Hugo Awards 2021: Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form Nominees

Hello, everyone, it’s Hugo season once more! Doug and I are both voting members, and I’m waffling on whether or not to go in person to this year’s awards, seeing as how they’re basically in my city this time and who knows when that will happen again! Decisions, decisions.

Speaking of decisions, we’ll be talking about our voting choices here, starting with my opinions on (what I was genuinely surprised to complete first of all the categories) the nominees for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Prior to the nominations, I’d only actually watched one of these movies, the effervescent Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), written by Christina Hodson, directed by Cathy Yan (Warner Bros.) I got to see it in theaters right before the pandemic shut down the USA and thought it, quite frankly, the best DC movie made to date*. It’s definitely my favorite of the movies listed here, and my first-place choice for this category.

The next movie I checked out was Soul, with screenplay by Pete Docter, Mike Jones and Kemp Powers; directed by Pete Docter; co-directed by Kemp Powers; produced by Dana Murray (Pixar Animation Studios/ Walt Disney Pictures). I’ve gotten out of the habit of watching every Disney animated movie that shows up in theaters, and my enjoyment of Soul reminded me of how remiss I’ve been. Soul is an uplifting and surprisingly deep tale of finding your purpose in life (and, arguably, pre-life.) I can understand the criticism of having the main Black character spend so much of the movie not being inside his own body but am frankly glad Disney chose to feature a person of color at all.

A lack of diversity certainly isn’t a failure of Tenet, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner Bros./Syncopy) This sci-fi film features John David Washington doing some really cool, really cerebral backward-motion action scenes. Unfortunately, the movie is entirely too much in love with itself and how clever it thinks it’s being. It was nice to watch Robert Pattinson and Aaron Taylor-Johnson talk in their regular accents tho (and, coincidentally, look extra tasty) in this ultimately silly tale that had much more interesting special effects than story.

I convinced my good friend Karin to watch the next nominee, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, written by Will Ferrell & Andrew Steele; directed by David Dobkin (European Broadcasting Union/Netflix) with me while embroidering one week. She loves Eurovision, and we both had a good laugh watching this surprisingly charming movie, with its unexpected fantasy element. Will Ferrell screaming that there’s no such thing as elves is a hilarious reversal from one of his most famous roles to date. In my book, this movie is tied with Soul for second place.

My best friend and I watched The Old Guard, written by Greg Rucka, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (Netflix / Skydance Media) together and were honestly disappointed. The fighting was by far the best thing about this movie, which posited several questionable scenarios that stretched the bounds of credulity even more than the idea of immortal warriors rediscovering purpose in the modern age. When we have to pause the movie to have WTF discussions, or when I can 100% guess every single plot twist in the second half of the film, it’s not a nominee that’s going to rank highly in my scoring. It’ll still do better than Tenet tho.

And finally we come to Palm Springs, written by Andy Siara, directed by Max Barbakow (Limelight / Sun Entertainment Culture / The Lonely Island / Culmination Productions / Neon / Hulu / Amazon Prime). Alas, I don’t have Hulu, and I simply can’t justify paying money for yet another streaming service. I like Andy Samberg and I’m sure this is delightful, but I’d be highly surprised if it rates better than Eurovision Song Contest. Perhaps I will get a chance to see it and change my mind before voting closes, but I’m pretty confident of my vote order from here on out.

*I have since watched The Suicide Squad twice, once in theaters, and it has easily dethroned Birds Of Prey as the best DCEU movie I’ve ever seen. Not that BoP wasn’t tons of fun, but TSS was even more, and my favorite superhero movie this year so far!

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