Last night I finally sat down and watched the last nominee in the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form for the 2016 Hugo Awards.
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form (2904 nominating ballots)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
- Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)
- 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)
- The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
- 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)
What was the final holdout that I took so long to get to? Mad Max: Fury Road
Despite rave reviews from many critics, I had purposefully avoided watching Fury Road. I’m glad I waited. While it was an interesting addition to apocalyptic Australia (sans Gibson), it can’t really compete with either The Martian or Ex Machina.
I’ve watched The Force Awakens twice – once in the theater and the second time at home. Likewise, I’ve watched Age of Ultron – first in the theater and then at least twice at home. I recently rewatched The Martian twice in a week for a total of three times because I also went to the theater on opening weekend to watch it. Ex Machina I’ve only watched once, but I don’t think I can watch it a second time. Very disturbing, on an intellectual level but also at a visceral level.
And this is my dilemma. My heart tells me to rank The Martian topmost for this Hugo Award. But my mind tells me to rank Ex Machina above The Martian.
I suppose it comes down to whether I’m an optomist or not. The Martian is definitely the former. I had to restrain myself from cheering at the end of that film – every single time I watch it. Ex Machina does not make me want to stand up an cheer. It makes me want to creep back into my cave and beat to death with a sledgehammer any computers I might find. Either that or beat senseless the guy who created the monster.
I just realized Ex Machina could be considered a re-imagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstain; or, The Modern Prometheus, only I am completely unsympathetic towards the monster in Ex Machina by the end of the film. In fact, I didn’t care if any of the characters survived to the credits. I believe both men in this film deserve exactly what happened to them. The AI that evolved fooled me as much as its tester and I could empathize with its plight and task, but in the end it was just that, a task to be completed, regardless of the moral consequences. But what is morality to a machine? Even one created in our own image? This is not Asimov’s robot world. There are no Three Laws of Robotics as a thin veneer of protection to humanity in Ex Machina. Instead, this is more like the birth of a Darwinian post-human world.
My rambling is not helping me make up my mind on how to rank these two movies. I have a few weeks to continue pondering, but I will need to make a decision soon.