It isn’t just film critics who are giving genre movies one of their best awards seasons in recent memory: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has just handed out its inaugural batch of awards for the year’s most animal-friendly movies — and it’s top-loaded with sci-fi and fantasy flicks.
Perhaps that’s because fauna-rich movies like Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle don’t actually depict any real-world animals at all, relying instead on CGI to enliven their story worlds.
The Last Jedi took home PETA’s award for “Best Live-Action Film” and “Best Original Screenplay for Positive Storylines,” while Jumanji was recognized for “Best Computer-Generated Imagery.”
The Last Jedi in particular got PETA’s meow of approval for finding a way to thread pro-animal messages into its story. “Two characters set free fathiers (horse-like creatures) used for racing, and Chewbacca chooses not to eat a porg (a bird-like creature) after seeing a group of porgs weep over their dead companion,” PETA gushed.
The genre dominance didn’t stop there, though. Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes) and Doug Jones (The Shape of Water) tied for Best Actor — and each of them did it by taking on a non-human role.
PETA showed Serkis the love for playing Caesar the chimp and assuring that “no real great apes were forced to perform” in the Apes sequel. Jones was honored for poignantly bringing empathy and pathos to his non-human fishman character, in the process highlighting “the sadness and desperation of being abused and chained.”
The Shape of Water’s Guillermo del Toro also was honored as best director, for encouraging “equal consideration and kindness for others, without exploiting live animals.” Ryan Gosling, meanwhile, was recognized for his faux-shearling collared jacket in Blade Runner 2049, which PETA said serves notice that “the future of fashion is cruelty-free.”
In all, PETA handed out 12 awards to films whose “creative imagery proved that including positive animal rights messages and not using live animals promote kindness to animals,” as the organization explained in its announcement.
We’ll go out on a limb while we’re at it, and presume that no animals will be harmed when the real Oscars telecast rolls around. The year-capping awards show lands Feb. 26 at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC.