– The Editors –
Last year we were forced to name three movies of the year. There was no Consensus, so Mad Max: Fury Road, Ex Machina, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, shared the prestigious Prescient Sci-Fi Movie of the Year Award.
This year we got a solitary winner, and it probably won’t be much of a surprise. This was a down year for science fiction. Marvel and DC had their usual heavy footprint but they are skewing toward fantasy in the newest movies. Most have barely a speck of plausibility or the most meager attempt at it. We included them for consideration but none truly stood out this year. Deadpool deserves recognition but it is more of a comedy than anything else.
Our methodology is not scientific but generally we look at three areas in evaluating movies: First, we look at what the movie contributes to the science fiction genre in terms of original content or the refinement or perfection of existing tropes. Second, we look at raw entertainment value or what we call the theater experience. If it was an action film, was it exciting? If it was drama, did it move us? etc. Third, we look at its impact on the fans and the culture. Box office sales is considered but it is not the only measure of a film’s impact.
Based on these three factors, there was a clear winner.
Shocker. The franchise of franchises is represented yet again in our annual PSF Movie of the Year Award. Rogue One is a worthy addition to the epic, bringing a grittier style to the romantic hero’s journey of the 7 prior films. We witness the unsung heroes of the rebellion sacrifice themselves so that Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest could take down the Empire. Cameos from some of the legacy characters added just the right amount of familiarity and continuity with the epic, without resorting to straight fan service.
It’s contribution to one of the most influential franchises in the genre was important but we recognize Rogue One was not a trail blazing film. A quality space opera, but stays within existing genre tropes. However, the unbeatable theater experience combined with its massive impact on the fandom propel past the rest to win this year’s award.
Honorable mention goes to Arrival: the thought-provoking movie based on Ted Chiang’s award winning novella. It’s clever take on alien first contact and examination of language was a welcome change of pace from recent alien movies. While it had its heart-felt moments, most of the movie had a cold, hyper-rationalist feel. Not exactly the kind of movie experience that sticks with you for years to come. A good movie, worth seeing, but just not good enough to beat out a Star Wars story.
Happy New Year.
May the Force be with you.