With the Oscars coming up this weekend, I thought it would be fun to write up my choices for each of the award-winning categories. The Music City Film Critics’ Association, of which I am a member, conducted their award nods earlier this year, with The Power of the Dog taking away several awards, including best picture.

The truth is that most award-nominated films are just not mainstream enough. And not everyone sees them until after the awards are cast and the studios have had a chance to put that “Winner of X award, including best something” on the movie art.

So, today, I thought I would give my choices for the show’s main categories. I may have not seen every single film that was released in 2021, but that’s OK, because I know the types of movies I like. Let’s see if we agree or disagree. Either way, be sure to hit me up on social media and let me know.

Best Visual Effects: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Marvel Studios pulled yet another obscure comic character out of the archives and gave fans a film that was not only a good story, but also one that was visually stunning. I know that Dune is a favorite for this category in the real Oscars, but for me, you cannot beat the beauty and talent behind Shang-Chi.

Best Song: “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”

Another nod toward Disney goes to Encanto for the ear-bug of a song called, “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.” Even before I sat down and watched this animated treat with my daughter, she was already singing this song daily. I know I am not alone when it comes to this song. It’s catchy, engaging and fun.

Best Costume Design: Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

I promise that I have seen more than just Disney films in 2021. But I would be wrong in not giving Shang-Chi this award. Again, the fantasy world that was built into the movie led to some amazingly colorful and gorgeous costumes, for all characters in the film.

Best Animated Film: The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Alright, so we are breaking away from the House of the Mouse and going a different route when it comes to the best animated film in 2021. Encanto and Raya & the Last Dragon were good films, but The Mitchells vs. the Machines was in a class all of its own. Maybe it is because I am a dad of an amazing daughter myself, but I felt the father/daughter dynamic plays out better in this animated movie than in some Hollywood hits.

Best Actress: Mckenna Grace (Ghostbusters: Afterlife)

Mckenna Grace was one of many great things about Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The 15-year-old actress was the perfect casting for Phoebe Spengler, the granddaughter of Egon. Not sure how this actress was overlooked for the actual award.

Best Actor: Nicolas Cage (Pig)

You probably guessed I was going to give this award to my man, Nic Cage. But in all fairness, this film is about the kidnapping of a truffle-finding pig. Only an actor of the quality and prowess of Nicolas Cage could make me care. And I did. I laughed. I cried. I felt something for the oinker. Nicolas Cage made that happen. Bar none… he is the G.O.A.T.

Best Director: Jason Reitman (Ghostbusters: Afterlife)

Following in his dad’s shoes, Jason Reitman brought the sequel we wanted for the Ghostbusters franchise. Fans had been asking for a proper send-off for our original busting crew, and they got it with Afterlife. The movie was memorable, exciting and tugged at the heart. Even if we never see the original team back together again, this movie was worth it.

Best Picture: Spider-Man: No Way Home

It was really hard picking my favorite movie of 2021. Ghostbusters: Afterlife was a close second, but we also had films like Shang-Chi, No Time to Die and Black Widow. But when it all came down to it, the fan service given in Spider-Man: No Way Home was epic. The movie had everything we wanted. It is the film that I think Marvel Studios should look toward when asked, “What makes a great superhero film?” I know they know the answer, but sometimes I think Hollywood ignores the fans and decides they know what is best.

My best advice would be for those filmmakers to stop and look at how this movie blew everything out of the water, as far as gross sales went in 2021. Why this movie is not on the real Oscar list is way beyond me. It deserves it.

So, that is it. These are my thoughts for the #HauntLife Film Awards. What do you all think? Feel free to reach out to me on social media and let me know your opinions. I am sure we won’t all agree, but it’s still fun to discuss.