Now that the Hugo deadline has been announced (July 15) I have to get cracking. Fortunately, I had already watched and/or nominated most of these. In looking over the list again, I have to say that in retrospect, it's kind of a weak Long Form year.
I was afraid this movie would be all spectacle with precious little substance, and that turned out to be the case, at least as far as I was concerned. Yeah, Tony reconciled with his father and Steve got his happy ending with Peggy (even if the resultant timeline made no damn sense), but the bloat and confusing chrono-hopping dragged the movie down. (Just as an aside, Kameron Hurley does that sort of thing a helluva lot better in her Hugo-nominated novel The Light Brigade, which is a far better use of your time than this movie.) I suppose if one were really into these characters and the whole Marvel universe, one could overlook this...but the shabby treatment of Natasha Romanov pretty much killed any benefit-of-the-doubt I might have offered. I know she's going to get her own movie, which I will see if/when it comes out, but it's a bloody prequel, and she's still going to be dead.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
My complaints about this movie are similar to Endgame, only more so...more bloat, more useless CGI spectacle, and even less character development. Look, I realize JJ Abrams was handed an impossible task: wrap up a (mostly) beloved nine-part series while juggling multiple iconic characters and simultaneously dealing with the heartbreaking loss of Carrie Fisher and trying to pacify the noisy entitled fanboys who raised holy hell over what Rian Johnson did in The Last Jedi. He failed, and unfortunately he was set up to fail. That doesn't mean he made a good movie. The best of the few and far between highlights came from Daisy Ridley and Adam Driver (even if the latter's redemption was waayyyyyyy too rushed, and depended heavily on an uncredited Harrison Ford cameo). The other characters were dealt with sketchily and shallowly, if at all, and the pacing was so fast and frantic it sucked the oxygen out of the room. Also, about Carrie Fisher...I appreciate Abrams' efforts to honor her memory and work her into the film as best he could. Her passing left gaping holes in the story. That being the case, I wish the movie had opened with General Leia Organa's funeral, and we could have had a proper closure for both actress and character.
Knocking On the Door
This was a fairly good origin film, and certainly better than Endgame. I liked it well enough, but it didn't quite wow me. They did a very good job with the special effects, however, particularly the de-aging of Samuel L. Jackson (as the 20 years younger and two eyed Nick Fury) and Phil Coulson. In fact, they descended into the uncanny valley less than some of the shots of Goose, Carol's flerken-in-a-cat-suit. The most memorable scene was the sight of a preening, posturing Yon-Rogg challenging Carol to a fight, and her effortlessly smashing him into the ground a good football field's length away, then marching up to him and proclaiming: "I have nothing to prove to you." Also, the final after credits scene....good heavens, I hope my cat never harks up anything like that.
We Have a Winnah!
Russian Doll, Season 1
Is this the year of time hoops? Because that's what this is, and it's far better than Endgame. Maybe that's because the central Groundhog Day-conceit is never explained. There is no quasi-scientific handwaving or bafflegab, it simply happens. It happens because the main character, the gloriously messed-up game designer Nadia, meets a suicidal young man one fateful night. Because Nadia is so enthralled with her sleazy fucktoy, she fails to make the one crucial intercession that would have led to the young man, Alan, not killing himself. Due to this, both she and Alan are locked into an intertwined karmic loop, reliving that day over and over (and dying over and over, in all sorts of morbidly ingenious ways), until they both dig down into their characters and help each other, and thus break free. This show is tightly plotted and structured, with equal attention given to the characters. There's supposed to be a season season, but I rather hope not--I honestly don't know what else they could do that wouldn't feel like a diminished retread.
I'm beginning to think that Jordan Peele can do no wrong. This inventive horror story, anchored by an outstanding performance from Lupita Nyong'o (who deserved an Oscar nomination, dammit), was full of poetry and metaphor. I didn't understand some of it--especially the Hands Across America thing--but those images have remained in my mind ever since.
I went searching for the title credits to embed here, because I loved them. I could watch them over and over. The whimsical music, the little paper cutouts of Crowley and Aziraphale, the glimpses of characters that would appear in the miniseries--they show off this program in all of its absurd British glory. I think Sir Terry would have been very proud of this.
Now that I've downloaded the Hugo packet, I can start some serious ranking. (Although voting hasn't opened yet. That should be soon, I hope. With their sudden unavoidable switch to a virtual convention, I'm sure those people are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and I certainly don't want to pressure them further. But...soon? Please?)