– By All of Us –
Last year, some unfortunate personal events made it too difficult to do any blogging at the end of the year. With that drama behind us, we can resurrect our annual movie of the year award. In 2016, the last year the prestigious award was given, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story won without much competition. In 2015, 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.
For 2018, a lot of big franchises, star directors and casts fell short of expectations leading to a different set of contenders. The exception being Marvel, which drove hard with Black Panther, The Avengers: Infinity War, and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Star Wars, which has done well lately, produced a slight disappointment in Solo (slight in box office receipts, a full disappointment to fans). Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom and Venom disappointed, as did The Predator and Pacific Rim: Uprising. literary sci-fi got representation with Ready Player One and the ambitious Annihilation, which just didn’t quite connect with its audience. Among the non-blockbusters: Upgrade, The Endless, and A Quite Place were all impressive.
But, there can be only one… well most of the time.
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 speculative fiction genre in terms of original content or the refinement/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 factors, we reached consensus on this years winner of the prestigious Prescient Sci-Fi Movie of the Year Award.
As far as theater experience, people will be talking about Infinity War for years to come. One of the crown jewels of the Marvel Universe—and one of the most hyped movies in recent memory— delivered. Somehow, they managed to fit over a dozen stars and favorite characters into one movie. The action and fun was all there, demonstrating that they remain at the top of their game. These movies have become an undeniably large part of American culture and a worldwide phenomenon.
Josh Brolin’s voice gives life to the hulking Thanos, who is the most formidable and menacing villain yet. It isn’t his power, it is his presence and terrifying appeal as a character that places him ahead of Loki, Ultron, and whatever that monster was in Doctor Strange. The cast shines across the board with no weak links.
As for originality, Infinity War sticks to the superhero model up until the end. The final fifteen minutes delivers something not seen in any superhero movie of recent memory, if ever. The cliffhanger, a gamble to be sure, is gut-wrenching and left the audience desperate to see more.
We don’t need to mention its box office receipts. It was the biggest movie of the year worldwide. This is the best comic book-based movie in recent years and deserves to be the genre’s first award winner.
Honorable mention goes to Black Panther, with the Avenger universe’s first non-white male protagonist. Sticking to the superhero origin story structure, the movie still manages to give audiences a few surprises: unique new settings and an introduction to the legendary Wakanda. Sporting a cast that is nearly all African or African-American decent and some neat new wrinkles to the Marvel universe, this movie deserves recognition. Not to mention that it out-did Infinity War in the US with $700 million in ticket sales!
What keeps it from the ultimate prize is its safe plot and typical special effects overload at the final battle. It sticks loyally to the hero’s journey and to the Avengers origin story model. In addition, its villain just wasn’t as impressive as Thanos.
It’s notable that Marvel managed to get the top two positions in our reviews. Usually their movies cannot sport much in the way of innovation, which knocks them down a peg compared to the previous winners. This year was different. The Avengers finally stretched out a little beyond their comfort zone.
Happy New Year and stay weird!