It's the Booze Talkin': Is the Academy seeing our genre differently now?

Every year the Academy Awards celebrate the "best of the best" when it comes to what Hollywood has to offer. For genre fans however, the Oscars' rarely give proper credit to horror and science fiction. While you won’t see consideration for your typical slasher or ghost flick for generally obvious reasons, there are enough great movies out there that could easily be acknowledged - but they rarely are. And then came 2017. Late February found audiences going mad for a little flick called GET OUT. And then, fresh off a couple of larger budget pictures, the great Guillermo del Toro brought us the melancholy, science-fiction romance of THE SHAPE OF WATER in December. There were other genre influenced features that captured our imagination, but both of these films found themselves nominated for several awards, including the coveted “Best Picture.”

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The past few years we’ve seen horror find critical and financial success. IT was a massive blockbuster that wowed audiences and critics alike. We were also gifted smart thrillers like THE WITCH, THE BABADOOK, THE CONJURING, IT FOLLOWS, all of which terrified fans while not talking down to them. What’s exciting for this movie fan is the fact that horror filmmakers are giving genre scares a little originality, suspense and great characters that we can connect to. As much as I enjoy rooting for Leatherface, Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, it’s fun to actually want those being terrorized to survive. Even with the acclaim, we still didn’t see any serious consideration for a single one of these well-reviewed movies. Yet perhaps it's all been building up to this. Maybe the more acclaim that horror and sci-fi finds, the closer the genres are to being celebrated during awards season.

That’s what makes this past year so special. Let’s start with GET OUT. I’ll be quite honest, I wasn’t  as blown away by this one as so many others were. However, I enjoyed it and have found it to be a film that is easy to revisit on multiple viewings thanks to HBO. The film features a smart script from Jordan Peele, an intriguing concept that resonated with fans, and a terrific cast including Daniel Kaluuya, Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener. Not only did this modestly budgeted feature kill it at the box office, Academy voters were excited by the notion of this flick picking up major gold. And while it didn’t come home with a ton, Mr. Peele was honored with the award for Best Original Screenplay. Yep, a cool little comedic sci-fi horror flick just won a major Oscar. This is huge.

the shape of water guillermo del toro sally hawkins doug jones octavia spencer michael shannon richard jenkins michael stuhlbarg romance science fiction horror

When it comes to Guillermo del Toro, we are all aware that the filmmaker has always been praised for his spectacular vision. Yet THE SHAPE OF WATER was something special. This monster flick meets romance meets science-fiction tale was a wonderful surprise. We here at Arrow in the Head loved this fascinating and beautiful feature. As the recent award ceremony drew closer, it appeared that del Toro’s latest may have stiff competition from THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURI. And then it happened. This exceptional bit of movie magic took home prizes for score, production design, best director and yes, best flick of the year. I couldn’t agree more.

With the success of THE SHAPE OF WATER, GET OUT and even BLADE RUNNER 2049 finally earning the incomparable Roger Deakins Best Cinematography, is this a sign of things to come? It is horribly rare for movies like this to find much love during awards season. Personally, when they announced THE SHAPE OF WATER as Best Picture, I was damn near emotional. As much as I don’t care about this particular three hour award show where this town pats itself on the back a bit too much, having a movie that you love win is still a treat. 2017 was a big year for movies that think outside the box and play in the darkness; ones that deal with things that go bump in the night. And frankly, the beauty of genre is that filmmakers can delve into other serious social issues - something that most certainly helped give both of these films the edge.

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Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but it looks like our genre is finally going to be taken seriously during awards season. Having a science fiction or horror feature earn an Academy Award nomination is an extremely rare thing. When it wins any kind of award it’s damn near a miracle. And here we are. THE SHAPE OF WATER is this year’s Best Picture with a Best Director win for del Toro. The very talented Jordan Peele earned one for his sharp screenplay for GET OUT. And out of all of Roger Deakins incredible work, he finally earned the prize for a science fiction sequel to the 1982 classic BLADE RUNNER. The question is, will this trend continue? Are we seeing a change in the way genre is perceived? Or was this just a very lucky year with two great flicks capturing Academy voters minds? We can only hope this is only the beginning.

Extra Tidbit: Do you think this year's Academy Award genre love is just a fluke? Or will we continue to see real change?
Source: AITH



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