The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films has announced the nominations for the 39th annual Saturn Awards, and this year's list includes some truly baffling entries.
First, we should say that "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" leads all the contenders with nine nominations, including Best Fantasy Film, Best Director (Peter Jackson), Best Actor (Martin Freeman) and Best Supporting Actor (Ian McKellen). Nothing too surprising there, right?
Next on the list is Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" with eight nominations, followed by the James Bond thriller "Skyfall" with seven, and "The Avengers" and "The Dark Knight Rises" with six apiece. Here's where the questions start.
The Saturns do have an Best Action/Adventure Film category, which is where "Skyfall" and "The Dark Knight Rises" are nominated -- this sort of makes sense because genre fans tend to like action/adventure and there's a lot of crossover, so we get it. "The Avengers" is up for Best Science Fiction Film, presumably because it includes aliens in it.
But "Life of Pi" is a real stretch for Best Fantasy Film, if only because (spoilers here, folks) the fantasy takes place entirely inside the protagonist's head. But okay, if you insist.
But things continue to get more bizarre: why is "The Amazing Spider-Man" nominated for Best Fantasy Film and not Best Science Fiction? And why, oh why, is the historical musical "Les Miserables" -- which has nothing to do with any of these genres at all, and is terrible besides -- up for Best Action/Adventure?
The bafflement continues with the odd category of Best Horror/Thriller Film, which features "The Cabin in the Woods" and "The Woman in Black" competing against..."Argo"? "Zero Dark Thirty"? Sorry, but whoever votes on these things is stretching the category past the breaking point.
"Argo" and "ZDT" are historical dramas with some thriller elements to them -- but hardly the kind of "thriller" we think of when we think of this kind of category. By the way, "The Impossible" -- the story of a family who survived the Asian tsunami -- is on this list too. The Academy couldn't find six good horror films last year?
There are a number of other odd nominations too, in the new Best Independent Film category and others, but the bottom line is this: as Shock Till You Drop
points out, this is less about recognizing quality work in genre films, and more about attracting star power to the awards ceremony: "Hey, if we nominate 'Argo' for something, maybe Ben Affleck will walk our red carpet!"
We're all for expanding the boundaries of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, but the Saturn Awards this year are bordering on ridiculous. Some of the key nominations are below, with the full list posted here
. The ceremony will take place in June, with the exact date and venue to be determined. We suppose it will be whenever Jessica Chastain and Hugh Jackman are available.
The 39th annual Saturn Awards nominations (partial list):
Best Science Fiction Film:
"The Avengers," "Chronicle," "Cloud Altas," "The Hunger Games," "Looper," "Prometheus."
Best Fantasy Film:
"The Amazing Spider-Man," "The Hobbit," "Life of Pi," "Snow White and the Huntsman," "Ruby Sparks," "Ted."
Best Horror/Thriller Film:
"Argo," "Zero Dark Thirty," "The Impossible," "The Cabin in the Woods," "The Woman in Black," "Seven Psychopaths."
Best Action/Adventure Film:
"The Bourne Legacy," "The Dark Knight Rises," "Django Unchained," "Skyfall," "Taken 2," "Les Miserables."
Peter Jackson ("The Hobbit"), Christopher Nolan ("The Dark Knight Rises"), Joss Whedon ("The Avengers"), Rian Johnson ("Looper"), William Friedkin ("Killer Joe"), Ang Lee ("Life of Pi").
Best Network TV Series:
"Elementary," "The Following," "Fringe," "Once Upon a Time," "Revolution," "Supernatural."
Best Syndicated Cable Series:
"American Horror Story: Asylum," "Dexter," "Leverage," "The Killing," "True Blood," "The Walking Dead."