"Avatar" leads the competition at the upcoming Saturn Awards, with 10 nominations including bids for best fantasy picture, leads Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana and supporting players Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver.
"Sherlock Holmes" has eight nominations while "Watchmen" and "Inglorious Basterds" earned seven apiece. "District 9" and "Star Trek" both contend in six races, though Oscar nominee "District 9" did not earn a best picture bid from these kudos.
This 36th annual edition of the awards honors films across four genres -- sci-fi, fantasy, horror and action/adventure/thriller. Though there are four best film awards, the other categories cull nominees from all four genres.
The best director race includes "Avatar" helmer James Cameron -- who has won this award four times -- and two of his Oscar rivals Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") and Quentin Tarantino ("Inglorious Basterds"), with both their films contending in the catch-all action/adventure/thriller category. The other nominees: J.J. Abrams ("Star Trek"), Neil Blomkamp ("District 9"), Guy Ritchie ("Sherlock Holmes") and Zack Snyder ("Watchmen").
Robert Downey Jr. -- who won the best actor award last year for "Iron Man" and in 1993 for "Heart and Souls" -- is nominated for "Sherlock Holmes" against "Brothers" star Tobey McGuire -- who won in 2004 for "Spider-Man 2" -- four-time runner-up Viggo Mortensen ("The Road") and first-time nominees Denzel Washington ("The Book of Eli") and Worthington.
The best actress race includes first-time nominees Melanie Laurent ("Inglorious Basterds"), Alison Lohman ("Drag Me to Hell") and Saldana as well as "Brothers" star Natalie Portman -- who won this race in 2007 for "V is for Vendetta" -- two-time nominee Charlize Theron ("The Burning Plain") and one-time nominee Catherine Keener ("Where the Wild Things Are").
Members of the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror decide on both nominees and the winners, which will be announced June 24. Begun in 1972 to honor often overlooked films, the organization has expanded its reach in recent years, adding TV awards in 1989 as well as that expanded category of action/adventure/thriller films in 1994 and DVD releases in 2003.
For the full list of nominees, visit the academy's website.
Photo: "Avatar" publicity still. Credit: Fox