It seems only right that with the Oscars tonight that film fans like myself should do a little bit of talking about it. However, I’m not totally sure that I’m even that interested in the Oscars. Sure, its a glitzy affair and gets people talking about film, which is positive, but one the other hand its an extremely political event with awards won by campaigning rather than being assessed purely on the merits of that film. The campaigning of certain production companies means that the Oscars are all too easy to predict and this, like anything that is obvious will lead to a loss of interest. I wouldn’t imagine there are many people that believe anything but The Artist will be sweeping the awards tonight. While its a great success story that such a throwback can make it big critically and commericially its content is still a ‘safe’ option, as opposed to a film like Drive or Shame who were left off the list. I was surprised to hear recently that the majority of the Academy are over 60 years old, possibly meaning that they are not in touch with the feelings of the majority of movie-goers.
With that being said, this is a horror blog, so there needs to be some sort of horror slant upon it. My question is, is there a place for horror in the Best Picture category? Perhaps more importantly, does the genre need a place there? In all the years of the Oscars, relatively few horrors have been nominated for the big prize, while other genres like the Western, gangster and epics have been celebrated time and time again. The Exorcist was deservedly nominated in 1973, but lost out to The Sting. However, if you consider the longevity of both films, I would think that there are more people watching The Exorcist because of its reputation than those watching The Sting because it won an Oscar.
The other notable horror nomination comes from the Sixth Sense being nominated in 1999. Maybe this is further evidence that horror films are nominated because of the amount of hype behind them. This isn’t to say that Sixth Sense isn’t a good film (not exactly to my taste but thats not a criticism as such). Phrases and scenes from that film have seeped in to popular culture and now exist comfortably outside of the film, a legacy that is not necessarily added to by its Oscar nom.
So will there ever be a place for a horror Oscar winner? If so, what will it take? A shake-up of the Academy? A greater investment in terms of budget and creativity? Colin Firth? I don’t think anyone really has the answer, but its certainly something to ponder. What sort of horror could possibly win the big one? In my mind it would be a ghost story, but I’d love to hear from others what they think would be celebrated by the Academy.