Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hugo Thoughts: Dra! Matic! Present! Tations!

Since I started this "Hugo Thoughts" thing with a post on the short fiction -- and since I am trying to be a conscientious voter this year, for once -- I figured I might as well keep getting blog posts out of the experience.

I will warn you that I am very opinionated, often for no good reason, and that your mileage may vary substantially from mine. But this is my blog, so of course it's full of my opinions. And all right-thinking people will eventually come to agree with the obvious rightness of my every last whim.

The plan is to post these daily, either in clumps or not, and to work up to "the Big One," Best Novel. Since I'm still 1 2/3 novels away from the end of that list, we'll see how that works out.

Oh, and this still isn't my "Handicapping the Hugos" post for this year; I only do those after the voting closes, so I can pretend that it's scientific.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Inception
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • Toy Story 3
I've actually seen all five nominees this year, and I've already marked up my ballot-paper. The nominees aren't uniformly embarrassing, as they have been some years, but this still isn't a list likely to make skeptics like myself go into paroxysms of delight. I did list three things higher than "No Award," which I suppose is a decent sign.

Harry Potter is a dull, overlong piece of middle that exists entirely because Warner saw the end of the series coming and thought of a sneaky way to squeeze one extra movie out of it. I have nothing else to add to my recent review of it.

How to Train Your Dragon is bland but entertaining, along very, very well-worn lines, and I'd feel disappointed that it was nominated if I had a high opinion of Hugo nominators. Luckily, I don't. I reviewed this one back when it came out -- but, then, I have two young sons, so I have an excuse.

I saw Inception on video and enjoyed it, but it's not nearly as smart or clever as the dumb mainstream critics seemed to think it was, and I'm mildly surprised that SF-savvy Hugo voters liked it so much. It is a clearly SFnal story, told well, with a big budget and lots of things going boom, so perhaps "not stupid" can be taken for "smart." But the two are not the same. (I tossed this into the middle of the giant post where I caught up on all the movies I'd seen for six months.)

Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, on the other hand, is the real deal: visually inventive, actually smart, cunningly playful, and endlessly entertaining. Even Michael Cera couldn't put a dent into this magnificent piece of cinema, which takes a quirky series of graphic novels and turns them into an equally quirky film -- but, and this is the important part, does it by being a movie, and not just filming every last bit of the source material slavishly. It's thus also a great object lesson in how to adapt an interesting, "difficult" property well to another form: it must be done boldly and fearlessly. (I covered it in the same giant round-up as Inception.)

I thought Toy Story 3 (in that very same long post, seriously) was good, but not as good as #2, in the usual way of trilogies. I also thought the Pixar subtext was leaping pretty far out of "sub" by the end of the movie, which wasn't entirely to the movie's benefit. It's a bit disconcerting to see nostalgia crashing that highly for something barely fifteen years old, as well. Toy Story 3 is an admirable movie, but not one I could love or strongly support.

Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

  • Doctor Who: “A Christmas Carol,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by Steven Moffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)
  • Doctor Who: “Vincent and the Doctor,” written by Richard Curtis; directed by Jonny Campbell (BBC Wales)
  • Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury, written by Rachel Bloom; directed by Paul Briganti - Watch Online
  • The Lost Thing, written by Shaun Tan; directed by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan (Passion Pictures)
This part of the post will be much shorter: I haven't watched much TV for a decade, and The Lost Thing is not all that easy to see in the US. (It's out on video in Australia, which doesn't much help.)

So: I'm innocent of any Doctor Who since about 1982, when I hit puberty. I'm sure these episodes are really crackling good for those of you who haven't yet done so. (Sorry, sorry; I couldn't resist. Lots of people I respect like this, but my life is busy enough without trying to watch a lot more TV, too.)

I love the book of The Lost Thing, and hope to have a chance to watch the short film at some point -- I'm assuming it will be screened sometime at Worldcon, for example -- but doubt that will happen before I have to vote.

Luckily, I really, really like Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury. So I can happily vote for something in this category for what's probably the first time ever.

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