Cinefantastique selects winners of the first annual Wonder Awards

The votes are counted. At times it was a knock-down, drag-out fight to the finish – resulting in several ties – but now we have announced the results for Cinefantstique Online’s first ever Wonder Awards. The winners include a satisfying mix of worthy titles; each nominee for Best Picture prevailed in at least one category. Although there were some clear favorites, voters made a conscientious effort to spread the wealth around instead of simply block-voting for their favorite film in each and every category. You may not agree with every decision, but you can rest assured that we bested the Academy Awards in terms of honoring the best science fiction, fantasy, and horror films of 2008 – which in this case often represents the best films period, easily matching or even surpassing the Oscar noms for Best Picture of the Year.
The resuls are eccentric in some ways, indicating that voters (consisting of Cinefantastique Online’s staff and the webmasters of several blogs listed under our Bookmarks) wrestled both with bestowing honors upon films regardless of how widely seen they were and with the question of whom to reward for a film’s quality.

Let the Right One In
Lina Leandersson in LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

This is highlighted most clearly in the case of the Best Picture category, which was a tie between the mega-blockbuster THE DARK KNIGHT and the the small art house effort from Sweden, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. DARK KNIGHT dominated in most of the categories in which it won, while support for LET THE RIGHT ONE was spread thing over the six categories in which it was nominated, resulting in only one other win, a tie for Lina Leandersson in the Best Actress category. Yet when it came to an overall assessment of which was the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror film from 2008, voters split the difference between the superhero hit and the little horror film that could.
Overall, DARK KNIGHT was big favorite, with six wins to its credit. Besides Best Picture, it also took home awards for direction, screenplay , supporting actor, cinematography, and editing. Not unexpectedly, the Heath Ledger’s win for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role was a complete blow-out, so much so that it was barely worth counting the votes; a quick eyeball-scan immediately showed what the results would be. It is worth noting, however, that even here voting was not unanimous, with some support expressed for Jeff Bridges in IRON MAN and Jared Harris in THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.
Benjamin Button: the Wonder Awards choice for best makeup

Best Picture nominee BENJAMIN BUTTON, which like THE DARK KNIGHT had scored thirteen nominations, fared less well when it came to tallying up the winners. The film took home the gold only three times, all with close votes, including two ties. It was recognized in the two Best Actress categories: Cate Blanchett tied with LET THE RIGHT ONE IN’s Lina Leandersson in the Lead category; Tilda Swinton tied with QUANTUM OF SOLACE’s Judie Dench in the Supporting category. The makeup effects that took Brad Pitt through the lifetime aging process in reverse barely edged out HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY in the makeup category.
The only other multiple winner was HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY, which topped the voting in the categories for Best Special Effects and Best Production Design.
Best Picture nominee IRON MAN entered the winner’s circle only once, with an expected victory by Robert Downey Jr for his Leading Role as Tony Stark. There was also strong support for Brad Pitt in BENJAMIN BUTTON and Ron Perlman in HELLBOY 2, but ultimately the voting favored Downey by a clear margin.
Cinefantastique’s final nominee for the Best Picture from last year was WALL-E, which triumphed in a single category. Thomas Newman’s soundtrack music barely edged out Johan Soderqvist’s dramatic score for LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.
As mentioned above, QUANTUM OF SOLACE earned a tie for Judi Dench in the Supporting Actress category – the film’s only win.
Multiple nominees SPEED RACER (with three) and INDIANA JONES (with two)were shut out of the winner’s circle. Although SPEED RACER did receive some support in several technical areas, it was outvoted by fans of the more popular DARK KNIGHT and HELLBOY 2.
Finally, this year’s Ulmer Award (named after director Edgar G. Ulmer, who excelled at low-budget, independent film-making) goes to George A. Romero’s DIARY OF THE DEAD, which  comfortably outdistanced the runner-up, TEETH. Like all the films nominated in this category, DIARY received a release far too small for it to compete head-to-head with the more high-profile nominees  in the Best Picture category (not enough people saw it). That’s why we give out the Ulmer Award: to shine light on little movies that would be otherwise overlooked, and Romero’s latest zombie opus certainly deserves the honor.*

Read the complete list of winners here.

FOOTNOTE:

  • Had LET THE RIGHT ONE IN been consigned to this category, it would have been the easy winner, but its release, although small by Hollywood standards, was more than wide enough to earn it the votes it needed in the Best Picture category. All the nominees in the Ulmer category received limited platform theatrical distribution intended to boost DVD sales.

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