Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Saturn Awards: Spacey As Ever

One of the reasons that fiction of the genre variety (fantasy, horror, sci-fi etc...) has trouble getting and maintaining mainstream respect is that its target audience (and I include myself there) is too uncritical --there's a reason the term "fanboy" got popular --lapping up both five star dining and fast food junk as if it's all gourmet. Charmed is a supernatural tv series about powerful women but it's no Buffy the Vampire Slayer you know? Daredevil swings around Manhattan in red spandex but he's no Spider-Man. You can see this unfortunate 'we love everything!' phenomenon play out every year in the Saturn Awards. The Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy and Horror Films have released their latest crop of nominations and the results are typical.

Take their "Best Science Fiction Film" category for a perfect example:
  • CHILDREN OF MEN (Universal)
  • DÉJÀ VU (Buena Vista)
  • THE FOUNTAIN (Warner Bros.)
  • THE PRESTIGE (Buena Vista)
  • V FOR VENDETTA (Warner Bros.)
  • X-MEN: THE LAST STAND (20th Century Fox)


My first instinct seeing Children of Men and The Fountain listed with "best" attached is to jump up and applaud. It's great that there's an organization that's not blind to their considerable ambition and showmanship. But when that same organization considers X-Men: The Last Stand a qualitative peer, the heart drops. You realize that they love Children of Men and The Fountain only because of their genre... not because they're, you know, excellent.

Another example: Best Actress
  • Kate Bosworth SUPERMAN RETURNS (Warner Bros)
  • Judi Dench NOTES ON A SCANDAL (Fox Searchlight)
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal STRANGER THAN FICTION (Sony)
  • Shauna McDonald THE DESCENT (Lionsgate)
  • Natalie Portman V FOR VENDETTA (Warner Bros.)
  • "She Who Must Not Be Named" MISS POTTER (Weinstein Company)
Never mind that they found a way to honor you know who (don't say her name out loud!!!) Never mind that they misspell Dench's name on their official site. We all make mistakes. But how can any organization expect to be taken seriously when they'll list Dench's powerhouse soon to be classic creation right alongside Kate Bosworth's misguided and soggy interpretation of Lois Lane?

The Saturn Awards are deeply silly for many reasons and this kind of juxtaposition is just one of them. I also don't understand why "ghetto" awards like these or like the Academy's Animated Film branch can't understand that the more nominees you have in a small field the more impossible you are to take seriously. Say what you will about AMPAS' taste level each year in their Best Picture category but they're only choosing 5 films to so honor from a field of literally hundreds. When your pool of nominees is much much much smaller should you really have more nominees? It's like when the TONY Awards have a category with only 3 eligible plays or revivals or what have you and nominate all of them. What an honor!

14 comments:

steve said...

The genre bias is pretty weird. I mean, this year alone I would have nominated: Children of Men, The Fountain, and Pan's Labyrinth. And I guess The Departed might be considered 'genre'.

I'm constantly pissed off at the lack of respect afforded animated films, too. In the past 20 years, I think the following should have been nominated:

- Grave of the Fireflies
- The Little Mermaid
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Lion King
- The Iron Giant
- Spirited Away
- The Triplets of Belleville

And two of those (Fireflies, Beauty) would have won. I don't get the disrespect.

Bruno Packer said...

The Saturns suck big time! They tend to go for the blockbusters instead of great genre films.

How the hell would they pass something like A Tale of Two Sisters or Hight Tension to favor something like Van Helsing? WTF!

Anonymous said...

"Notes on a Scandal" is sci-fi?

NATHANIEL R said...

well they have several "best picture" categories and they also honor action/thrillers so I guess Notes qualifies as a thriller? i don't know.

the acting awards are all encompassing.

jess said...

Yeah, the Saturn awards are bullshit.

Kamikaze Camel said...

They are silly and ridiculous, true. How can they nominate stuff like The Departed for one of their many Best Picture categories yet none of the cast. Instead of Leo DiCaprio in Best Actor they have, er, Brandon Routh, Tom Cruise and Will Ferrell (another spelling mistake, they called him Will Farrell).

Nice to know even these second-rate award shows ignore category fraud - they nominated Cate Blanchett for Notes on a Scandal in Supporting Actress.

Bruno, you liked High Tension? Yeah, it was better than Van Helsing (most stuff is), but blech. Tension was utterly ridiculous. That ending? Possibly one of the worst of the last five years. Deplorable, even.

J.D. Judge said...

Okay, now, somehow, I saw 5 of the "Best," and 4 of them are on my Top Ten list for the year.

You can't imagine how happy I am to see that something/someone else has V4V in Best Picture.

And X3 wasn't horrible, but probably not the best. Well, it isn't. It was good I thought, but I actually prefer the second one.

Oh, and Nat, how could you not yell over the Eragon nom for Fantasy Film? That seems like something you'd yell about.

Snakes on a Plane is a horror film? Never would have known.

How can M:I-3 be in the same league as The Departed, Casino Royale, and even Notes on a Scandal?

And... Apocalypto and LFIJ are nominated in International Film. Not Foreign Language, International.

[smacks Saturn judges]

Razzie nominee Tom Cruise?

Razzie nominee Kate Bosworth?

Yay Natalie! WHOO!!!

EMMA!!!!!!!!!! Why Fraiser? Im actually kinda okay with Famke. But Frasier?

And the travesty of Best Director. JJ Abrams is. Bryan Singer is. Some guy I've never heard for a film that looks horrible and disgusting to me is in.

So are Cuaron and Del Toro, but...

WHERE THE HELL IS ARONOFSKY?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

And how the hell is Superman Returns in writing? Glad on V4V there too, and Stranger than Fiction.

Why isn't The Prestige nominated in Makeup?

I'm happy at some, angry at most.

Sorry. Just had to let that out.

SamuraiFrog said...

The Saturn Awards are a joke when it comes to film and television. They're so desperate to be taken seriously outside of the genre crowd that they keep adding these utterly meaningless awards. A lot of science fiction writers have argued that they should go back to having one award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and have done with it. It's frustrating when you want people to take genre seriously; it frustrated the hell out of a lot of writers to be involved with an awards that would even consider some of those films worthy of a mention (science fiction in film tends to be about fifty years behind the literature in terms of sophistication, with rare exceptions).

Edward Copeland said...

Back when I was a teen and so anxious to be able to spread my opinions, I actually belonged to that goofy organization for a year (shows you how strict their entry requirements are).

Anonymous said...

"She Who Must Not Be Named" MISS POTTER"
You always come up with those funny lines... good job.

Jesse said...

So, does Best Fantasy Film include every crappy fantasy film of the year while excluding Pan's Labyrinth?

J.D. Judge said...

RE: Pan's Labyrinth

It's nommed in "International" film, so I assume it was ineligible or no one voted for it. I use quotes because LFIJ and Apocalypto are nor International.

They actually think they can be taken seriously?

Chris B. said...

I'm in general agreement but I wonder how much of the questionable selection is due to the fact that that it's an award ceremony that has been narrowed to a single genre.

We tend to see the same kind of the thing with the Oscars when you start looking at individual awards (i.e. animated film, makeup, visual effects).

NATHANIEL R said...

chris, that's obviously part of the problem yes. but they could do a lot to rectify that by simply narrowing the amount of nominees in a category.

If you're pool is so much smaller, why more rather than less honors?

but yeah AMPAS does sometimes read as its own limited genre thing: The Academy of Biopics, War, and Social Message Films.