July 8, 2016
Hugo Voting 2016: Movie Movie
(The Hugo trophy from 2003. I also picked this because it looks a tiny bit like Tony Stark's ship.)
I just watched the last Long Form Dramatic Presentation on the ballot, Avengers: Age of Ultron. While I could look at Robert Downey Jr. all day, his overstuffed, heavily CGI'd film is not going to take my top spot, Joss Whedon and his snappy dialogue notwithstanding.
1) Mad Max: Fury Road
This is my favorite film from last year. (My second favorite is Predestination, which did not make the ballot, even after the Sasquan Business Meeting voted to give it an extra year of eligibility. This seems like a very odd omission to me, since it is a near note-by-note dramatization of Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies." Aren't the Rabid Puppy slatemongers supposed to sacrifice SJWs at Heinlein's altar? Y'all missed the boat with this one, folks.)
I love this for all the obvious reasons: Furiosa, the Wives, the real-time, practical (non-computerized) stunts, Furiosa, Nux, the feminist text and subtext, and Furiosa. If the nominal "hero," Max, is left off that list...it's because he wasn't the hero, and he wasn't intended to be. He's the Witness. There was tremendous power to this story of a lone wolf who wanders into these people's lives, regains some lost faith in humanity, nudges them along a different, better path, and wanders away again.
2) Ex Machina
This movie is creepy as all get-out, and gets more mind-bending the longer you think about it. (It also has one of the more concentrated star-making turns I've seen in a film recently, given that both Oscar Isaac and Domnhall Gleason went on to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Alicia Vikander just won a Supporting Actress Oscar and will star in the reboot of Tomb Raider.) It's a quiet, subtle film, and the slowly mounting horror it generates is all the more effective because of that.
3) Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Look, I expect this movie to take the category, and I can certainly understand why it would. I love Rey, Finn and Poe as much as anyone else (although the film certainly needs more Leia and less Whiny Kylo Brat). But as glad as we all were to see the story resume after thirty years, it simply doesn't have the depth of the top two.
4) The Martian
If there was a separate category for Competence Porn (With a Side of Potatoes), this movie would win going away. It certainly brought Mars to ruthless, beautiful red life. But it's also more of the same old White Guy Gets In Trouble and Bootstraps His Way Out of It Again. Now, if Jessica Chastain had been left behind instead...that would have been a movie.
5) Avengers: Age of Ultron
I don't know what Joss Whedon was thinking with this...was he trying to crossbreed the Avengers with the Terminator or something? And tossing in an idiotic, demeaning subplot about Natasha Romanoff thinking she's a "monster" because she can't have children? Whedon's vaunted feminism failed him badly on that one. I really liked Scarlet Witch, and of course Tony Stark got all the best lines, but those few moments interspersed with all the other overblown nonsense does not a winner make.
(Note: My ranking of Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form will be delayed, as I have to figure out how to find and watch the nominees. This will probably take a little doing, so I'm going to skip it for now.)