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The Best of Sci-Fi & Fantasy: Saturn & Nebula Awards

Though the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) isn't inordinately fan of the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres, those specialized types have enough devotees to generate their own Best of... discourse each year. Both the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFFWA) who give out the Nebula Awards and The Academy of Science Fiction and Fantasy Films (ASFFF), a fan-based group (since anyone can join) who hand out the Saturn Awards each year, just announced their nominees for the Best of 2012. 

Bet you didn't expect to see John Carter mentioned during Oscar week! It's up for the Nebula & on Saturn Award

The Nebula Awards have only one category that suits our topic of choice here at The Film Experience and it's called the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation. [Nominees, Book Recommendations, and Oscar connections are after the jump.]

Nebula Dramatic Presentation

  • The Avengers, Joss Whedon (director) and Joss Whedon and Zak Penn (writers)
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin (director), Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Abilar (writers)
  • The Cabin in the Woods, Drew Goddard (director), Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard (writers)
  • The Hunger Games, Gary Ross (director), Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray writers)
  • John Carter, Andrew Stanton (director), Michael Chabon, Mark Andrews, and Andrew Stanton (writers)
  • Looper, Rian Johnson (director), Rian Johnson (writer) 

Interesting to see the slightly altered reality/allegory of Best Picture nominee Beasts of the Southern Wild in the mix with all these pure genre efforts. But the Nebula Awards are more useful as a book suggestion tool. Here's a list of all their literary nominees.

Have any of you read any of their six Best Novel nominees? 


The nominees: Throne of the Crescent Moon is a fantasy debut from an Arab American author; Iron Moon is described as a 'steampunk Beauty & the Beast'; The Killing Moon has something to do with 'dream harvesting'; The Drowning Girl's protagonists is either schizophrenic or has contact with creatures of myth; Glamour in Glass is some sort of magical twist tribute to Jane Austen; 2312 is an epic vision of the future where Earth is no longer our only home in the solar system.  Will any ever become movies? None of these authors have ever been adapted for the screen. That seems strangest at first glance for Kim Stanley Robinson who has written 19 novels and won many awards over his career.

I appreciate any group that limits their nominations because then it feels like an achievement to be nominated. In contrast the Saturn Awards are much like the Golden Satellites in that they have so many categories it feels like it's impossible NOT to be nominated if you made a genre film in any given year. They have separate best picture categories for scifi, fantasy, horror/thriller, action/adventure and indepedent release and six to seven nominees in all of them. This basically means that they have 31 Best Picture nominees this year. TOO MANY! And the titles mean so little... did you know that Les Misérables was an "Action/Adventure" film? Was it the escape through the sewers sequence? Five of Oscar's Best Picture nominees are in that mix: Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miz, Life of Pi and Django Unchained.  If you're interested you can read all of their nominations here -- The Hobbit leads with Life of Pi in second place but just to give you a taste here are their actressy nominations.


  • Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
  • Ann Dowd, Compliance
  • Zoe Kazan, Ruby Sparks
  • Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games
  • Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
  • Naomi Watts, The Impossible

Bizarre sorority, yes? Given that 90% of their 31 Best Picture nominees are male-driven films, the only significant omission here is Noomi Rapace in Prometheus (Michael Fassbender is nominated for supporting well he should be).


  • Judi Dench, Skyfall
  • Gina Gershon, Killer Joe
  • Anne Hathaway, The Dark Knight Rises
  • Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
  • Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
  • Charlize Theron, Snow White and the Huntsman

They weren't going for subtlety with this list but it's super fun. That said I find the exclusion of Eva Green for Dark Shadows ten kinds of unfortunate (in the only awards tailor made for it) since Chloe Moretz found a nomination for it in Young Actor. 


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Reader Comments (16)

PROMETHEUS not nominated for Production Design and VFX (even Battleship made it) just kills me.

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGustavo

I can understand your complaint about the Saturn Awards but for someone like me, who has to constantly watch the films he loves get little to no Oscar attention, it's nice to have an awards group that recognizes them. It may not be a perfect system but at least it's a nice alternative... not that I hate the academy or anything.

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

So happy to see Kidman and Gershon nominated :D

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermorganisaqt

THRILLED that Charlize got nominated for something for that performance in Snow White & the Huntsman! The movie is only just okay, but DAMN if she isn't great in it!

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I consider Django Inchaoned more of 'action' film than Les Mis, yet it was not nominated

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTombeet

FTW, Sarah Paulson Best Actress for AHS. Hope it's a sign of things to come around Emmy time.

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoel V

Some wacky choices, still, their supporting actress ballot is pretty cray, love it! Also love their shout out to Fassbender!

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJesper

Stop the insanity! No more awards! And what the hell is up with these acting nods? Zero Dark Thirty? I'll take The Impossible as an offensive fantasy on a Roland Emmerich, kill-everyone-but-the-white-headliners level, but double-u tee eff. The Wackadoo Awards.

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKurtis O

Was The Paperboy that scary to be considered a horror movie?

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I've only read one of the 6 Nebula nominated books, Glamour Under Glass, which was good and worth a read, but not one I'd recommend. There are already Jane Austen like fantasies, which are faster, cleverer, and more fun than this one. (Patricia Wrede, Caroline Stevermeyer, etc.)

The best sf novel I read this year was Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch, the third book after Rivers of London (US title Midnight Riot, why?),and Moon Over Soho. These books are fast paced, literate, and imaginative.

Generally, when I'm looking for a new sf/fantasy book, I go by the publishing house. DAW, Del Rey, Tor, Ace, Roc, and Baen, seem to have really good manuscript readers who choose interesting original stuff. I see that 2 out of the 6 books are published by Orbit. I've bought and read quite a few of their books lately, but I'm not sold on them. They seem to prefer solid generic pieces, but don't seem to have an eye for the new and original.

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

morganisaqt -- right!? good taste (sort of) though clearly they have a "type" for supporting actress.

denny -- i thought so the first time but hte second time i saw it (my mom wanted to go) i was like "why are you shouting all your lines, Charlize?"

jesper -- any cray in supporting actor is welcome post Oscar

February 21, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Pretty sure acknowledging Zero Dark Thirty has to do with Bigelow's previous more action-driven genre film bona fides. But still including Argo and Zero Dark Thirty (each regarded as the most well-directed films in the industry) while making Jackson a director nominee (when consensus was this is a Lucas-lite money grab and 48 fps was a bust) seems like more of an attempt to validate that this is still a genre-movie award. But so many other genre movie directors could have been nominated like Josh Trank in Chronicle or Joe Carnahan with The Grey or or Sam Mendes with Skyfall.

Joel V.-Oh man, I am so in on Paulson and Lange getting Emmys. Wonder if they will try to pass off mini-series again? Anyway, I cannot handle another year ofDame Maggie Smith over Christina Hendricks so if AHS can be in the dramatic category for just the acting and nothing else, I will be happy.

February 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

On Kim Stanley Robinson not being adapted:

There's three big issues with his body of work receiving cinematic adaptation:

1. The scientist who is a hero primarily BECAUSE he's a SCIENTIST. (Sci-fi creators (ESPECIALLY filmmakers) do love those butt kicking scientists.)
2. Pro socialistic concepts regularly explored as an ideal. (Bit hypocritical to attempt an adaptation (same reason LeGuin's novel The Dispossessed will likely NEVER receive a cinematic adaptation)).
3. Environmental sustainabiity as a theme, which, when combined with the other two things, would just KILL any and all attempts at escapism. (Even BRAZIL had the early gauzy dream sequences to give the audience a bit of escapism in their science fiction film.)

February 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

As much as I enjoyed Clark Gregg in general, it is really weird that he is the supporting actor singled out in Avengers.

February 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkin


Obviously it was so that she could be heard over the sound of her co-star and her director doing unspeakable things to each other.


...too soon?

February 22, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

I <3 Saturn Awards....and I wanna RIVERS OF LONDON become a film sooner or later!

February 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

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