If Avenging Force Ran the Academy

When the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards were first announced a few weeks ago, we read through them with a mixture of happy surprise, ambivalence, resignation, and disappointment. While we felt that some of the nominated films, performances, and technical work were well deserving of recognition, we couldn’t help but feel that many of the others on the list were just not representative of the best of the year. With a few notable exceptions (such as Black Panther’s Best Picture nomination), we felt like the nominations tended to overlook genre and family films in favor of somber dramas, biopics, and period pieces. We also noticed — again, with a couple important exceptions — a tendency to favor narratives that centered, or at least significantly and positively included, characters matching the demographics of the majority of Academy voters (72% male and 87% white, according to last year’s numbers).

This isn’t to say that if your favorite film of the year was nominated for — or wins — an Academy Award on Sunday, that you’re wrong for liking it or being happy about it. But since both Sarah and Lauren went to the movies a lot last year (thanks A-List and MoviePass!), we decided that instead of complaining about what did get nominated, we’d take this opportunity to highlight the films that, in an alternate universe where we ran the Academy, we would’ve nominated as representing the best of 2018.

You’ll notice a lot more genre films on our lists, along with family films and comedies, all of which tend to get overlooked at awards time. We are of the opinion that it takes just as much skill to craft a side-splitting comedy or a breathtaking thriller as it does to create a compelling historical epic or gritty biopic. If we’re the ones doling out awards, we want to recognize good craftsmanship in every type of movie, not just the serious ones.

And since this is our list and we make the rules, we changed up a couple categories. We’ve long felt that the Best Animated Feature category should be amended to Best Family Feature, so that it can stop being padded with undeserving filler films (such as 2017’s Boss Baby and Ferdinand nominations) and can instead highlight films aimed at young audiences that aren’t necessarily animated. However, since animation is its own unique art form, we believe there should also be another Best Animation category that recognizes the craftsmanship of the animators without the implication that the overall film is superior. For the purposes of this post, though, we’re only including the Best Family Feature category, as the Best Animation nominees would honestly stay the same as the current Best Animated Feature nominees.

We also added a category for Best Stunt Coordination, because there really should already be one.

We did decide to stick to the Academy’s caps for how many films we could nominate in each category (as well as its eligibility rules for each category), which was brutal in some cases, but we had to draw the line somewhere.

You’ll also notice we eliminated the categories where we haven’t seen enough qualifying films to make any changes to what was already nominated. So if you notice a category is missing, it’s not because we think it’s less important; it just means we haven’t seen enough of the films that would’ve been in that category to make an informed decision on which ones were the best.

And last but not least, we didn’t pick winners. Not just because it was hard and we didn’t want to (although it was hard and we didn’t want to), but because we wanted to highlight all of our picks as worthy of recognition, and not get bogged down in trying to decide which one is the “best.”

Turns out, 2018 was a pretty great year for film.

Best Picture

“Black Panther”
“The Favourite”
“Sorry to Bother You”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse”
“A Star Is Born”
“Game Night”
“A Quiet Place”
“If Beale Street Could Talk”
“Eighth Grade”

Adapted Screenplay

“The Hate U Give,” Audrey Wells
“Black Panther,” Ryan Coogler, Joe Robert Cole
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins
“A Simple Favor,” Paul Feig, Darcey Bell, Jessica Sharzer

Lead Actor

Daveed Diggs, “Blindspotting”
Ethan Hawke, “First Reformed”
Stephan James, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
John Cho, “Searching”
Lakeith Stanfield, “Sorry to Bother You”

Original Screenplay

“The Favourite,” Deborah Davis, Tony McNamara
“Eighth Grade,” Bo Burnham
“Sorry to Bother You,” Boots Riley
“A Quiet Place,” John Krasinski, Bryan Woods, Scott Beck
“Blindspotting,” Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs

Lead Actress

Rachel McAdams, “Game Night”
Amandla Stenberg, “The Hate U Give”
Saoirse Ronan, “Mary Queen of Scots”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”


“Mission Impossible: Fallout,” Rob Hardy
“The Favourite,” Robbie Ryan
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” James Laxton
“Free Solo,” Jimmy Chin
“A Star Is Born,” Matthew Libatique

Supporting Actor

Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Michael B. Jordan, “Black Panther”
Rafael Casal, “Blindspotting”
Russell Hornsby, “The Hate U Give”
Timothee Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy”

Sound Editing

“Black Panther,” Benjamin A. Burtt, Steve Boeddeker
“Mission Impossible: Fallout,” Jed Loughran, Ben Meechan, Noyan Cosarer, James Mather
“First Man,” Ai-Ling Lee, Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“A Quiet Place,” Ethan Van der Ryn, Erik Aadahl
“Roma,” Sergio Diaz, Skip Lievsay

Supporting Actress

Blake Lively, “A Simple Favor”
Regina King, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
Emily Blunt, “A Quiet Place”
Emma Stone, “The Favourite”
Olivia Cooke, “Thoroughbreds”

Sound Mixing

“Black Panther”
“Bohemian Rhapsody”
“First Man”
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
“A Star Is Born”


Boots Riley, “Sorry to Bother You”
Yorgos Lanthimos, “The Favourite”
Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman, “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse”
Barry Jenkins, “If Beale Street Could Talk”
John Krasinski, “A Quiet Place”

Production Design

“Black Panther,” Hannah Beachler
“First Man,” Nathan Crowley, Kathy Lucas
“The Favourite,” Fiona Crombie, Alice Felton
“Mary Poppins Returns,” John Myhre, Gordon Sim
“Roma,” Eugenio Caballero, Bárbara Enrı́quez

Family Feature

“Incredibles 2,” Brad Bird
“Paddington 2,” Paul King
“Mary Poppins Returns,” Rob Marshall
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
“Christopher Robin,” Marc Forster

Film Editing

“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Robert Fisher Jr.
“Minding the Gap,” Joshua Altman, Bing Liu
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” Anne McCabe
“The Favourite,” Yorgos Mavropsaridis
“Searching,” Nick Johnson, Will Merrick

Original Score

Mandy,” Jóhann Jóhannsson
Black Panther,” Ludwig Goransson
If Beale Street Could Talk,” Nicholas Britell
Annihilation,” Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury
Mary Queen of Scots,” Max Richter

Original Song

“All The Stars” from “Black Panther” by Kendrick Lamar, SZA

“What’s Up Danger,” from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” by Blackway & DJ duo Black Caviar

“Wonderful Life” from “Smallfoot” by Karey Kirkpatrick and Wayne Kirkpatrick

“Shallow” from “A Star Is Born” by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson, Anthony Rossomando, Andrew Wyatt and Benjamin Rice

“OYAHYTT,” from “Sorry to Bother You” by The Coup Feat. Lakeith Stanfield

Makeup and Hair

“Mary Queen of Scots”
“Black Panther”

Visual Effects

“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Christopher Robin”
“First Man”
“Black Panther”

Costume Design

“A Simple Favor,” Renee Ehrlich Kalfus
“Black Panther,” Ruth E. Carter
“The Favourite,” Sandy Powell
“Crazy Rich Asians,” Mary E. Vogt
“Mary Queen of Scots,” Alexandra Byrne

Stunt Coordination

“Mission Impossible: Fallout”
“Avengers: Infinity War”
“Creed II”
“Ant-Man and the Wasp”
“Deadpool 2”

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