Does sci-fi curse doom ‘Interstellar’ in the Oscars’ Best Picture race?

When I watched “Interstellar” one question kept kicking around in my head: could they solve the problem of gravity? And it wasn’t whether Michael Cain could figure out the equation to save humanity in the film, but it was whether the brass at Paramount and Warner Brothers could think of a way to sell “Interstellar” as Best Picture to the academy. It’s another impressive production by overdue and acclaimed director Christopher Nolan. It’s already sucked in $122 million at the box office and is sitting on a solid 74 Metacritic score. Then why are its odds so low (25/1), being ranked 10th by Gold Derby experts? It’s all about the problem of gravity.

Let’s recall last year when fellow space/sci-fi ‘Gravity‘ won the top critic award in L.A. and industry honors with the PGA and the DGA. It then led with 10 Oscar nominations and was able to win 7, including the key bellwethers of best director and best editor. Only 1 film has ever won 7 or more Oscars and not taken out Best Picture (“Cabaret” with 8 wins). But even with those key wins, “Gravity” was not able to secure the Best Picture laurel. No sci-fi film has ever won the top Oscar and some classic like “2001: A Space Odyssey” weren’t even nominated. So is “Interstellar” doomed to the same fate? It all depends on what the problem of “Gravity” was.

If the problem was the orbit:

Last year the Oscar derby had “12 Years a Slave” revolving around it. If the real reason “Gravity” lost was not because the academy didn’t care for it, but because voters had a gravitational pull toward the more important-feeling “Slave,” then “Interstellar’s” hopes could still have oxygen since it faces different competitors. Let’s recall that “Gravity” came very close to prevailing. Many top Oscar pundits picked it to boldly go where no sci-fi flick has ever gone before. Does this mean that the academy bias may have softened?

If the problem was the space junk:

Maybe the academy was not ready to give a movie about space the Best Picture Oscar because they saw it as space junk. If that was the case, then ‘Interstellar’ is in real trouble. This is because this film doesn’t even embody the realism of “Gravity.” Nolan’s near apocalyptic, wormhole-jumping, spaceship film had a lot more sci-fi and space ‘junky’ elements.

On my latest Screen Verdict podcast, I try to explain how time is slower on other planets and what they are looking for in a new home. You can lisen to it here.

There is no doubt that “Interstellar” is going  to rack up a slew of nominations at the Oscars this year and it will probably win several in those crafts races. Make your own predictions below for Best Picture and leave a comment with your own “Gravity” theory.


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