1. “The 100 Best Sci-Fi Movies.” Leading sci-fi experts, filmmakers, science fiction writers, film critics and scientists pick the best sci-fi movies ever made.
“To make the list, we polled the leading lights in the fields of both science and science fiction, from world-beating physicists to award-winning authors, from Oscar-nominated filmmakers to the stars of film and TV. Where else can you find Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro rubbing shoulders with Game of Thrones creator George RR Martin, or C-3PO himself, Anthony Daniels, trading favourites with Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse? How many sci-fi faves do horror-meister Stephen King, The Thing director John Carpenter and TV science hero Jim Al-Khalili have in common? The result is an epic feature that celebrates the established masterpieces while also finding room for those small-scale oddities that you might have missed. We hope it’ll serve not just as a fun read for film fans, but as an inspiration for future directors, writers and perhaps even budding scientists. Just look at all the wonderful things you can create with a little imagination.”
2. “Bombast: Ad Hominem, Ad Nauseam.” Nick Pinkerton on civility and criticism.”
“Why, then, am I speaking in favor of abuse and contempt? In the immortal words of Amanda Young in Saw: ’He helped me.’ While outright calumny doesn’t do anyone any favors, having one’s failings pointed out certainly can, especially if you happen to be inclined towards Maoist–style self-criticism. And if nothing else, being on the receiving end of an occasional dousing in Haterade or throwing of shade is palpable evidence that people are paying attention to what you’re doing—though it’s not necessarily evidence, as is often assumed, that you’re doing anything right. It is also a reminder, should any be needed beyond one’s own self-regulation, to keep your writing, your facts, and your ideas as tight and orderly as possible, lest any opening be provided for those who wish to see you face-plant.”
3. “American History LGBT.” Saul Austerlitz on the new wave of gay-themed films and television series grappling with the early years of the AIDS epidemic.
“What is happening in The Normal Heart, and in all these films and television series, is an attempt to widen the funnel of American history to incorporate gay stories—to argue that gay stories are American history, too. Americans spend a lot of our collective energy arguing over the idea of rights—who gets to marry, who should be protected from discrimination—and rightly so, but another essential, and much fought over, right is the right to tell your own story, to have your story be a part of the collective patchwork fabric of history. This transition is reminiscent, in many ways, of what happened for Jews and African-Americans sometime in the recent past—to be able to write not only Invisible Man, but Beloved; to make Schindler’s List, not just The Jazz Singer. Taking hold of the past is the surest way of having a future.”
4. “DC Comics’ Diversity Crisis: Why the Status Quo Rules.” Marvel is willing to chance that a tent-pole property like Thor will retain iconic status, even if a woman wields the hammer for a bit. Meanwhile, DC is still banning gay marriages.
“The irony is that a format characterized by the boundless scope of imagination is ultimately extremely conservative when it comes to risks with character or story. Major developments like deaths or marriages are almost always undone, via fantastic contrivances ranging from deals with the devil to time travel. Characters are de-powered, murdered, raped, aged up and down, and yo-yoed between universes with an alarming lack of fanfare. It’s the same problem suffered by long-running soap operas, where catastrophes are regularly smoothed over or forgotten in order to keep the premise going. At least on soap operas, actors leave over contract disputes or pass away. In comics, the stories can go on indefinitely. As such, the limitless nature of comic book fantasy is used, by and large, to keep limits in place.”
5. “Know Your Rom-Coms.” For Grantland, Juliet Litman on six tropes of the genre’s golden age.
“Now our woman has to meet her future mate. According to The American President, While You Were Sleeping, Jerry Maguire, What Women Want, Miss Congeniality, and quite a few others, your best chance to find love is at work. The work is actually secondary to the dating possibilities. This is a particularly convenient storytelling device—dating co-workers is historically tricky in the real world. The nexus of plausibility and relatability is the perfect point of departure for rom-coms. Maybe there’s an inherent power structure to overcome. Maybe the guy has to go back on his word, thereby submarining both professional and personal connections. Maybe the relationship has to be a secret. Maybe they’re work adversaries who find love in a hopeless place. And all of these possible plots don’t even account for the bait-and-switch in rom-coms where the workplace relationship isn’t even the pairing we’re rooting for. In the case of Aniston’s fine mess, Picture Perfect, Kevin Bacon is the lecherous boss she falls for at first, only to realize he is not The One. The lesson is that the woman’s job will become a footnote in the broader love story she’ll surely tell one day.”
Video of the Day: The trailer for Stephen Daldry’s Trash:
Links for the Day: A collection of links to items that we hope will spark discussion. We encourage our readers to submit candidates for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org and to converse in the comments section.