A Look At: 42nd Saturn Awards

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Two days ago the 42nd Saturn Awards took place honoring the best of the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres and as much as these genres are not exactly my cup of tea, but I’ve watched the majority of the films and personally have a few comments about the winners. So here we go.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the big winner of the ceremony with a whopping 8 wins out of an equally whopping 15 nominations. Now obviously The Force Awakens was a pretty good movie and took on the daring task of breathing life into the Star Wars franchise, but the film did take home a few wins I don’t think it deserved. The Force Awakens won the award for best sci-fi film (it was up against Ex Machina, Jurassic World, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and Terminator Genisys). I think you could probably make good arguments for why Ex Machina, The Martian, and especially Mad Max should have taken the award. Ex Machina was a thrilling low-budget film that featured great effects, stunning acting, and a fantastic screenplay.The Martian was an epic space journey that was both funny and breathtaking and featured a strong screenplay, beautiful visuals, and a great performance by Matt Damon. And Mad Max paved the way for all future action and sci-fi films with stunning visuals, sound effects, and a powerful mix of practical effects and CGI.

Another win that Star Wars nabbed that was not fully deserving was the award for best screenplay or best writing. The movie was up against a handful of very questionable films that didn’t have that great writing. Mad Max: Fury Road a movie with very minimal dialogue was nominated and so was the decent Jurassic World. But in this category I feel that out of the nominees it was probably either Ex Machina or Mad Max that should have gone home with the award as their screenplays featured stronger and well-crafted story-telling. Star Wars also nabbed the award for best actor with Harrison Ford, who did give a pretty good performance, but compared to the other nominees (such as Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, Matt Damon for The Martian, and Domhnall Gleeson for Ex Machina) fell short. John Boyega was also nominated in this category which was probably the biggest blunder in my book as his performance was rather dull and uninventive.

Star Wars also nabbed awards for best supporting actor with Adam Driver (Mark Rylance wasn’t nominated for some reason even though Bridge of Spies was eligible) in a category where his biggest competition was probably Michael Douglas in Ant-Man or Michael Shannon in 99 Homes. Star Wars also took home for best music, which should probably have gone to Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight, but John William’s soundtrack was also pretty good and would hold up a strong 2nd in my ballot. But the weirdest part of the awards was all the wins that Star Wars stole from Mad Max. And I say stole, because (despite my not-so loving opinion of the film), Mad Max is one of the strongest technical films of all time. Star Wars stole the awards for best editing, best make-up and best special effects.

The Saturn Awards also featured a few other weird twists of fate. Bridge of Spies won the award for best thriller film in a category where it was up against Black Mass, The Gift, The Hateful Eight, Mr. Holmes (what?), and Sicario. Personally I think that this award should probably have gone to either Sicario or The Hateful Eight with Black Mass and The Gift also being fairly deserving of the award. Furious 7 won the award for best action or adventure film in a category with Everest, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Revenant, Spectre, and Spy. I’m not sure exactly why Spectre was nominated or why Spy seems to have made its way into this particular category (I guess it’s because the show doesn’t have a comedy category). But obviously this was The Revenant‘s award, right? I mean The Revenant was flawed, but by all means was it a better movie than any of the other films in the category.

One category that was very peculiar was the category for best fantasy film which included The Age of Adaline, Baahubali: The Beginning, Cinderella, Goosebumps, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, and Ted 2 (what?). Cinderella took home the award and was probably the only one that deserved it. I guess there weren’t a lot of good fantasy films in 2015 though. Best international film also bummed me out a little, with Turbo Kid beating out one of my favorite films of 2015: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window (which really didn’t premiere in 2015, but rather 2013 which was when I initially saw it, but that’s a long discussion) as well as a great showcase film for Tom Hardy, Legend.  The category also featured three other nominees I haven’t seen yet.

Crimson Peak won the award for best horror film, which was fairly deserved even though it was up against a handful of other great films (especially It Follows and The Visit). Inside Out won for best animated film which was also more than deserved, especially as 2015 was a fairly slow year for animated films with its biggest competition being Kung Fu Panda 3. Best comic-to-film motion picture was won by (surprisingly) Ant-Man which beat out Attack on Titan (no surprise), Avengers: Age of Ultron (which was not a great film, but I thought its mere size could have won the category), Kingsman: The Secret Service (a really good film), and The Peanuts Movie (which wasn’t nominated for animated film for some reason).

Best director went to Ridley Scott for The Martian, an award that should probably have gone to Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu (who wasn’t even nominated for some unfathomable reason) or George Miller (who was thankfully nominated) for Mad Max: Fury RoadThe other nominees for the category were J.J. Abrams, Guillermo del Toro, Alex Garland, Peyton Reed, and Colin Trevorrow (who was the black sheep, nominated for Jurassic World, which wasn’t an especially well-directed film).

Another weird thing I noticed was the fact that Jessica Chastainn was nominated for best actress (for a leading role) for her performance in The Martian as Commander Lewis (a significantly small role), while Evangeline Lilly was nominated for best supporting actress for Ant-Man as Hope van Dyne, a very big role. I think those two could probably have been switched. Nabbing those two awards were Charlize Theron for Mad Max and Jessica Chastain (yup, nominated twice) for her role in Crimson Peak. And those awards were both fairly deserved, I would personally however have voted for Emily Blunt for Sicario and Alicia Vikander for Es Machina.

The biggest snub however was that of best performance by a younger actor which was won by Ty Simpkins for Jurassic World. Simpkins did well, no questions about that, but Jacob Tremblay for Room was also nominated and was absolutely amazing in that film and is one of the best young actors ever to appear onscreen. The category also saw Milo Parker for Mr. Holmes who I also think was more deserving than Simpkins.

Production design went to Baahubali: The Beginning, an Indian epic film that I have not yet gotten around to watch, but from the pictures I have seen the award seems pretty well deserved. Costume design went to Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was a little unexpected (especially as I though Cinderella would nab the award), but that award was also not undeserved. And the award for best independent film went to Room which was the only acceptable winner, especially when its strongest competitors were 99 Homes and Trumbo.

Every year when we get around to the Oscars, there’s always a lot of complaining about the nominees and winners being the wrong person and so forth. But when you compare the Oscars or the Golden Globes with an award like the Saturn Award, the Oscars and Golden Globes are obviously much more attentive and prestige. The Saturn Award (as well as the MTV Movie Awards) seems to be too focused on nominating and handing the awards out to top-grossing films and fan favorites rather than the best and most deserving films. This particular award show is also peculiar for its weirdly defined genres (Spy nominated for best action or adventure and Ted 2 for best fantasy??).

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