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Will a sci-fi genre film EVER break through the Oscar brick ceiling?

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  • Paul Hanlin Jr
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    #42691

    Yes, we’re in-between years when sci-fi films have and will make an impact, so now’s as good a time as any to lay this out there.  Sci-fi genre films have been given the short shrift, when you really get down to picking nits, with WINNING actual Oscars for Picture, Director, acting, etc. back to 2001: A Space Odyssey and continuing through Avatar.  

    Does anyone see the Academy, with its penchant to recognize mostly independent films with its big-ticket awards in its present incarnation, ever give respect to a sci-fi film that strikes a four-quadrant chord with moviegoers as well as a critics united front?  Will we see a LOTR-esque Oscars in 2015, once Avatar 2 and 3 are out there, and the Academy finally shed its prejudices toward sci-fi (because they clearly don’t respect those kind of movies) and give a SF film every major trophy that night?

    Or do we need to have a Reformation, a purge and have, instead in its wake, an Academy membership that respects all genres of legitimate moviemaking with malice toward none?

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    Scottferguson
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    #42693

    There’s nothing special about the lack of sci-fi winners. Westerns, by far the greatest genre in American film, has only three winners, and none in the greatest era (1940-70). Few comedies have won. Hardly any mysteries. All of these genres have had far many greater films than sci-fi (because they’ve had so many more movies period).

    I would have picked 2001 over Oliver, ET over Gandhi, The Thing (from Another World) over An American in Paris to name a few. There certainly have been deserving winners. Just far, far fewer than in the many other overlooked genres.

    LOTR:ROTK won because it was the third part of a single film that didn’t seem complete until the third one came along. Avatar 2 and 3 will be sequels. I doubt very much, whatever their likely quality, they will contend seriously to win.

    The Academy tends to reward films that appeal disproportionately to industry people who are older, well-educated and wealthy. That is always going to be the case. Science fiction films, many of which are intelligent, well-made, inventive seem just not be aimed usually to that demographic.

    The Academy gets a lot of things long. This is just one among many.

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    babypook
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    #42694

    Yes, we’re in-between years when sci-fi films have and will make an impact, so now’s as good a time as any to lay this out there.  Sci-fi genre films have been given the short shrift, when you really get down to picking nits, with WINNING actual Oscars for Picture, Director, acting, etc. back to 2001: A Space Odyssey and continuing through Avatar.  

    Does anyone see the Academy, with its penchant to recognize mostly independent films with its big-ticket awards in its present incarnation, ever give respect to a sci-fi film that strikes a four-quadrant chord with moviegoers as well as a critics united front?  Will we see a LOTR-esque Oscars in 2015, once Avatar 2 and 3 are out there, and the Academy finally shed its prejudices toward sci-fi (because they clearly don’t respect those kind of movies) and give a SF film every major trophy that night?

    Or do we need to have a Reformation, a purge and have, instead in its wake, an Academy membership that respects all genres of legitimate moviemaking with malice toward none?

    Well, sci-fi being one of my favorite genres; I’d say that people need time to adjust and educate themselves about this ‘genre’, which becomes reality so often, there’s a saying for it which I cant remember.
    But, being a sci-fi fan often comes with ridicule and derision because the average person seems to feel that sci-fi means SPACESHIPS. They really have no idea the brilliance of many sci-fi writers, and some of the films, even the campy ones, have tremendous merit on their own.
    The times generates so much, and the media often clamps on.

    So. I guess I’m saying that it’s just a matter of time. Amazing how, Oscars are generated by critics. It’s a symbiotic relationship.
    Whatever it is I may be waiting for, whether or not a sci-fi film wins in the next few years is incidental to me. I’ve already discovered this mind-bending, mind-opening, often brilliant genre.
    If AVATAR 2/3 actually wins, and I like the film as much or more than I did the first one, sure, I’ll be happy.

    I read over my post and it might sound a tad condescending. That’s not my intention. But, when you’ve been bugged to death most of your life by IDIOTS and MORONS who dont know what they’re talking about, it’s understandable that I sound a bit touchy.

    Btw Paul, I dont believe the Academy lauds only IF’s and deadly serious dramas.

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    Tye-Grr
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    #42695

    I’m with you. For me, the most criminally ignored sci-fi film in recent memory was ‘Children of Men’ which could only muster a screenplay nod and a well deserved nomination in cinematography which it should have won. It deserved picture, director, editing, and IMHO a lead actor nomination for Clive Owen as well. EDIT: I just double checked and saw that it did get an editing nomination.

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    Junk
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    #42696

    Avatar was on last night, and I saw it for the second time. Now that I think of it, I would’ve been perfectly okay if it won, and it deserved it as well. It certainly should have won one of the Sound categories over Hurt Locker. 

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    rockstitution
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    #42697

    I’m with you. For me, the most criminally ignored sci-fi film in recent memory was ‘Children of Men’ which could only muster a screenplay nod and a well deserved nomination in cinematography which it should have won. It deserved picture, director, editing, and IMHO a lead actor nomination for Clive Owen as well. EDIT: I just double checked and saw that it did get an editing nomination.

    Agree with you here. Definitely th best film in 2006 imo. It should have AT LEAST have walked away with Cinematography but I Can’t fault Pan’s Labyrinth too much (which was my #2) lol

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    Tye-Grr
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    #42698

    ^I completely agree, Rock. It was my favorite film of 2006, but I’m okay with ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ taking cinematography. I would’ve given ‘CoM’ Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, and Editing. One of the sound categories too.

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    babypook
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    #42699

    ^I completely agree, Rock. It was my favorite film of 2006, but I’m okay with ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ taking cinematography. I would’ve given ‘CoM’ Best Picture, Director, Cinematography, and Editing. One of the sound categories too.

    What about an acting nod? That was a terrific cast. I remember Michael Caine’s extended cameo. He was as impactful as Hal Holbrook, for example, in “Into the Wild”.

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    Tye-Grr
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    #42700

    I would’ve given Clive an acting nod for sure, maybe even Caine too because he was also great that year in ‘The Prestige’. However, neither would’ve been winners for me. I would’ve given lead actor to Leo for ‘The Departed’, and supporting actor to Eddie Murphy for ‘Dreamgirls’. Claire Hope Ashitey (spelling?) was also great.

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    Brilliance inmorbid
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    #42701

    Oh great. More whining.

    And is Avatar really sci-fi? I always thought it was a pure fantasy/adventure flick.

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    Daniel Montgomery
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    #42702

    I wish sci-fi were better respected in general. In recent years, “Children of Men,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Minority Report,” “A.I.,” “Being John Malkovich,” and “Dark City” deserved better than they got.

    Sadly, it’s difficult to get good sci-fi with ideas made these days. And even the good ones (like “District 9”) end up compromising by adding a lot of action scenes and explosions.

    I think it’s a generational thing. I took a creative writing class in college a few years ago, and many of us wrote sci-fi and fantasy stories, and our professor, who was somewhere over 60, didn’t quite understand the compulsion and considered it a genre of whimsy and not serious art. She didn’t penalize us for it or talk down to us; rather it started an interesting conversation about what drew us younger writers to fantasy while older generations preferred realism as the style of serious expression.

    Perhaps we’ll see that generational shift at the Oscars, but it’ll take time. In a few decades, us younger, fantasy afficionados will be the establishment, and maybe then we’ll be talking about why so many sci-fi movies keep winning Best Picture.

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    Adam Waldowski
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    #42703

    Perhaps we’ll see that generational shift at the Oscars, but it’ll take time. In a few decades, us younger, fantasy afficionados will be the establishment, and maybe then we’ll be talking about why so many sci-fi movies keep winning Best Picture.

    By the time the majority of people are invited to join the Academy, they’re established in their field. Since it’s a lifetime membership, that means they get to belong from maybe age 40 onward. I’m sure we all know plenty of people who are 40 and over who love sci-fi, which explains how “Star Wars,” “E.T.,” “District 9,” and “Avatar” were all up for Best Picture. But I don’t know if there will ever come a day where a bunch of middle-aged and elderly folks are that enchanted by blue, environmentalist aliens.

    Superlative sci-fi films get recognized by the Oscars. “2001” was up for 4 including Director, “Aliens” for 7 including Actress, and “Terminator 2” for 6. We all know “2001” is better than “Oliver!” The Oscars, on the other hand, will never be able to make that kind of distinction.

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    Daniel Montgomery
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    #42704

    [quote=”Daniel_Montgomery”]Perhaps we’ll see that generational shift at the Oscars, but it’ll take time. In a few decades, us younger, fantasy afficionados will be the establishment, and maybe then we’ll be talking about why so many sci-fi movies keep winning Best Picture.

    By the time the majority of people are invited to join the Academy, they’re established in their field. Since it’s a lifetime membership, that means they get to belong from maybe age 40 onward. I’m sure we all know plenty of people who are 40 and over who love sci-fi, which explains how “Star Wars,” “E.T.,” “District 9,” and “Avatar” were all up for Best Picture. But I don’t know if there will ever come a day where a bunch of middle-aged and elderly folks are that enchanted by blue, environmentalist aliens.

    Superlative sci-fi films get recognized by the Oscars. “2001” was up for 4 including Director, “Aliens” for 7 including Actress, and “Terminator 2” for 6. We all know “2001” is better than “Oliver!” The Oscars, on the other hand, will never be able to make that kind of distinction.[/quote]

    Your assumption is that liking sci-fi and fantasy goes away with age. But maybe the nerdy 20-somethings of the world will become nerdy 60-somethings. More refined, hopefully, but maybe more willing to accept genre films.

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    Adam Waldowski
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    #42705

    Your assumption is that liking sci-fi and fantasy goes away with age. But maybe the nerdy 20-somethings of the world will become nerdy 60-somethings. More refined, hopefully, but maybe more willing to accept genre films.

    But it apparently does go away with age. The current generation of voters — who grew up as Trekkies and “Star Wars” fanboys — should all be total nerds who swoon for a “Star Trek” reboot. It’s unfortunately just not the case.

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    babypook
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    #42706

    I wish sci-fi were better respected in general. In recent years, “Children of Men,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Minority Report,” “A.I.,” “Being John Malkovich,” and “Dark City” deserved better than they got.

    Sadly, it’s difficult to get good sci-fi with ideas made these days. And even the good ones (like “District 9”) end up compromising by adding a lot of action scenes and explosions.

    I think it’s a generational thing. I took a creative writing class in college a few years ago, and many of us wrote sci-fi and fantasy stories, and our professor, who was somewhere over 60, didn’t quite understand the compulsion and considered it a genre of whimsy and not serious art. She didn’t penalize us for it or talk down to us; rather it started an interesting conversation about what drew us younger writers to fantasy while older generations preferred realism as the style of serious expression.

    Perhaps we’ll see that generational shift at the Oscars, but it’ll take time. In a few decades, us younger, fantasy afficionados will be the establishment, and maybe then we’ll be talking about why so many sci-fi movies keep winning Best Picture.

    “…I think it’s a generational thing…”

    Love your post but, I’m not so sure Daniel. I think it’s exposure. There are so many different kinds of science-fiction writing, from Dune to The Left Hand of Darkness, And, I’m excluding the Fantasy genre because, although the Saturns dont seem to care when they mix the genres, in fairness they are sometimes mixed.
    Buck Rogers and Frankenstein are  how old now? There are many brilliant Sci-Fi writers who are not spring chickens, or have passed away, and who wrote until the ends of the lives.

    You’re right about things being cyclical but, I’m not entirely convinced those cycles follow generational chapters.

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