December has come, and the end of 2016 (thank god, what a bloody awful year) will be upon us in a few more weeks. Which means, inevitably, that people will soon be drawing up lists of the year’s best books, stories, television shows, and movies… for the Hugo Awards, the Emmys, the Oscars, the Dragons, the Tiptrees, the Nebulas, the World Fantasy Awards… or just for the fun of it.
For my part, I already know what two of my Hugo nominations for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form will be.
ARRIVAL, to start with. Terrific adaptation of a classic story by Ted Chiang. Brilliant performance from Amy Adams. (She is always great, I think, but this was her best role to date). A real science fiction story, not a western in space. Intelligent, thought-provoking, with some wonderfully alien aliens.
And WESTWORLD, season one, from HBO. Of course, as with GAME OF THRONES, one can nominate individual episodes of this one in Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form… but for me it makes more sense to nominate the entire season in Long Form. (GAME OF THRONES season one was nominated in this fashion at Chicago, and won). It really is one very long, complex, wonderfully rich story, with great acting, writing, and directing, and the usual spectacular HBO production values. Like ARRIVAL, this is one that bears repeated re-viewing, and requires some thought. The Academy will likely nominate WESTWORLD for a shelf full of Emmys. I hope fandom recognizes its brilliance as well. This is a story about the nature of sentience and the cost of being human, a commentary on our society and (especially) on the ways we choose to entertain ourselves, full of twists and turns and gut punches and reveals and surprises, all masterfully delivered by Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy.
(GAME OF THRONES is also eligible for Hugo nomination this year, of course. The entire sixth season in Long Form, or individual episodes of same in Short Form. However, because of the air dates and eligibility periods, GOT will not be in the running for the Emmy Awards this year, so WESTWORLD will have a clear run at those… contending, of course, with BETTER CALL SAUL, OUTLANDER, and all of the other terrific dramas out there).
There were other good movies and television shows released in 2016, and I have no doubt that some of them will find places on my own personal Hugo ballot as well… but honestly, I cannot imagine that I will like any of them as well as I liked ARRIVAL and WESTWORLD.