The Stuff Gadget Oscars 2017

One thing's for sure - La La Land isn't winning one of these

Think of the Oscars and you probably think of the glitz and the glamour, the posh frocks and the teary speeches, the deserving winners and the criminally overlooked losers.

You probably don't immediately think of gadgets, although there are always some in the six-figure goodie bag that the nominees take home with them.

We're not concerned with that over here, though. We're concerned with the exceptional achievements in the world of gadgets over the last 12 months.

We've got explosions, stunts and truly mind-blowing performances, and not a politically-tinged acceptance speech in sight. Enjoy!

Best Visual Effects: Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Time was, nailing an on-screen explosion meant heaps of fuel, a dose of CGI and sprinkling of post-production tweaks.

Not with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. This astounding handset delivered real-life thrills for certain (unlucky) users with its neat spontaneous combustion trick, which saw snaps of melted devices sweeping the internet. In fact, so impressive was the fiery potential of the Note 7 that it was banned by airlines the world over.

Stuntman of the year: SpotMini

In the absence of Honda’s ASIMO falling down some stairs, Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini seized its opportunity in this hotly contested category with an expertly judged banana skin scene.

The judges were blown away by the slapstick timing, reminiscent of motor-driven Buster Keaton, as SpotMini throws itself headlong into the scene before lying stunned and motionless on the hallway floor.

It’s also a stunt for our times, sparking both a twinge of sympathy for the robot’s dashed enthusiasm and great relief that, however scary Boston Dynamics’ creations become, we’ll always have banana skins.

Best Adapted Screenplay: TayTweets

If you give infinite monkeys a typewriter each, you’ll end up with Shakespeare. Give artificial intelligence access to the Internet, and you’re more likely to get Mein Kampf.

This is what Microsoft found when it put its AI on Twitter to learn from other users. Microsoft had hoped that ‘Tay’ would come to resemble a teenage girl. Instead, she became a Nazi-loving racist. For anyone who’s browsed through YouTube comments, it probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that Tay ended up spouting so much hate speech. The bigger surprise is that Microsoft was naive enough to let this happen.

Best performance in multiple roles: Nintendo Switch

Move over Gary Oldman - there's a new star act that can transform itself to suit just about any demanding role. And it can do it without five hours in the makeup chair, too.

Nintendo's Switch is a home console, solo handheld and portable party machine, all in one tiny, tablet-sized gadget. If that’s not versatile, we don’t know what is.

The academy (ie the Stuff office) still isn’t sure what to make of virtual cow milking, but we can forgive a little art house nonsense if it means taking blockbusters like Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the move.

Best makeup and hairstyling: Hairdresser drone

 

“Don’t throw scissors”, that’s what they always said at school. But sometimes a ‘normal’ education isn’t always the route for a true creative.

The Hairdresser Drone throws the rules out the window and swoops above with motorised gardening shears. There’s no such thing as a good haircut, so we should stop trying to control our barnets and take a more random approach.

From a subtle one strand of hair snip to a full-blown beheading; this truly is the Edward Scissor Hands (cruelly overlooked at the 1991 Academy Awards) of our time. A real game-changer in this category.

Best Set Design: LG Signature W “Wallpaper” TV

It’s generally thought that there’s not a great deal you can do to tart up a telly. They’re ultimately just big rectangles after all.

But that appears to have changed this year, with LG introducing a new TV that’s so bloomin’ thin and flexible you can essentially paste it to your wall like a piece of wallpaper. Ok, so it uses magnets rather than wallpaper paste, but you hopefully get the analogy.

What’s more, as this is an OLED it’s absolutely stunning in action. A very worthy Oscar-winner.