For many years, #SciFi movies have been mostly ignored by the Motion Picture Academy - unless the award in question was for a technical achievement.
However, there are rare exceptions and one film this year appears to have made quite an impact. With an impressive 10 Oscar nods including #BestPicture, the geopolitical thriller #Arrival may look just like any other top awards contender, but its nominations represent a big step forward for the genre to which it belongs: #ScienceFiction.
Even if it may not win all of the categories for which it is nominated, fans of the genre are hoping that Arrival signals a positive fundamental shift in the Academy's perception of all things Sci-Fi.
In honor of the movie's early success and the long road the genre has traveled to get the recognition it deserves, here's a look back at 10 other Sci-Fi movies that were snubbed by the Oscars in one form or another.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
- Year Of Release: 1969
- Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
- Oscar Nominations: Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects
- Winner Of: Oscar for Best Visual Effects
- Should Have At Least Been Nominated For: Best Picture
Depending on who you ask, Stanley Kubrick's space opus 2001: A Space Odyssey is either the greatest movie ever made, or it's an overlong music video featuring that famous black rectangle and the character that inspired #GLaDOS from the #Portal games.
Through a combination of visual poetry, philosophical themes, grounded science and much more, 2001 proved that the genre can be more than just fantastic space battles between humankind and alien races.
And yet, during the 41st #AcademyAwards, the Oscars did not recognize what would become one of the most influential Sci-Fi movies ever made. Despite redefining Sci-Fi as a whole, the only Oscar 2001 took home was one for Visual Effects. This would also be the only Oscar that #StanleyKubrick would win in his whole career, even if he has become one of the most influential filmmakers to ever grace a director's chair.
2. A Clockwork Orange
- Year Of Release: 1972
- Directed By: Stanley Kubrick
- Oscar Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
- Should Have Won: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture
When it comes to bleak dystopian tales about the cruelties and hypocrisies of society, no other film is as revered as A Clockwork Orange, the second of three #Kubrick movies nominated for Best Picture.
Based on Anthony Burgess' novella of the same name, #AClockworkOrange is best remembered for its themes of life in a totalitarian society that's hellbent on brainwashing and conditioning its citizens into obedience. Factor in the film's distinctive style, and A Clockwork Orange can be seen as an instantly memorable Sci-Fi classic.
The film won none of the #Oscars it was nominated for, which is a pity considering the impact it has had on future works of political satire and commentaries that dealt with similar themes of social oppression and control.
- Year Of Release: 1978
- Directed By: Richard Donner
- Oscar Nominations: Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Mixing
- Winner Of: Special Achievement Academy Award For Visual Effects
- Should Have Won: Best Original Score
The first major live-action #Superman movie is remembered for many things, ranging from Christopher Reeve performance as the Last Son Of Krypton and its epic musical score. Composed by none other than #JohnWilliams, the Superman theme has gone on to become one of the most recognized superhero themes ever heard on the big screen.
Williams' score ultimately lost to Giorgio Moroder's work for Midnight Express, and Superman lost both of its technical nominations to The Deer Hunter. At the very lest, Superman won the Special Achievement award for visual effects because there was no competition to speak of.
Even without these Oscar wins, Superman became a landmark in the field of #superhero movies. For some fans and Superman purists, the movie set their high expectations for future Superman movies.
4. The Empire Strikes Back
- Years Of Release: 1980
- Directed By: Irvin Kershner
- Oscar Nominations: Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing
- Winner Of: Oscars for Best Sound Mixing, Special Achievement Academy Award For Visual Effects
Many #StarWars fans consider the second installment, #EmpireStrikesBack, to not only be the best of the franchise, but also one of the greatest sequels ever made. The movie successfully brought the Star Wars story into more mature territory, and it was an impressive showcase of the best special effects of the time that still hold up to this day.
Yet despite these and its predecessor, Star Wars aka #ANewHope, winning seven of 11 Oscar nominations, The Empire Strikes Back won only one of three Oscar nominations. Similar to Superman, The Empire Strikes Back was given the Special Achievement award for visual effects since no other film at the time could hold a candle to what the second Star Wars entry accomplished.
The Empire Strikes Back would go on to set the benchmark for both future Star Wars movies and blockbuster sequels in general, while at the same time immortalizing itself into pop culture with the help of its memorable scenes.
5. Blade Runner
- Year Of Release: 1982
- Directed By: Ridley Scott
- Oscar Nominations: Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects
- Should Have Won: Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects
The cyberpunk sub-genre of Sci-Fi may have never existed in the first place if not for #BladeRunner. Despite creating an entirely new visual aesthetic, Ridley Scott's cyberpunk opus was widely ignored by the Oscars and the film lost both of its technical nominations to the more visually grounded Gandhi and E.T.: Extra Terrestrial.
But unlike the other films listed here, the Oscars ignoring Blade Runner may actually have a logical explanation that goes beyond accusations of snobbery. When Blade Runner was first released, it was a mess that resulted from Scott's conflict with producers. The movie was a shortened version of the original print that came with unnecessary additions, such as a voice-over from #Deckard.
Scott has since disowned the theatrical cut of Blade Runner, and has instead promoted the "Final Cut" as his definitive vision. Given how much better the #FinalCut is when compared to the theatrical cut, it's understandable why the Oscars and many other awards bodies only acknowledged Blade Runner decades after its opening night.
- Year Of Release: 1982
- Directed By: Steven Lisberger
- Oscar Nominations: Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing
- Should Have At Least Been Nominated For: Best Visual Effects
Computerized special effects may be nothing new today, but they were a feat thought to be impossible back in the '80s. The video game inspired movie #Tron was one of the first films to use computer generated images (#CGI). Even if CGI was at still in its infancy, Tron used this new technology to successfully realize a world and society that lives inside a video game.
But believe it or not, the Motion Picture Academy disqualified Tron from the Best Visual Effects category because the Academy considered computerized visuals to be "cheating" at the time. The Oscar for Best Visual Effects instead went to E.T.: Extra Terrestrial, which used practical effects to bring E.T. and everything not of this Earth to life on the big screen.
The Academy has since changed its views on CGI, to the point where the candidates for Best Visual Effects are mostly films with computerized special effects. If not for Tron blazing a CGI trail, movies like the live-action #Transformers would never have been able to get an Oscar nomination.
7. Back To The Future
- Year Of Release: 1985
- Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
- Oscar Nominations: Best Original Screenplay, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing
- Should Have Won: Best Original Screenplay
Time travel is a difficult concept to tackle in film, but the #BackToTheFuture trilogy made this look effortless. Each installment took place literally minutes after the previous entry, and all three Back To The Future movies form a single, seamless story of jumping to and from different timelines.
Despite this feat in writing, the movie that won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1986 was Witness, a well-acted but otherwise formulaic crime thriller that starred #HarrisonFord as a cop. It should also be noted that Back To The Future and the dystopian epic #Brazil were nominated for Best Original Screenplay, and yet both lost to Witness.
The Motion Picture Academy has often been mocked for being averse to innovation and instead tends to favor generic and predictable fare. Back To The Future losing the race for an achievement in creative writing only helped bolster this accusation.
8. The Matrix
- Year Of Release: 1999
- Directed By: The Wachowski Siblings
- Winner Of: Oscars for Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects
- Should Have At Least Been Nominated For: Best Original Screenplay
No other Sci-Fi movie franchise defined the '90s and early 2000's as much as #TheMatrix did. Through a mix of anime, cyberpunk, mythical and wuxia influences, the Wachowskis' genre-shattering film debut revived interest in the Sci-Fi genre at the start of the New Millennium.
The first Matrix movie won the major technical awards, but it was ignored for its screenwriting. American Beauty won Best Original Screenplay in 2000, besting dramas (Mangolia, Topsy Turvy) and psychological thrillers (Being John Malkovich, The Sixth Sense). None of these movies are bad, but they failed to attain the cultural impact that the #Wachowskis achieved with The Matrix.
The Matrix made people think about their very own existence, so much so that the movie inspired a religion dubbed "Matrixsm." The movie is also credited for introducing existential themes to mainstream audiences. This is a feat few Sci-Fi movies that tackle the same themes could even hope to achieve, and The Matrix did it with ease. (Check out these 16 facts you may not have known about the film in the video below.)
9. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
- Year Of Release: 2004
- Directed By: Michael Gondry
- Oscar Nominations: Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay
- Winner Of: Oscar for Best Original Screenplay
- Should Have At Least Been Nominated For: Best Actor, Best Picture
#EternalSunshineOfTheSpotlessMind is the kind of movie viewers have a hard time confining to one genre. By using grounded Sci-Fi ideas such as a device that could erase one's specific memories, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind brought a different spin to the romantic drama.
While people agreed with #KateWinslet being nominated for Best Actress, they criticized the Academy for ignoring #JimCarrey. Some theorized that the Academy doesn't take Carrey seriously because he was a popular comedian, and this bias supposedly tainted some dramatic roles that fans consider to be the best of his career.
Another criticism was the Academy's choice to snub it for Best Picture. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind flipped the romantic movie on its head, and yet the Academy ignored this change in favor of predictable nominees. Million Dollar Baby won Best Picture, besting biopics that cynics expect to be in every year's Best Picture race.
10. Children Of Men
- Year Of Release: 2006
- Directed By: Alfonso Cuaron
- Oscar Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing
- Should Have At Least Been Nominated For: Best Director, Best Picture
One of the most underappreciated movies of 2006 is #ChildrenOfMen, the feature adaptation of P.D. James' novel of the same name. Roughly a decade after its release, Children Of Men joined the ranks of other dystopian and apocalyptic fictions that are seeing new relevance in today's heated political climate.
Even with its newfound impact, Children Of Men was ignored when it was first released. The film was only nominated for technical accomplishments despite it being praised as an emotional, thought-provoking gut punch to anyone who watched it. The candidates for Best Picture in 2007 were mostly biopics and straightforward dramas, leading some to theorize that Children Of Men being a Sci-Fi movie proved detrimental to its Oscar chances.
The Academy would seemingly try to redeem itself a few years later by giving Alfonso Cuaron's #Gravity seven of 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Director. While Gravity is not a bad film, Sandra Bullock's isolation in space pales in comparison to the tour-de-force that was Children Of Men.
If not for the backlash that followed after the Academy Awards ignored Christopher Nolan's groundbreaking #TheDarkKnight and Pixar's smash-hit #WallE, the Motion Picture Academy may never have bothered to give Sci-Fi movies a fair chance.
It was in the following year that the Best Picture list was expanded to eight, with #District9 and later on #Inception signalling a change in favor of the Sci-Fi genre. The previous victories of #MadMaxFuryRoad and the early success of Arrival as an Oscar nominee prove that the Academy has listened to people's criticisms and is determined to win back viewers' confidence in the awards body.
While it may take a little longer for films of other genres(i.e. horror and superhero) to be regarded with the respect they deserve, the progress made by Science Fiction should be more than enough to prove that their time will surely come soon.