My Saturn Award Picks

Joss Whedon attended once, so they’re legit, you guys.

In a few hours, the 40th Saturn Awards are due to be presented are to be presented in Burbank, California. Those of you with lives that involve more than lazily scrolling through Wikipedia might ask me what exactly the Saturn Awards are and why they should care about them. The short answer is that the Saturn Awards are presented each year by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films to honour the best in not only movies of those genres, but also TV and, for some reason, home video.

“Chucky: The Complete Collection” and “Award Nominee” are two phrases that you never thought would ever appear in the same breath.

As for why we would need this fairly anonymous award, that’s rather straightforward as well. While I love and cherish the Academy Awards, they can be notoriously stuffy when it comes to nominating movies for the Best Picture Award. There’s a reason that some movies are referred to as “Oscar-bait”: It can seem sometimes that all some movies need to to is try really hard to be nominated for an Oscar and the Academy will lose  its shit over it, even if it’s just so-so or, in some cases, just plain bad.

Unrelated Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close poster.

 One of the more recent examples is The Dark Knight in 2009. TDK was the highest-grossing movie of that year and is widely considered, along with The Avengers and the new X-Men movie to be in the running for the title of greatest comic book movie of all time. It’s such a damn great movie that even the Academy took notice, rewarding it with 8 nominations: Best Visual Effects (Which it lost to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Best Film Editing (Lost to Slumdog Millionaire), Best Makeup (Lost to Benjamin Button), Best Cinematography (Lost to Slumdog Millionaire), Best Art Direction (Lost to Benjamin Fucking Button) Best Sound Mixing (Lost to Slumdog Bloody Millionaire) Best Sound Editing (Which it won) and, obviously, Best Supporting Actor for the late Heath Ledger (Which it also won, as it damn well should have).

Notice anything about those categories?

Not a single one of them is the Best Picture category.

Now, I can understand that not every great movie can get a nomination. If that was the case, the Oscar ceremony would double in length, and Ellen DeGeneres was already a bit thin on material during regular programming. But do you know what movie was nominated for Best Picture instead of TDK? The Reader. A movie that just barely got a “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and that you have probably never heard of before. Oscar-bait at its most stereotypical.

So basically, that’s why I like the Saturn Awards so much. Even if the movie are, in general, inferior to the Oscars, the Saturn Awards still let the movies that us plebes enjoy take the spotlight. Besides, let’s be honest here: How many of you actually watched 12 Years a Slave before it won the Oscar?

Ah,whatever. I’ve rambled long enough. The following are my Saturn Award picks. The list of nominees can be found here. I won’t be doing predictions for TV or Home  Video categories, but I do hope that Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones clean up.

Best Independent Film

“Fucking Matthew McConaughey.”

My pick: 12 Years a Slave

Second place: Inside Llewyn Davis

12 Years a Slave is the best movie of 2013 (The Academy didn’t screw this one up!) So it’s obviously going to win the majority of awards it’s nominated for, and it doesn’t even have to contend with Dallas Buyers Club or Gravity this time around.

Best Special Effects

My pick: Gravity

Second place: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Gravity has proven since its release that as long as you combine an unspectacular, somewhat predictable script with plot holes, nobody will give a shit if your movie looks pretty enough. Hell, I didn’t care! I gave it a 9.5 out of 10!

Best Makeup

Fun fact: Evangeline Lilly is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. She remains the only Fort Saskatchewan resident whose fame isn’t attributed to hockey or petty crime.

My pick: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Second place: Thor: The Dark World

 Any Middle-Earth movie is pretty much a shoo-in for awards like this. Odd that they couldn’t do anything about Orlando Bloom starting to look like Joaquin Phoenix though.

Best Costume

Good Lord.

My pick: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Second place: Thor: The Dark World

This might be the only category that 47 Ronin has ever been nominated for that wasn’t “Biggest case of cinematic blue balls of 2013.” Don’t pretend like you didn’t hear the words “Keanu Reeves samurai movie” and immediately start pissing yourself in excitement. Or maybe that was just me.

I might have problems, you guys.

Best Production Design

Blah blah blah Gravity, blah blah blah special effects orgasm blah blah blah so fucking good blah blah blah…

My pick: Gravity

Second place: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Man, if Gravity hadn’t been released in 2013, The Hobbit might’ve really cleaned up in their Oscar categories, never mind the damn Saturn Awards.

Best Editing

My pick: Gravity

Second place: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I’m still not totally sure how to properly evaluate editing, but when in doubt, go with Gravity.

Best Music

“Doo doo doo, dooo, doo doo doo… Do do do… DOO DOO doo doo… doo doo doo…” That’s classic stuff, right there.

My pick: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (Howard Shore)

Second place: Iron Man 3 (Brian Tyler)

I’m kind of surprised that Steven Price wasn’t nominated for Gravity, but hey, he already has the damn Oscar, and it’s not like you could ever go wrong with Middle Earth music.  

Best Performance by a Younger Actor

From Kick-Ass to Carrie, Chloe Grace Moretz is at her best when doused in blood.

My pick: Chloe Grace Moretz, Carrie

Second place: Ty Simpkins, Iron Man 3

Yes, Carrie was total dogshit, but Chloe Grace Moretz was the best part of that whole mess. Just please pick a better movie next time.

Best Supporting Actress

My pick: Scarlett Johansson, Her

Second place: Evangeline Lilly, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug… I guess

It might seem like an odd pick, considering that ScarJo never once appeared on screen, but a) She was pretty damn amazing in that movie and b) Name one other actress on that list who was anything other than “pretty good.”

Best Supporting Actor

My pick: Benedict Cumberbatch, Star Trek Into Darkness

Second place: Tom Hiddleston, Thor: The Dark World

Some people may criticize Benedict Cumberbatch for being, y’know, a white guy playing an Indian character (Khan Noonien Singh), which would be a legitimate argument if he wasn’t already played by Ricardo Montalban in The Wrath of Khan, who was, you know, Mexican.

Best Actress

My pick: Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Second place: Sandra Bullock, Gravity

Because Jennifer Lawrence is amazing, and Gravity can’t win everything.

Best Actor

My pick: Joaquin Phoenix, Her

Second place: Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis

I also really loved Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man 3, so any of these three actors winning would be fine in my book.

Best Writing

My pick: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis

Second place: Spike Jonze, Her

Her might have won the Oscar, and that was a fine movie, don’t get me wrong, but to tell you the truth, I grew a lot more attached to the Coen brothers’ movie. On an unrelated note, I was surprised that Jennifer Lee was nominated for Frozen. I love Frozen, but.. y’know, come on.

Best Director

My pick: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity

Second place: Peter Jackson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Ah dammit, we’re back to kissing Gravity‘s ass. I guess you couldn’t really argue with it.  2013 was kind of Alfonso Cuaron’s bitch.

Best Comic-to-film Motion Picture

My pick: Iron Man 3

Second place: Thor: The Dark World

Gwyneth Paltrow notwithstanding, Iron Man 3 is the only nominee from this category that isn’t all that seriously flawed, although Thor, Man of Steel and Wolverine were all very enjoyable, in my opinion.

Best Animated Film

Seriously, that dress is made of ICE. There is no fucking way that’s comfortable.

My pick: Frozen

Second place: Despicable Me 2

Well, duh.

Best International Film

I don’t usually watch foreign films, so I’ve missed out on all these movies. The World’s End looks awesome though, so I’ll have to check it out at some point.

Best Action/Adventure Film

The only one of these movies that I’ve seen is The Lone Ranger, and fuck that movie.

Best Thriller Film

I haven’t seen any of these movies either.

Best Horror Film

My pick: This is the End

Second place: None. Horror movies suck.

Horror movies are, in general, pretty damn stupid. But hey, if this Academy is going to consider This is the End a horror movie for some unfathomable reason, then who am I to complain? That movie kicked all sorts of ass!

Best Fantasy Film

My pick: Her

Second place: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

I considered going with The Hobbit, as I don’t consider Her to be a fantasy movie (At least in the traditional sense). However, This is the End isn’t an actual horror movie, and I still gave that movie the nod in that category, so whatever.

Best Science Fiction Film

My pick: Gravity

Second place: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

With no 12 Years a Slave or Dallas Buyers Club to stand in its way, Gravity should take the top prize it is capable of receiving. Much respect to Hunger Games, Star Trek and Pacific Rim  though, who would have been top contenders in any other year.

 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Movie Review)

Pictured: A scene in Captain America in which fake Robert Redford plays a character whom real Robert Redford would fight valiantly to defeat. Or at least donate a shit-ton of movie to help defeat.

And to think that if you were to come up to me after I watched those god-awful Fantastic Four movies and try to convince me that the guy who played the Human Torch would ever star in a superhero movie again, I would have laughed, and laughed and laughed…

 Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo

Produced by: Kevin Feige

Screenplay by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Based on: Captain America by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Sequel to: Captain America: The First Avenger

Series: Marvel Cinematic Universe (9th installment)

Genres: Superhero, Action Thriller

Starring: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson,Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, Cobie Smulders, Frank Grillo, Emily  VanCamp, Hayley Atwell, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson

 

Plot: Two years after the battle of New York in The Avengers, the cryogenically preserved title character, World War II superhero Steve Roger, code-name: Captain America (Chris Evans) is keeping himself busy trying to catch up with 65-ish years of pop culture and news, and carrying out missions for S.H.I.E.L.D., the shadowy spy agency led by one-eyed badass Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), accompanied by deadly super-spy Natasha Romanoff, code-name: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and a lethal S.T.R.I.K.E. team led by Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo). During a mission to rescue hostages being held by Algerian mercenary Georges Batroc (Georges St-Pierre! Seriously!!!), Cap discovers that Fury tasked Romanoff not with saving the hostages, but with extracting data from the ship’s computers for Fury.

When Cap confronts Fury about this, he is briefed by his boss on the brand new Project Insight, which consists of three enormous helicarriers linked to spy satellites, designed to eliminate terrorist threats before they get serious. In other words, it’s Dick Cheney’s wet dream. Fury tries to sell Rogers on the project, but Steve, still an advocate of fun little things like “freedom” and “fair trials”, is disturbed. However, when Fury tries to decrypt the files that Black Widow stole, he is not only denied access, but, on his way to a rendezvous with fellow agent Maria Hill, he is assaulted by a hardass Soviet assassin known only as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). After the attack, Rogers is unable to reveal any information about the attack to senior S.H.I.E.L.D. director Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), who declares him a fugitive. Rogers, accompanied by Black Widow and his friend, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) embark on a journey to uncover the truth about the Winter Soldier… And some bad apples who have infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D.

Anybody who’s going into this movie thinking that it’s gonna be your typical Saturday morning cartoon-turned superhero movie (Avengers, Thor, Amazing Spider-Man the first Captain America) should know that they will be not disappointed, but kind of jarred by the tone of this movie. Right off the bat almost, the audience is shown that this will not be a light-hearted almost-comedy like Marvel movies tend to be, as Captain America, Black Widow and the Winter Soldier often get into prolonged, somewhat brutal fight sequences with terrorists and S.H.I.E.L.D., which often end in graphic death, not exactly something you’re used to seeing in superhero movies.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Tarantino film, and the movie has its’ lighthearted moments. Especially the comedic scenes between Cap and Natasha, but this is in no way, shape or form a movie that I would be comfortable taking my hypothetical  children to see. When I saw it, there were parents in the theater who were clearly regretting taking their very young kids to see it.

This isn’t meant to be a discredit to the movie though. I love me some graphic violence, and it makes sense to me that the different superheroes of the MCU should each have their different film genres (Iron man gets sci-fi action comedies, Thor gets fantasies, Hulk gets tragic dramas and Captain America gets gritty semi-political action thrillers).

Sure, the plot does suffer from a little bit of the Thor: The Dark World malaise of making the plot a little bit more complicated than it really needs to be (And, in fact, the two screenwriters for this movie also co-wrote the second Thor movie), but it’s really not so bad in this case. The plot is mostly airtight, with the often risky political overtones actually feeling important to the story and not shoehorned in for a phony sense of urgency. I, personally think that they should’ve  played up the whole “spying on innocents” angle, but that’s probably just my pesky left-wing liberal bias.

And maximum kudos to the Russo brothers, who had previously been known for directing episodes of Happy Endings, Community and the good seasons of Arrested Development, for crafting a movie that is way out of their comfort zones, with some kickass fight scenes that may be some of the best I’ve ever seen, even including an awesome fight scene at the beginning between Cap an UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre. You aren’t gonna see any of that shit in Arrested Development.

As for actors, There isn’t a weak link among the cast. Chris Evans is everything you’d want in a charismatic superhero lead, and has grown a lot as an actor since his nauseating performance as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four. Scarlett Johansson is great as Black Widow and Anthony Mackie makes a great impression as a Marvel newcomer. Robert Redford is wonderful as the somewhat shady Alexander Pierce, and Sebastian Stan’s Winter Soldier is probably the best Marvel villain so  far apart, of course, from Loki.

Conclusion: Dark and violent while also funny and entertaining, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the best MCU movies released so far (I’d put it just behind Iron Man in second and The Avengers in first) and the best movie in Marvel’s second phase.

9/10