Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Star Wars at the 2021 Saturn Awards for Star Wars Day

Happy Star Wars Day and May the Fourth be with you! For today's cosmic cinematic celebration, I am returning to a theme I have been unable to explore since 2018, nominations for the "Star Wars" franchise at the Saturn Awards. Three different properties earned nominations, "Star Wars Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker" with twelve, "The Mandalorian" with two, and "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" with one.

As Deadline noted, the dozen nominations for "Star Wars Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker" leads all movies at the Saturn Awards. "Tenet" follows in second with nine, while "Doctor Sleep" sits in third with eight. Since "The Rise of Skywalker" and "Tenet" are competing against each other in seven categories, including Best Science Fiction Release, I am framing today's entry as a head-to-head contest between the two as well as my usual angle of examining fantastic and futuristic politics and government in film and television.

I begin with the nominees for Best Science Fiction Release from the Saturn Awards website.

Ad Astra
Gemini Man
Lucy in the Sky
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker
Terminator: Dark Fate
Before the pandemic delayed all the awards shows except the Emmys, I was expecting a matchup between "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker" and "Ad Astra." The latter is a more realistic depiction of futuristic politics and government than anything in the "Star Wars" universe, but it isn't as good a movie as either "The Rise of Skywalker" or "Tenet." I was planning on voting for the last installment in the literal trilogy of trilogies in this category last year and I'm still planning on voting for it this year. I also expect the Saturn electorate to vote for "The Rise of Skywalker" as well. I don't think they'll do to the culmination of the Skywalker Saga what they did to "Solo" two years ago and to "The Last Jedi" three years ago by voting for a movie not in the franchise. Remember, electorates matter and so does the field of nominees.

Follow over the jump for the rest of the nominations and my opinions, including my likely vote and whether the rest of the Saturn Awards electorate will agree with me.

"Tenet" is the only science fiction film nominated in the next category, which the action and thriller nominees dominate.
Best Actor in a Film:
Daniel Craig (Knives Out)
Delroy Lindo (Da Five Bloods)
Ewan McGregor (Doctor Sleep)
Gary Oldman (Mank)
Aaron Paul (El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie)
Joaquin Phoenix (Joker)
John David Washington (Tenet)
Joaquin Phoenix won the Oscar for Arthur Fleck in "Joker," so I'm voting for him. I think the rest of the Saturn electorate will as well. Their other major choices would be John David Washington in "Tenet" and Gary Oldman in "Mank" and I don't think enough of them will vote for them for either to beat Phoenix.

Daisy Ridley from "The Last Jedi" is competing against actresses for a wider variety of genres in the next category.
Best Actress in a Film:
Rebecca Ferguson (Doctor Sleep)
Yifei Liu (Mulan)
Elisabeth Moss (The Invisible Man)
Natalie Portman (Lucy in the Sky)
Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker)
Margot Robbie (Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn))
Charlize Theron (The Old Guard)
Ridley's film will probably win, but I would be surprised if Ridley herself does. Instead, I think the Saturn electorate will vote for Margot Robbie. I probably won't. Instead, I'm thinking of casting my ballot for Elisabeth Moss in "The Invisible Man."

"The Rise of Skywalker" is competing against both itself and "Tenet" in the next category.
Best Supporting Actor in a Film:
Adam Driver (Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker)
Chris Evans (Knives Out)
Bill Hader (It Chapter Two)
Ian McDiarmid (Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker)
Robert Pattinson (Tenet)
Donnie Yen (Mulan)
Between Adam Driver and Ian McDiarmid, I'm voting for Driver. While I suspect the Saturn electorate will as well, they could surprise me by choosing Chris Evans or Robert Pattinson.

While neither "The Rise of Skywalker" nor "Tenet" have nominees in the next category, two other nominated science fiction films do.
Best Supporting Actress in a Film:
Zazie Beetz (Joker)
Ellen Burstyn (Lucy in the Sky)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Knives Out)
Ana De Armas (Knives Out)
Linda Hamilton (Terminator: Dark Fate)
Amanda Seyfried (Mank)
Jurnee Smollett (Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn))
I'm surprised that Ana De Armas is nominated here; I consider her character to be the female lead in "Knives Out." I won't protest her miscategorization by voting for someone I think is playing more of a supporting role. Instead, I'm voting for De Armas, although I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of the voters choose Zazie Beetz or Linda Hamilton.

"Tenet" and "The Rise of Skywalker" are competing against each other in all but one of the remaining movie categories.
Best Film Director:
J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker)
Niki Caro (Mulan)
Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep)
Christopher Nolan (Tenet)
Gina Prince-Blythewood (The Old Guard)
Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood)
Leigh Whannell (The Invisible Man)
I'm finding deciding on my vote and what the rest of the electorate will choose difficult. I see three big-name directors on the list, J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, and Quentin Tarantino, and a real up-and-comer in Leigh Whannell. The popular choice would be Abrams, while the professional choices would be Nolan or Tarantino. Right now, I'm leaning to Nolan or Whannell for my vote, while I suspect the Saturn electorate will pick either Abrams or Tarantino. By the time I blog about action and thriller films, I'll make my decision.
Best Film Screenplay:
Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan)
Joker (Todd Phillips, Scott Silver)
Mulan (Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Lauren Hynek, Elizabeth Martin)
Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino)
Parasite (Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin-won)
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (Chris Terrio, J.J. Abrams)
Tenet (Christopher Nolan)
Out of all these, I'm leaning to Bong Joon H and Han Jin-won for "Parasite" or Todd Phillips and Scott Silver for "Joker." I think the Saturn electorate would prefer "Joker," which might be enough for me to join them.
Best Film Editing:
Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan)
Knives Out (Bob Ducsay)
Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (Fred Raskin)
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (Maryann Brandon, Stefan Grube)
Tenet (Jennifer Lame)
I think the editing is as big a deal as the visual effects in "Tenet," so I'll probably vote for it. I suspect I'll be in good company, as it's currently my pick for the Saturn electorate's choice.
Best Film Production Design:
Jojo Rabbit (Ra Vincent)
Joker (Mark Friedberg)
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Patrick Tatopoulos)
Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (Barbara Ling)
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (Rick Carter, Kevin Jenkins)
Tenet (Nathan Crowley)
"Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood" won the Oscar last year, while "JoJo Rabbit" and "Tenet" were merely nominated and the Oscars ignored the rest, so I'm voting for Barbara Ling. I wouldn't be surprised if the Saturn electorate voted for "Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker."
Best Film Composer:
1917 (Thomas Newman)
Knives Out (Nathan Johnson)
Mank (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross)
Parasite (Jaeil Jung)
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (John Williams)
Tenet (Ludwig Goransson)
I've observed before that the Saturn Awards like to stick it to the experts and insiders. They appear to have done that in this category, as last year's Oscar winner for Best Score, "Joker," didn't even get nominated. On the other hand, the Motion Picture Academy snubbed the score for "Tenet" but it's nominated here. That might be enough for the Saturn electorate to vote for it, although the professionals and insiders would probably pick "Mank." I'll have to listen to selections from the scores to make my decision, which I'll report in a future installment.
Best Film Costume:
Ad Astra (Albert Wolsky)
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (Erin Benach)
Jojo Rabbit (Mayes C. Rubeo)
Mulan (Bina Daigeler)
Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood (Arianne Phillips)
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (Michael Kaplan)
Out of this field, the professional choices are "JoJo Rabbit," "Mulan," and "Once Upon a Time... In Hollywood." Out of that field, I'd vote for "JoJo Rabbit." The popular alternatives would be "Birds of Prey" and "The Rise of Skywalker." I expect the Saturn voters would pick either "Mulan" or "Birds of Prey."
Best Film Make-Up:
Bill & Ted Face the Music (Bill Corso, Kevin Yagher, Dennis Liddiard, Stephen Kelley, Bianca Appice)
Doctor Sleep (Robert Kurtzman, Bernadette Mazur)
It Chapter Two (Sean Sansom, Shane Zander, Iantha Goldberg)
Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (Arjen Tuiten, David White)
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Norman Cabrera, Mike Hill, Mike Elizalde)
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (Amanda Knight, Neal Scanlan)
The only Oscar nominee here is "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," so I'm voting for it. I'm not sure about my Saturn electorate favorite, but I wouldn't be surprised if they voted for the scary demon clown in "It Chapter Two."
Best Film Visual / Special Effects:
Ad Astra (Scott R. Fisher, Allen Maris)
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (Mark Hawker, Yael Majors, Greg Steele)
It Chapter Two (Kristy Hollidge, Nicholas Brooks)
The Lion King (Ken Egly, Robert Legator)
Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach, Dominic Tuohy)
Tenet (Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley, Scott Fisher, Mike Chambers)
Terminator: Dark Fate (Neil Corbould, Eric Barba, Vinod Gundre, Sheldon Stopsack)
Once again, the Saturn Awards stuck it to the experts by not nominating last year's winner, "1917." I guess what the Television Academy classifies as Special Effects in a Supporting Role do not impress them. As I figured out early on, the Saturn Awards are about entertainment more than art and they like spectacular, not subtle. On that note, I think they will support this year's Oscar winner for Visual Effects, "Tenet," where they probably think the experts got it right. I will vote along with them.

Now for the television categories with "Star Wars" nominees.
Best Television Presentation (Under 10 Episodes):
Amazing Stories
The Haunting of Bly Manor
His Dark Materials
The Mandalorian
Perry Mason
Based on the stated eligibility period of July 15, 2019-November 15, 2020, "The Mandalorian" is miscategorized, having eleven episodes released during that time and sixteen overall. It really should be listed among the nominees for Best Science Fiction Television Series. That written, I'm not going to complain that it's not competing against "Star Trek: Discovery" or "Star Trek: Picard." I'll just vote for it. I think that the rest of the Saturn electorate will, too.
Best Animated Television Series:
Bojack Horseman
Family Guy
Rick and Morty
The Simpsons
Star Wars: The Clone Wars
While I'm glad to see "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" here, I don't know if I'll vote for it. I might vote for "Rick and Morty" or "Primal" instead. On the other hand, the Saturn electorate loves animated "Star Wars," so "Clone Wars" has a good chance of winning.

The last category pits Star Wars against Star Trek — twice!
Best Guest Starring Performance on Television:
Jon Cryer (Supergirl)
Giancarlo Esposito (The Mandalorian)
Mark Hamill (What We Do in the Shadows)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Kate Mulgrew (Mr. Mercedes)
Billy Porter (The Twilight Zone)
Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Picard)
The first matchup between Star Wars and Star Trek is between the professional choice, Giancarlo Esposito, and a fan choice, Jeri Ryan, who I'm voting for. The second pits two alumni of the franchises, Mark Hamill and Kate Mulgrew. I don't know if any of them will win. Instead, I'd bet on Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Since John Williams earned a nomination for Best Film Composer, I conclude with John Williams - Finale (From "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"/Audio Only).

This will be the final word in the story of Skywalker.
I have spoken.

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