It's awards season in Hollywood. The 91st Oscars are Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, which means casual movie fans across the country have been rushing to watch all the movies that snagged Best Picture nods and catch all the must-see performances by their favorite award-nominated actors.
But if you're like me, you may prefer the types of movies that will blow your mind on your TV at home after a few (or more) bong rips, or the type of Hollywood spectacle that really shines on a megaplex screen once the edibles kick in — the kind of cinema that the Academy Awards, more often than not, fail to recognize.
The Oscars may not always have your entertainment interests at heart, but we certainly do. That's why, in the tradition of Siskel & Ebert's annual “If We Picked the Winners” shows, we're offering a list of cinematic winners from 2018 to suit the viewing (and smoking) habits of the Weedmaps News reader.
If you're looking for something really good to watch high this weekend, here are the nominees:
Best Film to Watch High: 'Mandy'
Both the underrated ensemble crime-comedy “Game Night” and the ethereal, horrifyingly trippy sci-fi flick “Annihilation” would have been serious contenders for the best high-watch of 2018 … had they not come out the same year as “Mandy.”
If you've already seen this hazy, heavy-metal spectacle, you know it's one of the absolute trippiest cinematic experiences of recent memory. From its wild, return-to-form performance from Nicolas Cage, to its synth-heavy soundtrack, psychedelic animated sequences, and plenty of filmmaking acrobatics in between, “Mandy” is the perfect heavy-psych high watch.
Best 'Weed Culture' Movie: 'Sorry to Bother You'
“Sorry to Bother You” was one of many 2018 movies that captured a creative anarchy, political edge, and “stoney” cerebral quality we haven't really seen in Hollywood since the '70s. Directed by rapper/activist/filmmaker Boots Riley, the film stars LaKeith Stanfield as a struggling telemarketer who discovers his “white voice,” which boosts his phone sales and catapults him into a complex, twisted web of political intrigue and corporate conspiracy in a surreal, alternate version of Oakland, California.
More daring and relevant than any of 2019's actual Best Picture nominees, “Sorry to Bother You” vividly captures the people, places, politics, and social upheaval surrounding our modern age of weed. And the movie's surreal, farcical nature makes it a blast to watch high. Plus, it was also the only movie in 2018 to market its own line of cannabis strains.
Screenplay Most Likely Written Under the Influence: 'Vice'
“Vice” is really the only real-life Oscar contender on this list, having snagged nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, three acting nominations, and Best Original Screenplay. It'd be nice to see McKay take home a gold statue for his thorough, witty, biting “stoner-logic” approach to writing one of the most important and criminally obscured stories in modern American history.
We're not explicitly accusing writer/director Adam McKay of writing the entire “Vice” screenplay high, but he did write and structure this unconventional biopic of Vice President Dick Cheney with a wild, angry, and darkly comic approach that makes the movie feel like a lively political conversation you might have with your hilarious, hip stoner-uncle during a toke-sesh.
Best Soundtrack for Your Next Sesh: 'Mandy'
Though composer Cliff Martinez's heavy electronic “Game Night” score would make the perfect soundtrack for your next high, this is ultimately another category we gotta give to “Mandy.” The final film score of composer Jóhann Jóhannsson who died Feb. 9, 2018, at the age of 48, the stoney, ethereal synth-metal soundtrack to “Mandy” was literally made with formative experiences of high listening firmly in mind.
“[Jóhannsson] and I wanted a scene to feel like being in the backseat of your big brother's Trans Am and you can smell the yellow air freshener tree and the leather of the seats,” director Panos Cosmatos told Pitchfork on Sept. 14, 2018, of the score. “He's smoking weed and you're kind of terrified, but at the same time, it's a thrilling experience. He knew exactly what I was talking about.”
Most Lit Cinematography: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story'
2018 was a great year for the art of cinematography. The Coen Brothers' Western anthology “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” features some of the most gorgeous, otherworldly landscape photography ever shot digitally. And, once again, the neon-soaked, metalocalyptic imagery of “Mandy” is too lit to be ignored. But ultimately, we're giving this one to “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”
Despite its director changeup mid-production and lackluster reception upon its summer 2018 release, this underrated “Star Wars” spinoff boasts some seriously dank low-light cinematography that we highly recommend viewing on your next night in, curled up with your favorite Indica strain.
Dankest Visual Effects: 'Aquaman'
“Aquaman” was left out of the Visual Effects category completely for 2019's Oscars — something director James Wan called a “fucking disgrace.” Having reveled in “Aquaman” 's effects-heavy eye candy on the big screen while under the influence, we're apt to agree.
The best thing a modern Hollywood blockbuster can do for a high viewer — or any viewer for that matter — is to pour its effects budget into something that looks not only beautiful, but also different than anything an audience has seen before. “Aquaman” is chock full of tremendously dank, groundbreaking visuals.
Trippiest Animated Film: 'Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse'
Speaking of computer generated animation, the award for trippiest animated film undoubtedly goes to “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.” From the guys who brought you “The Lego Movie,” “Spiderverse” is a colorful, mind-melting comic-book trip through multiple dimensions of the Marvel universe — featuring fan-favorite next-gen Spider-Man Miles Moralis, two Peter Parkers, a black-and-white “Spider-Man Noir” voiced by Nicolas Cage, and a wisecracking Spider-Pig.