Today GLAAD announced their 2017 Media Awards nominees, which included plenty of exciting milestones and achievements, but also some disappointing news about the current state of Hollywood. It seems that in our post-Election world, there’s no such thing as good news without a side of bad (or lately, more like a four-course meal of bad with a side of good).
Star Trek Beyond
One of the more niche Oscar categories is Best Makeup and Hairstyling, which is one of those that gets awarded early on in the ceremony before any of the really big ones like Best Actress or Best Picture are announced at the very end. But sometimes it’s the technical categories that are the really interesting ones, and this year in particular saw a few very creative makeup design moves, especially when it came to superhero movies.
With all due respect to the major acting and directing categories, I’ve come to really appreciate the Academy Awards’ technical categories in recent years. Whereas the performances and movies at the top of the program are often culled from a predictable pool of art films and auteur projects, the VFX Oscars tend to be a bit more egalitarian in nature, honoring whatever movies are the most impressive regardless of overall quality. This is often how populist film genres not typically noticed by the Academy — action, science-fiction, fantasy — slip into Oscar contention.
In the midst of a dreary summer for blockbusters, Star Trek Beyond was a light in the darkness, returning the rebooted franchise to the fun, funny, and exciting roots of its 2009 predecessor. But even a cast as professional and talented as this one made plenty of mistakes, the best of which are preserved forever in the newly released Star Trek Beyond blooper reel.
Star Trek Beyond was one of the highlights of 2016’s slow summer blockbuster season, providing us all with a healthy dose of going boldly just in time for the original show’s 50th anniversary. But before all the action-packed mayhem that takes up most of the second half of the film, Beyond has a few quieter moments that show the crew of the Enterprise in more personal moments.
Okay, so it was one of the worst summer movie seasons in recent memory. Trying to find the good blockbusters amongst the last four months releases sometimes felt like trying to find a needle in a stack of s---. But even this year there were diamonds in the rough. Today we’re celebrating the ten best, the summer movies of 2016 that didn’t make us weep for the future of cinema — and note that this list is just movies that got wide releases in at least 500 theaters. We’ll have a separate piece on under-the-radar summer films you might have missed next week on ScreenCrush. In the meantime, let’s celebrate the highlights from a depressing summer before we clear the decks and get ready for the fall.
Star Trek Beyond took an affirmative step toward LGBTQ representation with word that John Cho’s Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu would be depicted with a husband, though original portrayer George Takei had a surprisingly negative reaction to the nod toward his own sexuality. Now, leading the charge to put Trek back on TV with Star Trek: Discovery, Bryan Fuller weighs in on the “lovely move of inclusivity.”
The entire marketing campaign and dialogue around Star Trek Into Darkness — not to mention most of the runtime of the actual movie — was about the mysterious identity of its villain. Who was this guy Benedict Cumberbatch is playing? Was he an old character from an earlier movie? Could he be Khan? Oh, no, he’s “John Harrison.” Wait, who the hell is John Harrison? Why all the secrecy around a nobody named John Harrison? Are we sure he’s not Khan? No, J.J. Abrams insisted he wasn’t Khan and he wouldn’t straight-up lie to our whoops no never mind he straight-up lied, he’s Khan.
You’ll find something in this year’s summer movies that has never happened before: two gay couples in two major franchise films. Considering the scarcity of LGBTQ characters in Hollywood, that’s a pretty big deal.
This has been one of the strangest summers in recent memory when it comes to box office analysis, not because so many high profile movies have disappointed (although that has certainly been interesting), but because so many new releases are hanging out in the grey zone between hit and misfire. In an era where the success of so many movies is determined purely by opening weekend numbers, we’ve spent the past few months watching as movies has defied expectations after a weak opening or rode a solid opening into oblivion. The cut-and-dried successes can be counted on one hand.