At the Saturn Awards, Celebrating the Fantastic and Frightening

Jake Kasdan and Jack Black at the Saturn Awards - Getty - H 2018
Albert L. Ortega/Getty

Marvel's 'Black Panther' proved triumphant with the genre crowd on Wednesday, winning in five film categories.

When it came to celebrating the fantastic and the frightening in film and television, the Saturn Awards once again delivered. 

And where Marvel’s Black Panther might still face long odds for a best picture trophy in the next Oscar derby, Wakanda proved triumphant with genre crowd, winning in five film categories, including best comic-to-motion picture, best director for Ryan Coogler and best supporting actress for Danai Gurira, as well as best production design and makeup.

Now in its 44thyear, the ceremony thrown by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films – which in 1973 became the first prominent awards entry to pay tribute to the best in genre entertainment, at a time when those forms were typically sneered at by mainstream tastemakers – reconvened in the upgraded but still ironically retro environs of The Castaway in Burbank to celebrate a moment in time where the realm of the fantastic rules supreme in pop culture.

An as-eclectic-as-expected crowd (some liberally mixing and matching awards show chic and convention-style cosplay) rubbed elbows with Hollywood A-listers  as some of the most popular, profitable and critically hailed projects of the past year were honored, including Oscar winner The Shape of Water for best fantasy film, Blade Runner 2049 for best science fiction film, Get Out for best horror film and Coco as best animated film. 

Gal Gadot (best actress for Wonder Woman), Patrick Stewart (best supporting actor for Logan) and Tom Holland (best younger performer for Spider-Man: Homecoming) also scored Saturns.

Many of the attendees consider themselves genre fans first, and were pleased to be part of a ceremony celebrating projects that stoke similar passions in their devoted audience.  “It creates a bond with the fans, because they know I went to comic cons before I ever went to a galaxy far, far, away. I'm one of them. I'm not faking it,” Mark Hamill told The Hollywood Reporter of his own longtime fan pursuits, prior to collecting a Saturn trophy in the best actor category for Star Wars: The Last Jedi (which also nabbed film category honors for best writing and best editing).

“I just feel so lucky to be able to work in projects that I aspired to when I was in grade school,” Hamill added, recalling his particular childhood interest in the voice actors of Disney films and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. “I was probably not even in first grade when I saw Clarence Nash on a Walt Disney show doing the voice of Donald Duck, and I thought, ‘Oh my God! This guy gets up, goes to work and he does the voice of Donald Duck! What a great job!’” Watching behind-the-scenes footage of how his favorite films and TV shows were made, Hamill says, “I thought, I'm not a bad cook – maybe I can cater a movie. I don't have to be in a movie – I want to be near a movie."

Hamill added, "I consider myself retired. George Lucas gave me that advice years ago. He said, ‘Just tell everyone you're retired, because then when you do get a job you can say, "Oh, well, I was retired, but this was so good I had to come out of retirement.' So I'm in my elderly recluse phase, and I really don't like leaving the house if I don't have to."

Among the top honorees in the TV categories were The Walking Dead (best horror TV and best younger TV actor to Chandler Riggs), Twin Peaks (best presentation on TV and best TV actor to Kyle McLachlan) and Star Trek: Discovery (best new media series and best TV actress to Sonequa Martin-Green).

But perhaps TV’s biggest surprise winner was Better Call Saul, a decidedly non-genre offering that nevertheless scored Saturns in three categories: best action/adventure/thriller series, best supporting TV actress to Rhea Seehorn and best supporting actor to Michael McKean.

“I think it's wonderful,” said executive producer Vince Gilligan. “If you're lucky enough to be working on a show that has an interesting story at the center of it, and more importantly still, has characters that people can root for, even when they're doing bad things, that's really what it's all about.”

Special awards were also bestowed, including the Producers Showcase Award to Blumhouse horror visionary Jason Blum; the Dan Curtis Legacy Award to Berlanti Producution president and comics-to-TV specialist Sarah Schechter; the Special Achievement Award to Child’s Play writer/director/producer and Chuckie creator Don Mancini; and the Filmakers Showcase Award to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle helmer Jake Kasdan.

Kasdan – who’s already hard at work crafting a Jumanji follow-up – told THR that, after long building a career in comedy and now breaking into genre-tentpole content, he’s open to all options as he considers the kinds of projects he hopes to tackle in the future.

“I feel like your dream is to make all different kinds of stuff over the course of as long as they let you keep doing it,” he said. “I'm always drawn to stuff that has a sense of humor that's a big part of it. But I like all kinds of things, so some of the stuff we're talking about for the future is more straightforward a little bit, and some of it genre. We'll see.”