New Oscar categories for 2018 films

Move these awards to commercial breaks instead of cinematography, makeup or editing.

This article contains spoilers for “Annihilation,” “A Quiet Place,” “Mary Poppins Returns,” “A Star is Born,” and “The Favourite.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences came under fire once again last Monday, when the awards body announcing that the cinematography, editing, makeup and live-action short Oscars would be announced during the telecast’s commercial breaks.

After encountering virtually unanimous resistance from directors, actors, media outlets and social media users alike for shunting categories that are fundamental to the filmmaking process to the side, the academy swiftly reversed this decision only four days later. During a year where board members have backed out of almost every cumbersome attempt to modernize the Oscars — rest in pieces, Best Popular Film and the concept of only featuring two “Best Song” nominee performances — MOVE Magazine is here to suggest new, 2018 film-based categories to enrich the ceremony during commercial breaks.

Best Bear

After a particularly aggressive bear and the general concept of winter won Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar back in 2016, a fresh crop of notable movie bears has arrived on the scene.

In “Paddington 2,” Ben Whishaw returns to voice the unabashedly earnest Paddington Brown. With the help of zany supporting characters and his beloved marmalade sandwiches, the furry protagonist perfectly centers a film whose deeply idiosyncratic British humor and child-friendly— yet never overzealous — explorations of pressing issues like xenophobia and incarceration make the film not only one of the best family films, but also one of the best sequels in recent years.

“Annihilation” features a very different type of ursine — what many have dubbed the “nightmare bear.” In the “Shimmer,” a psychedelically beautiful biological disaster zone that the film’s lead characters venture into, the laws of nature are often warped in horrifying ways. One such error occurs when expedition member Cass Shephard’s (Tuva Novotny) mind fuses with a mutated bear as it kills her. When the creature descends on the remaining women in the dead of night, Shephard’s dismembered voice emanates from the creature in one of the story’s most disturbing sequences. Along with tying into the explorations of mental illness and destruction at the heart of “Annihilation,” the bear’s exposed skull also stand out as a memorable visual effects achievement.

Perhaps the most familiar bear to grace the big screen was Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings) in “Christopher Robin,” where the grown-up titular character (Ewan McGregor) reconnects with the childhood magic of the Hundred Acre Wood. Although the film received mixed reviews, Pooh’s daffy charm is still on full display. The silly old bear and his friends impressed the academy, too, as their scruffy CGI selves earned a Best Achievement in Visual Effects nomination.

Best Bathtub

Several of 2018 films’ more memorable scenes relied on pushing the strange horror trope that the last place in your home that you’d want to be caught is the bathroom.

Between “A Quiet Place” and “Mary Poppins Returns,” Emily Blunt had some very different bathtub experiences this year. Her “A Quiet Place” character, Evelyn Abbott, appears in one on the film’s poster, which ominously declares, “If They Hear You, They Hunt You.” In a world where making a single sound draws ravenous aliens to kill you instantaneously, Evelyn faces the biggest challenge in the film in a climactic sequence where she gives birth alone after the creatures descend on her family’s farm. In contrast, as Mary Poppins, Blunt takes the young children in her care on a musical adventure into the oceanic depths of their London bathtub.

Tubs were also a site for confrontations between the main characters of a few Best Picture nominees. Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), who often unofficially rules in Queen Anne’s (Olivia Colman) place, finds her status as confidant and lover disrupted by her younger cousin, Abigail (Emma Stone) in “The Favourite.” To worm her way back into the queen’s good graces, Sarah joins her for a flirtatious mud bath, snipping at Abigail (Anne’s new lady-in-waiting) all the while.

Fissures start to form on Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and Ally Campana’s (Lady Gaga) relationship in “A Star is Born,” as his alcoholism worsens and they disagree over her shift to mainstream pop music. The couple’s issues come to a head during a vicious spat when Jackson interrupts Ally’s bubble bath after she receives three Grammy nominations. It’s a searing, effective amalgamation of the film’s new takes on the art and romantic melodrama that have driven every iteration of “A Star is Born” — just wanted to take another look at you, “Scene 98!”

Best Horse Movie

Yes, this is the second animal-based category on this list — but for good reason! Horse girls and sad cowboys alike dominated 2018 films, to varying results. “Sorry to Bother You” becomes a surprising horse movie when wildly successful telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers that the corporation he works for is turning people into human-horse hybrids for slave labor. The strange twist serves as a distinctive metaphor for director Boots Riley’s heavy-handed satirization of modern capitalism’s intersections with race and class.

The world of equestrians also serves as the foundation for a twisted black comedy revolving around two privileged teenage girls’ dark psyches in “Thoroughbreds,” where two wealthy former horseback riders (Anya Taylor-Joy and Olivia Cooke) scheme to murder one of their cruel stepfathers.

In a more traditional sense, “The Rider” and “Lean on Pete” challenge the white, all-American countryman ideal when their young protagonists face personal, working-class American tragedies against the backdrop of rural rodeos and racetracks.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

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