Last year Avatar was the huge blockbuster Oscar-nominated Hugo nominee. This year it’s Inception. Again, I have seen some backlash against the successful film, but I don’t think Inception will share Avatar’s fate for three reasons. 1) It’s just a far better film. I don’t think you’ll find a serious film watcher who won’t acknowledge that Avatar was seriously flawed, even among its fans. 2) The knock on Inception is that it’s cold and overly-intellectual, that it lacks heart. I don’t agree with those statements, but I see where they come from. Still, I think those are easier criticisms to overcome than the more clearly justified claim against Avatar: that it’s hackneyed. 3) The competition just isn’t as strong as last year. I had minor issues with Moon, and big issues with District 9, but they both looked like solid, potential Hugo winners. This year, Harry Potter was half a film, Scott Pilgrim’s whole was less than the sum of its great director and fun source material parts, and Toy Story 3 just didn’t tickle the Hugo part of my brain. I think How to Train Your Dragon may be a dark horse, but it doesn’t really transcend being a kid’s film like most Pixar films do.
So, yeah, I voted for Inception, and I’m pretty confident that it will win. I know there is a dedicated group of Scott Pilgrim fans, and maybe others’ won’t agree with my views on Toy Story 3, which really was a great movie. If Inception doesn’t win, I think it will say a lot about how contrarian Hugo voters can be. Much more than Avatar’s last place finish did.