Monday, July 30, 2012

On The Scene: The 38th Annual Saturn Awards

Cross-posted on

Last night marked the 38th annual Saturn Awards, the ceremony honoring the best in Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. The Sweet Tea Vodka may have been traded in for Korbel and Gordon Biersch, but the chicken dinner, cheesecake dessert Jeff Ross's annual joke that he looks like a cross between Walter Matthau and Rick Moranis stayed the same. Phew. Special award recipients of the night included actor James Remar, writer Robert Kirkman, director Drew Goddard, jack-of-all-awesome Frank Oz, and "The Simpsons" for achieving its milestone as the longest running scripted series of all time. Big winners in regular categories included "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", "Super 8", "Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part Two", "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol", "Fringe" & "Breaking Bad". Here is our recap of the festivities.

Most Heartfelt Speech
"X-Men: First Class" makeup artist Dave Elsey told us a story about how when we was 15 he sent a letter to Rick Baker, figuring he'd never hear back. Much to his surprise, Baker happened to be in London at the time working on "Greystroke" and not only wrote back, but invited Elsey to set to watch him work. After that, Elsey knew his destiny was to work in film makeup and stressed how much the award meant to him. Honoring Baker's influence even further, Elsey informed the audience, in case they didn't know, that Baker would soon be receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In a close second, seminal editor Paul Hirsch, who has edited "Carrie", "Ferris Bueller's Day Off,", and "The Empire Strikes Back," just to name a few, won an award for editing "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol", and noted "I first won one of these 34 years ago for "Star Wars [Episode IV]", and I hope to see you back here in another 34 years."

Most Inspiring Speech
Okay, so it turns out Frank Oz is a genius. I mean, we should all already know this, but just in case, I'll say it again - Frank Oz is a *genius.* After seeing a stellar reel of his work and hearing his praises sung by Mark Hamill and Scott Bakula, with whom he recently finished working on a play, Oz, winner of one of last night's Life Career awards, took to the stage to give a moving, inspiring and riveting speech detailing how important it is not to let low self esteem get you down, as he had terrible confidence in himself until Jim Henson forced him into realizing his talent. He emphasized that he didn't reach where he is today alone, and that it's all about the people you work with and having confidence in their confidence in you. The man who did the voice of Cookie Monster exclusively longer than I've been alive urged the audience to remember, "You may not think you're good enough, but believe me, you are." He concluded his speech by talking about Henson's drive to simply make things good, and how Oz feels a kinship with everyone in that room because he thinks we all feel that way, we just want to create and experience things that are good, no matter who gets the credit or how difficult it might be, Though Oz apologized for the length of his speech, I could have listened to him talk all night.

WAY more after the jump

The "Who Knew You Were This Cool?" Award
You know whose table it turns out it is awesome to be near? Lieutenant Commander Deanna Troi herself, Martina Sirtis. The asides of the badass Brit best known for counseling fellow Starfleet officers and romancing Captain Riker on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" were a hoot to overhear. She loves "The Killing", thinks "Leverage"'s Beth Riesgraf is a great actress, and finds Scott Bakula to be a fantastic human being. When she presented an award later in the evening, she jokingly called out the Saturn Awards for not having ever invited her before after being with "Trek" for seven seasons and four movies. "What. The. F***. Narry a nomination? Nothing. You read," she directed towards co-presenter Bruce Greenwood, "I'm pissed." She was so utterly hilarious in her faux anger, I know I wasn't the only one in the room hoping one of the many show-runners present would suddenly consider calling her in for something.

Coolest Tidbit
We got a glimpse at the brand new blu-ray transfer of Frank Oz's film version of "Little Shop of Horrors" and it looks absolutely stunning - crisp without losing any sense of of suspension of disbelief. Despite the clearer picture, nothing looks any less real (in that charmingly practical way) than it did 25 years ago. Even cooler, during his speech, Oz let us know that the transfer will have the original, darker ending that Warner Brother's had to change at the time of release due to poor reactions at test screenings. After having to make a heartbreaking phone call to Richard Conway in 1986 to tell him all of his beautiful miniature work for the end had to be cut, Oz recalled the overwhelming joy of 25 years later getting to call Conway again to inform him that Warners was restoring the original ending, and thus his original work.

Most Drastic Appearance Change
I understand that kids, you know, grow up, but I didn't recognize "Super 8"'s Joel Courtney in the slightest. The young star has shot up not inches, but feet, and already looks like a teen on the brink of adulthood as opposed to a child on the brink of teenagedom. Even stranger was to see his growth in contrast to fellow "Super 8" stars Ryan Lee and Riley Griffiths both of whom certainly look older, but at least somewhat resemble their younger selves. Mind. Blown.

Least Aware Of His Awesomeness
The absolute most self-deprecating speech of the night goes to the soft-yet-well spoken Robert Kirkman, author of "The Walking Dead". During his acceptance speech for the first ever Innovator Award, Kirkman opened with "I don't necessarily agree that I'm an innovator, but I'll take this award" and kept noting how he is probably the least worthy of any comic book writer, though is thrilled that the medium is being honored in this way. Though I gotta say, considering how self important "The Walking Dead" the TV Show seems to be a lot of the time, it was kind of nice to hear the creator of the amazing comic series err on the side of humble. You're a class act, Kirkman.

Best Video
Although she attended last year, "Fringe"'s Anna Torv was stuck on location on this time around, so recorded a speech to send along accepting her second Best TV Actress win in a row. In the speech she quoted Joss Whedon, much to the delight of everyone in attendance. She somehow recently came across Whedon's famous quote from his 2002 New York Timesprofile - ''I'm not an adult! I don't want to create responsible shows with lawyers in them. I want to invade people's dreams.'' and expressed how much she loves that idea, of going beyond simple being a TV show and staying with people long after a shows end, emphasizing that she believes Fringe accomplishes this.

Most Epic Show Of Support
In a very cool, classy move, legendary director/producer Walter Hill attended the Saturn Awards not to present, not to receive an award, but simply to support Life Career winner, the highly underrated James Remar. Everyone in the room took note, including Drew Goddard who reacted excitedly immediately about learning he was in the same room as Hill, and Frank Oz, who remarked, "I too am impressed with Walter Hill being here - you've done incredible work."

Cutest Presenter
For no discernible reason, a child actress from "Days of Our Lives" presented the awards for which the recipients were unable to pick up in person. She was so adorable, the audience couldn't help but crack up hearing her even say titles like "The Skin I Live In" (winner, Best International Feature), "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" (Best Horror/Thriller) and "Take Shelter" ( Michael Shannon for best actor). Everyone went nuts applauding her at the end for accomplishing the difficult feat of being a tiny human yet still pronouncing Michael Giacchino and Dante Ferretti 100% correctly with no hesitation.

Best Facial Expressions
In presenting the Milestone Award to "The Simpsons", Chris Klein gave the most over the top Chris Kleiniest performance anyone could have ever asked for, sending pockets of the audience into fits of giggles. He has to know what he's doing, right? What ARE you, Chris Klein? Oh wait, now I remember

Best Geek Outs
In an "Only at the Saturn Awards" moment, Barbara Eden and Dawn Wells aka Jeannie and Mary Ann, presented the award for best TV shows to a rousing standing ovation. Vince Gilligan even took time from his acceptance speech for "Breaking Bad" to profess to Wells, "You noticed my last name is Gilligan, right??" then tell a story about how he wanted to cross over "Brady Bunch" w/ "X-Files" back in the day and is convinced the company only took his call because his last name was Gilligan.

After accepting the award for "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" for Best Action/Adventure and giving everyone involved their proper due, producer Bryan Burke took a moment to ask the audience, "Did I mention Vince Gilligan, whose a f****** genius?" Someone is a Breaking Bad fanboy and that someone is Bryan Burk. And also everyone else ever.

//"Cabin in the Woods" Spoiler Alert//

During Drew Goddard's speech, he sung the praises of Sigourney Weaver for being so excited to finally work with a werewolf, reminding him what a joy it is to get to do what he does. He noted that Weaver also went out of her way on set to make sure people sat with the werewolf during meals, inspiring Goddard to conclude his speech, "On behalf of all of the werewolves, thanks for giving me a place at the lunch table"

//End "Cabin in the Woods" Spoiler Alert//

Best Of Host Jeffrey Ross
After receiving a surprise Saturn Award for ten years of hosting, presented by actor Dennis Haysbert, Ross joked "Wow! From the fake president! Can All State insure this for me?" Haysbert: "I'm sure they can"

"JJ Abrams was supposed to be here tonight, but he's still at home figuring out the end of Lost."

Super 8 spitfire Ryan Lee to an unexpectedly long & curly haired Jeff Ross, "I really do hope I have hair like yours when I grow up" Ross in response, "*If* you grow up."

All in all, a great night as usual, and one where the film acting winners (Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, and Andy Serkis) were about 1000 times more deserving than what Oscar decided. In fact, this was probably the strongest year yet, content wise, for the Saturns, as the four big winners ("Apes", "Harry Potter", "Dragon Tattoo" and "Ghost Protocol") were all actually fantastic. Head here for a complete list of winners.