This may not be new information.
This may not be new information to you, but the academy does not seem to like Science Fiction films. In the eighty-eight years the Oscars have been around only nine Sci-Fi films have been nominated for Best Picture, eleven if you count dystopian films. Star Wars, renamed Star Wars: A New Hope later, a renaissance film for the Sci-Fi genre lost Best Picture to Annie Hall, a Woody Allen romantic comedy. E.T. lost to Gandhi, Arrival to Moonlight.
Sci-Fi for over fifteen years is the only genre that does not have a Best Picture winner to its name. Fantasy used to have the same curse but broke it when The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King won Best Picture along with almost everything else that year. The Shape of Water is gaining steam as possibly the second fantasy film to win as it scooped up several nominations at the Golden Globes and setting eyes on the Oscars.
But what about Science Fiction? Can they ever get that win?
I believe they will and it will be soon, just look at last year. Arrival wasn't just a film the Academy put up there for viewership on ABC, it was a heavy contender and one of the greatest Sci-Fi films ever. Go watch if you haven't! And it wasn't just a one-time thing as the same director who did Arrival also brought us Sci-Fi's best chance yet last year, Blade Runner 2049.
Beyond all the praises I gave the film in my review, it also has a few other things that can help sway the voters as we always have to take in what they are thinking.
The talent in front and behind the camera is staggering and many of them have been nominated multiple times. The cinematographer Roger Deakins has been nominated thirteen times and hasn't won once even though he is considered the best in his field. Ryan Gosling, one of the most diverse and greatest actors of our generation, has been nominated twice and still got nothing. The director Denis Villeneuve has cranked out a film a year for the past five years. After seeing four of those the man knows how to make a movie. Oh, and the score was done by the next John Williams, Hans Zimmerman, who hasn't won since 1995 for The Lion King, and Benjamin Wallfisch, who also did the haunting score for IT.
Another thing Blade Runner 2049 has going for it - that I think the producers don't like - is that it was considered sort of a flop financially, but the critic scores were the opposite. The Academy is not fond of blockbuster films that everyone knows and loves. They sort of like to be hipster about their winners. That is one of the reasons Avatar lost to The Hurt Locker in 2010, that and The Hurt Locker was a far superior movie but back to the topic at hand.
On top of that, the majority of people who watched Blade Runner 2049 opening weekend were middle-aged men who are fans of the original. And there are a lot of middle-aged male voters in the Academy.
With all that, I think this is the best year yet for a Science Fiction film to win Best Picture. However, this is still speculation, and looking at possible contenders this year, it will be fierce. The Florida Project, Phantom Thread, Get Out, Dunkirk, The Post, and Lady Bird are just a few. The past year of news will also hurt Blade Runner 2049 as voters may want to favor a great film that speaks more to the events we are dealing with now. Blade Runner 2049 does do a wonderful job of representing a bleak future of what happens when we continue to view others human beings as objects to be used and abused. That is just one of the many questions the movie asks as it does not focus on the political climate or latest trend but on questions that every person of every generation ask themselves. But if it doesn’t win, this is still good for Sci-Fi in general as Blade Runner 2049 raises the bar for future Sci-Fi films. Even Citizen Kane lost to How Green Was My Valley. Sometimes the best ones lose, but the best ones don’t fade away as time goes by, just look at the original Blade Runner.
Thanks for reading.
Update: It didn't even get nominated for Best Picture. So, Blade Runner 2049 is following the example of the original really well.
© 2015 S. W. Ellenwood. All rights Reserved.