We're gearing up for the 2020 Academy Awards, and we thought we'd come up with some fun, alternative Oscar categories of our own, along with our choice of who should win.
These categories honour many of the movies, filmmakers, actors and actresses who have been sadly snubbed in this year's Oscar nominations. So, if you're looking for an Oscars conversation that doesn't revolve around 1917 winning Best Picture, or Joaquin Phoenix winning Best Actor for Joker, you've come to the right place...
1. Most memorable meltdown: Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse
Amazingly, neither Willem Dafoe nor Robert Pattinson were Oscar-nominated for their volcanic performances in this black and white chiller. Robert Eggers' claustrophobic onslaught practically emanates the smell of damp and sweat, battering us the audience with an emotional force 10 gale as Dafoe and Pattinson's lighthouse keepers go (not so quietly) mad together.
And if you wanted proof that Pattinson has left Twilight far behind, the astonishing, splenetic rant he directs at Dafoe late on in the movie will rock you back in your seat. Plus, it contains some of the most inventive insults we've heard in ages.
2. Best sound effect: the foghorn in The Lighthouse
Less a sound effect and more a harbinger of paranoia and doom, the ever-present foghorn in Robert Eggers' movie becomes a character in its own right. In the midst of the howling winds and cawing gulls, the sound of the lighthouse's horn cuts through the murk like a particularly twisted siren's call, luring Dafoe and Pattinson's warring characters to their doom. (For those who haven't yet seen the movie, you can hear it in the trailer below.)
One of the great pleasures of the film is listening out for its placement during the scenes where they're at each other's throats – it anticipates the horrendous endgame long before we arrive at that moment. Credit to sound designer Damien Volpe for working perfectly in tandem with Eggers, cinematographer Jarin Blaschke and composer Mark Korven.
3. Best updating of a classic: The Personal History of David Copperfield
This year's Best Adapted Screenplay nominations have honoured the likes of Jojo Rabbit and Joker; however, our heart lies with this infectious and uplifting Charles Dickens adaptation, the perfect example of how to modernize a beloved source while staying true to its spirit.
Writer-director Armando Iannucci has famously deployed a 'colourblind' cast, led by a likeable Dev Patel as the eponymous David, who takes us on a guided tour through his life. Although the film plays down a lot of the novel's darker aspects, it's genuinely faithful to the spirit of Dickens' farcical comedy, aided and abetted by pitch-perfect performances from the whole cast.
4. Most impressive dedication to a character: Lupita Nyong'o in Us
It's looking increasingly likely that Best Actress nominee Renee Zellweger will walk away with the trophy for Judy. She's undeniably brilliant in her portrayal of troubled Hollywood legend Judy Garland; however, for our money, last year's most impressive performance was infinitely more accomplished. We're talking about Lupita Nyong'o in Us, who had to deliver not one character, but two in the space of a single movie.
Jordan Peele's superb horror-comedy hinges on the nuance, both physical and emotional, in Nyong'o's performance. She doesn't so much play Adelaide Wilson and her twisted doppelganger Red as embody them, contorting her entire body and voice to suggest two bodies that are horribly connected by the same soul. Biggest Oscar snub of 2020? It has to be this one.
5. Best transition from comedy to drama: Awkwafina in The Farewell
Oscar voters love it when actors go from funny to serious; just think of the Oscar-winning likes of Good Will Hunting. We, therefore, have to acknowledge the sadly overlooked Awkwafina, best known for comic roles, and her subtle performance in The Farewell, a critically praised drama that was totally shut out of this year's Oscar nominations.
Maybe it's because the movie and Awkwafina's central turn lack the melodrama and scenery-chewing that the Academy perceives as high art. In fact, it's the very lack of histrionics in the main character that makes the movie so believable; it's suffused with an atmosphere of grief and tension, as a Chinese-American woman becomes complicit in a shared lie about the health of her beloved grandmother. No actor in 2019 did a better job in showing another side to their talents.
6. Best stunt: the knife-throwing in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
We're still waiting for the Oscars to design a category for Best Stunt; after all, whole armies of remarkably talented individuals put their skills to the test, and their lives on the line, to make us believe in things that are patently impossible.
There were many great stunts from which to choose in 2019. However, we've gone for one from the bullet-ridden John Wick 3, not exactly a film that's short on breathlessly exciting action sequences. We've opted for the scene near the beginning in which Keanu Reeves's hunted assassin John Wick and his pursuers indulge in a knife-throwing contest, a sequence both wince-inducing and utterly exhilarating. And while we're on the subject, let's honour Reeves' commitment to doing his own stunts, including a horseback showdown against a fleet of motorcycles.
7. Most likeable supporting character: Hugh Laurie in The Personal History of David Copperfield
This year's Best Supporting Actor crop includes the likes of Al Pacino, seemingly playing himself in The Irishman, and Brad Pitt for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. The role of the supporting actor and actress is one of the most important in a movie, adding further dimensions to the central character, and no-one did this better in 2019 than Hugh Laurie.
He plays Mr. Dick in The Personal History of David Copperfield, a man afflicted by an obsession with decapitated monarch Charles I, which seems to be a manifestation of inner emotional turmoil. Nevertheless, he is possibly the most compassionate character in this Dickensian tapestry, and has much to teach our hero David about kindness, and turning the other cheek. It's a reminder of Laurie's gifts away from the realm of comedy (although he is very funny in the movie as well).
8. Most brilliantly stressful performance: Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems
Actors are often lauded for making us feel good or reducing us to weeping emotional husks. However, it takes a certain skill to take a reprehensible individual, one pathologically incapable of making decent choices and turning them into an empathetic, watchable presence. Step forward Adam Sandler, who graduates from silly comedies (truthfully, he already did this in 2002 with Punch Drunk Love) to the exhausting, exciting Uncut Gems, directed by the Safdie brothers.
Sandler plays a low-rent pawnbroker who, through a combination of his own hubris and misfortune, manages to lose hold of the priceless African opal that may otherwise have secured his fortune. It's a transformative role in every sense of the word, blabber-mouthed and sleazy yet ultimately pitiable. Off the back of this performance, one senses that Sandler would fit very well into the urban environment of a Martin Scorsese movie. That Sandler wasn't Oscar-nominated is shameful.
9. Best use of a song: 'Godspeed' by Frank Ocean in Waves
Writer-director Trey Edward Shults credits the origins of his movie Waves to Frank Ocean's album Blonde. The complex emotional undercurrents of Ocean's music, blending soul, jazz, RnB and pop in one endlessly shifting whole, underscore the aesthetic of Waves, a surging family drama that moves from euphoria to despair in the blink of an eye.
Many of Ocean's songs are used in the movie itself, a vivid accompaniment to the film's bold visual style, which is given a human face thanks to an excellent cast that includes Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Sterling K. Brown. But we're plumping for Ocean's dreamy, rhapsodic 'Godspeed' (also heard in the trailer), whose elusive sense of beauty encapsulates a film brimming with all manner of human emotion.
10. Most beautiful musical theme: 'David's Writings' from The Personal History of David Copperfield
It seems likely that Joker composer Hildur Gudnadottir will walk away with the Oscar for Best Original Score; she's already won the Golden Globe, plus a clutch of other awards, which would appear to put her ahead of rivals like Thomas Newman (1917). But if we were giving awards for the loveliest theme of any 2019 movie, it would be 'David's Writings' from David Copperfield, composed by Christopher Willis.
The David Copperfield score pivots around two themes from Willis, one blusterous and exuberant that encapsulates the sweep of David's life, and the other wistfully lovely as our central character realises his dream of becoming a writer. The music cements David's identity as an author, resplendent in a sense of classical Britishness that is a joy to hear, both inside and outside the context of a film. Few movie themes in 2019 enhanced our understanding of the central character quite like this one.
11. Biggest crowd-pleasing moment of 2019: Captain America leads the charge in Avengers: Endgame
For better or worse, the Oscars tend to value dramatic prestige above popcorn entertainment; even when the Academy had appeared to turn the corner a couple of years ago, honouring Marvel's Black Panther with historic Oscar wins and nominations, they've now seen fit to ignore Avengers: Endgame altogether.
More's the pity – there's a reason why the movie has ascended to become the highest-grossing film of all time. Put simply, it was an event that brought people from all over the world together in a spirit of exhilaration and joy, and if that's not awards-worthy, then nothing is. Our award for the film's (and indeed the whole year's) biggest crowd-pleasing moment is where Captain America (Chris Evans) leads the resurgent Avengers in one final charge against Thanos' (Josh Brolin) forces. When seen in conjunction with Alan Silvestri's spine-tingling score, it's hard to imagine a moment that better fuses fan-pleasing expectations with a spectacular sense of scale.
The 92nd Academy Awards get underway on the 9th of February. What Oscars categories would you come up with? Let us know @Cineworld, and of course, send us your tips as to who will win big at this year's ceremony.