- The 45th Saturn Awards ceremony will be held on September 13, 2019 in Burbank, California.
- The Saturn Awards are presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.
- Academy members include JJ Abrams, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron.
The Saturn Awards are presented by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. As the name of the presenting academy suggests, the original idea was to honor excellence in science fiction, fantasy and horror films. Simple enough. Since the Saturn Awards debuted in 1973, however, they’ve suffered a severe case of ‘mission creep‘.
To some extent, the broadening of the objective of the Academy and, in turn, the Saturn Awards is understandable and necessary in a pop culture ecosystem that is constantly in a state of flux. For example, in the mid 1990’s, they started to recognize outstanding television programming and the number of television categories has grown over the years. There are now 12 dedicated television categories but this makes sense given the significance of the medium within the context of popular culture. In 2017, they added a dedicated category for streaming programs and six more streaming specific categories are being added this year. That’s an easy addition to justify due to the volume and quality of streaming content available today.
‘MISSION CREEP’ AND GENRE PROLIFERATION
Unfortunately, the Saturn Awards have added so many individual genre film categories that it’s a complete mess to try and figure them out. I’m far from the first person to point this out–in fact, one of the most scathing critiques was posted on a website called Cultural Learnings way back in 2010:
The problem is that, over time, the Saturn Awards have stretched the meaning of genre so far that it legitimately has no meaning, welcoming both genuine confusion and some outright derision based on some of their categories. The sheer volume of nominees and the rather ridiculous range of categories means that this year the Saturn Awards skew dangerously close to the Oscar while simultaneously veering dangerously towards an opposite and unflattering direction, while on the Television side their definition of what defines as genre may be the most confounding awards show process I’ve ever confronted, as demonstrated by this year’s nominees.
This critique is just as relevant today, if not even more so given the proliferation within the film categories but the addition of new television, streaming and other categories. Here’s another blurb from the previously referenced article:
On the film side, the Saturn Awards nominate films for Best Science Fiction Film (okay), Best Fantasy Film (works for me), Best Horror Film (seems only logical), and…Best Action/Adventure/Thriller. It’s the last one that bugs me, primarily because that encompasses a LOT of cinema. And, in fact, when you look at the category, there’s so many different genres here that I don’t entirely know where to begin.
SUB-GENRES THAT BORDER ON NONSENSICAL
If anything, the situation is only getting worse and the countless genres not only undercut the significance of each from a qualitative standpoint but also make it a serious pain in the ass to set odds. In the 2019 film categories we’ve got ‘Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release’ as well as awards for science fiction, fantasy, horror, action/adventure, thriller, animated, independent and international films. Some films are nominated in multiple categories–for example, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is nominated in the ‘Animated Film’ and ‘Comic-to-Motion Picture’ categories. On one hand, it probably doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. On the other hand, since the number of nominations has become tantamount with quality maybe it does.
There are clearly too many sub-genres of film categories but here’s a big gag–there aren’t enough film acting categories. They’ve got nine separate film genre categories but they cram every acting performance into one of five ‘catch all’ categories for actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress and one for ‘best performance by a younger actor’. I didn’t even bother trying to set numbers on the ‘younger actor’ category.
I’m sympathetic to the difficulty for any awards show of keeping up with the forever shifting digital landscape while maintaining some sort of continuity in their areas of interest. The Saturn Awards have clearly tried to do that which is why they scrapped the award distinctions for ‘Network Television Series and ‘Syndicated/Cable Television Series’. They might need to do the same thing with the ‘television’ and ‘streaming’ categories.
AS IF IT ALL WASN’T CONFUSING ENOUGH…
This year everything is all the more confusing since the organizers have moved the presentation from June to September. As a result, there’s an almost comically long eligibility period as explained in an article on the ComicsBeat website:
Before diving into the list of nominations for the 45th Saturn Awards, there’s an important note to make. Since the organizers have moved the awards presentation from June to September, the range of possible media stretches all the way from March 1, 2018 to July 7, 2019. As you’ll notice as you check out this list, the results are a bit jarring. The Best Comic-to-Motion Picture category includes Avengers: Endgame as well as its predecessor Avengers: Infinity War. Lucky for you, we’re here to parse through this huge selection of TV and film and highlight the ones most relevant to us comic fans – and all our favorite nerdy franchises.
There’s been an effort to ‘reinvigorate’ the Saturn Awards this year. The awards ceremony will stream live via an as of yet unnamed streaming partner. They’ve also added some beefy names to a new Awards Advisory Board as reported on Deadline.com:
For the first time since their 1978 TV airing, the Saturn Awards will be broadcasted via streaming under a new multi-year partnership with veteran TV producer Justin W. Hochberg. The nominations for the 45th edition which honors the best in science fiction, fantasy and horror will be announced on Monday, July 15 prior to Comic-Con kicking into gear. The ceremony will be held on Sept. 13 at the Avalon Theater in Hollywood with a streaming partner to be announced in the near future.
In addition, an Awards Advisory Board has been named with such prolific creators as writer/producer Roberto Orci (Star Trek, Transformers 1-3), producer Christina Steinberg (Oscar winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), Dean Devlin (Independence Day), producer Roy Lee (It, Bates Motel), Robert Rodriguez (Alita: Battle Angel, Sin City) and Oscar winning director Peter Ramsey (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) among others.
Hochberg has plans to raise the visibility as well as the prestige of the Saturn Awards. Getting rid of the downright inexplicable “Best Local Live Stage Production” category might be a good place to start.
Another interesting thing about the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films is its egalitarian nature. If you want to vote on the big film and television categories you can become an affiliate member for just $25. For a $40 ‘Level B’ membership you can vote on even more categories. You can also get additional memberships that range from $195 to $1000 a year that include perks like special events, movie screenings, etc. I actually like the fact that average people can vote in the awards but it definitely makes it more difficult to get a handle on the mindset of the academy for the purpose of setting odds.
Here are the SPORTSINSIDER.COM odds on the film categories for the 45th Saturn Awards. I’ll tackle the television categories in a subsequent post. For the “Best Local Live Stage Production” category you’re on your own:
45TH SATURN AWARDS 2019 FILM CATEGORY BETTING ODDS
BEST COMIC TO MOTION PICTURE RELEASE
Avengers: Endgame -115
Captain Marvel +350
Spider Man: Far From Home +600
Avengers: Infinity War +750
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse +1500
BEST SCIENCE FICTION FILM RELEASE
Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom +350
Sorry to Bother You +350
Ready Player One +600
Alita: Battle Angel +600
Solo: A Star Wars Story +750
BEST FANTASY FILM RELEASE
Toy Story 4 +170
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald +350
Godzilla: King of Monsters +750
Mary Poppins Returns +900
BEST HORROR FILM RELEASE
A Quiet Place +300
Pet Sematary +500
The Dead Don't Die +500
BEST ACTION/ADVENTURE FILM RELEASE
John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum +150
Escape Room +350
Mission: Impossible-Fallout +350
Cold Pursuit +700
BEST THRILLER FILM RELEASE
Bad Times at the El Royale +200
Dragged Across Concrete +350
Bad Samaritan +500
BEST ANIMATED FILM RELEASE
How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World +200
The Incredibles 2 +225
Toy Story 4 +225
Ralph Breaks the Internet +700
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse +1000
The Grinch +1000
BEST INDEPENDENT FILM RELEASE
Anna and the Apocalypse +275
American Animals +600
Tomorrow Man +750
The Man Who Killed Hitler and then The Bigfoot +750
Summer of 84 +750
BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM RELEASE
The Guilty +250
Ghost Stories +750
BEST ACTOR IN A FILM
Keanu Reeves/John Wick: Chapter 3-Parabellum +250
Jeff Bridges/Bad Times at the El Royale +350
Robert Downey, Jr./Avengers: Endgame +350
Mel Gibson/Dragged Across Concrete +500
Robert Downey, Jr./Avengers: Endgame +500
Nicolas Cage/Mandy +750
Tom Cruise/Mission: Impossible-Fallout +1250
BEST ACTRESS IN A FILM
Brie Larson/Captain Marvel +150
Jamie Lee Curtis/Halloween +350
Lupita Nyong'o/Us +500
Toni Collette/Hereditary +500
Octavia Spencer/Ma +750
Emily Blunt/Mary Poppins Returns +750
Nicole Kidman/Destroyer +1250
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A FILM
Josh Brolin/Avengers: Endgame +250
Steven Yeun/Burning +250
Will Smith/Aladdin +500
Jeremy Renner/Avengers: Endgame +500
Lewis Pullman/Bad Times at the El Royale +750
John Lithgow/Pet Sematary +750
Lin-Manuel Miranda/Mary Poppins Returns +750
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A FILM
Scarlett Johansson/Avengers: Endgame +350
Amber Heard/Aquaman +350
Karen Gillan/Avengers: Endgame +350
Hailee Steinfeld/Bumblebee +500
Zendaya/Spiderman: Far From Home +500
Naomi Scott/Aladdin +700
Cynthia Erivo/Bad Times at The El Royale +700
BEST FILM DIRECTOR
Anthony Russo, Joe Russo/Avengers: Endgame +250
Steven Spielberg/Ready Player One +350
Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck/Captain Marvel +600
Jordan Peele/Us +600
Guy Ritchie/Aladdin +750
James Wan/Aquaman +750
Zhang Yimou/Shadow +750
Karyn Kusama/Destroyer +750