I like watching the Academy Awards and will always watch them. Shallow though the show itself may be, it’s a celebration of (some of) the year’s best achievements in entertainment, be they artistic or technical. It’s an opportunity to briefly meet the men and women behind the magic. And it can be a pretty good spectacle in its own right.
But it struck me this year, as it always does, how genre-shy these awards are. It’s no secret that, with the exception of Return of the King (Peter Jackson’s amazing trilogy practically guilting the Academy into voting it Best Picture), horror/fantasy/SF has been barred from the big prizes on Oscar night throughout Hollywood’s history. The original King Kong, one of the greatest films ever made? Not even nominated for Best Picture. James Whale’s horror milestones, Frankenstein/ Bride of Frankenstein? Nothing. Over the decades, a handful of genre films made the shortlist–The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, 2001: A Space Odyssey, E.T., The Exorcist being the most well-known–but far too many were sidelined altogether.
For me, science fiction has been neglected more than any other genre on Oscar night.
For your consideration…
The following seminal science fiction films failed to receive even a Best Picture nomination the year of their release:
Planet of the Apes (1968)
20000 Leagues Under the Sea
Back to the Future
The Thing (1982)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
War of the Worlds (1953)
And that’s not even counting more recent SF movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Star Trek, which were excellent films by any measure.
Can you think of any more?