While box office receipts for “Blade Runner 2049” have been slightly disappointing, reviews have been strong for the long-awaited sequel to “Blade Runner,” especially for its technical achievements. Should Denis Villeneuve‘s sequel perform strongly in Oscar technical categories, fans may take comfort that the academy has righted a wrong that was shockingly done to the original film in 1982. (See 2018 Oscar odds and rankings in 12 categories.)
“Blade Runner” was hailed for its futuristic world upon its first release but strangely the academy only gave it two Oscar nominations: Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects. Its beautiful cinematography was not even nominated. “Blade Runner” lost the Visual Effects award to “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial,” which performed well in the technical categories by taking three other awards. And the Art Direction trophy surprisingly went to “Gandhi.
Somehow “Blade Runner’s” innovative futuristic world that fascinated audiences was overlooked for the basic naturalistic sets of “Gandhi.” The thinking was that this was simply a case of academy members voting a straight “Gandhi” ticket and checking off the film in all categories. (It took home a total of eight awards including Best Picture.) It even won the Best Costume award which provoked mocking comments in the press about how “Gandhi’s” simple white sheets beat out the fancier work of a film such as “Victor Victoria.”
The BAFTA awards were more embracing of the original “Blade Runner” and nominated it for eight technical awards: Cinematography, Costume Design, Art Direction, Film Editing, Makeup, Score, Sound and Visual Effects. It won the trophies for Cinematography, Costumes and Art Direction. And “Blade Runner” only nabbed a single Golden Globe nom in 1982, for Best Original Score, which it lost to “E.T.”
Perhaps some of the academy’s lack of voter support was due to the fact that “Blade Runner” was considered a bit of a disappointment on its original release. It was Harrison Ford’s follow-up to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and Ridley Scott’s first film since “Alien,” so expectations were high. There was also fights behind the scenes regarding the ending of the film and whether or not Ford’s character was an android. The controversy probably damaged the film’s reputation and made it seem unworthy of academy attention. It would only be in subsequent years that the film’s artistic beauty would come to be appreciated.
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