The Academy Awards (Oscars) have a prestigious worldwide distinction. Given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of the United States since 1929, they’re a recognition of films that stand out. But, if you take a closer look at the awards that have been awarded there’s a pattern that can be clearly seen. That is sci-fi films don’t receive the same recognition as other genres at the Oscars.
A total of 24 Awards are given, each one allocated to a different category. Some of the most well known are Best Picture, Best Foreign Language Film, or Best Original Screenplay. But, there are other categories that, are well received like the best actor, actress, or director.
One of the good things about the Oscars is that they tend to accommodate almost all film genres. Yet, not all genres are equally valued.
Regardless of how good the movie is, even if it’s later considered a movie classic, sci-fi films hardly ever get the attention they should at the Oscars.
Sci-fi tends to be pushed to awards like Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, Best Photography, or Best Sound Editing. Beyond these, we will find little. But is that fair?
We’re are going to look at 9 science fiction classics. 9 sci-fi films that were important in the genre and that, despite everything, were not credited as they should have been at the Oscars.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
1968, gave us one of the films that would make history in the world of cinema. 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick. It’s a landmark both for its revolutionary special effects and for the way imagery was responsible for communicating the story.
If you saw this movie now, it would not cause you the same emotion that it caused at that time. We are talking about a 1968 film and, in its context, it was a real innovation.
Science fiction gained a lot when Stanley Kubrick decided to direct this film. Addressing topics such as human evolution, technological advancement, life away from the Earth, and the appearance of Artificial Intelligence. It was a film endowed with incredible realism. Also, the soundtrack deserves separate consideration.
Despite everything, the Oscars failed to measure up for this sci-fi classic. It had four nominations: Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Visual Effects. It only received the award for Best Visual Effects.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to Oliver!
2. Blade Runner
Released in 1982, inspired in a way by a Philip K. Dick novel called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Not only is it considered a classic of its genre, but it’s also one of the forerunners of the cyberpunk genre. The film’s axis is artificial intelligence and the creation of replicants used for forced labour. Those that broke programming and have gone astray are being tracked by the cops, Blade Runners.
‘Blade Runner’ was nominated for two Oscars, for Best Art Direction and for Best Visual Effects. But it didn’t win any of them.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to Gandhi
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
It feels impossible that you wouldn’t know this movie. Directed by Steven Spielberg and released in 1982. The film tells the story of E.T., a little alien stuck on Earth and he just wants to return home.
During his stay on our planet, he lives with an American family and becomes close friends with the family’s son, Elliott. However, everything gets complicated when his presence is discovered. Scientists cant comprehend friendly creatures and want to find and run tests on poor E.T.
It became a box office success, surpassing even Star Wars. Of the movies we’ve seen so far, it was the one that received the most award recognition. It got nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, but alas didn’t win it.
It ended up winning only four awards: Best Soundtrack, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing and, again, Best Visual Effects.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to Gandhi
Directed by Christopher Nolan it’s one of the most recent sci-fi films on this list to fail with Best Picture at the Oscars, released in 2014.
In this film, it’s told how the Earth has to face the consequences of everything humans have done. There are few crops, agriculture is no longer sustainable. Humanity’s survival is increasingly threatened.
It’s discovered that there is a wormhole near Saturn, which could open a path to a galaxy with habitable planets for all humans. But it takes volunteers to research, and that’s exactly where Cooper, a former professor with a young daughter, goes.
The film has reminiscences of 2001: A Space Odyssey, incredible special effects, and a plot capable of keeping the viewer totally on edge. The surprising ending, mixing science fiction and some drama, manages to put a good ending to this film.
But, again, the Oscars failed to see it. It was nominated for Best Soundtrack, Best Production Design, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects, although it only won in the latter category.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to Birdman
Today, after more than three decades, we can appreciate the film’s significance. A classic of science fiction and horror.
Directed by Ridley Scott (again), it got people screaming in movie theatres. Even to this day, this film is capable of making the odd exclamation, despite all the time that has passed and how much cinema has changed in those years.
One of the most curious details of this film is that it began as one more film, with some suspense and a low budget to face all the charges that it could entail. Indeed, neither the actors nor the director, nor the producers themselves, expected that Alien would end up being a movie classic.
Once again, the Oscars failed to measure up. It just got two nominations, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction, skipping the rest. He was only awarded the same one that, at the time, won 2001: A Space Odyssey: Best Visual Effects.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to Kramer vs. Kramer
6. Planet of the Apes (1968)
The same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was released, we got to see some apey excellence. Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner it’s based on the novel by Pierre Boulle.
Astronauts are in a hibernation state when their ship suddenly falls into a lake, in the middle of a totally unknown planet. It is then that they discover that they are not alone on that planet.
Despite how important this film has been to the science fiction genre and how famous the rest of the saga films have been, it received only two Oscar nominations: Best Soundtrack and Best Costumes.
It did not win either of the two awards, but it won an honorary award for the makeup quality, as there was no specific category for makeup.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to Oliver!
Going back to another of the more recent movies, we have Inception (2010). Christopher Nolan produced and directed it. The starring roles went to Leonardo DiCaprio and Ellen Page.
In this film, a thief named Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) uses a device that steals people’s ideas while they sleep to extract a specific plan from a Japanese tycoon. But the victim realizes it, and everything gets complicated. When they discover Cobb’s machine’s power, they offer him a job: instead of stealing ideas, he has to manage to create one. And this is how they’re immersed in the world of dreams.
It was nominated for 8 Oscars, quite an achievement considering that we are talking about science fiction. It won 4 awards, all down to the more technical aspects: Best Photography, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound, and Best Visual Effects.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to The King’s Speech
8. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
The first of the world’s most popular galactic franchises came out in 1977. The impact and importance of the first Star Wars is unmatched by any other movie.
This sci-fi masterpiece was nominated for 11 Oscars, of which it managed to win 7. But, it failed to take the Oscar for Best Picture. It managed to win 7 statuettes for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Editing, Best Soundtrack, Best Sound, and Special Recognition to Ben Burtt.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to Annie Hall
9. Mad Max: Fury Road
Directed by George Miller in 2015. Set in a post-apocalyptic future. A world where nuclear war has destroyed most of civilization. We see Max return for a reboot and a battle along the road.
It was nominated for ten Oscars in 2016. The film won 6 for Best Production Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing, and Best Costume Design.
That year the Best Picture Oscar went to Spotlight
So many other great Sci-fi films failed to make the Best Picture Oscar cut. A few more worth mentioning include The Martian, The Matrix, Gravity, The Time Machine, to name but a few.
It is curious that Hollywood doesn’t know how to reward sci-fi. But the important thing is that the viewer enjoys it, as many of us do.
Thanks for reading our article on 9 Sci-fi films that should’ve won Best Picture at the Oscars. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More of our movie articles HERE.
Jungle Cruise – Review
Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt swing in with force in Disney’s new Jungle Cruise. And while the movie has fun callbacks to the Disney Park ride and a clever plot, if this movie is trying to be the next Pirates of the Caribbean, it falls short. Here’s our review of Jungle Cruise.
SPOILERS: Warning there are spoilers ahead.
To be honest, I was expecting a much less creative plot from this movie. Following suit with typical adventure movies, I was expecting this film to be a less-funny version of the Jumanji reboot. But the plot has an unexpected emotional centre and a clever twist. And while the film suffers from CGI villain goopiness, it gives the CGI villains actual heart and motivations.
The film centres on Lilly (Emily Blunt), a botanist in search of a healing petal. The petal is said to be able to cure any illness and resides deep in the Amazon Rainforest. She is accompanied by her little brother, McGregor (Jack Whitehall) and their hired skipper, Frank (Dwayne Johnson).
But a curse resides around the petal. Spanish conquistador Aguirre (Edgar Ramirez) and his crew went in search of the petal four hundred years ago. The petal can only be found with an arrowhead sacred to the Umbala or Headhunter tribe of the region. When Aguirre and his crew are on the brink of death, the Umbala tribe saves them. But Aguirre betrays them to get his hands on the arrowhead, and the chief of the Umbala tribe curses Aguirre and his party. They can never stray from the river, or the rainforest will take them. For four hundred years, they’ve lain dormant, having strayed too far from the banks of the river. They cannot die.
Now the arrowhead rests with a sexist scientific community. Lilly steals the arrowhead, just before it was set to be sold to Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons). Joachim works for the German government during the height of World War One. He believes that the petal will not only bring victory to Germany, but will make him a world ruler. (How he thinks it will do that is unclear).
As Lilly, McGregor, and Frank make their way down the Amazon in search of the Petal, Joachim follows and occasionally attacks them in his submarine. Deciding he needs more help, he wakes up Aguirre, now a monster of the Amazon, and his crew. Aguirre, who is now made out of snakes, and his two colleagues, one of which is made out of honey and bees and the other mud and tee frogs, are sent on Lilly’s trail.
What happens next is the usual adventure. White water rapids, a run-in with the Umbala tribe (who become allies), submarine fights, swinging on jungle vines; you name it.
But after a run-in with Aguirre, Lilly learns the truth about Frank. In a plot twist I absolutely did not see coming, it turns out that Frank is actually Francisco, Aguirre’s cartographer. We learn that Aguirre was not looking for the petal for glory or gold, but to save his deeply ill daughter. Aguirre and Francisco grew up together, and they were willing to do anything to save his daughter. But when Aguirre betrays the Umbala tribe, Francisco tries to stop Aguirre. Francisco was also cursed to be unable to leave the riverbank, but Aguirre kept returning to fight and defeat (stab) Francisco.
Tired of constantly getting stabbed, Francisco traps Aguirre in a cave. Letting the Amazon have him and turn him into the monster he is today. Francisco then built a town on the river banks, built a boat in search of the petal, gave up, and now runs river cruises.
While the plot is very complicated, it’s easy enough to follow while watching the film. I will say that the motivations of Joachim are a little hard to follow. But the plot twist with Frank was very clever. It gives a CGI-heavy Aguirre a human heart. Now all he wants to do is break the curse and be allowed to die. To do so he needs a petal. The plot in and of itself was much more clever than I expected.
Characters and performances
One character that pleasantly surprised me was McGregor. At first, I thought he was merely queer-coded. He definitely fell into some gay stereotypes, but I thought that was all it was going to be. A guy who was subtly a little queer. But, when Frank asks him why follows Lilly, even through a jungle, he gives a surprisingly candid answer. He explains to Frank that he is gay and that Lilly is the only one who supports him.
When the world turned his back on him, she stood with him, and for that, he would “follow her into a volcano.” This is the first time I can remember that a Disney character was very, clearly openly gay. Disney has had about a dozen “first gay characters,” but all of them have been off to the side. None of them has stated their sexuality or been open about it. McGregor not only states it outright but is not ashamed of it and it is not his only character trait. He becomes brave and capable and is a good friend to both Frank and Lilly. It was really surprising to see good representation from Disney in this film.
Emily Blunt also gives a wonderful performance (as she always does). She’s headstrong and stubborn, but kind. The sexism was a little on the nose, with a tired bit about how she wears pants, but she was delightful.
And Dwayne Johnson was… okay. He plays the exact same character in every movie he’s in. And while his performance was good in this movie, I can’t help but think that another actor could have done better. He and Emily Blunt have a romance in this movie, but they have absolutely no chemistry. It was hard to believe their romance. I think another actor could have added a little more to Frank’s character. Frank is an interesting character, and another actor could have done more with him. This movie might have been better without Dwayne Johnson.
This movie also might have been better without Joachim. His motivations were really hard to follow. At the end of the day, he was just another stereotype of a German general who only complicated the plot.
It feels as though Jungle Cruise might be Disney’s attempt to re-make the magic of Pirates of the Caribbean. But I can’t see this film becoming a franchise. The first Pirates movie is masterful, with amazing rewatchability. But Jungle Cruise, while fun, is forgettable. It’s not a movie I see myself rewatching anytime soon. If this is an attempt to create a new franchise for Disney; it falls short. But, the film was fun to watch and was a good movie theatre experience.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 5/10
Thank you for reading our review of Jungle Cruise. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our review of Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place Part Two HERE.
Read IMDB information about Jungle Cruise HERE.
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