Disney’s Marvel Studios reigned Friday night at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards at the Avalon Hollywood in Los Angeles. Avengers: Endgame, the highest-grossing film in Hollywood history, led the night in wins (six) and nominations (14) with actors from Marvel productions taking home the lion’s share of gala’s gleaming hardware.
The finale installment of the Marvel big-screen saga was named best comic-to-film release. Robert Downey Jr.’s swan song performance as Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in Endgame earned him the best actor in a film award. (Downey will be seen in the role of Stark one more time, however, in the Marvel prequel Black Widow in May 2020.) Josh Brolin, who portrayed the calculating, grape-colored alien despot called Thanos, won as the best supporting actor in a film for Avengers: Endgame as well.
Actress and singer Zendaya won the prize for best actress in a film for her portrayal of MJ in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the collaborative production from Columbia Pictures and Marvel Studios. The star of the same film, 23-year-old Tom Holland, won the award for best performance by a younger actor in a film. It’s the third consecutive year that Holland has won the prize for his work as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, giving the British star an unprecedented streak for any major Saturn Awards category.
Avengers: Endgame also won for best visual effects, best film editing (Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt), and best production design (Charles Wood).
Game of Thrones led all television shows with nine nominations and was named the best fantasy series on television for its finale season. The Game of Thrones cast also dominated acting categories in its medium. Emilia Clarke, who portrayed Daenerys Targaryen on the HBO series, won the best television actress award. Peter Dinklage won best supporting actor on television for his role as Tyrion Lannister, besting a field of nominees that included his on-screen brother, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
The prize for best younger actor on television went to Maisie Williams, who portrayed Ayra Stark, the girl warrior of destiny on the fantasy series based on the books of George R.R. Martin.
Danai Gurira defied the Westeros domination by claiming the award for best supporting actress on a television series for her work as Michonne on AMC’s venerable horror series The Walking Dead. Three Game of Thrones cast members were nominated in the category. The Walking Dead was also named the best horror series on television. Jeffrey Dean Morgan won the trophy for best guest star on a television series for his work on the zombie saga.
The best actor award for television went to Sam Heughan, the Scottish actor who portrays Jamie Fraser on the Starz series Outlander, which was created by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar: Galactica) and based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon. This was Heughan’s fifth consecutive year with an acting nomination but his first Saturn win. (The first of those nominations was in the supporting actor category.)
The CW series Supergirl flew off with the award for best superhero series on television. Six of the seven nominated series this year were adaptations of DC Comics characters and five of them (Arrow, Black Lightning, Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow) air on CW (the sixth DC-based franchise was Gotham, the Fox series that ended after it’s 100th episode and a five-season run). The only non-DC entry in the category: Cloak & Dagger on Freeform, which adapts the adventures of the Marvel Comics duo.
Paramount’s A Quiet Place won for best horror film release and also for best screenplay, the latter award going to the writing team of Bryan Woods and Scott Beck as well as director and star John Krasinski. Another horror hit, Us, earned Jordan Peele the award for best director, a category that included esteemed nominees such as Steven Spielberg, the Russo Brothers, James Wan, and Guy Ritchie.
The Pixar hit Toy Story 4 won for best fantasy film, topping a nominee field that was wide enough to include fare as varied as Dumbo, Yesterday, and Godzilla: King of Monsters.
Spielberg’s Ready Player One won in the best science fiction film, a category that included a number of other high-profile films deemed disappointing in other forums, including Alita: Battle Angel and Solo: A Star Wars. The Paramount spy hit Mission: Impossible – Fallout was named best action or adventure film. Mandy, the darkly surreal Nicolas Cage revenge film, took the award for best independent film.
The award for the best science fiction television series went to Westworld, the HBO series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy that explores the dark possibilities of artificial intelligence, the evolution of sin, and the ethics of synthetic life. The category’s finalists were a nod to the breadth of small-screen sci-fi today with eight nominees representing seven different broadcast outlets: HBO, SyFy, Starz, NBC, BBC America, Fox, and (with two) the CW.
The sci-fi and fantasy offerings are perhaps even more impressive on streaming platforms and in that category the winner was Star Trek: Discovery, the CBS All Access show that carries on the legacy of the Starfleet universe that was created by Gene Roddenberry and dates back to the 1966 premiere of the original Star Trek series on NBC. The Federation series won against stiff competition, sharing a category with critically acclaimed franchises including The Expanse, Russian Doll, Black Mirror, and Jack Ryan.
Star Trek: Discovery also accounted for two of the acting awards in streaming categories: Sonequa Martin-Green and Doug Jones won the best actress and best supporting actor fields, respectively.
Jamie Lee Curtis won the best actress award for her portrayal of Laurie Strode in the Halloween revival that became a historic commercial success. In her acceptance speech, the Hollywood mainstay pointed out the appropriate timing of the honor.
“It’s Friday the 13th. it’s a full moon…and I’m the luckiest girl in the world,” Curtis said during a speech in which she took time to praise John Carpenter, the filmmaker who launched Halloween into the zeitgeist with the 1978 original, and to flirt with George Takei, the Star Trek icon who happened to be sitting in a table near the stage.
The best actor in a streaming presentation went to Henry Thomas for his portrayal of Hugh Crain on Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House. Thomas was in a category stacked with notable names, among them David Tennant, Zac Efron, John Krasinski, Jon Bernthal, and Charlie Cox. Maya Hawke of the Netflix series Stranger Things won in the best supporting actress category for streaming shows.
The Netflix series Daredevil, which was canceled (a casualty of the reshaped streaming marketplace with Disney+ and Netflix severing their productions) was named the best streaming superhero series. Stranger Things, one of Netflix’s signature successes, was named the best streaming horror series.
Star Wars Resistance on Disney Channel was named the best animated series on television. Testing the boundaries of the Saturn Awards’ specialized sector, Better Call Saul won in the category of best action/thriller television series, topping a field that included Killing Eve, Riverdale and The Sinner.
The Marvel domination extended beyond the competitive categories. Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios, was presented with the first-ever Stan Lee World Builder Award, named after the late Marvel Comics icon. Jon Favreau, the director of Iron Man, which launched the Marvel Studios historic success story, won the Visionary Award. Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel’s television productions, was presented with the Dan Curtis Legacy Award, an honor that has also been bestowed upon Eric Kripke, the creator of Supernatural and The Boys, and Eric Fuller, the writer and executive producer of Hannibal.
Puppet Up! Uncensored won best local live stage performance. Show co-creator Patrick Bristow and cast member Colleen Smith accepted the award on the same stage where the show originated.