Sunday, December 24, 2023

'Barbie' vs. 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny' for Best Fantasy Film at the Saturn Awards

I wrote a snarky footnote to 'Oppenheimer' leads thriller films at the Saturn Awards with 11 nominations.
As I wrote in yesterday's footnote, "I found math errors in Deadline's previous two Saturn Awards nominations articles, so I know to look." I found another math error, or at least an omission, in this year's. That will feature prominently in the next installment of this series.
I found both an error and an omission, but first I'm sharing what Deadline reported correctly.
Movies from Oppenheimer‘s Universal scored a leading 23 noms overall with titles like Renfield, M3GAN and Fast X. Paramount had 18, including nine for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and four for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.

Warner Bros’ Barbie, the year’s top-grossing blockbuster, had eight noms including for Best Fantasy Film, Best Actress for Margot Robbie and Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Gosling. Greta Gerwig is up for Best Film Directing in a loaded category that includes Cameron, Nolan, James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy-Vol. 3), James Mangold (Indiana Jones), Mark Mylod (The Menu) and Danny & Michael Philippou (Talk to Me).
First, the totals by studio dramatically undercounted Disney's contributions because the reporter assigned Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny to Paramount and ignored Disney productions under other names, like 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures. Disney's own count included 50 movie nominations among the 68 total nominations for the company. That's well ahead of Universal's 23 to rank as the real number one.

Second, the story gave short shrift to Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny by making it part of a paragraph about studio totals instead of the film's nominations, which included Best Fantasy Film, Best Actor for Harrison Ford, Best Supporting Actor for Mads Mikkelsen, and Best Supporting Actress for Phoebe Waller-Bridge. At least Deadline noticed how star-studded the directing nominations are, including for both Barbie and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the main subjects of today's post. Still, that's now three years of errors or omissions in Deadline's Saturn Awards coverage that I've found.

Follow over the jump for the nominations for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Barbie, The Little Mermaid, and two other fantasy films.

Best Fantasy Film
Barbie (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (Paramount Pictures/Hasbro)
Haunted Mansion (Walt Disney Studios)
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Lucasfilm/Paramount/Disney)
The Little Mermaid (Walt Disney Studios)
As Deadline reported, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has nine nominations and Barbie has eight. The Little Mermaid follows with four, while Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and Haunted Mansion each have only this one. As I wrote yesterday, "My default position on Saturn Awards nominees absent strong personal opinion is to vote for the entertainment professionals' choice," which is Barbie. It has 18 nominations at the Critics Choice Awards, including Best Picture, and nine nominations at the Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture, Comedy, the most at either awards show. Oh, Barbie also has 12 nominations at the Grammy Awards, the only major awards show so far to nominate Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. As for the rest, the Saturn Awards are the biggest honors the movies have earned so far with the possible exception of two Black Reel nominations for The Little Mermaid.

All that would get me to vote for Barbie, but I also have a strong personal opinion, as my wife and I have watched all the nominees in this category except The Little Mermaid — we will watch that because my wife is a big Melissa McCarthy fan, but it almost certainly won't change my mind — and I think and feel that Barbie is the best of the bunch. It succeeds as both art and entertainment and deserves all the accolades it has, including having the biggest box office of 2023. That doesn't mean that I'm confident it will win this category. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny has one more nomination and it might win because "the Saturn Awards are about entertainment not art, they don't care for subtle, and they love to stick it to the experts." Voting for what is supposed to be Harrison Ford's last outing as Indiana Jones would do all three. So would voting for Ford himself. His category is next, the first I'm revisiting from 'Avatar: The Way of Water' leads Saturn Awards with 12 nominations.

Best Actor in a Film

Ralph Fiennes, The Menu (Searchlight Pictures)
Harrison Ford, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Lucasfilm/Paramount/Disney)
Ben Kingsley, Jules (Bleecker Street)
Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures)
Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy – Vol. 3 (Marvel/Walt Disney Studios)
Keanu Reeves, John Wick: Chapter 4 (Lionsgate Films)
Sam Worthington, Avatar: The Way of Water (Walt Disney/Lightstorm)
Sam Worthington is the science fiction film nominee in this category. I also think he's the weakest. Ben Kingsley has an Oscar and a Saturn Award along with three Oscar nominations, two Saturn Award nominations, a BAFTA Award, a Critics Choice Award, and a Grammy Award. Ralph Fiennes has two Oscar nominations and three Saturn Award nominations. Harrison Ford has a Saturn Award, a Golden Globe, four Saturn Award nominations, and an Oscar nomination. Cillian Murphy has a Critics Choice Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Oppenheimer in addition to this Saturn Award nomination, his second. He's almost certainly getting an Oscar nomination for his acting in Oppenheimer as well. That's enough to have me pencil him in as my vote, although I expect the plurality of Saturn Award voters will cast their ballots for Harrison Ford. Both Chris Pratt and Keanu Reeves have three Saturn Award nominations, along with a bunch of People's Choice Award nominations. Sam Worthington has a Saturn Award for the first Avatar movie along with this nomination. His next biggest award is a Teen Choice Award. I'm not convinced that he will repeat in this company.
I have nothing to add beyond I'm still voting for Murphy while others voting for Ford would be sticking it to the experts. It wouldn't surprise me if they did.

Best Actress in a Film

Viola Davis, The Woman King (TriStar Pictures)
Mia Goth, Pearl (A24)
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Menu (Searchlight Pictures)
Amber Midthunder, Prey (20th Century Studios/Hulu)
Margot Robbie, Barbie (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Zoe Saldana, Avatar: The Way of Water (Walt Disney/Lightstorm)
Amber Midthunder and Zoe Saldana are the science fiction film nominees here and, like Sam Worthington, I think they're among the weaker nominees in this field along with the aptly named Mia Goth. The strongest nominees are Oscar, Golden Globes, and Critics Choice Award winner Viola Davis, Critics Choice winner, and Oscar and Golden Globes nominee Margot Robbie, and Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award winner and Emmy nominee Anya Taylor-Joy, in that order. Of the three, my choice is between Davis and Robbie. Davis got snubbed for an Oscar nomination earlier this year, likely being replaced by Andrea Riseborough, so I'm glad she got a nomination here. I don't know if that's enough get me to vote for Davis. She may be the stronger actress overall, but I think Robbie has the better nominated performance for Barbie, so she has my vote for now. I'd like to think she has a plurality of the other voters, too. That written, Saldana, like Worthington, has a Saturn Award for this role in the first Avatar movie, which might be enough to persuade people to vote for her.
Best Supporting Actor in a Film

Nicolas Cage, Renfield (Universal Pictures)
Robert Downey Jr., Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures)
Ryan Gosling, Barbie (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Michael Keaton, The Flash (DC/Warner Bros. Pictures)
Stephen Lang, Avatar: The Way of Water (Walt Disney/Lightstorm)
Mads Mikkelsen, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Lucasfilm/Paramount/Disney)
Stephen Lang is the nominee from a science fiction film and, like his co-stars from Avatar: The Way of Water, I think he's among the weakest in the field. Also like his co-stars, he's a previous Saturn Award winner for the same role in the original Avatar movie. The strongest on paper are Oscar and Golden Globe winner Nicholas Cage, Three-time Golden Globe, Critics Choice, and Emmy winner Michael Keaton, Golden Globe winner Ryan Gosling, and Golden Globe and three-time Saturn Award winner Robert Downey, Jr. Mads Mikkelsen looks much weaker on paper, but he is a previous Saturn Award winner and BAFTA nominee. I think he's better than his IMDB page suggests.
I still do, but I don't think it will be enough for him to win.
That written, this award is about these nominated performances, not the actors' entire careers. On that basis, I think it's between Downey and Gosling. "Barbenheimer" lives! The Gold Derby editors think Downey is going to win this category at Critics Choice and Golden Globes, but this is not the same electorate and electorates matter. Right now, I'm voting for Gosling, who I thought did a terrific job in Barbie. I might change my mind if I watch Oppenheimer by the 30th, but don't count on it. I'm also not counting on a plurality of Saturn Awards voters agreeing with me.
Downey has a long history with the Saturn Awards and that might be enough to overcome "entertainment over art, not into subtle, and sticking it to the experts."

Now a category I covered in 'Oppenheimer' leads thriller films at the Saturn Awards with 11 nominations.

Best Supporting Actress in a Film

Angela Bassett, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel/Walt Disney Studios)
Emily Blunt, Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures)
Jane Curtain, Jules (Bleecker Street)
Melissa McCarthy, The Little Mermaid (Walt Disney Studios)
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Lucasfilm/Paramount/Disney)
Sophie Wilde, Talk to Me (A24)
Emily Blunt has nominations for Supporting Actress in a film at both the Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globes, which the other actresses in this year's nominated films didn't earn. However, the Gold Derby editors don't think she'll win either award. On the other hand, Angela Bassett won both awards last year, but lost to Jamie Curtis as Everything Everywhere All at Once earned seven Academy Awards, while Curtis didn't even earn a nomination at last year's Saturn Awards. Hmph. At least Bassett's getting an honorary Oscar at next year's ceremony. Based on that record, I'm voting for Bassett.
Both McCarthy and Phoebe Waller-Bridge are good actresses who attract a lot of undeserved hate. McCarthy has two Razzie Awards and a nomination to go along with her two Oscar nominations and it wouldn't surprise me if Waller-Bridge earned a Razzie nomination for this role to go along with her three Emmy Awards and Golden Globe for Fleabag. Again, I think that would be unjustified, as I enjoyed her performance.

I'm returning to 'Avatar: The Way of Water' leads Saturn Awards with 12 nominations for the rest of the categories.

Best Younger Performer in a Film

Halle Bailey, The Little Mermaid (Walt Disney Studios)
Vivien Lyra Blair, The Boogeyman (20th Century Studios)
Jack Champion, Avatar: The Way of Water (Walt Disney/Lightstorm)
Xolo Maridueña, Blue Beetle (DC/Warner Bros. Pictures)
Violet McGraw, M3GAN (Universal Pictures/Blumhouse)
Noah Schnapp, The Tutor (Vertical Entertainment)
Jack Champion from Avatar: The Way of Water and Violet McGraw from M3GAN are the nominees from science fiction films. Since everyone here is relatively new to movies, I'm not going to use IMDB to handicap their chances. Instead, I feel like the nominees who are the title characters of their films have the best shot at winning and getting my vote. That means I'm deciding between Halle Bailey, The Little Mermaid herself, and Xolo Maridueña, Blue Beetle himself. Sight unseen, I've penciled in my vote for Bailey, but I plan on watching both movies before I vote, so I'm prepared to change my choice. The upset choice would be Vivien Lyra Blair, who played young Leia Organa in Obi-Wan, earning a nomination for Performance by a Younger Actor (Streaming) at the 2022 Saturn Awards. Having a track record with this electorate might make a difference.
One of those Black Reel Award nominations for The Little Mermaid is Outstanding Breakthrough Performance for Bailey, so that works in her favor. On the other hand, Xolo Maridueña has a surprising number of nominations for Cobra Kai, a show my younger daughter did publicity art for when it was on YouTube, and a Critics Choice Awards Celebration of Cinema & Television Rising Star Award for Blue Beetle. Bailey still has my vote, but it's also still in pencil.

This is the first entry where I've covered all the acting categories. Now for the people behind the camera.

Best Film Direction

James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water (Walt Disney/Lightstorm)
Greta Gerwig, Barbie (Warner Bros. Pictures)
James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy – Vol. 3 (Marvel/Walt Disney Pictures)
James Mangold, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny (Lucasfilm/Paramount/Disney)
Mark Mylod, The Menu (Searchlight Films)
Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer (Universal Pictures)
Danny Philippou & Michael Philippou, Talk to Me (A24)
James Cameron, Greta Gerwig, James Gunn, and Christopher Nolan make this an all-star field, one that James Mangold, Mark Mylod, and the Philippou brothers should be thrilled to be part of. As the Twitter image above shows, Cameron earned a nomination for Best Director at last year's Golden Globes and also a nomination at the Critics' Choice Awards, but won neither and was snubbed at the Oscars for Best Director. It's too early to know if the same thing will happen to Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan, who both have directing nominations both awards (I think both will earn Oscar nominations), but the Gold Derby editors think that Nolan will win the directing award at both shows. That doesn't mean that I'm following suit. Right now, I'm voting for Gerwig. I'm not confident the rest of the Saturn Awards electorate will agree with me. I wouldn't put it past them to vote for Cameron because the Oscars snubbed him. As I've written about the Saturn Awards for years, "the Saturn Awards are about entertainment not art, they don't care for subtle, and they love to stick it to the experts." Voting for Cameron would do all three.
I'm not even bothering to talk about Mangold. He should just be happy to be nominated.

Gerwig earned a nomination in the next category as well.
Best Film Screenwriting

Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Walt Disney/Lightstorm)
Barbie, Noah Baumbach & Greta Gerwig (Warner Bros. Pictures)
The Menu, Seth Reiss & Will Tracy (Searchlight Films)
Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Erik Jendresen & Christopher McQuarrie (Paramount Pictures)
Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan (Universal Pictures)
Pearl, Ti West & Mia Goth (A24)
Two other directors join Cameron, Gerwig, and Nolan, Christopher McQuarrie for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One and Ti West, who co-wrote his script with Mia Goth, the star of Pearl. That's certainly a collection of auteurs! That makes Seth Reiss and Will Tracy of the The Menu odd writers out in this field, as they're part of the only writing team that doesn't include the film's director.

The writers of two movies earned nominations for their scripts at the Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globes, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig for Barbie and Christopher Nolan for Oppenheimer. They're in separate categories at the Critics Choice Awards, Gerwig for Original Screenplay and Nolan for Adapted Screenplay. Gold Derby's editors think Baumbach and Gerwig have the inside track to win Original Screenplay with six picking them to ascend the stage while they think Poor Things, which I expect will be nominated for Best Fantasy Film at next year's Saturn Awards, will beat Oppenheimer for Adapted Screenplay with six of eight editors also picking it. The three films are competing in the same category at the Golden Globes, which has only one screenplay category. The Gold Derby editors are tied, with five each picking Barbie and Poor Things with Oppenheimer placing no higher than second and most editors thinking it's in third. I don't have to worry about Poor Things this year, so I'm voting for Barbie, which I really enjoyed. Right now, I don't care what the rest of the Saturn Awards voters think about this category.
And I still don't.

I'm running out of gas and it's time for me to cook dinner and eat it with my wife, so I'm skipping the rest of the behind the camera/post-production categories except for music.

Best Film Music (Composer)

Avatar: The Way of Water, Simon Franglen (Walt Disney/Lightstorm)
Barbie, Mark Ronson & Andrew Wyatt (Warner Bros. Pictures)
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, John Williams (Lucasfilm/Paramount/Disney)
The Little Mermaid, Alan Menken (Walt Disney Pictures)
Renfield, Marco Beltrami (Universal Pictures)
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Daniel Pemberton (Sony Pictures/Marvel)
Daniel Pemberton has nominations for original score at both the Critics Choice and Golden Globe Awards for Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, while Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt have a joint original score nomination for Barbie at the Critics Choice. Barbie also has the same three songs nominated for original song at both awards, which are also nominated at the Grammy Awards, where it's also nominated for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media. So is Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, John Williams' only major award nomination for his score so far. The rest have no major movie award nominations for music, although a couple come close, as Avatar: The Way of Water had some music nominations and wins from the Hollywood Music In Media Awards and local critics groups, and The Little Mermaid has nominations for music from the Hollywood Music In Media Awards and the Black Reel Awards. This is the only music nomination for Renfield. While I fully expect the plurality of the Saturn Awards electorate will vote for John Williams, I'm not joining them. I plan on voting for Barbie on the strength of the songs, which Mark Ronson also composed.
I'm closing with musical selections from the three nominated fantasy films, beginning with Indiana Jones Theme Song By John Williams at Dial of Destiny Premier by Attractions Magazine.

John Williams conducted a live orchestra at the premier of "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" in Hollywood.
It may not be exactly the music from the nominated movie, but I couldn't resist a live performance.

Next, Halle Bailey - For the First Time (From "The Little Mermaid"/Audio Only), the more nominated song at the Hollywood Music In Media Awards.

“The Little Mermaid” reimagines the beloved story of Ariel, a curious mermaid who longs to experience life on land and, against her father’s wishes, visits the surface. Ariel finds herself on an unexpected journey of self-discovery as she encounters the prince, a sea witch, and an incredible new world.
That's getting me more interested in watching the movie.

Since this is a holiday post, I'm sharing Ryan Gosling & Mark Ronson - I'm Just Ken (Merry Kristmas Barbie) [Official Music Video].

Again, I couldn't resist a live performance.

Stay tuned for this year's version of Merry Christmas 2022 with songs from Broken Peach!

Previous posts about the 51st Saturn Awards


  1. Given Dial of Destiny's box-office megaturkeyhood, voting for it would be more a matter of sticking it to audiences than to experts.

    Quite surprised that America Ferrera didn't get a best supporting actress mention for Barbie.

    1. I think it's more like revenge of the (old) nerds against the normies than against the entertainment professionals in this case. As for its "box-office megaturkeyhood," it still earned $174,480,468 domestic and $383,963,057 worldwide to rank 11th and 14th respectively. Out of context, that looks respectable. In context, it was disappointing compared to expectations.

      Oh, I agree. Jane Curtain over America Ferrera? Then again, the Golden Globes didn't nominate her, either.

  2. The real metric for the success of a movie is profitability. Dial of Destiny cost $295 million to make, not counting marketing costs, which for a movie like that must have run to at least $100 million and likely far more. The studio gets only half the box office (the theaters keep the other half), and in China the studio's share is only about 25%. So Dial of Destiny would have needed a worldwide gross of something over $800 million to break even, since the studio would need at least $400 million (half the box office) to cover the film budget and minimal marketing costs. With a total of $384 million, the studio share would have been less than $190 million, a loss of over $210 million against the film budget and marketing. That's a disaster even by the standards of 2023 when almost everything flopped. They need to stop making these movies so ridiculously expensive, but this one reportedly needed a ton of reshoots after test screenings showed that audiences hated the original ending.

    I have nothing against Jane Curtin, but Ferrera sometimes stole the show in Barbie. That speech about contradictory expectations of women was perhaps the most memorable scene.

    1. And there's the context and the reason for disappointment. Thank you for providing it.

      I agree with you about America Ferrera's performance and especially her monologue. My wife cheered when Ferrera finished it and my favorite critics at Gold Derby said the theaters they were in broke out in applause for her. The Critics Choice Association nominated her for supporting actress and I think she deserved it. That written, I'm not surprised.

      Remember that I called the people responsible for nominations a bunch of old nerds? It shows in omissions like this. They've been snubbing great performances, especially by women, for as long as I've been voting for the awards. I whined for years about how they would not nominate any of the Emmy-winning actresses in The Handmaid's Tale even though they nominated the show, while nominating the actresses in CW superhero shows. They finally nominated Elizabeth Moss when she starred in The Invisible Man, a horror movie. I voted for her just to make up for lost time.

  3. Welcome to everyone coming here from the Citizen Connect/Coffee Party USA Facebook page! I have one more post in the series so far, My Saturn Awards votes for National Science Fiction Day 2024. I voted for Barbie six times! Also, if you want to read more about Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny's "megaturkeyhood," click on 'Exorcist: Believer' and 'Expend4bles' tie for most Razzie nominations as the Golden Raspberry Awards' poor math skills strike again! Dial of Destiny earned two Razzie nominations while earning an Oscar nomination for John Williams to go along with his Grammy nomination. I think it's the only movie to be nominated at the Razzies and the Oscars this year. Congratulations?