July 2014 + My Votes for the Hugo “Best Film” Award

That title is massively simplified (and therefore technically wrong), but still seems long, doesn’t it? Yeah, wait ’til you see the proper name of that subsection.

Oh, also, I watched some films and stuff. Y’know, what this blog is actually about.

What Do You Mean You Haven’t Seen…?

Continuing apace, this month’s WDYMYHS film is quirky French comedy Amélie.

Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and VideotapeJuly’s films in full

#56 Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
#57 A Late Quartet (2012)
#58 The Raid (2011), aka Serbuan maut
#59 We’re the Millers (2013)
We're the Millers#60 Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape (2010)
#61 Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)
#62 Pacific Rim (2013)
#63 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (2013)
#64 Frozen (2013)
#65 Amélie (2001), aka Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain


I’ve come over all Modern this month, with all but one film being from the 2010s — to put it another way, that means that all but one come from the last five years; and 40% are from last year alone, too. Well, I do have a lot of catching up to do. And the only film from outside this decade is still from this millennium. Ah well.

In terms of the history of Julys, I’m forming a new pattern: this year I watched ten new films, year before it was four, year before that it was ten, year before that it was four… Funny how these things happen, ain’t it? Year-to-date, ten films puts July precisely in the middle of things: it’s both my fourth-best and fourth-worst month of 2014.

As for having reached #65, that finally puts me ahead of last year, when I’d ‘only’ reached #62 by this point. I say ‘only’ because the goal for the end of July is 58, so both years remain ahead of expectations — indeed, I only need to watch one film next month to reach August’s target.

This month’s archive reviews

100 Films has changed home multiple times (deviantART, Blogger, FilmJournal, WordPress), and each time I’ve brought all my old content along with me. The move to WordPress has proven the most awkward in that regard: by the time I made the shift, I’d accumulated something like 700 posts. I’ve been here a couple of years now, regularly reposting old reviews as and when, but still fewer than half of those have made the transition. It’s time for a change… which is why early this month I began a concerted effort to repost at least one archive review every day. I don’t imagine I’ll keep it up full time (I think I’ve missed a day or two already), but it remains an overall goal; one that should see me fully transferred in a year or so — finally!

Each month I’m going to highlight the mass of reposts in this round-up, just in case you missed them. So, the inaugural selection of 24 are…

My Ranking of the 5 Hugo Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) Nominees

The Hugos are the prestigious science fiction and fantasy awards handed out by the World Science Fiction Society at whichever convention is Worldcon that year (this year, it’s LonCon 3), voted for by attendees and members of that convention. This year, I’ll be among those voters… well, by the time this has been posted the deadline will have passed, so I am among those voters. I signed up for two reasons, really: the “voter packet” of free ebooks, which this year included the complete Wheel of Time series (price of membership vs. value of the ebooks more than covered itself); and the chance to give everything Doctor Who-related a boost, as of course these awards are for last year, i.e. Who’s big 50th anniversary. Biased, me? Um…

The Hugos are primarily a literary award, with a dozen categories related to the writing and editing of fiction at various lengths; but in addition to those there are two Dramatic Presentation awards: Short Form (mainly, TV) and Long Form (mainly, films). As a good voter, I’ve made an effort to see all of the latter (and all but one of the former), and as two of them are amongst this month’s viewing, and (as I mentioned) the deadline for voting has just passed, I thought I’d share my final ranking. From best to worst, then…

  1. Gravity
    GravitySet in the immediate future using technology that largely exists or is about to exist, some contend that Gravity isn’t a science fiction film at all — it’s a present-day thriller, just one that happens to be set in space. And they’re right, really — there are plenty of “real-world present-day” type thrillers that have more science fictional happenings than Gravity. But it’s on the ballot and it’s an incredible film, so pish, it wins.
  2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
    The Hunger Games: Catching FireThe decision between second and third was a tough one for me — I’d’ve tied them if I could. However, I haven’t posted a review yet for Catching Fire and am still debating my score — does it stretch to a 5? It still could — not only did I really enjoy it, but I think it has a lot more thematic/dramatic heft than your average blockbuster. Anyway, the next film’s locked at 4 stars, so Catching Fire wins the toss.
  3. Iron Man 3
    Iron Man 3Some people seem to really, really dislike Iron Man 3. Not sure why — it may well be the best entry in what’s an all-round enjoyable trilogy (I still maintain Iron Man 2 isn’t so bad), a different-from-the-norm superhero tale that excites and entertains. It works as a trilogy-capper too (it’s almost a shame he’ll just be back in Avengers 2.) I’d quite like to rank it first… but, sadly, not in this year.
  4. Frozen
    FrozenDisney’s all-conquering version of The Snow Queen is the only fantasy film on this year’s ballot (seems to me the Hugos skew more SF than F. I suppose they are awarded by a Science Fiction society). I didn’t find it as incredible as the audiences who made it the fifth highest grossing film of all time, but it’s a fine film, whose initially-bland songs improve with re-listening (he says, listening to Let It Go as he writes).
  5. Pacific Rim
    Pacific RimGuillermo del Toro’s Westernised riff on a very Japanese subgenre flopped Stateside — it just crossed $100m, which once would’ve been remarkable, but on a budget of $190m is poor. Internationally, however, it stormed past $300m and so will be sequelised. Del Toro apparently aimed it at 11-year-old boys, and it’s better than most other super-budgeted movies aimed at that demographic.

And the one thing I reviewed as a film but the Hugos count as Short Form…

    Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor
    Doctor Who: The Day of the DoctorWell, of course they do — it’s a TV episode really, isn’t it? But it is feature-length (long enough to qualify for Long Form) and was released in cinemas, so I maintain you could count it as a film. Still, in Short Form it stands a strong chance of winning — I ranked it #1. My #2 and 3 was another tough decision, but I put Peter Davison’s hilarious spoof The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot in second and, in third, Mark Gatiss’ incredible An Adventure in Space and Time (another feature-length production that could hold it’s own against movies). Neither of those are strictly SF/F, but I guess as they’re Dramatic Presentations rather than books it was felt they belonged here rather than in the Related Works category. In fourth was Game of Thrones episode The Rains of Castamere. It is great as an entire episode, but let’s face it, it’s here because of the Red Wedding, which is the last, what, 10 minutes? Any other year it would probably win, but against four Doctor Who nominees (it’s a transferable vote, so more nominees means a better chance of one winning) at a convention held in Britain? We love Thrones here (more than the US, according to some stats I saw), but Hugo voters everywhere love Who. Finally, unranked by me, were Doctor Who finale The Name of the Doctor (it underwhelmed me — I won’t advocate “no award” above it, but I don’t feel it deserves to beat any of the above nominees), and Orphan Black mid-season ep Variations Under Domestication, which I’ve simply not seen.

Have I been a crazy person and put these in all kinds of the wrong order? And what about the Hugo nominators — are there any science-fiction/fantasy films (or TV programmes) from 2013 that they were fools to leave out? Lemme know.

Next month on 100 Films in a Year…

It’s the summer! Though blockbuster season is almost over already, isn’t it? Never mind. Perfect time of year to stay inside where it’s cool, anyway.

Oh, and watch some films. Which I shall list next time. But you knew that.