It’s that time of year, when we look back at the sci-fi movies of the prior year to consider the challenges of on-screen interfaces and decide who did it best.
I admit a bit of frustration with the sci-fi movies in 2022. Many just didn’t need interfaces to tell their stories. Just no name a few that come to mind: Everything Everywhere All at Once, Prey, Nope, Slash/Back, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes, Next Exit. And many that did had interfaces that were just displays—and it’s hard to gauge the design if no character is using it. Of the rest, many looked very, very similar to stuff we’d seen before. Of course, that’s the way of cultural semiotics and the formalization of cinematic language, but for anyone looking at the body of work for progress—like, say, me—it can be frustrating.
Despite this, there were enough movies to mostly fill out nominees. The exception was Best Believable, for which there are only two.
See the trailers below, in alphabetical order for the category, and be sure and catch the shows so you can have opinions on them and cast an informed vote for the Audience Choice.
Note: There are some movies that might have been nominated but were only released in cinemas in 2022, and as of the time of this post do not have a home streaming option. Looking at you, Avatar: Way of Water. Those movies could not be included, and, as this award just relies on stuff I’ve seen, I may have missed some worthy stuff. Sorry about that, but one nerd does not an academy make.
These movies’ interfaces adhere to solid HCI principles and believable interactions. They engage us in the story world by being convincing. The nominees for Best Believable are Apollo 10 1/2 and Belle (with a focus on the main diegesis, not the virtual world).
These movies’ interfaces blow us away with wonderful visuals and the richness of their future vision. They engross us in the story world by being spectacular. The nominees for Best Narrative are The Adam Project, Big Bug, and Strawberry Mansion.
The movies nominated for Best Interfaces manage the extraordinary challenge of being believable and helping to paint a picture of the world of the story. They advance the state of the art in telling stories with speculative technology. The nominees for Best Interfaces are The Batman, Black Adam, and Lightyear.
This year I’m trying something new and offering up a whole slew of Audience Choice stuff: Best Lo-Fi interfaces, best Big Red Warning, best HUD, etc. This is partly a response to trope, but also an acknowledgement of trends.
See and vote for the Audience Choices at this Google Form:
Winners will be announced near the end of March. I’ll lock Audience Choices on 12 March. I’ll probably share individual interfaces on Mastodon intermittently, which is where I moved the social media since the Muskification of Twitter. Happy, skeptical viewing.