Tag Archives: Dramatic Presentation: Long

Hugos 2017, part 1

Best Novelette

Best Short Story

Best Related Work

Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form

Best Dramatic Presentation: Short Form

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No-awarding Editors and Avengers

I’m filling out my Hugo voting ballot and deciding what is going to float and which finalists will sink under the No Award option. Contenders who end up underwater will include, among others, all book editors and all the avengers.

My final votes in the Best Professional Editor (Long Form) and Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) categories — that is, book editors and movies — look like this:

Best Professional Editor (Long Form)

  1. No Award
  2. Sheila E. Gilbert
  3. Liz Gorinsky
  4. Jim Minz
  5. Toni Weisskopf
  6. Vox Day

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form)

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. Ex Machina
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. No Award
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron

I don’t think that any of the novel editors does a bad job (ok, maybe one of them). This is strictly a protest vote against the insane category. How can anybody who is not an industry insider come to any conclusion about who is better than someone else in turning mediocre books into great ones? I have no clue.

Thinking about my own tastes, Gilbert’s list of edited works looked a little better than Gorinsky’s or Minz’s, but readers don’t have access to the editing process that we are really supposed to judge here.

The best alternative for this silly category I can think of would be Best Publisher, so I thought about that for a minute. With these editors, that would be DAW (Gilbert), Tor Books (Gorinsky), Baen (Minz & Weisskopf) and Castalia House (Vox Day).

So, what were the publishers of the year’s best novels?

If the Hugo finalists in the novel category are supposed to indicate which publishers really scored last year, that would be Orbit, Roc, Del Rey and William Morrow. Orbit has in fact two titles in there. No editors working for these publishers are on the Hugo ballot, even though the Hugo nominators consider their end products to be the best in the field.

On the Nebula ballot, the novel finalists’ publishing houses are: Orbit (twice, again), Tor (twice), Baen, Del Rey and Saga. At last some familiar names! However: Gorinsky didn’t edit the Nebula-nominated Tor books (Barsk and Updraft) and Minz didn’t edit the Nebula-nominated Baen book (Raising Caine) — nobody knows what Weisskopf edited because she keeps that a secret.

Yeah. Is this a strange list of best editors in the business or what?

Ok, how about the movies, then? The picks from 1 to 4 require no explanation. Mad Max is a masterpiece whereas The Martian, Ex Machina and the new Star Wars were all solid and enjoyable films. I am a bit saddened by the fact that the end of Ex Machina was so predictable. It was the only movie that wasn’t a sequel or an adaptation with a blockbuster budget and I liked the acting and the atmosphere quite a bit.

For Avengers, there was very little hope, considering my visceral hate of Captain America. He is the most boring and stupid creation in the history of human entertainment and he ruins every film that features him (becoming an agent of Hydra cannot be a bad career move for him). I also found out that I dislike Thor very much. Hulk and Iron Man should dump their loser friends and do it fast if they wish to end up higher on my ballot that sixth in a field of five in the future!

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Superfun Masterpiece of a Toy Commercial — Lego Movie

Category: Dramatic Presentation / Long Form
Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies

The pure genius of the Lego Movie is the reason why I can’t support no awarding all Puppy nominees. It’s a noble idea but frankly impossible to pull off once you watch this 100-minute toy commercial.

I don’t know how much a child would understand about this at times psychedelic and metatextual story, but — more importantly — I DON’T CARE. This film is optimized for adults who played with Legos back when they were children and can therefore appreciate the masturbatorily nostalgic side of it (and the hints of subversive self-irony). Luckily, I happen to be one.

There’s a lot happening all the time, so maybe the younger watchers are satisfied with the stimuli bombardment as well. I don’t know. Did I say I don’t care?

Score: 9/10

Street-cred Enhanced Star Wars — Guardians of the Galaxy

Category: Dramatic Presentation / Long
Slates: Rabid Puppies & Sad Puppies

Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn, is what a good comics-to-film adaptation should be like. I have never read the comics, but the film feels like it’s giving the full story. That’s where most superhero movies fail miserably, I think. X-Men and Avenger movies almost always have an underlying hard-to-explain feeling of only scratching the surface — that fully appreciating this requires also consuming more of the franchise works and that the movie’s purpose is rather to separate the viewers of their money than to pass on an interesting, complete story.

Whether this tells more about me than Marvel movies, I don’t know (probably the answer is “yes”). However, I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a modernized and street-cred enhanced Star Wars, basically, with some self-consciously contemporary touches added here and there. A team of bad-ass mercenaries consisting of people (or aliens) from different worlds struggle to stay alive, make a profit and defeat a sinister, planet-destroying bad guy. You know, the usual.

What is the movie’s strength — that it’s an enjoyable space opera — is also its central drawback: it’s only an enjoyable space opera and nothing more. The story is adequately interesting, the characters are adequetely fun and the setting has adequate levels of sensawunda. It all adds up to an adequately entertaining film, not a genre masterpiece like Mad Max: Fury Road, Interstellar or Lego Movie. Guardians of the Galaxy takes no risks and tries nothing exceptional.

Something critical can be (and has been) said about the film’s portrayal of women. On that front, I think this was a pretty average Hollywood movie with the average Hollywood set of sexual politics. You can maybe smell a gentle whiff of misogyny somewhere, but there’s the same whiff in practically everything that Marvel and other media megaconglomerates churn out, so I’m not going to hold it against this specific movie in this year’s Hugo vote.

Score: 7/10.

Groundhogs in Battle Armor: Edge of Tomorrow

Category: Dramatic Presentation: Long Form
Slates: None

You can’t flop very hard with big guns, space monsters and a repetitive time travel storyline à la Groundhog Day. You can even put up with Tom Cruise’s acting.

Edge of Tomorrow, adapted from Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s novel All You Need Is Kill, may not stand a change in the Hugo race, because Interstellar was made the same year — and that’s arguably one of the best (if not the best) SFF movies of all time. Still, it’s an enjoyable science fiction film with good storytelling and interesting characters.

There are some silly things in the plot if you really want to push it. The dead aliens’ ability to reset the day and the fact that it can be temporarily transferred to a human who is in touch with the fluids of a dead alien (until one has a blood transfusion) is quite far-fetched. The romance plotline was as heavy-handed and clichéd as you would expect from a Hollywood movie. But so what? There’s time travel, big guns and space monsters.

I watched this back to back with the boring-as-hell Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and it’s quite obvious that director Doug Liman found considerably better use for the 170 million dollars that both films cost.

Score: 8/10

The Bondesque Superhero Action of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Category: Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form
Slates: None

Here’s a list of Captain America’s superpowers:

  1. Being strong.
  2. Being good.
  3. Being irritating as fuck.

Was he out taking a piss when they handed out personalities in the Marvel universe? Was he helping elderly women cross the street? Was he in a boy scout meeting? Whatever happened, that zero-dimensional bore is the reason I didn’t enjoy these two hours of senseless superhero violence, which is a shame.

Iron Man has a problem with booze, at least. Hulk has rage issues. Cap’s got nothing.

Come to think of it, Captain America: The Winter Soldier wasn’t science fiction or fantasy at all. It was a generic action thriller with some futuristic props. They could have thrown Captain America out and put James Bond in and nobody would have noticed. At the very least, Bond would have done a better job at flirting with Black Widow.

All Captain America is good for seems to be posturing and telling everybody what’s the moral thing to do (in addition to throwing his shield around which looks sillier in movies than in comic books). I almost rooted for the comically sinister Nazis.

Score: 4/10.