This article marks Part 4, the final entry in the Gold Derby series reflecting on Horror Films at the Oscars. Join us as we look back at the spine-tingling movies that earned Academy Awards nominations, including the following films from the 2000s and 2010s.
At the start of the new millennium, voters did not embrace Christian Bale‘s chilling turn in “American Psycho” (2000). They did, however, on the heels of pictures like “Ed Wood” (1994) and “Gods and Monsters” (1998), recognize another film about the men who made horror cinema.
“Shadow of the Vampire” earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Willem Dafoe, portraying the elusive Max Schreck, who gave life to vampire Graf Orlok in F.W. Murnau‘s legendary horror film “Nosferatu” (1922). The picture also scored a nomination in Best Makeup. Also up for a nomination that year was Paul Verhoeven‘s “Hollow Man,” a contender in Best Visual Effects.
The rest of the decade to come would not prove the best of times for horror at the Oscars.
There was hardly a shortage of terrific cinema from the genre. Among the horror films that earned great reviews but no Oscar nominations were “The Others” (2001) and “28 Days Later” (2002).
In 2004, the genre made a modest Oscar return through “The Phantom of the Opera” (2004), director Joel Schumacher’s film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. It earned nominations, albeit no wins, in Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Original Song (“Learn to Be Lonely”).
The mid-2000s saw a pair of spooky animated films grace Best Animated Feature – Tim Burton’s “Corpse Bride” (2005) and Gil Kenan’s “Monster House” (2006). Neither picture was triumphant.
Another bone-chilling musical, Burton’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007), secured a trio of Oscar nominations, in Best Actor (Johnny Depp), Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction, the last of which it won.
At last, at the start of the new decade, another horror film – the fifth to date – graced Best Picture.
Up until 2010, the films of Darren Aronofsky had not been wholeheartedly embraced by voters. “Requiem for a Dream” (2000) and “The Wrestler” (2008) were among the most acclaimed films of their respective years but failed to leave a dent at the Oscars, beyond a few acting nominations.
Voters could not, however, resist Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” (2010), which scored five nominations in total – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Natalie Portman), Best Film Editing and Best Cinematography. With “The King’s Speech” dominating in Best Picture and Best Director (Tom Hooper), “Black Swan” had to settle for a single victory, for its leading lady.
Another horror item from 2010, Joe Johnston‘s “The Wolfman,” emerged a contender in Best Makeup, scoring artist Rick Baker his seventh career Oscar.
Two years later, another pair of kid-friendly horror offerings, “Frankenweenie” and “ParaNorman” (2012), squared off in Best Animated Feature. Both would fall short to the latest from Disney-Pixar, “Brave.”
Entirely absent from the Oscars for four consecutive years, the genre made a grand return through Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” (2017), the sixth horror film to surface in Best Picture. The film was nominated for a total of four prizes, including Best Director, Best Actor (Daniel Kaluuya) and Best Original Screenplay, ultimately triumphing for Peele’s writing. The filmmaker made history as the first African American to prevail in the category, with the picture marking the first horror film to take home the Best Original Screenplay prize.
While no release this year appears poised to emerge the seventh horror film to grace Best Picture, a pair of hair-raising thrillers – John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place” and Luca Guadagnino’s “Suspiria” – could contend for Oscar bids in technical categories. There is also Art Aster’s “Hereditary,” which sports an Oscar-caliber turn from leading lady Toni Collette, previously a nominee for another horror picture, “The Sixth Sense” (1999).