Enough with the Oscars already. It’s just an expensive prom night where rich people dress up to give one another prizes. Here are the accomplishments that really should be noted. We’re not doing the Academy Awards anymore. We’re doing the Covert Commendations.
Best Feature Film Made in Minnesota (Yes, I Know the Bar Is Low): Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern were outstanding in the cockeyed family comedy/drama “Wilson.” If you missed it, it’s really worth seeing. No kidding.
Most Extravagant Makeup: The mustache that Kenneth Branagh wore to play Agatha Christie’s sleuth Hercule Poirot in “Murder on the Orient Express” was somewhere between the size of a motorcycle’s handlebars and the luxury train’s cow catcher. Because Branagh also directed this stodgy adaptation, his sumptuous foliage may be his biggest contribution to the film. Those flamboyant whiskers are the brashest, flashiest facial hair since Yosemite Sam pulled his six-guns on Bugs Bunny.
Trend of the Year: Toxic mushroom broths and omelets. After the noxious toadstools served by the femmes fatal of William Oldroyd’s “Lady Macbeth,” Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread,” the Mushroom Marketing Board would have an easier time endorsing rat poison.
Staggering Incompetence of the Year: “The Snowman,” starring Michael Fassbender as the hero of popular Norwegian novelist Jo Nesbø’s detective series. All you want to detect is the exit.
Movie I Probably Should Not Have Praised So Much: “Silence,” Martin Scorsese’s saga of Catholic missionaries and local converts tortured in 17th-century Japan. Perhaps I was swayed by the fact it opened in 2016 in Los Angeles and was nominated for an Oscar for its cinematography (which was impressive, I admit). Or maybe I forgave the sluggish pace, excessive length and superficially defined characters because it pulled Liam Neeson out of his usual mad dad vs. kidnappers movies for a while.
Best Original Song: No award. I couldn’t care less.
Worst Coen Brothers-Related Movie: Directed by their four-time star George Clooney, “Suburbicon” was based on a script of classic Coen material — bad men’s schemes going awry, things getting out of control, knucklehead comedy and murderous violence in an idiosyncratic smorgasbord. But this opus, written in 1986 and knocking around unproduced ever since, was not helped when Clooney and his creative partner, Grant Heslov, revised it, adding a disconnected subplot about small-town racism in 1950s America. It tried to be topical, but turned out tone-deaf. Joel and Ethan should have pushed for the traditional Alan Smithee pseudonym on the credits.
Positive Development of the Year: The growing number of female-centric hit films. Women are scoring not just in fantasy romances such as Emma Watson in “Beauty and the Beast,” but across a spectrum of film types. We saw powerful female characters in superhero adventures, smart family comedies and movies about bad girls doing bad girl things. A year that gives us Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman,” Margot Robbie and Allison Janney in “I, Tonya,” Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in “Lady Bird,” Frances McDormand in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and Sally Hawkins in “The Shape of Water” is not a totally bad year.
Best Coen Brothers-Related Movie: Twenty years ago, McDormand entered superstar territory in husband Joel and brother-in-law Ethan Coen’s Midwestern noir gem “Fargo.” Now she plays the polar opposite of Sheriff Marge Gunderson in the Coenesque masterpiece “Three Billboards.” She’s a revenge-seeking rage-aholic out to punish anyone she deems responsible for the weak investigation of her daughter’s murder. The film feels and plays like writer/director Martin McDonagh, who wrote the part for McDormand specifically, is a long-lost Coen sibling. I hope he’s working on something for John Goodman right now.
Best Supporting Actor: In an unusual case of nominating two co-stars for the same Oscar category in the same film, Harrelson and Sam Rockwell have been forced to compete against each other. They play two entirely different small-town cops in “Three Billboards,” each hilarious and touching. Harrelson makes the chief of police a big-hearted, ultimately tragic tower of rectitude. Rockwell plays the most anti- of anti-heroes, a racist goofball whose character arc takes him from ugly comic relief to moral awakening. I hereby create a second category for best supporting actor, so they both win.
Subtle Period Drama of the Year: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” Just kidding. It really wins in the category Movie I Would Rather Have a Tooth Pulled Without Anesthesia Than View Again.