Do the Oscars snub sci-fi movies?

Since 1929, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has organized the Oscars, the most important award ceremony for cinema. Every year, the most creative, talented and brilliant actors, directors and editors dress in their best while strutting down the red carpet, hopefully towards those golden statuettes. The Oscars are the pinnacle of achievement for many people in the film industry, so having one is the ultimate achievement. But many creators and fans have noted that the Oscars have kept their own definition of what a great movie is, while giving sci-fi movies a lack of nominations in the past. Looking at most years of the Oscars, you’ll see mostly the same genres: drama, biopic, and thriller. Additionally, these titles are often used to rename nominated films in the sci-fi genre so that they seem worthy of recognition.

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For the 94th Annual Academy Awards, Dennis Villeneuve Dunes was nominated for eight awards, including Best Picture. For many, it’s a pleasant surprise because even with acclaimed filmmakers like Denis, the Oscars will still ignore such footage. It wasn’t until recently that the Academy recognized more sci-fi imagery for more than visual effects, costume design, and makeup. Mad Max: Fury Road, Avatar, District 9, and a handful of others have all been recognized by the Academy, receiving Best Screenplay and Best Picture nominations. Before 2009, when Avatar and District 9 were nominated for the highest honor, it’s actually been decades since a sci-fi movie was nominated for Best Picture. The last had been that of Steven Spielberg ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (who did not win the award).


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For much of film history, some genres have been held to a higher standard than others. Dramas and thrillers have always been considered the go-to genres of cinema, with genres like horror and science fiction being considered amateurish. For many, when sci-fi or horror is mentioned, it brings to mind terrible effects, acting, and dated backgrounds. Those biases haven’t really changed much, especially in the eyes of major studios and critics. Every January, studios push cheap sci-fi and horror movies into theaters in hopes of making a quick buck, which doesn’t necessarily help the cause of raising those standards. genres. But not all science fiction is created equal. Yes, there are movies like that that are out there to make a quick buck or just aren’t done well. Yet there are also plenty of images from all time that fall under the realm of science fiction.



Matt Damon in The Martian

Some of the greatest films of all time have been snubbed at the Oscars. Granted, the Oscars can’t and won’t satisfy everyone who wants their favorites to win. But there’s no denying that people like Ridley Scott blade runner and Stanley Kubrick 2001: A Space Odyssey are two of the greatest movies ever made, and many think the fact that they weren’t even nominated for Best Picture is concerning. The aim of the awards is to recognize the best films of the past year – although it’s worth mentioning that when they were released, these films weren’t as popular as they are now. Many sci-fi movies that have been nominated over the years have other genres pushed onto them like thriller or drama; they can’t just be a sci-fi image if they want recognition. It wasn’t until 2015 that Ridley Scott’s science fiction film The Martian was renamed as a drama, and even as a comedy for the Golden Globe Awards, which it won for its brilliance.


But for many, that trend appears to be changing recently, as the past few years have seen a rapid change in the diversity of Oscar nominations. Horror fans got to see Jordan Peele’s 2017 horror movie get out nominated for numerous awards, including his win for Best Original Screenplay and his nomination for Best Picture. Meanwhile, that same year, sci-fi fans got to see Guillermo Del Toro The shape of water winning Best Picture, while Del Toro also won Best Director. Like other genre films that won these awards, these films had been presented as social thrillers, and more than their genres.



Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones in The Shape of Water

While it’s been a long road for many and will continue to be, it’s been great to see films from genres other than drama and biopic win Oscars. For many moviegoers, this could make the Oscars more reputable, as it truly picks the best of the best each year without excluding many movies for their genre. But it is not enough for the Academy itself to make this change. Critics and audiences will have to overcome their prejudices regarding sci-fi images. Only time will tell if the Academy will begin to recognize the greatest sci-fi pictures as well as more traditional genres each year.

MORE: Oscars: Who will win Best Actor?


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