Oscar Aftermath: Where’s the Sci-Fi Love? (article).

Sunday, March 2, 2014: The 86th Annual Academy Awards were held to celebrate the excellence in film-making for the movie season in 2013. Naturally, Hollywood puts on its best face for a global audience as it showcases the best in cinema. The movie industry caters to all sorts of genres and creative visions where film fans are invited to engage in their most escapist fantasies. The Oscars should be larger than life as the motion pictures serve as that needed distraction to momentarily take us away from our all-consuming realities.

As inviting and intriguing as the Academy Awards are to movie lovers worldwide, just how accommodating were this year’s Oscar ceremony to enthusiasts of Science Fiction and/or fantasy fare? In my previously penned SFCrowsnest article ‘Do The Oscars Offer A Generous Wink At Science Fiction Cinema from 2013?’, we took a look at the Oscar-nominated fodder with sci-fi/fantasy leanings to determine if these nods were a fair representation of gaining Oscar gold’s attention.  Well, there was a hearty selection of nominated Science Fiction/fantasy films that were in consideration…or at least a decent share to work with this crop of anointed notables. Cinema such as the well-received ‘Gravity’, ‘Her’, ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’, I’ron Man 3′, ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ and the panned ‘The Lone Range’r all had credible shots to tap Oscar on the shoulder. The question remains: was there actually a generous wink for these Science Fiction/fantasy entries or just teasing tokens that were fortunate enough to get noticed at all?

Trailer for the Lone Ranger film.

So where was the sci-fi love for this group of hopeful contenders looking for attention-getting Academy Award-winning favoritism? Well, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that Science Fiction movies and fantasy-related flicks still tend to struggle with making the grade for mainstream movie-making accolades (unless they are uniquely received and breakout productions that transcends all audiences…say like ‘Star Wars’ of yesteryear or ‘The Lord Of The Rings ‘trilogy and ‘Avatar’ within recent memory). Basically, Science Fiction and fantasy productions are relegated to just dominating in technical and sci-fi specific awards, something that can be viewed upon as both a curse and a blessing.

On the other hand, the 86th Annual Academy Awards did show the immense love which is good news for the ground-breaking and majestically-made ‘Gravity’ although the love was not spread evenly for the other sci-fi/fantasy ditties searching for Oscar’s respect. Yes, ‘Gravity’ clearly dominated at the Oscar event winning an array of awards as predicted based on the film’s technical and mind-bending opulence. Also, there was some recognition that went beyond the spectacular techno-tendencies for ‘Gravity’.  Among ‘Gravity’s accomplishments during the movie industry’s most important evening was its victory for wins in the categories of Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, Best Best Sound Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing. Plus, ‘Gravity’ gained impressive wins for Best Director (Alphonso Cuaron) and Best Original Score.

‘Her’ received an Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay (Spike Jonze) while the animated fantasy-driven ‘Frozen’ received its Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song (‘Let It Go’).

Again, the so-called ‘sci-fi’ love may not have been extended or distributed liberally to the minimal Science Fiction and fantasy nominees involved in the running but the compelling ‘Gravity’ artistically made its presence known for the most part as both ‘Her’ and ‘Frozen’ had minimal success at the Oscars.  Below are the Oscar-winning Science Fiction and/or fantasy recipients at the 86th Annual Academy Awards:


Best Director: Alfonso Cuarón, ‘Gravity’

Best Original Screenplay: Spike Jonze, ‘Her’

Best Animated Feature Film: ‘Frozen’

Best Cinematography: ‘Gravity’

Best Sound Mixing: ‘Gravity’

Best Sound Editing: ‘Gravity’

Best Original Score: ‘Gravity’, Steven Price

Best Original Song: ‘Let It Go’ from ‘Frozen’

Best Film Editing: ‘Gravity’

Best Visual Effects: ‘Gravity’



Frank Ochieng has contributed film reviews to SF Crowsnest off and on since 2003. He has been published in other various movie site venues throughout the years. Ochieng has been part of The Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and had written film reviews for The Boston Banner newspaper (USA) and frequently is a media/entertainment panelist on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 AM on "The Jordan Rich Show" in Boston, Massachusetts/USA.

2 thoughts on “Oscar Aftermath: Where’s the Sci-Fi Love? (article).

  • Truth is that were it not for investment in technical excellence, a film like Gravity probably wouldn’t warrant either awards committee or public success. (Proof – ‘All Is Lost’, which IS a film like Gravity without the sc-fi veneer, and is much better IMHO, didn’t get a mention). Gravity, like most Hollywood sci-fi, hides hokey dialogue and dodo characters behind visual spectacle – which is also true for the other movies you mentioned – The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug’, ‘Iron Man 3′, ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’, ‘The Lone Ranger” and, definitely, “Avatar”. Beyond the visuals, most movie sci-fi just isn’t very good.
    About “Her”. Personally, I’m disappointed it got even a token Oscar, as I found it by turns twee and creepy (in a bad way). If we like sci-fi, we shouldn’t encourage this stuff.

    • Greetings Dave,

      Great response…you actually made some cogent points and offered a different take on the subject matter at hand. From this perspective, your spin seems somewhat logical. And yes…some sci-fi cinema wouldn’t even seem viable for mainstream awards if it weren’t for its technical excellence. Still, the movie-making process includes the technical aspect that also makes up the credible tapestry as much as the artistic considerations (acting, directing, dialogue, etc.)

      It could work both ways…a box office dud like THE LONE RANGER has no critical merit whatsoever but that does not mean that we couldn’t recognize its technical impeccability. This goes for the reverse as applauded films such as GRAVITY and ALL IS LOST has flash from a manufactured standpoint but may fall short on the emotional umbrella of character development (actually, bad examples as these aforementioned films had both the human-oriented pathos and the sophisticated techno-

      Still, your point is well taken Dave…are most sci-fi films effective enough to warrant Oscar’s attention other than us crying wolf and stating a bias against this particular genre in generalities?

      However, try not to overlook the minority of sci-fi cinema that can fit this topic and be praise-worthy of major Hollywood awards that do deserve a respectful look beyond its visual sheen.

      Thanks for your valued input, Dave.


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