Previously on Hugo Choices:
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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,