Just to give you an idea on how close the voting was this year by the Portal Awards International Nominating Committee, Dakota Fanning from the film “Coraline” missed making the final five for Best Movie/Actress by a single vote.
That is how tough the decision can be, even in movie categories where there aren’t anywhere near as many choices as television. But we still have a strong list for the 2009 Portal Awards, which includes Maggie Gyllenhaal from “The Dark Knight,” who received the most votes in the category by the nominating committee.
And Gyllenhaal had a tough pair of shoes to fill. In the first film of the new Batman series, “Batman Begins,” Rachel Dawes was played beautifully by Katie Holmes. When she became unavailable for “The Dark Knight,” Gyllenhaal stepped in, even though it wasn’t meant for a long-term deal with the Batman franchise.
The key to recasting is to make sure that fans aren’t comparing you to the previous actor, and Gyllenhaal pulled that off. In fact, after the first 10 minutes of the film, most people in the audience were probably saying, “Katie who?”
Speaking of recasting, no one had it more difficult than Zoe Saldana who had to step into the role of Uhura in “Star Trek.” For more than four decades, fans closely associated the 1960s groundbreaking role with the wonderful Nichelle Nichols, so putting in a new face? That’s hard.
Saldana is not even a Star Trek fan, even though she played one in the Tom Hanks film “The Terminal” a few years back. But she was able to bring a little spunk (and Vulcan love) to the character, a bit of a departure from the more subdued style Nichols played Uhura. Saldana was not going to be a background player, and she shines in “Star Trek.”
It’s almost impossible to put Cate Blanchett in a film and not honor her. Blanchett’s range is so spectacular that you typically have to wait for the credits to role to even realize she was there.
That reputation continues with “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” where Blanchett played Daisy, a woman who would fall in love with a man aging backward. As she would get older, he would get younger. But somehow, they find a way to meet in the middle.
It’s great to see Gillian Anderson back with the Portal Awards. Anderson was a key presence in the early days of this award back in 1999 and 2000, and returns through the same X-Files franchise, this time as a movie: “The X-Files: I Want To Believe.”
The latest film in the franchise went virtually unnoticed, but for those of us who did watch the film, it was nice to see Agent Scully again, and the one actress who can truly play her.
The final nominee in Best Actress/Movie is Moon Bloodgood from “Terminator: Salvation.” She played Lt. Blair Williams in the film, the fourth in the franchise and the first to be directed by McG.
Williams becomes instrumental in one of the key stories in the film — discovering that one of their own is actually more machine than man. And she has to deal with the fallout.
The Gene Roddenberry Lifetime Achievement Award is being very honoring of its namesake this year as it recognizes some of the great names from Star Trek.
The award can only be won once, and it’s open to anyone — living or dead — who has made significant contributions to science-fiction.
Among those nominees this year is the late Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of Gene Roddenberry, whose work spans every single incarnation of Star Trek, including the recent J.J. Abrams movie where she voiced the computer just before her death last December.
She was by far the top vote-getter among members of the committee, and her work as Nurse Chapel in the original “Star Trek,” Lwaxana Troi in the spinoffs, and for bringing us “Earth: Final Conflict” and “Andromeda” based on her husband’s notes will never be forgotten.
The committee does seem to have an agenda, however: Bring back people from obscurity that don’t belong there. For the past few years, that has included Gene L. Coon, an executive producer with the original “Star Trek” known as the person who created the Klingons, created the triad relationship between Bones, Kirk and Spock, and many other contributions to the franchise.
Coon died a few years after the original series went off the air, and never had a chance to see Star Trek blossom into the multi-billion dollar behemoth it is today.
H.G. Wells needs no introduction here. In fact, if you don’t know who Wells is, are you really a science-fiction fan?
Wells contributed greatly to 19th century science-fiction with books like “The War of the Worlds,” “The Time Machine” and so many more that continues to influence the genre — both directly and indirectly — today.
If you’ve heard of a Jefferies Tube, then you should learn about the man it was named after, Matt Jefferies. The late designer created the look of the Enterprise in “Star Trek” as well as the bridge and many other of the iconic sets.
He always felt the original Enterprise bridge was functional and sleek, and publicly denounced the later redesigns, comparing them to a hotel lobby. But his work is now some of the most recognized designs in the world.
Finally James Cameron, who is directing the upcoming movie “Avatar,” is probably best known for the top-grossing movie of all time, “Titanic,” but really is the man who brought us the Terminator franchise in the first place, directing the first two movie installments of the film, and even having a machine named after him in the Fox series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.”
Since “Titanic,” Cameron has worked solely on the projects he believes in, and “Avatar” is what’s coming next, a film he already has spent years on.
There’s just nothing small in Cameron’s world.