This Oscar season, PG-13 for Ugly Cast will be flipping a cordial bird to the arbitrary practice of rank-ordering movies. Instead, we will highlight a handful of Movie Things We Loved, with no pretense of objectivity or internal consistency. Deal with it.
There were thirty-nine 3D movies this year. You name it, and it’s been rendered in three dimensions: stoner comedies, horror flicks, animated sequels. That third dimension carries a $4 surcharge, and it doesn’t surprise us anymore to see the movie industry lunging for our wallet-side pocket.
But if cynicism is the disease, Martin Scorcese’s Hugo is at least a partial cure.
Hugo is the prettiest movie I’ve watched in a long time. Whereas the 3D in some films comes as an afterthought, Scorcese built it into Hugo’s DNA. Little orphan Hugo lives in the walls of a train station, a clockwork palace of whirring gears and billowing steam. The station teems with sad-eyed florists, stout bakers, budding romances, comic villains. Even when the story drags, Hugo‘s setting is richer and more alive that most humans you see onscreen at the movies.
And to be honest, the story does drag. Somewhere mid-film, the orphan hero turns out to be a sidekick, and his beloved father – whose sweet memory and painful absence at first drive the film – is quite literally replaced. But even as Hugo’s narrative lost me, its visuals captivated me. And what better way to celebrate film’s power to transport you to beautiful, imaginary worlds than by making a film that does exactly that?