Saturday, July 20, 2019

'Avengers: Endgame' vs. 'Aquaman' at the 2019 Saturn Awards

I told my readers to "stay tuned for a look at how many of the highest grossing political speculative fiction films of 2018 earned nominations at the Saturn Awards" at the end of Drink to Steve Bullock making the second Democratic debate on National Daiquiri Day 2019 yesterday.  I also promised my readers the day before yesterday that I would write about "all the nominations for the comic book movies."  I can't fulfill both promises at the same time, so I'm going with the one I made first about the comic book movies and save the political angle for later, when I will have a better handle on it.

As a reminder, here are the nominees for Best Comic-to-Motion Picture Release along with my reaction from yesterday.
  • Aquaman Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Avengers: Endgame  (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Avengers: Infinity War (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Captain Marvel (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Shazam! (Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (Sony / Marvel Studios)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Sony Pictures)
The two bits of good news are that "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse" got nominated here and for Best Animated Film Release and so I can claim credit for getting three right.  As for missing the other three, I chalk that up to the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, which oversees the Saturn Awards, extending the eligibility period up to the July 4th weekend, something that becomes obvious with the nomination of "Stranger Things," which was released on July 4th, in the streaming television categories.  That made "Avengers: Endgame," "Captain Marvel," and "Shazam!" eligible and all of them are better than "Deadpool 2," "Ant-Man and the Wasp," and "Venom," especially "Venom," although I'm not completely sold on "Shazam!" being that much better than "Deadpool 2."

As for which one I'd vote for, I'm likely to protest the films added because of the extension of the eligibility period by nearly three months by voting for "Aquaman" over "Captain Marvel."  Besides, I want to support one of the nominees for the 2018 Golden Coffee Cups for moviesLast year, I thought finessing the deadline to make "Black Panther" eligible was annoying.  It's nothing compared to this!  Also, it would be my effort to stop the trend of the award going to "MCU movies focused on single heroes, less well known ones, or both."  According to that pattern, "Captain Marvel" would be the obvious choice for the Saturn Awards electorate.
As much as I wrote about "Aquaman" vs. "Captain Marvel," neither is the leading comic book movie.  That distinction belongs to "Avengers: Endgame" with 14 nominations.  With a different electorate and a different awards history, it would be the odds-on favorite to win this category.  I'm not betting on it.

As for the other comic-book movies, "Aquaman" has six, "Shazam!" and "Spider-Man: Far From Home" each have four, "Captain Marvel" has three, and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" and "Avengers: Infinity War" both have two.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the categories in which comic book movies earned nominations, which turns out to be all the categories for individual achievement in speculative fiction film plus Best Animated Film Release.

I begin with the nominees for Best Animated Film Release along with my commentary.
  • The Grinch (Universal Pictures)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World (Universal Pictures)
  • The Incredibles 2 (Pixar Animation / Walt Disney Studios)
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Sony Pictures)
  • Toy Story 4 (Walt Disney Studios)
I called four and saw one of my alternates "How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World" make it in over the artistically weakest of the top five "Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation," while the expanded eligibility period allowed "Toy Story 4" to get in over "Isle of Dogs."  The latter movie will have to be satisfied with itsEMA Award.  As for which one I'll vote for, it's a choice between "Incredibles 2" and "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse."  Since I tend to vote for the entertainment professionals' choice unless I have compelling reasons otherwise, that would make it "Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse."
I don't think that will happen.  Instead, I expect "Incredibles 2" will win, despite my vote as well as the opinion of nearly all the professional organizations, including and especially the Motion Picture Academy.

Best Actor in a Film

Jeff Bridges, Bad Times at The El Royale
Nicolas Cage, Mandy
Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Chris Evans, Avengers: Endgame
Robert Downey Jr., Avengers: Endgame
Mel Gibson, Dragged Across Concrete
Keanu Reeves, John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
The Oscar winners here are Mel Gibson, Nicolas Cage and Jeff Bridges, but Gibson won for directing and producing, not acting and Cage won 23 years ago, I don't think enough voters have even heard of "Mandy" let alone seen it, and I don't think Bridges' acting could save "Bad Times at The El Royale," so I think the two Oscar nominees Tom Cruise and Robert Downey Jr. have the inside track.  Between the two, I'm voting for Downey.  As for Chris Evans and Keanu Reeves, both have been nominated for this particular Saturn Award and never won, so I'm not optimistic about their chances.

Best Actress in a Film

Emily Blunt, Mary Poppins Returns
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Jamie Lee Curtis, Halloween
Nicole Kidman, Destroyer
Brie Larson, Captain Marvel
Lupita Nyong’o, Us
Octavia Spencer, Ma
While I'm pretty confident Brie Larson will win this award, she's not getting my vote.  Instead, I'm voting for Emily Blunt, who earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance.  The same could be said about Nicole Kidman for her role in "Destroyer," but Emily Blunt won the SAG Award for her supporting role in "A Quiet Place," so that breaks any possible tie for me.

Best Supporting Actor in a Film

Josh Brolin, Avengers: Infinity War
John Lithgow, Pet Sematary
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mary Poppins Returns
Lewis Pullman, Bad Times at The El Royale
Jeremy Renner, Avengers: Endgame
Will Smith, Aladdin
Steven Yeun, Burning
My guess is that Josh Brolin will win as Thanos, giving "Avengers: Infinity War" its only trophy of the night.  I might vote for him, but I'm inclined to vote for Lin-Manuel Miranda, who, like his co-star, earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.

Best Supporting Actress in a Film

Cynthia Erivo, Bad Times at The El Royale
Karen Gillan, Avengers: Endgame
Amber Heard, Aquaman
Scarlett Johansson, Avengers: Endgame
Naomi Scott, Aladdin
Hailee Steinfeld, Bumblebee
Zendaya, Spider-Man: Far From Home
I have only the foggiest idea of who will win this category.  My gut says Scarlett Johansson, but it could as easily be her co-star Karen Gillan.  I'm not planning on voting for either.  Instead, my first choice is Amber Heard, which would make up for her Razzie nomination, which I thought was part of a bad joke.  If someone can persuade me of the merits of Zendaya, I might change my vote, but they only have a week.

Best Performance by a Younger Actor

Evan Alex, Us
Asher Angel, Shazam!
Millie Bobby Brown, Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Jack Dylan Grazer, Shazam!
Tom Holland, Spider-Man: Far From Home
Shahadi Wright Joseph, Us
Millicent Simmonds, A Quiet Place
I expect that Tom Holland will win this again, but my vote is going to Millicent Simmonds, who I predicted last year would earn a nomination in this category.

Best Film Director

Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Captain Marvel
Karyn Kusama, Destroyer
Jordan Peele, Us
Guy Ritchie, Aladdin
Anthony Russo & Joe Russo, Avengers: Endgame
Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One
James Wan, Aquaman
Zhang Yimou, Shadow
I'm not convinced the voters have a clear favorite, as the Russo Brothers, Boden and Fleck, and Wan all have a shot.  I'm not voting for any of them.  Instead, my choice is between Spielberg and Peele with Peele first.  I know, I am generally boycotting voting for films that got in because of the extended deadline, but I think Spielberg is past his prime (and his attempts to squash streaming films from qualifying for the Oscars annoyed me), while I think Peele's best days in film are ahead of him.  Also, he's that good.
Best Film Screenplay

Drew Goddard, Bad Times at The El Royale (20th Century Fox)
Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Avengers: Endgame (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
Christopher McQuarrie, Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Paramount)
Oh Jung-mi, Lee Chang-Dong, Burning (Well Go USA)
Jordan Peele, Us (Universal Pictures)
Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, John Krasinski, A Quiet Place (Paramount)
S. Craig Zahler, Dragged Across Concrete (Lionsgate / Summit)
Here, it's between Peele and the writing team for "A Quiet Place" for my vote.  I might just vote for Woods, Beck, and Krasinski for a script that says a lot with very few words.  As for the Saturn electorate, they might vote for Markus and McFeely for "Avengers: Endgame."

Best Film Production Design

Bill Brzeski, Aquaman
Ruth De Jong, Us
Rick Heinrichs, Dumbo
Gemma Jackson, Aladdin
Horace Ma Gwong-Wing, Shadow
John Myhre, Mary Poppins Returns
Charles Wood, Avengers: Endgame
"Aquaman" was gorgeous, but it wasn't even nominated for the Oscar in this category.  "Mary Poppins Returns" was, so it has my vote.
Best Film Editing

Jeffrey Ford, Matthew Schmidt Avengers: Endgame (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
James Herbert, Aladdin (Walt Disney Studios)
Nicholas Monsour, Us (Universal Pictures)
Kirk Morri, Aquaman (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Evan Schiff, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (Lionsgate / Summit)
Christopher Tellefsen, A Quiet Place (Paramount)
"A Quiet Place" earned an Oscar nomination for Sound Editing, not film editing, but that's good enough for me.  I have no idea which film everyone else will vote for and I'm not sure I care.
Best Film Music

Danny Elfman, Dumbo
Bear McCreary, Godzilla, King of the Monsters
Alan Menken, Aladdin
Marc Shaiman, Mary Poppins Returns
Alan Silvestri, Avengers: Endgame
Alan Silvestri, Ready Player One
I wouldn't be surprised if Alan Silvestri wins for either "Avengers: Endgame" or "Ready Player One," but I'm voting for "Mary Poppins Returns."  It was the only one of the nominees to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures and it was nominated for both music categories, Original Score and Original Song.
Best Film Costume

Kym Barrett, Aquaman
Leah Butler, Shazam!
Judianna Makovsky, Avengers: Endgame
Chen Minzheng, Shadow
Sandy Powell, Mary Poppins Returns
Michael Wilkinson, Aladdin
"Mary Poppins Returns" earned an Oscar nomination for the equivalent category, so it has my vote.  Still, I expect either "Aquaman" or "Avengers: Endgame" will win.
Best Film Make-Up

John Blake, Brian Sipe, Avengers: Endgame (Marvel / Walt Disney Studios)
Judy Chin, Mike Marino, The Dead Don’t Die (Focus Features)
Bill Corso, Destroyer, (Mirror / Annapurna Pictures)
Lisa Love, Tate Steinsiek, Dragged Across Concrete (Lionsgate / Summit)
Tristan Versluis, Naomi Dunne, Duncan Jarman, Overlord (Paramount)
Annick Chartier, Adrien Morot, Pet Sematary (Paramount)
Mark Coulier, Fernanda Perez, Suspiria (Amazon)
I seem to be unable to write one of these posts go without questioning at least one of the nomimations and this is the category in which I'll do so.  "Border" was one of the Oscar nominees in the equivalent category and it earned a nomination for Best International Film — I think I'll even vote for it — but it didn't get a nomination here.  Also, "Aquaman" and "Mary Poppins Returns" earned nominations at the Makeup Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards but not here.  Hmph.  That makes my job harder.  My intuition says to vote for "Suspiria" and my research supports my intuition, as it has four nominations and two wins for makeup.  As for the other voters, I don't care what they think right now.  Maybe later, when I'm not so annoyed that the selection committee made my decision annoyingly difficult.
Best Film Special/Visual Effects

A Quiet Place
Avengers: Endgame
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Mission: Impossible – Fallout
Ready Player One
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Based on my general boycott of films nominated during the extended period, my choice is easy, "Ready Player One."  It earned an Oscar nomination in this category and that's good enough for me.

That's it for today.  My series examining the Saturn Awards nominees should resume tomorrow with the science fiction film nominees.

Previous entries in this series:

How did my predictions for the Saturn Awards movie nominees compare to reality?

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