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General Topics > Why Science Fiction Movies Don't Win Oscars

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul (paullev) | 128 comments article in Christian Science Monitor http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/...


message 2: by Ken (new)

Ken (kanthr) | 165 comments Well, the Martian should not have won. Nor should Damon's portrayal as Watney. The Revenant was just so much better quality as a movie.

District 9 on the other hand, was fantastic and should have stood a chance. Slumdog Millionaire won because wealthy white Americans want to feel good about supporting impoverished 3rd world countries in non-commital ways. It was a quaint nod without investing much. Ironically, District 9 tackled a lot of the same issues and presented them as well if not better. That director's other recent film, Chappie, also dealt with very serious, very current issues involving poverty, crime and what it means to be human.

Avatar was regurgitated Pocahontas and absolutely terrible for the SF community.

Gravity was terrible.

Interstellar was terrible.

Star Trek will never be taken seriously no matter how good a film it is, because of its utopian premise in the Galactic Federation of Planets.

Star Wars has a chance at winning, but for SFX and sets, not for plot. And deservedly so. The plot to most all of the series is thin and superficial.

The article also mentions Blade Runner, which could have provided a win for Rutger Hauer's amazing performance and the iconic score by Vangelis. Ridley Scott is a leader in providing SF filmmaking that is not garbage.

I wish that James Cameron didn't fall off the wagon in the 90s. I also wish we'd get more films like District 9. Proper SF that addresses human issues which are present now.


message 3: by Tobias (last edited Mar 01, 2016 01:39AM) (new)

Tobias Langhoff (tobiasvl) | 7 comments Kenneth wrote: "Gravity was terrible. Interstellar was terrible."

Gravity was a shallow movie, but I think at least its wins in cinematography, visual effects and sound were deserved. It was a very beautiful movie. Ditto Interstellar, although I think that was a better movie than you do. It's not like they won Best Picture or anything.

Agreed on all other countr though. Avatar was a trainwreck.


message 4: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 121 comments Opinions vary. Yes, Avatar was a reconstituted Pocahontas, but you can make the same criticism of just about every movie or book. Lord of the Rings is a recycled King Arthur story. The Godfather was just another gangster movie. And so on.

Avatar did what is was supposed to do. It was an effective summer blockbuster. Not high art, but entertaining all the same. And the same can be said of Gravity and Interstellar. They were good, but not great.

The main reason that science fiction hasn't won a best picture Oscar is that there hasn't yet been a good enough science fiction movie that deserves to win. We (mostly) all love Star Wars, but we have to admit that the dialogue is appalling. Blade Runner is a flawed gem with both good bits and bad bits. District 9 was okay but the overall message was crude and unsubtle. Star Trek is a TV spinoff with paper-thin characters. Characters we love, sure, but not really high art.

All of these films are entertaining, but can we name one science fiction movie which is clearly the best movie of the year?

The problem here is that whenever people don't get what they want (in this case, for a sci fi movie to win an Oscar), they whine about the system. Or we get into a fanboy argument where one person says that their favourite movie was the best ever and should win every prize going. Then another person stands up and says that movie X was terrible or a trainwreck or some other such black and white terminology.

Have we lost the ability to take balanced judgments?


message 5: by V.B. (new)

V.B. Winkler | 9 comments I agree with Will: District 9 started well but ended like a bludgeon. Avatar, on the other hand, "did what it was supposed to do", which was knock your eyes out with the special effects. The story, while fairly stock, was told in a fresh and interesting way.


message 6: by Ken (last edited Mar 01, 2016 08:37AM) (new)

Ken (kanthr) | 165 comments V.B. wrote: "I agree with Will: District 9 started well but ended like a bludgeon. Avatar, on the other hand, "did what it was supposed to do", which was knock your eyes out with the special effects. The story,..."

The story was, to use your term, bludgeoned into the viewer in an oversimplified utopian acid trip. It's ironic beyond measure how disconnected the message is from the vehicle that delivered it.


To Tobias: Interstellar's biggest failure was that it was paraded about as scientifically plausible. Without ruining too much of the film, I will simply state that if a planet had tidal forces so extreme as to lift oceans into mountains, getting out of orbit would not be as simple as firing one's rockets on a tiny launch ship, nor would the effects of a nearby singularity be negated because it had an atmosphere. A lot was sacrificed for the spectacle of the film and that deeply hurt its credibility. SF should not win awards when it is badly made, and that goes for Avatar too. It's Smurf Pocahontas in Space.

Will, you concede that Avatar, Gravity and Interstellar were not high art. I agree. That's why they don't deserve to win. Maybe the Oscars need a new category: Most Entertaining Film. So that badly made films that sold well (looking at you, Avengers) can feel like they've got something to take home too.

There's nothing wrong with the system. SF films have not won because most of them simply aren't well made.


message 7: by Tobias (last edited Mar 01, 2016 02:22PM) (new)

Tobias Langhoff (tobiasvl) | 7 comments Kenneth wrote: "To Tobias: Interstellar's biggest failure was that it was paraded about as scientifically plausible. Without ruining too much of the film, I will simply state that if a planet had tidal forces so extreme as to lift oceans into mountains, getting out of orbit would not be as simple as firing one's rockets on a tiny launch ship, nor would the effects of a nearby singularity be negated because it had an atmosphere. A lot was sacrificed for the spectacle of the film and that deeply hurt its credibility. SF should not win awards when it is badly made"

Not to make this into a discussion of the viability of Interstellar's portrayal of physics, but Nolan's resident physicist Kip Thorne did actually consider your points. These two StackExchange answers explain it: http://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/1174... and http://movies.stackexchange.com/a/33138

But again, Interstellar did not win Best Picture. It won awards for its special effects and its production and sound design, not its plot or the holes therein.


message 8: by Ken (new)

Ken (kanthr) | 165 comments I'll concede you that one. I've met Kip Thorne and hang out with astrophysicists (perils of my previous job) and there was a lot of dissection concerning the accuracy of the movie.

Plenty of plotholes to be found. And yes, I recognize that I'm lambasting this and other films for their credibility at winning Best Picture, but isn't that the point of the thread? I think that a lot of recent SF films have done well in graphical presentation and sound, but plot, character development and acting are usually sub-par with a few exceptions.


message 9: by John (new)

John Pirillo (johnpirillo) | 51 comments My biggest problems with current science fiction is that it doesn't deal with our human condition enough. The fact that mega corporations pretty much run the world now and what the inevitable repercussions of that will be and mean for humanity's spiritual well being.

I also wish the movies would deal with the real question that most of face when experiencing a near death or are close to death.

Is life really about the physical things and is heaven a real place, but just a higher dimension that we can't see because we're too caught up in our own selfish delusions and needs to indulge.

I thought that 2001 was such, but when I read the book I realized that Mister Clark had no faith in a higher intelligence, unless it was physical. Something that more and more people seem to be leaning towards.

I'd like someone to take the religion out of spirituality and do a science fiction movie that touched on deeper issues, much like Lost Horizon did in its own simple way.

My opinion, of course.


message 10: by Ken (new)

Ken (kanthr) | 165 comments I agree about megacorporations, but as for religion - it's on the wane in society (At least in the West)


message 11: by Phil (new)

Phil Maxey | 4 comments I think some scifi films should of won oscars, or could have if their competition wasn't as strong. I'm something of a scifi fan so maybe I'm an easy sell, but some of the best scifi I've enjoyed over the years has been on TV, BSG being a prime example of that (looking forward to seeing expanse).

The problem film scifi faces though is that it has to explain hugely complex ideas (whether that be scientific of philosophical) in one sitting to an audience that is not as well versed in those same ideas. And to do that you have to cut corners to some extent and just by their very nature they tend towards heavy effects laden stories, which can blind the viewers to the deeper and richer concepts the filmmakers are trying to get across. But there are times when it does work brilliantly. The first Matrix film is something special.

Having said all that, just because scifi films might not get the critical success they deserve doesn't mean as fans we can't enjoy the hell out of them :)


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