The Disaster Artist.” Oddball if determined self-taught actor/filmmaker has idea, self-finances laughably bad film that a studio executive wouldn’t touch if his Soho House membership depended on it. After film spends a decade building cult status, a successful, mainstream abuser—I mean, actor/director—adapts it as vanity project and rides the in-joke laden, cinematic Duchampian readymade to awards season back patting. Cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap. (BM)

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY: “Baby Driver.” Edgar Wright’s unfussy entertainment feels like it was written entirely around a soundtrack, and from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s ‘Bellbottoms’ opening heist and chase and on, its record-nerd song selections seem to dictate both the film’s mood and the onscreen actions of the characters, be they breakout stars such as Ansel Elgort, or veteran, dependable character performers like a purple ‘80s Chevrolet caprice. (BM)

Best Vegan Nightmare: “Raw”

BEST INDICTMENT OF BABY BOOMERS: Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” James Gunn’s follow up to the first “Guardians” is sort of like watching someone talk out their childhood while digging through a crate of records. It’s fitting then that the movie’s villain is a cosmic deadbeat dad in the form of the man who played Jack Burton. Ego is a perfect boomer bad guy, weaponizing Russell’s faded ‘80s action star charisma into a vain space monster whose super-villain plan boils down to “fuck you, I got mine.” At the very least, he delivers the finest evil monologue about Looking Glass’ ‘Brandy’ in movie history. (MR)

BEST SEIZING THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION: Logan Lucky.” Logan Lucky offers some interesting ideas about redistributive wealth in the south by showing how the same laborers required to make institutions run—in this case miners working under a race track—can easily dismantle them. While they don’t transform Nascar into the Paris commune, it’s always nice to know they probably could. (AK)

BEST GRATUITOUS DEATH IN A DISNEY MOVIE: Snoke getting smoked in “The Last Jedi.” Listen, the new Star Wars movie was built around subverting audience expectations. In this case, subverting the expectation that Andy Serkis as a villainous CG pleasure lord will NOT get cut in half with a lightsaber and sort of cave in on himself like a rain-soaked Subway footlong. Or that the heroine and villain of the movie will have a cool fight while the aforementioned bisected corpse just kind of chills out in the background. Where’s my dead Snoke action figure, Hasbro? (MR)

BEST ROMCOM: The Big Sick.” “The Big Sick” is a singular love story (based on a true story) and a smart cultures-clashing movie. Here, Kumail Nanjiani playing himself navigates his Muslim family’s expectations—especially when he begins dating a white girl, Emily (Zoe Kazan)—countering stereotypes (it is Renoir-ian in that everybody here has their reasons) and ends where it should end, not pushing that indulgent bro-comedy two-hour mark that say, Judd Apatow and crew thinks makes their comedies “serious.” Here is a romantic comedy with the right mix of sweet and bittersweet—and the funniest 9/11 joke in a movie ever. (BS)

BEST ON-SCREEN “TRUMP WON” DYSTOPIA: “Logan.” The 2029 America-in-decline of “Logan” is existentially terrifying and not because of any killer Sentinel robots or big blue Oscar Isaacs. Consider the group of proto-MAGA bros glimpsed chanting “USA!” at people trapped behind a chain link fence at the Mexican border. Or the child-hunting cyborg bad guys and their more than passing resemblance to real life border patrol militias. Other X-Men movies may tease the end of the world but “Logan” is the first one to feel actually hopeless. (MR)

Best Minions: Porgs, “Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.”


BEST ARM: The Arm from “The Cloverfield Paradox.” “Cloverfield Paradox” may have been more or less a Superbowl commercial/publicity stunt, but please don’t pretend like you didn’t lose your mind at Chris O’Dowd’s somehow sentient limb crawling around and writing notes like Thing from “The Addams Family.” (MR)

BEST MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL: Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name.” With his khaki shorts, short-sleeve Oxford shirts, braided leather belt, Converse high tops, and man-candy grad-student dance moves, Armie Hammer’s Oliver doesn’t look or move like the typical manic panic dream girl. But as the smart, nerdy, hot older object of attraction through which Timothée Chalamet’s moody, intelligent, and kinda posh Elio learns things about life and love, he more than fits the bill. (BM)

FATHER OF THE YEAR: Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project.” In a film about America’s hidden homeless and many of the young mothers among them, the women who, having given birth so early, aren’t much more than big kids themselves, there’s something heartening about seeing a guy whose face is so legitimately terrifying play such a heartwarming figure. Dafoe’s Bobby Hicks, the manager of the Magic Castle Motel, does his level best to serve two masters: the capitalist system that ensures his livelihood depends on his loyalty to the property’s policies and his inner compassion for the transient guests of the motel who must never be allowed to establish residency. It’s the nicest, most caring role he’s played since Jesus. (DG)

WORST FATHER OF THE YEAR: Nicolas Cage, “Mom and Dad.” Look, it’s a whole movie about parents being infected with some kind of virus that makes them want to murder their own children, so every parent in the movie is technically a bad one, but Cage takes the cake as a menacing patriarch whose bloodlust more closely resembles a coke rage than anything else. It’s a tour de force performance of hilarious absurdity and genuine terror, how one might (maybe accurately) imagine it would be to actually have Nicolas Cage as your dad. (DG)


Seth: Stefon, why don’t you tell us your pick for Best Original Screenplay.

Stefon: Right, right. This year’s most original screenplay is “The Book of Henry.” It’s got everything. A supergenius child who plots the murder of his child-molesting neighbor before his own untimely death by a rare disease. His Xbox-obsessed single mother who must execute his exacting gameplan. And Sarah Silverman flirting with a child.

Seth: Stefon, “The Book of Henry” isn’t even nominated. And didn’t the director just get fired from a “Star Wars” movie?

Stefon: There’s no justice in the world, Seth. (DG)

BEST POWERMETAL ALBUM: Thor: Ragnarok.” Vikings that can travel through Rainbows in the Dark of the cosmos? To battle the god of death and prevent hell on earth? In a goofy concept album about refugees? RIP RONNIE JAMES DIO. (AK)

BEST KISS: The Two Michael Fassbenders in “Alien: Covenant.” “Alien: Covenant” is not, strictly speaking, a great movie, but the twin performances by Fassbender as the megalomaniacal android David and Walter, the newer model more sympathetic to his human creators, are great. From the minute it was clear this film featured two Fassbenders, any rational human’s first instinct must have been, “make them kiss,” but can you fucking believe Ridley Scott actually made them do it? They really kiss! It’s the best moment in the whole damn movie. Fuck a xenomorph. (DG)

BEST STERLING VOID & PARIS BRIGHTLEDGE, ‘IT’S ALL RIGHT (ORIGINAL HOUSE MIX)’: BPM.” ‘It’s All Right’s’ earnest use of the dancefloor as a public forum on everything from apartheid to environment is what most echoes “BPM’s” understanding of how queer activism and house music are deeply connected, given the way disco and house reconfigured the liberatory praxis of the ’60s for an underground more overtly welcoming to marginalized communities. (AK)

Best Humdrum Town: “Lady Bird”

BEST PROBLEMATIC, ANTEBELLUM BODICE-RIPPER: The Beguiled.” Sofia Coppola’s decision to remake meaty-paws filmmaker Don Siegel’s “The Beguiled” from 1971 was inspired: She returned to ’70s American cinema not to simply honor it but to present it as a maelstrom of masculine nonsense and sleaze. As a result, her version of the story of an injured Union soldier tended to by women at a seminary in the South slows down and becomes more campy than slimy and therefore, way more hot. That is has little to say about slavery or the Amerikkkan condition is not a surprise (this is Sofia Coppola after all) but demands someone remix Coppola’s version the way she remixed Siegel’s original. (BS)

BEST FATE OF THE FURIOUS: xXx: Return of Xander Cage.” The F&F family is now full on Deep State doing psyops with green screen stunts lost in CGI simulacra so overwhelming it competes with their use of digital surveillance. With “Xander Cage,” Vin Diesel takes the same CGI’d-to-death absurdity and uses it to dismantle the militarized surveillance state he was plucked from ’90s counterculture signifiers to sell in the first place, setting up a new gang with the outlaw charm that initially brought us to the F&F franchise. (AK)

BEST HUMDRUM TOWN: Lady Bird.” The semi-autobiographical coming of age story from Greta Gerwig is less an ode to adolescence and more a love letter to the mundanity of home. She makes no attempt to doll up her native Sacramento, not even to make it endearingly quirky; her eponymous heroine learns through lived-in experience and eventually separation that the total absence of glamour and excitement leaves room to explore identity—and yes, all those feelings. (MC)

PETTIEST USE OF A HOLOGRAM: Marjorie Prime.” In the near future, Long Island beach house dwellers use digital avatars of deceased loved ones to have the last word in conversations that went sour without resolve, until an AI-assisted simulation of what could’ve been said outlives both what actually was and who said it. Heady, heartbreaking, and relatably petty. (AK)

BEST FAREWELL: Harvey Weinstein and other powerful Hollywood men long known as serial abusers/sexual harassers/silencers. BYE. (But there’s still much work to be done: Woody Allen, for example, is still making movies that filmmakers and performers who claim the #timesup hashtag continue to be involved in [cough JT cough] despite allegations from his children that he was sexually abusive, by the way his movies are trash anyway, come on guys; and appointing Weinstein as the monstrous face of the epidemic diminishes the fact that it is an epidemic—just because he’s been ousted doesn’t begin to repair the damage, and the problem is bigger and more varied than him; meanwhile the #MeToo movement is necessary but imperfect—some voices are privileged while others are drowned out, the onslaught of public testimonies is retraumatizing for many survivors, etc . . . ) (MC)

BEST TRUMP INDICTMENT: The Founder.” Michael Keaton plays hyperambitious sick fuck Ray Kroc, the guy who saw the potential in a small burger joint called McDonald’s and slowly stole it out from under two trusting, ethically-minded, quality control-obsessed brothers and turned it into the behemoth of bad-for-you burgers we all know and love and hate and love and order and eat up and get diarrhea from but oh was it worth it. The movie of the Trump era, really. (BS)

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