If Oscar voters only embrace a single space-themed film this year, which one do YOU think they'll nominate for Best Picture: "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" or "The Martian"? Both seem like instant classics, but Oscar is notorious for giving the cold shoulder to science-fiction fare. Just last year, the academy snubbed two such critically acclaimed blockbusters: "Interstellar" and "Guardians of the Galaxy."
While no sci-fi film has ever won Best Picture, the original "Star Wars" might have come close in 1977 when "Annie Hall" prevailed. More recently, both "Avatar" and "District 9" managed to reap Best Picture bids in 2009, but that was when 10 films were guaranteed a spot in this top race. Now, the number of nominees can be anywhere between five and 10.
Our Oscar Experts drawn from major media outlets currently have "The Martian" in a tie for second place with "The Revenant" according to their predictions for Best Picture. Both films have 15/2 odds apiece, while "Star Wars" is down below 20th place on the Experts' chart with lowly 100/1 odds.
Perhaps the low ranking for "Star Wars" is because the critics we polled simply hadn't seen the film until this week. (It opens Friday.) Now that they're starting to see this seventh film in the "Star Wars" franchise at industry screenings, will the film begin to creep into their Best Picture predictions?
And while "Mad Max: Fury Road" isn't set in outer space, the futuristic film should still be in this sci-fi discussion. "Mad Max" is currently in the #6 position on our Experts' charts with 12/1 odds, so it seems like a safe bet for a nomination.
Can "The Martian," "Mad Max" and "Star Wars" all reap Best Picture nominations? Our forum posters, many of whom are Hollywood insiders, have been weighing in on this sci-fi standoff at the Oscars. Read some of their comments below and then join the fierce debate in our forums here. And be sure to make your predictions for the Best Picture line-up at the bottom of this post.
FilmGuy619: Gun to my head, I would say "Star Wars" because it will make all the money in the world and nominating it will solve the ratings problem they've been having. Plus, "The Martian" might peak too soon if "Star Wars" is a massive success across the board (critically, financially, and industry-wise).
Eddy Q: Currently I'm predicting neither but if "The Force Awakens" get close to "Empire Strikes Back" level reviews it definitely has a chance for Best Picture. I'm hearing a lot about how well-liked "The Martian" is by industry insiders but my gut feeling is that, when push comes to shove, it won't do so well in nominations.
Adam Rock: I'm pretty sure "The Martian" is getting into best picture. I think. Also thought "Interstellar" would get in last year though.
manakamana: "Star Wars" will be huge. It's already huge. It's hard to imagine both "The Martian" and "Star Wars" in the BP lineup but I'd be VERY surprised if "The Martian" is in there and "Star Wars" isn't.
Manuelcolon: And then there is "Mad Max," the best reviewed action film of the last 20 years, everybody loves the film, and wants it to get in. Did better than expected at the box office, and surprised the world by how good it was and how amazing the reviews were.
kvothe_snow: If "Star Wars" continues its momentum, I hope it's "Star Wars" over "The Martian."
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