Hugo Choices 3: Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

Previously on Hugo Choices:

Current Hugo State of Play

Hugo Choices 1: Best Novel

Hugo Choices 2: Best Related Work – The Story of Moira Greyland

There are four nominees in this category which I’d be happy for any of them to win. Overall it is a broad sampling of interesting SF movies within the frame of big Hollywood style movies. Some tough choices below and I had a tough time picking between the top 2.

  1. The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox) Clever, fun and despite being focused on one man’s struggle with a harsh environment, a broad, diverse and effective cast. Oh it was hard to choose between this and Fury Road but in the end The Martian was just more original and overall a better ambassador for SF. This category is more of a ‘more like this please’ request from fandom than a reward. The movie studios typically don’t need a Hugo Award but it is still a way to say what is good and entertaining within SF movie making.
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller (Village Roadshow Pictures; Kennedy Miller Mitchell; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures)Brilliant and exciting and somehow squares the circle of presenting all the elements of a Mad Max film while doing something different with it. Only at number 2 because, really it is another Mad Max film and so a tad less original than The Martian. But, Miller deserves credit for showing that a enjoyable and brainless action movie can be enjoyable and yet not actually brainless. I’ll stop typing now so that I don’t change my mind.
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams (Lucasfilm Ltd.; Bad Robot Productions; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)I’ve watched this three times now, including once in Spanish on a plane in Argentina. One of the best Star Wars movies in the whole set and I think unfairly accused of simply retreading the original. The section of the movie that runs from the start to the moment where Han Solo first enters is, I think, flawless. Not that Han ruins it, just that the episodic structure of the movie ticks onto the less brilliant episodes. The first part reprises aspects of the original but is doing quite different things and does its own clever stuff with shifting perspectives. Yeah and its Star Wars.
  4. Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures) A tense and intelligent movie with its own twists and head games. By dwelling on  the misogyny of men by examining men being misogynistic it tries to tread a difficult line with insights on one side and just plain misogyny on the other. A strong contender but it isn’t Star Wars despite starring General Hux and Poe Dameron.
  5. No Award. No, I’m not…oh yes I am. There was slating going on and I said I’d judge stuff against comparison works. Does Avengers: Age of Ultron make the cut? Nope. It isn’t award worthy compared to films that didn’t get nominated. Predestination (which had its eligibility extended) was much better – and ironically proves that heinlein can’t get nominated for a Hugo anymore because apart from anything else Puppies don’t vote for him. Pixar’s Inside Out was better too – and emotionally deeper and more intelligent.
  6. And off the bottom of the ballot Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)  Not an awful film. It was fun, it was entertaining but it was one of the weaker entries of the recent Marvel franchise. Ironically Captain America: Civil war has made Age of Ultron look worse. Yeah, I’m cool with putting it below No Award. It is fine but unremarkable. Sorry Avengers please don’t get mad at me.

Next time: Best Short Story. It’s a three way contest of pictures of cats warring asymmetrically against tingly raptor butts,

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31 comments

  1. David Brain

    I think I generally agree with your assessment and ordering here. (My feeling about SW:TFA is certainly very similar: the moment Harrison Ford walks onto the screen, everyone else might as well have just packed up and gone home, which somewhat detracts from the whole experience. Plus the whole immediately subsequent scene with the tentacles etc. is just too much of a CGI filler and not nearly as tense as the original trash compactor.)

    Then again, none of my nominations in this category made it onto the final ballot, so I’m not so invested in this one (I dearly want to know where Jonathan Strange eventually came on the longlist) as I suspected that there would be at least three things I’d be happy with, whatever anyone had tried to do.

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  2. Lurkertype

    This is one category where I wouldn’t have a cow at most of them winning. Ultron may not be original, but it’s a fun movie.

    But I’m voting “Ex Machina” below No Award. I thought it was unoriginal/predictable, the “twists” weren’t, and just too much misogyny. Bleh.

    Throw out “Ex Machina” and put in “Agent Carter” or “Jessica Jones”, I say. Or “Inside Out”. Or “Agent Carter”.

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  3. thephantom182

    ExMachina was Frankenstein. Again. But with tits and ass. I predicted the storyline in the first ten minutes.

    And the ending… come on. You don’t think the computer nerd engineer is going to be able to hack his way out of that house? Seriously.

    Mad Max was unwatchable horseshit, I didn’t even try to see it. Where the fuck do you get high octane gasoline and nitrous in the desert? Or how about AIR FILTERS. Deserts are not engine friendly. And nobody ever heard of caltrops? Pit traps? Cable between two rocks? Spear guns? Please, give me a fucking break.

    Avengers is a -far- better movie than that turkey, and it is far better than Star Wars as well. Millennium Falcon sits in the sand for 20 years, starts right up, and most hilariously still holds air. OMFG please spare me from George Fucking Lucas and his band of retards.

    Agent Carter was better than any of them, so naturally they canceled it. Stupid bastards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • camestrosfelapton

      I agree – having a single worldwide nationalised film and TV company that controls everything (the “they” of whom you speak) has been a complete failure. Also good point on Age of Ultron being better than the film you didnt watch. It was one of the few films that had a clear understanding of air filters in context unlike that stupid George Lucas and that Star Wars film that he wasnt actually directly involved in.
      To recap
      The Martian: did the film explain how the air filters functioned on Mars? No.
      Fury Road: how would the car air filters work in the desert?
      Force Awakens:Hello! Desert again! Milennium Falcon’s air filters would be wrecked.
      Ex Machina: um I bet there was an air filter error there somewhere.

      Age of Ultron:ZERO air filter related plot issues. So obvs best movie. Mind you…wouldnt all the dust from raising Sokovia in the air get in Iron Man’s air filters? Whedon!!!!! You let us down Whedon – you didn’t think of the core quality of a movie: how it portrays dust interacting with air filters.

      Liked by 2 people

      • The Phantom

        Suspension of disbelief is a funny thing. I happen to know a bit about deserts and cars. I have a VW desert race car. In the desert it goes through filters like a bitch. That’s just a sucky little VW bug motor. V8s in the desert have huge air filters that look like a cyclonic vacuum cleaner. It’s an issue.

        So when I see a row of cars built like dragsters in the trailer for Mad Max, roaring across the sand with superchargers breathing through open throated intake manifolds, in a post-apocalyptic world populated with insane meth heads… Nope. I’m out. Someone who is an idiot did the concept design.

        Not to mention the whole sex-slavery angle, I don’t want that crap in my brain thanks. Ew.

        ExMachina fail, here’s one: how does she dump waste heat? Does she have fans? Like, inside her body? How’s she going to make out when she has to clean the AIR FILTER? Who’s going to blow the crap off her CPU like I have to every time I crack the case on a PC? There’s never going to be one AI, operating alone in the world. There’s going to be one with lots of human friends to fix it, or there’s going to be a bunch of AIs all fixing each other all the time.

        If I’m sitting watching the movie, and thinking about the fucking air filter, the writer didn’t get their job done, usually because they didn’t care. They wanted to get on with the chattel slavery and the sexual abuse, they couldn’t be bothered to explain pretty much anything at all.

        Age of Ultron, they used alien technology and Tony Stark’s giant brain as explanation. It’s good enough. I can assume Stark did the air filter, and the network congestion, and all the technical details by use of Handwavium. I can relax and enjoy the fun explosions.

        Really, I don’t care if the explanation for Mad Max is pixie dust. They’ve got Tinkerbell locked in a cage and they sprinkle the engines with magic every morning. But they didn’t do that. They just dumped a bunch of technology that demands a massive support infrastructure, and declared the infrastucture died so long ago that the world is populated by mutants, assholes and Tina Turner. It’s stupid.

        By your sniggering I see that the objection has to be spelled out in very large letters forming very small words, because you’re determined not to get it. Air filter is an allegory for “don’t be a lazy c*nt when writing an SF script.” Literary cleverness, CGI and titties are not a substitute for getting the details handled.

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      • KR

        I was sort of under the impression that the “fiction” in science fiction and the “fantasy” in, well, fantasy sort of had the stretching reality, creating alternate realities angle covered. That was dry observation, not sniggering. There’s a fine, if dusty, line in the sand there.

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      • KR

        Hey, now that I think about it, wouldn’t the principle of conservation of mass mean that there would not no way those kids would be jumping from leaf to leaf escaping giant insects in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids? I’ve never seen that movie, but I knew I hated it.

        Maybe John Z Upjohn can start reviewing kids movies and pointing out how SJWs are undermining real subjects like physics and engineering (not sure if “botany” counts as a science, what with the flowers and all).

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      • The Phantom

        Camestros Mockatron said: “A liquid coolant that dumps waste heat evaporatively via tiny holes in the outer skin layer”

        Sweating? Plausible. Does it use water? Corrosion! How does she clean the teensy holes out when crap gets stuck in them? Going to need help scrubbing her back, I think.

        KR said: “I was sort of under the impression that the “fiction” in science fiction and the “fantasy” in, well, fantasy sort of had the stretching reality, creating alternate realities angle covered.”

        Fictional science is expected and appreciated. What irks me is when they completely ignore science, or even reason, and leave plot holes you can drive a bus through.

        Busted-ass spaceship in a junkyard starts right up and flies better than the Tie fighters that have hangers and maintenance crews. Yeah? Why isn’t it out earning money then? Poor planet, that thing should be out working. Everyone else is, sure enough. It’s a giant plot hole, caused by -laziness-. They don’t care if the story tracks, they think we are all so stupid we won’t notice.

        There’s a lot of that going around these days. It’s irritating and it makes things that should be fun boring.

        Liked by 1 person

      • camestrosfelapton

        Fair point on the Falcon. I feel the Starkiller Base’s sun eating interstellar space-crossing yet visible from other planets weapon was a BIGGER plot hole but yeah.

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      • ligne

        “There’s a lot of that going around these days. It’s irritating and it makes things that should be fun boring.”

        are…..

        …are you sure you’ve not got the “fun” and “boring” parts the wrong way round here?

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      • thephantom182

        ligne said: “…are you sure you’ve not got the “fun” and “boring” parts the wrong way round here?”

        Science fiction requires a technological, futuristic component. Like Blade Runner. The structure of the androids is explained. It isn’t the point of the story, but it’s definitely in there. All sorts of visuals, the names of things, all that. The flying cars by contrast need no explanation, we are left to wonder what marvel makes them go, because its not important what makes them go. They’re flying cars, they have lifty-looking bits that light up, that’s good enough. We don’t have to worry about the flying-car garage, we assume it.

        But an ancient busted spaceship lying abandoned in a desert, in a shithole village with no spare parts, no infrastucture, no nothing… and it flies? That’s like finding a 1927 Ford abandoned and half-buried in the desert. The hero jumps in and it fires with the first turn of the key, it outraces the Humvees chasing him, and he drives it all the way to the Arctic Circle without stopping for gas.

        The author needs to throw me a bone here. It’s a -magic- 1927 Ford. Or the hero is magic. Or it belongs to Dr. Who. Or some other made up thing to get me past the stupid.

        Camestros said: “I feel the Starkiller Base’s sun eating interstellar space-crossing yet visible from other planets weapon was a BIGGER plot hole…”

        At that point I was just along for the explosions. Watching poor old Harrison Ford limp just killed me. And Carrie Fischer, holy crap, she looked like they had her propped up with rigging. Also, when Darth Whatsit pulled off his helmet I accidentally said “It’s Justin Trudeau!” really loud, some other Canadian in the back cracked up.

        Liked by 1 person

      • camestrosfelapton

        “”Also, when Darth Whatsit pulled off his helmet I accidentally said “It’s Justin Trudeau!” really loud, some other Canadian in the back cracked up.”

        🙂

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