Maybe it’s time to add some fresh categories to the Oscar race. Because as exciting as best actor and director are, they tend to reward a small sliver of movies. If you were to hand out an awards for, say, the best motion capture performance or most inspired use of food products, things might get a little more interesting.
Here’s a look at a wish list of new awards, plus 2017’s imaginary front-runners.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
Front-runner: “Split’s” fragmented title sequence cleverly hints at the villain’s multiple personalities, and “Baby Driver” has an impeccably choreographed coffee run set to “Harlem Shuffle”; “Wormwood” — the Netflix docu-series that also got a theatrical release as a movie — has a dreamy depiction of a man falling in slow motion from a hotel window. But nothing can compete with the title credits of the second “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Not only does it boast the jolly, toe-tapping strains of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” but it comically zeroes in on an adorable dancing Baby Groot while a kinetic battle between the rest of the gang and a huge monster is relegated to the background.
Andy Serkis, “War for the Planet of the Apes”
Dan Stevens, “Beauty and the Beast”
Taika Waititi, “Thor: Ragnarok”
Terry Notary, “Kong: Skull Island”
Front-runner: It’s frustrating that actors known for motion capture never seem to get the awards they deserve, simply because their performance is covered up with a patina of technology. If life were fair, Andy Serkis would be up for a best actor Oscar for his soulful performance as Caesar in “War for the Planet of the Apes.” His work was so moving, he made the audience root against the humans and hope that primates would inherit the earth.
“The Big Sick”
“The Incredible Jessica James”
Front-runner: Comedies don’t get nearly the awards love they should. Even with a designated comedy and musical category at the Golden Globes, the contenders tend to be dramas with comedic elements (plus literally any musical that happened to come out that year). This year the most uproarious — not to mention best-selling — comedy was “Girls Trip,” an outrageous romp full of sight gags and repeatable one-liners with a star-making turn from Tiffany Haddish. It was also (yet another) reminder to studios that a movie led by a black female cast can have big returns.
Caleb Landry Jones
Front-runner: This category isn’t just for the actor who ended up in the most movies. In that case, Nicolas Cage or Eric Roberts would lead the pack. This is about the actors who were in the most movies — and television, what with “The Last Jedi” star Laura Dern’s stellar turns in “Big Little Lies” and “Twin Peaks” — worth seeing, while also doing stand-out work. Brie also bridged big and small screens, starring in “GLOW” and “Bojack Horseman,” in addition to “The Post” and “The Disaster Artist.” But the clear leader, Michael Stuhlbarg, played very different characters in three best-picture nominees — “Call Me by Your Name,” “The Shape of Water” and “The Post” — just barely edging out Caleb Landry Jones, who starred in two (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and “Get Out”), plus one that should have been a contender (“The Florida Project”).
Jason Statham saves the baby in “Fate of the Furious”
Rey and Kylo Ren team up in “The Last Jedi”
Stairwell fisticuffs in “Atomic Blonde”
Casino fighting in “Blade Runner: 2049”
Front-runner: How can you pick just one? The fight scene between two replicant hunters in “Blade Runner” features a hologram Elvis, and Charlize Theron kicks major butt in “Atomic Blonde.” Meanwhile, the fight in “The Last Jedi” starts with an extremely satisfying Snoke bisection. But only one of these fight scenes features a man taking out enemies while toting around — and cooing at — a baby, so “Fate of the Furious” it is.
Brooklynn Prince, “The Florida Project”
Millicent Simmonds, “Wonderstruck”
Noah Jupe, “Suburbicon”
Dafne Keen, “Logan”
Front-runner: The Oscars used to single out young performers with its occasional “juvenile award,” although those fell by the wayside in 1961, after Hayley Mills won for “Pollyanna.” But we’re happy to pick up the slack: There are many worthy contenders this year, especially deaf actress and newcomer Millicent Simmonds, who conveyed so much depth without a single word in “Wonderstruck.” But Brooklynn Prince would be hard to beat as the stubborn and sneaky — but also blissfully naive — little girl going on adventures around the run-down Orlando hotel where she lives.
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Okja”
Daniel Craig, “Logan Lucky”
Michelle Pfeiffer, “Mother!”
Domhnall Gleeson, “The Last Jedi”
Front-runner: Overacting can be cringe-inducing or somewhat endearing. It’s the difference between John Travolta embarrassing himself in “Battlefield Earth” vs. Al Pacino chewing the scenery in, well, just about everything. There was some terrible overacting this year (cough, cough, Johnny Depp) but also some inspired examples of overdoing it, the most bonkers being Jake Gyllenhaal channeling a hyperactive velociraptor in “Okja.” Probably the most entertaining example, however, was Domhnall Gleeson whose clipped enunciation and persistently supercilious air as Gen. Hux made “The Last Jedi” that much more fun.
Front-runner: It was a big year for movies with “wonder” in the title, even if they weren’t all winners (especially Woody Allen’s box-office miss “Wonder Wheel”). “Wonder” and “Wonderstruck” were easily confused, both being family-friendly tearjerkers, but no one was going to forget one of the best-selling, most satisfying movies of the year: “Wonder Woman.”
The peach in “Call Me by Your Name”
The grapefruit in “Girls Trip”
The tea in “Get Out”
The pie in “A Ghost Story”
Front-runner: Watching teeny tiny Rooney Mara consume an entire pie in “A Ghost Story” was certainly riveting, but the perishables in “Call Me by Your Name” and “Girls Trip” were much bigger conversation-starters, even if the scenes around them were so risque they can’t be described in a family newspaper. But which was most memorable? Good luck wiping away the image of Tiffany Haddish inserting a banana into a mutilated grapefruit then doing unspeakable things to it.
“Lost City of Z”
“A Quiet Passion”
Front-runner: “Lost City of Z” is a retro-style adventure tale the likes of which don’t often get made these days. It didn’t do nearly as well at the box office as it did with critics, which is the case for each of these movies, including the Emily Dickinson biopic “A Quiet Passion” and the funny, bittersweet musical about a miscarriage “Band Aid.” Perhaps the most egregiously overlooked film of the year, however, is “Columbus,” a movie about an unlikely friendship unfolding in the architectural mecca of Columbis, Ind. It’s so gorgeously shot and superbly acted that it really should have gotten Oscar love, not to mention many more eyeballs.