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.
No Time To Die – Review
No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.
I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.
A step up?
This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.
That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.
The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.
Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.
There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.
Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.
The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.
Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.
It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.
I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.
Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.
It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10
Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.
Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.
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