Ten Sci-Fi and Fantasy Oscar Snubs - Mania.com

The Oscars 2013

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Ten Sci-Fi and Fantasy Oscar Snubs

It is an honor just to be nominated or so these fine films have been told.

By Michael Henley     February 21, 2013
Source: Mania.com

It’s an honor just to be nominated…or so these fine films have been told. Here is Mania's look at the great genre films that were snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 
Looper (2012)
One of the smartest and most imaginative sci-fi films to come along in several years, Rian Johnson’s Looper is a blend of crime, sci-fi action, and serious meditation on nature vs. nurture and the tricky mechanics of predestination. Looper brims with terrific dialogue, generous character development, and refreshing originality. So where was its best original screenplay nomination? The Oscars should know better than to slap down a genre film when it’s this well done, but we all know it’s not the first time.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

While Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a plodding mess, Wrath of Khan is generally regarded as one of the best sequels ever, a rip-snorting adventure tale that suffused the franchise with new blood and wildly entertaining pop thrills. Some of its identifying marks are a literate screenplay by director Nicholas Meyer and seriously great performances by Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner (yes, really), and the hammily iconic Ricardo Montalban. The film was nominated for none of these things, or anything else.
Metropolis (1927)
To be fair, this one’s iffy. The Academy Awards were first held in 1929, and even though that was for the calendar years 1927 and 1928, Fritz Lang’s hugely influential silent epic of humanoid robots and giant cities might not have been much of a blip on the Hollywood radar at the time. But still, with years of retrospect, the omission is pretty glaring. Put Metropolis on the list of movies that changed Hollywood forever, yet never brought home the gold.
Blade Runner (1982)
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is one of the best films ever made, sci-fi or no. Intelligent, daring and visionary, it changed and challenged the boundaries of visual storytelling. People still argue about the true nature of the film and its characters to this day. It’s rare to get a film script so tight it doesn’t waste a moment, yet so slippery it can be read multiple ways, let alone one coupled with gorgeous cinematography and superlative direction.  The film got technical nods for its fx and design work, which is a pittance paid to a visual and cerebral feast.
Dark City (1998)
Visually sumptuous and conceptually challenging, Alex Proyas’ Dark City is a heady cocktail of film noir and existential angst, the story of a man who awakens one “night” to discover he is part of a freakish alien experiment involving malleable realities. A brilliant script, wonderful performances and fantastic art direction and cinematography combine into pure, unapologetic cinema. But not many saw it, including, apparently, every member of the Academy. They noticed it not a bit.
Moon (2009)
Moon is seriously great, a document of deep-space isolation and loneliness, which recalls the aesthetics and sensibilities of 2001 before venturing off into a…much different direction. There are so many wonderful things in Moon: Sam Rockwell’s brilliant performance, Duncan Jones’ dazzlingly confident direction of his first-time feature, a screenplay that’s clever, poignant and surprising…none of those things impressed the Oscars, however.
Primer (2004)
Newcomers to Shane Carruth’s Primer, prepare for the most realistically convoluted and insane time-travel story ever. Lots of films use time travel as a device, but few have the audacity to venture into the “wait, what?!” territory that sci-fi literature can. Carruth’s screenplay for Primer fully embraces paradox, then becomes a tangled web of confusing timelines so baffling that flow charts might be needed (and fans have made them available online). But it all holds up. I think. Surely that’s worth a best original screenplay nod, yes? Guess not.
The Dark Knight (2008) 
The Dark Knight is the film that brought prestige to the superhero genre. It was a critical and commercial juggernaut, and, to be fair, did rack up eight Oscar nominations (the top one being Heath Ledger’s posthumous nod for the Joker). But none of those were Best Picture, and now even the Academy itself seems to recognize that as a mistake. Granted, 2008 was a very good year for films, and the best pictures that year were a nice batch. But The Reader instead of The Dark Knight? Why so serious, Academy?
The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)


Hear me out. Yes, Lord of the Rings got a pile of Oscars as tall as a cave troll, primarily for the trilogy capper, Return of the King. But where was even the slightest consideration for the man who helped bring Gollum to life, Andy Serkis? Sure, his performance was enhanced by groundbreaking special effects, but it wasn’t replaced. Serkis was so good performing the role on set that he became Gollum, and the effects artists followed his lead. The Oscars consistently prove that when a brave new world of cinema beckons, they’ll shift their feet nervously.
Harry Potter (2001-2011)


The Harry Potter series ruled the film world for a decade, when all was said and done it solidified itself as one of the finest, most consistent and overall most important film franchises of all time (name another series that made it to eight movies without a bum note). Potter saw some low-key Oscar love, including eleven cumulative nominations. But all in technical categories. The directors, screenwriters and cast members that brought Potter to life for ten years were never recognized for their achievements, making the entire series a pretty conspicuous boat that the Academy just plain missed. Oh, Oscar. You’re such a Muggle.


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SarcasticCaveman 2/21/2013 2:40:24 AM

 I agree with some items on this list, and it does help convince me that I should check out "Looper".  However, I'm that guy that REALLY didn't care for "Dark City."  It struck me as having high ambition that it didn't really live up to.  Secondly, I'm a big Harry Potter fan.  I will be the first to admit that I'm a bigger fan of the books than the movies, but even in the movies of the series that I loved, I honestly didn't see any Oscar worthy, OUTSTANDING directing or acting, and definitely no Best Picture contenders.  I thought all the actors did a fine job bringing the characters to life, nobody made me think they should win an Oscar.  I will forever be glad that Alan Rickman got the part of Snape instead of Tim Roth though.  Tim Roth is awesome, but I don't see him pulling off the level of slick sophistication that Rickman exuded as Snape.

I whole-heartedly agree that Andy Serkis was robbed.

Wiseguy 2/21/2013 4:17:18 AM

I agree with most here, I'll let you guess which one IMO doesn't belong.

Blade Runner to me is the supreme case of "overlooked" or "snubbed". This is Ridley Scott's magnum opus and anyone that knows Ridley knows that says a lot.

karas1 2/21/2013 4:41:18 AM

Best Screen Capture Actor/Actress is a category that just doesn't exist yet.  Serkis has done amazing work as Gollum and also Caesar the ape.  Was it Oscar worthy?  I think so.  But I don't think it can be evaluated next to the performances of unenhansed actors.  It's a combination of the work of the actor and the animators.

One day there will be a special Oscar category for Best Screen Capture and if Serkis is still working at the time I bet he will win several.  And he will be remembered as a pioneer of the field. 

So far only Avatar has included both natural and screen capture performances of the same actors in the same roles and I don't think that movie put forth any Oscar worthy performances.


DarthBob 2/21/2013 4:44:53 AM

How do you not put Stanley Kubrick's snub for directing 2001 on this list?  Carol Reed won the best director Oscar for Oliver over Kubrick back in 1968.  Also, that goofball clown Roberto Benigni winning best actor over Ian McKellen in Gods and Monsters is one of the worst Oscar snubs of all time.  That was the last time I watched the bloated, pretentious, self congratulatory mess of an awards show.

SarcasticCaveman 2/21/2013 4:47:04 AM

 Ah ah, kara, remember Serkis' actual face and body was seen at the beginning of "Return of the King" where it shows him murder Deagol for the ring and then hide in the Misty Mountains...but you're probably right, we're just going to need a new category at the awards.  I don't think this kind of performance is going anywhere, and will only get more popular in the future.

SarcasticCaveman 2/21/2013 4:49:10 AM

 DarthBob - I agree with you on Ian McKellen getting snubbed, but I fail to see how that was a matter of sci-fi or fantasy being snubbed.  It was a biopic.  

Wiseguy 2/21/2013 4:59:28 AM

I don't see motion capture performances ever being considered for Oscars. Even with the new tech that actually maps your face to capture your expressions at the end of the day it is still animated and the animators embelish or diminish those expressions to suit theirs or the directors' wants.

karas1 2/21/2013 5:01:36 AM

As much as we love Wrath of Kahn, I don't think it was worthy of an Oscar.  It was certainly one of the best of the ST films (my personal nod goes to ST IV as the best).  But none of them are really Oscar material.  And I don't say that because it was science fiction. 

Similarly, Harry Potter isn't Oscar worthy either.  As wonderful as the Potter films were the good vs evil story line  was too simple.

I don't think half the movies that do get Best Picture are worthy either.  I saw that movie about the silent film actor (what WAS it's name?) and while I thought it was novel and interesting and I'm glad I saw it, I was floored when it won for Best Picture. It just wasn't that signifigant.

The fact is, the Oscars are given too early.  They are judging movies that are frequently still in the theateres (when I was recieving screeners for my neighbor I got a copy of a movie that hadn't even been released yet).  So how can they really know the signifigance that the movies in question are going to have in the future?  How will they know which movies will stand the test of time and which will be forgotten?

Besides, it's all political anyway.  It's an advertising ploy.  If a movie is nominated for an award more people will want to see it.  THAT's why they decided to nominate 10 movies for Best Picture.  They didn't want to be "fair" to more genre projects.  They wanted to be able to advertise an extra 5 movies a year as Best Picture nominees. 


karas1 2/21/2013 5:04:59 AM

Caveman, I had forgotten that.  And that scene lasted what?  Two minutes?  I don't think it was long enough for Serkis to make a signifigant enough performance as Smeagol.

Wiseguy 2/21/2013 5:07:07 AM

The Weinsteins have have dirt on voters or buys them off that's why The Artist won, what a joke. But it's why I feel like DarthBob about the whole spectacle

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