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Should There Be a Sci-Fi Category At the Oscars? 309

Posted by samzenpus
from the best-alien-category dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In this chat with the originator of the light-saber in Star Wars and the Nostromo in Alien, director Roger Christian argues that the Academy Awards needs a special category for 'best science-fiction film.' It's a thorny subject, since such a new category would inevitably either get lumped in with fantasy/horror or further 'ghetto-ise' the genre. But with 2001 and Avatar snubbed for best picture, among many others over the years, does ANY sci-fi film ever have a shot at Best Picture?"
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Should There Be a Sci-Fi Category At the Oscars?

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  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:26AM (#39145675)
    Avatar was about as sci-fi as Lord of the Rings which won the Oscar. Just because we geeks love sci-fi/fantasy/gore/zombies/pizza doesn't mean they all need categories. If you want to change the over-65 AA voters, become one of them. Get Cameron in there, Lucas, Spielberg, etc. You will have your own category and they will destroy it like everything else. Then of course we'll all be complaining that we need a true sci-fi category while we watch Forbidden Planet for the 40th time.
    • by Suferick (2438038) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:30AM (#39145699)

      'Proper' SF (which I dare not attempt to define, but feel free to have a go) will always be too 'niche' for the general public to appreciate in this way. Perhaps there should be a Best Picture category at the Hugos instead.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Actual "proper" scifi is extremely hard to get both correct and entertaining at the same time - very few authors have achieved both.

        Which is why scifi is generally accepted and tolerated to have elements of fantasy rather than be chained to actual science.

        • by alphatel (1450715) * on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:50AM (#39145783)

          Which is why scifi is generally accepted and tolerated to have elements of fantasy rather than be chained to actual science.

          We tolerate nothing!

          Signed,
          the Zombie Apocalypse
          P.S. - No we aren't sci-fi either but we occasionally eat Bladerunner enthusiasts

        • by Moryath (553296) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:38AM (#39147083)

          Indeed. Star Wars is "sci-fi". Or is it "space opera"? Or is it "modern fantasy/mythology"? I've seen it described in each way.

          The other thing you have to get over, if you want the Academy to accept sci-fi as relevant, is the special effects. The over-65 academy voters came from a time when special effects weren't that grand. They couldn't do many of the things we can do today. So they look at a movie like LOTR, which is extremely driven from a book, and they love it. Then they look at sci-fi and... I'm sorry, but Avatar was crappy, shitty done story with too much politics covered over by extremely well-done special effects. Strip out the effects, leave in the story, and Avatar is just boring. Likewise, the Academy looks at the genre in its entirety and we're looking at the likes of The Last Starfighter, or the alternating passable/awful/passable/awful Star Trek line that peaked with Wrath of Khan (though I did like the reboot). Or they look at ANYTHING AT ALL MICHAEL BAY HAS DONE... why the fuck do studios keep letting him keep ruining franchises?

          The point being, the over-65 AA crowd voting looks at sci-fi and they assume (because it's true 99.9% of the time!) that there isn't a story there, that it's all barebones covered up in special effects and explosions. Serenity was cool, but if you didn't watch Firefly beforehand (note: I've never been able to see Firefly in sequence, and my friends took me to see Serenity anyways so I have this perspective) you didn't know what the fuck was going on going into it and you probably, like me, walked out half confused as to what the point of some of the characters was at all. "Pivotal moments", like Wash's flight/death or River's badass moments, mean NOTHING if you haven't seen the TV show. The movie just doesn't stand on its own - kinda like trying to watch Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith, where if you didn't watch the Clone Wars animated series, you have NO FUCKING CLUE who half these characters are and Lucas is too lazy to give even the most barebones of exposition to why they're storyline-relevant.

          You want sci-fi to be respected in the Academy, you need to do 3 things:

          #1 - you need to let the explosions and CGI take a back seat. That's one of the major things in LOTR that worked: the CGI didn't make Gollum, it just made Gollum possible - Gollum was totally the acting work of Andy Serkis (especially the schizophrenia scene!).

          #2 - you have to make sure your movie contains the entire story. Big one here. Drop in a bunch of characters, fail to introduce them because "well the audience knows them from the TV show", and you run the trap that both Star Wars and Serenity failed on: the academy is not your fucking audience and has no goddamn clue who the characters are or why they should care because you left the entire character development process out of the fucking movie. Take a clue from Pixar - they made a better love story in 10 minutes than that hack bitch Stephanie Meyer did in 4 whole movies, AND without that 10 minute montage, the entire rest of the story in Up just doesn't work.

          #3 - you need to be sure your story is accessible to the older Academy viewers. Again, this is something Pixar are geniuses at - they can make a G-rated movie that 5 year olds and 65 year olds alike watch, and love, and enjoy because it's accessible to all ages. And they can do it without even shooting the dog or giving someone cancer [tvtropes.org].

          • by Canazza (1428553) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:02AM (#39147441)

            They've got Roland Emmerich doing Asimov's Foundation trilogy.
            We're all fucking doomed.

            • by Moryath (553296) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:04AM (#39147469)

              It can't be as bad as Will Smith's absolute butchering of "I, Robot"...

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by thrich81 (1357561)

                I know I'll be demolished for this but, "I, Robot" takes a lot of undeserved criticism because it took some of the Asimov themes and characters but wasn't a direct copy of an Asimov story. I heard it got retitled at the last minute to drum up interest. The movie had some good, insightful moments (interview where the Robot asks Will Smith's character if HE could write a symphony, etc). By the way, the Asimov 'I, Robot' and 'Foundation'' series both jumped the shark when he tried to bring them together at

                • by Moryath (553296) on Friday February 24, 2012 @01:01PM (#39149069)

                  You're not referring to the right books.

                  It wasn't "I, Robot" (which was a short-story collection) he merged with Foundation. It was the Daneel Olivaw line (Caves of Steel / The Naked Sun / The Robots of Dawn / Robots and Empire) that he merged with Foundation at the end. At best, the I, Robot short stories (along with several other short stories, novelettes, and novels like Pebble in the Sky) provided a theoretical "history" of the human-centric universe he eventually wrote the Foundation series within.

                  Asimov's stories were a lot like Tolkien's stuff in a way. He had an idea of a long-running universe, and he would place various stories at various points within the universes. The long-running character Daneel Olivaw is really not so different from Gandalf in a way, doing a lot of things "behind the scenes" that are hard to ferret out until you start looking at the long view as well - and they take much the same turn, with Gandalf bailing out to the East with the Elves at the end of LOTR just like Olivaw tries to get "a few more years" to finish his work and set humanity onto a new evolution before he has to finally die.

          • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday February 24, 2012 @12:31PM (#39148611)

            Producer: We've obtained this thoughtful science fiction story about the passengers finding meaning in their lives aboard a generation ship, dealing with relationships and aging in lives where they know they will never live to see their ship's destination. It's a very thoughtful story on human individualism and purpose vs. the common social good.

            Studio: Great. Cast an A-list action star. Call Michael Bay and see if he's available to direct. Add a subplot with a murder investigation...no fuck it, make that the main plot. Write in at least four good chase scenes. Cast a hot young actress, see if you can get one with nice tits--just not Lindsay Lohan, no way the insurance would cover us on that. Have the CGI boys start working on the chase sequences, tell them we need it yesterday. And make sure there's a happy ending and all that shit.

            Producer: But what about the story of humanity on the generation ship?

            Studio: What the fuck is a generation ship? Look, just put one of those young guys with the 6-pack abs in the lead and don't even worry about a script. And tell the marketing boys to get to work on some internet viral promotion crap. See if you can get some decent product placement deals in place before we start filming this bastard too. All that CGI ain't going to be cheap.

          • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday February 24, 2012 @01:13PM (#39149235)

            Drop in a bunch of characters, fail to introduce them because "well the audience knows them from the TV show", and you run the trap that both Star Wars and Serenity failed on

            I'd like to make a side point here: Serenity was never meant to be Oscar material, or even a movie for people who've never seen Firefly to watch. It was meant to be a final episode of Firefly, to satisfy all the angry Firefly fans who had their series canceled so abruptly. Serenity was a decent movie from that standpoint, because it tied up the loose plot ends and answered all the questions that were left open in the series. It wasn't great, because it couldn't be: it only had two hours to do what was originally planned for another half-season of episodes, or perhaps another full season or two. Don't think of Serenity as a stand-alone movie, because it isn't; think of it as an extra-long episode #15 that ends the season and the series, which Joss Whedon managed to con the movie execs into showing in theaters instead of on TV. It was a nice treat for the fans, but that's all it was for, the fans of the series. It wasn't meant for other people.

            The Star Wars prequels were never Oscar material, of course, because they were crap. I don't care how good your FX are, when the story, acting, and dialog are that horrifically bad, the quality of the FX are irrelevant.

            • I hadn't seen the Firefly TV show, because my cable company wasn't carrying the Skiffy Channel on analog cable on my side of town that year, and I haven't watched much of it on DVD because there's some stupid copy protection thing that either doesn't like the DVD player in my Tivo or the built-in VCR in my TV or something.

              But even without having seen the TV show, the movie still rocked. Sure, maybe I missed some context, emotional back-story, and in-jokes, and there's less complete world-building shown in

      • by Zediker (885207) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:51AM (#39145791)
        When you get down to it... "Proper" Sci-Fi is a thought experiment (philosophical or otherwise) made manifest through media.
        • by wisty (1335733)

          Not really. There's endless debates over what constitutes "proper" sci-fi. It can be "hard" (nothing which a few engineers, and slightly better tools can make), "medium" (hard, with one or two "breakthroughs"), "light" (lots of breakthroughs, ancient powers, remnant gods, aliens with unlimited power) and fantasy (anything goes).

          Some of the best Sci-Fi is set ~30 years in the future.

          • by vlad30 (44644) on Friday February 24, 2012 @09:07AM (#39146159)
            I always liked this definition Spoken by the character Douglas Anders "Grell" in the SG1 episode 200

            Science fiction is an existential metaphor that allows us to tell stories about the human condition. Isaac Asimov once said, "Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinded critics and philosophers of today, but the core of science fiction, its essence, has become crucial to our salvation, if we are to be saved at all."

            • Exactly. The only reason the wife and I can both enjoy BSG and The Walking Dead together (and that's about all we can agree on) is that the sci-fi worlds these series are built around create such a rich ecosystem for real human drama. Good sci-fi creates truly novel, yet believable, situations that plumb the depths of what it means to be human.

              • Also concur. Good drama is stories about people. Sci-fi allows authors incredible opportunities to set whatever backdrop they wish to tell, at the core, stories about people. There are also great opportunities to address current social issues in isolation. BSG had some great story arcs that dealt with terrorism and the moral issues surrounding how societies respond to terror. BSG was able to address this irrespective of our current political context, and made the issue a little more generalizable.

              • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Friday February 24, 2012 @01:29PM (#39149479)

                Good sci-fi creates truly novel, yet believable, situations that plumb the depths of what it means to be human.

                Exactky, It's why Star Trek was popular and many other Sci-Fi TV series and movies seem very real.

                The "technology" behind it only exists to lend background. E.g., GATTACA explores what it means to be human in a world where genetic testing is so cheap and easy it's done religiously - the technology enables exploration and thinking on the human condition.

                Ditto BSG - the technology exists merely to explore humanity in situations that may not exist now, later, or ever, but to see what reasonable actions may occur and draw parallels to normal life.

                Good sci-fi is really just a form of social and political commentary, often re-imagined to make it easier to see it "from the outside". It's often easier to tackle difficult subjects if the situation is reframed (especially if the subject is controversial and can lead to people digging in their heels).

                Heck, one of Star Trek's recurring themes (back in the Roddenberry days) was to explore how the Prime Directive conflicts with basic human responses to help and provide for the less fortunate.

          • by Moryath (553296)

            That reminds me:

            Hey engineers/scientists, you've got 3 years to come up with Mr. Fusion and hovercar conversions or else Marty McFly will never get home to 1985!

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This. And it is why I hate SyFy so incredibly much for what they have done in recent years.
        And just generally destroying shows as well, changing times around, etc.

        I actually want them to die. They have done more damage than good to SciFi.

        I'll stick with amateur productions, online productions and the like. Hell, even animation (anime in particular) has more hard SciFi than anything put out the last decade in film. That's just sad.
        They are better than the trash put out these days. It is all action actio

      • by Xiaran (836924)
        Sci-fi can be succinctly defined as speculation, whether based on established scientific facts or on logical pseudo-facts consistent with the framework of the fiction in question, involving smelly green pimply aliens furiously raping or eating, or both, beautiful naked bare-breasted chicks, covering them in slime, red, oozing, living slime, dribbling from every horrific orifice, squeezing out between bulbous pulpy lips onto the sensuous velvety skin of the writhing sweating slave-girls, their bodies cut and
      • by zippthorne (748122) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:20AM (#39145917) Journal

        "Proper" SF isn't "hard SF" Although they're both difficult to get right, especially if you also want to be entertaining.

        The idea of sci fi in general, and its main strength over other forms of literature, is to explore some social issue using fantastic elements to disguise the bits that would prejudice the reader. Like the film Gattaca, which explorers racism without prejudicing white viewers with actual race differences. (speaking of which.. why does the title have an extra letter?)

        Hard scifi doesn't necessarily don't explore real issues, but instead plays with the what if [thing that's impossible] were everyday and commonplace scenario. Sometimes you get a story that's engrossing. Sometimes you get a product manual for products you can never buy. Frequently, you miss out on the "permanent and universal interest" part of enduring literature, though.

        • I wish I had some mod points for you. You deserve a 5 Knows SF.
        • Well- there are three types of sci-fi.

          Those that explore social issues; (Gattaca was excellent. I like Well's work too- even though his books that were made into films were dumbed down on the social-issue side).

          There are those that try to predict the future- or use hard science facts to tell stories.

          Then there are the silly "Made For SyFy channel" features and their ilk. The ones that don't use science, don't really tell a social story; they're just dumb entertainment. Sometimes fun- but often just camp

      • by Kjella (173770)

        The obsession over "proper" sci-fi is to me a bit like wanting more fancy graphics over game play in computer games. Yes, a hardcore scientific look at the feasibility of a Ringworld is great, but put it on Discovery or National Geographic and don't call it a movie. Any good movie depends on the characters and the story, not the scientific accuracy of the setting. A good sci-fi movie is to me one that makes a good connection between the technology and the storyline, if it's just a normal series put in a fut

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SerpentMage (13390)

          No actually you are wrong and missing the intent of science fiction. Take Star Trek for example, which went from good ol SciFi, to hand waving fantasy land. Yes I blame the writers.

          Let's say I am writing a story and in the story I hit what I would call a dead end. In the case of Lord of the Rings it is when Gandor is taken down the bridge and "dies". At this point the question becomes how does the story adjust when it hits a dead end? In the case of fantasy a wand is waved and Gandor comes back as a new Gan

          • by icebraining (1313345) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:21AM (#39146843) Homepage

            You mean Gandalf.

            While I agree with your point, I don't think that was a good example. It's unfair to Tolkien to call it mere hand waving to fix a problem in the story, when his death and rebirth is obviously done on purpose, and the whole background is explained in The Silmarillion, which he had written years before.

            There's still no real boundaries - after all, it was a direct intervention by Eru Ilúvatar [wikipedia.org] - but it's not just hand waving.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by JoeDuncan (874519)

            You mean like in the Babylon 5 season 3 finale, where Sheridan jumps to his death on Z'ha'dum and is brought back to life to lead the alliance against the Shadows and Vorlons?

            Oh wait, that's the opposite of what you were trying to say.

            And Babylon 5 was the best SF to ever hit TV...

          • by Rakarra (112805)

            Boy you entirely missed the point with Gandalf. Tolkien's world is very religious, though it's mostly hinted at. That Gandalf had been walking Middle Earth for two thousand years by the time of the events of the Lord of the Rings should have been the first clue that he wasn't a man. Even mortals have spirits in that world which persist, though they are almost never let back like Gandalf was. But Gandalf, Saruman, Sauron, their type are seen being destroyed and reforming over time -- Sauron is "destroyed" at

      • by BarryHaworth (536145) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:48AM (#39146059) Homepage

        Perhaps there should be a Best Picture category at the Hugos instead.

        There already is. The Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation [wikipedia.org] has been in operation since 1958. 2001 won the award in 1968, Avatar was nominated in 2010, but lost to Moon (which is arguably a better movie).

        I discovered this category a couple of years ago, and have found the list of winners and nominees very instructive. It's alerted me to a lot of good movies which I would otherwise have missed.

        • by hal2814 (725639) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:45AM (#39147209)
          Looking at the list of nominees tells me exactly why the Oscars doesn't have a scifi category. Flesh Gordon? Zardoz? Outland? Brainstorm? These were all Hugo nominees! There just aren't enough good scifi movies in any given year to guarantee enough viable nominees. There are some bumper crop years (1983 for example), but if you're scrounging so much for material that you're willing to consider Sean Connery in a red leather codpiece, you need to just burn the damn awards show to the ground.
      • That's what Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) is.
    • by scottrocket (1065416) <loudfellow@gmail.com> on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:32AM (#39145717) Journal
      Who cares whether or not Science Fiction films receive Oscars? I just enjoy watching them (aside: I just ordered another copy of "Forbidden Planet" : ) ).
      • Very good point.

        I think the kind of people who actually pay the slightest bit of attention to the oscars arn't *usually* Sci-Fi people to begin with.

        (yes I know there are probably exceptions) I know I personally have never sat down to watch the oscars. I've never even cared enough to see who wins what after they're over. Often times if it is on the news I hear who won- but it's not information I actively seek. I really don't care.

    • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:37AM (#39145733) Homepage

      Sort version: NO

      Longer version: If we start down the 'categories' road then everybody will want one.

      The Oscars are bullshit anyway. eg. Look at how many winners weren't released in the couple of months leading up to the awards, it's close to zero. Conclusion: We're asking a bunch of fashion designers what the best movies are.

      Which is also why geek movies never win unless they're exceptionally pretty or family oriented.

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      You still have the Hugo and Nebula awards for Science Fiction.

      But the sad thing is that sometimes a movie is done in a Science Fiction style with no concerns about providing a good story and is just using the genre to permit an overabundance of special effects.

      The best special effects is when the viewer thinks it's a natural part of the set and it appears realistic. A lot of the computer generated special effects you see today are still not having a natural appearance, even if there are cases where it's har

    • Pocahontas errr ummm Avatar only Oscars it would deserve to get are Oscars for Special Effects... As for Best Picture... No... It was a popular movie, However it was a cheesy predictable plot redone over and over again.

      Man is an outsider goes to a new area with a group of people who trust him.
      Man meets up with a chick in new area who he connects with and a culture he feels like he is less of an outsider in.
      Man finds the group that he was with are actually doing bad things to the new group he likes.
      Man Burn
      • Yep. The effects were good, but the plot was terrible.
      • by Phrogman (80473)

        Yeah, none of my friends were even remotely interested in seeing it, but I decided to pony up the cash to go see Avatar. The special effects were pretty decent for the most part, although it didn't quite blow me away as I had hoped it would, but the plot, OMFG the plot was so insipid. It was so identical to so many other films I have seen. With all the hype I had expected an intelligent and complex plot - but instead got "Corporations bad, control the military, exploit indigenous people, destroy their cultu

    • Avatar was about as sci-fi as Lord of the Rings which won the Oscar.

      Say what? There was nothingThe Lord of the Rings, — at all.

      Tolkien actually enjoyed hard sf, especially Asimov, but his roots were in Beowulf and the Eddas, not in H.G. Wells. It’s like comparing apples with aardvarks: not even in the same kingdom.

      Tolkien’s work is fundamentally mythologic in scope, looking to the past and recreating a series of tales out of old myths and half-remembered memories. Science fiction is

    • by rilian4 (591569)
      Avatar didn't win because it was a bad movie. It had great special effects, for which it did win. It went viral and thus made a lot of money. It was NOT snubbed. That's not to say other movies haven't been snubbed. LOTR:FOTR was snubbed. It was by far the best of the 3 movies but didn't get much come Oscar time. The film studio therefore campaigned hard *cough* bribed *cough cough* for more notice and got it for ROTK. As for sci-fi pictures getting Best Picture nods, Star Wars in 1977 was nominated for it
  • Um, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Y2KDragon (525979) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:26AM (#39145677)
    And while 2001 is a fantastic movie, comparing it to the other movies in question, it's not even close. It's like making the equivalent of an NIT tournament in College Basketball. No, if a Sci-Fi movie cannot stand on it's own against the other top movies, it's not worthy of a "best movie" award. This, from a long-time sci-fi fan, who wants to see a sci-fi movie win because it really was the best movie of the year. Sci-Fi movies already clean up in most of the effects, makeup, and other technical fields. Even soundtracks from sci-fi movies get nods. This is the big league. Step up to the plate or go home. But don't whine about not going to the All-Star game when you are just average (at best).
    • Re:Um, no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice.gmail@com> on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:37AM (#39145735)

      I agree with the parent.

      There is no special category for romance, comedy, action or other types of live action film, so why should there be one for science fiction? As much as I love scifi myself, its not worthy of an entirely separate category at the awards, over and above every other sub-category within the live action category.

      The fact that Avatar was "snubbed" has nothing to do with it being scifi, as it simply wasn't the best actual film - it won "Best Cinematography" and "Best Art Direction" because it was a treat for the eyes, but as a film it was really quite poor.

      As for 2001, it won "Best Visual Effects", but wasn't even nominated for "Best Picture" - again, there were better films that year.

      So no, it doesn't deserve a special category all of its own. This meritocracy only goes so far.

      • In addition, Avatar won "Best Visual Effects" as well - so basically it won in every category in which people were talking about it before it was released anyway. People didn't go to the cinema to see Avatar for the plot, they went to see it because of the fantastic visual elements that were being raved about - and surprisingly, Avatar won in all of those categories at the awards...

        Not much more to say really.

        • Never having seen Dances with Wolves or Ferngully the Last Rainforest, I even enjoyed the plot of Avatar when I went to see it. I was convinced it would be the new Star Wars, then I came out of the cinema and everyone thought it was shit. I still thinks it's brilliant though, in my own little world...
          • I've not seen DwW, but I have seen FG, and they do have huge simularities:
            - Western Guy goes to some wilderness to do environmentally destructive stuff.
            - Circumstance and luck lead to western guy meeting the natives.
            - The natives are shown to be some perfect culture, in-tune with nature, loving of all living things, peaceful and generally all-round nice.
            - Western guy falls in love with native culture (And native hot chick).
            - EVIL CORPORATION wants to destroy the wilderness!
            - Western guy switches site
          • by itsdapead (734413)

            Never having seen Dances with Wolves or Ferngully the Last Rainforest, I even enjoyed the plot of Avatar when I went to see it.

            All these people saying that Avatar was just a ripoff of "Ferngully, the Last Dances With Pocahontas" are completely missing the point.

            ...which is that Avatar was a dumbed-down version of Dune :-).

            • Never having seen Dances with Wolves or Ferngully the Last Rainforest, I even enjoyed the plot of Avatar when I went to see it.

              All these people saying that Avatar was just a ripoff of "Ferngully, the Last Dances With Pocahontas" are completely missing the point.

              ...which is that Avatar was a dumbed-down version of Dune :-).

              Huh. I never thought of that, but you're right: there are definite plot similarities. Both are very much a would-be exaltation of the White Man's Burden narrative. (Outsider comes in to the natives to save them from the people like him; and not only is he the savior but he's better at being a native than the natives. What else would you call it?)

      • Re:Um, no (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tverbeek (457094) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:54AM (#39146097) Homepage

        A friend of mine bitches about the Oscars because movies like The Hurt Locker, No Country For Old Men, and Crash win Best Picture instead of Trasformers, Night at the Museum, or Meet the Fockers, which did so much better at the box office. In other words, he complains that the Oscars are.... the Oscars. The Academy isn't interested in presenting awards for Best Screwball Comedy or Best Action Film. They aren't trying to re-reward financial or popular success. They're honoring what they consider achievements in acting, direction, etc. If you want an award for Best Science Fiction Film, look to the Saturns or Hugos.

    • Re:Um, no (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dj245 (732906) on Friday February 24, 2012 @09:26AM (#39146313) Homepage
      And while 2001 is a fantastic movie, comparing it to the other movies in question, it's not even close. It's like making the equivalent of an NIT tournament in College Basketball. No, if a Sci-Fi movie cannot stand on it's own against the other top movies, it's not worthy of a "best movie" award.

      The winner of the Oscar and the Golden Globe that year for best picture was Oliver [imdb.com]. Nobody has ever asked me if I saw Oliver. Nobody has ever told me I should watch that movie. 2001 became the classic. That isn't even just my opinion. 2001 is on the National Film Preservation Board registry [imdb.com]. Oliver, while it may be a good movie, was mostly forgotten after 1969.

      You can argue about these awards actually choosing the best picture or not. But they don't seem to be choosing the memorable movies that become classics in many cases.
  • Special Effects (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SJHillman (1966756) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:26AM (#39145679)

    Science Fiction films tend to be subsets of either action or drama films, but with more special effects. Just because it's a different setting doesn't change that it's an action and/or drama with a lot of special effects.

    • Science Fiction films tend to be subsets of either action or drama films, but with more special effects.

      Not necessarily. Gattaca certainly was not full of special effects; neither, really, was Blade Runner, and both were better movies than 99% of the dreck that purports to be science fiction.

  • Simple answer (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:29AM (#39145695)

    No. Creating a ghetto-like category so that science fiction prizes can be awareded each year is stupid.
    A science fiction film is still a film. There are historicals films, realistic films, war films etc... Science fiction films are not a special category.
    The reason most of them don't get a prize can be reduced to 2 reasons :
    - one is that they suck and suck royally
    - two there is still a prejudice to look at science fiction films as class z films.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      Yeah, if you want to make oscar categories there are some that deserve their own even more: Best comedy. Best 'bad guy'. Best kid/family movie, etc...
  • by Patchw0rk F0g (663145) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:32AM (#39145721) Journal

    I'd like to see more sci-fi win the big ticket, but I don't think we need, nor even want, a new category. Whether a movie is set in Cow-tip, New Hampshire or a galaxy far, far away, it's the merit of the movie itself, the characterization, cinematography, direction etc. that makes a great movie. Let the science fiction be graded on the same merits as other movies. If it's good, it'll be rewarded as such. Otherwise, perhaps the musical numbers from Mr. Lucas might be compared to "Chicago"?

    Ugh. Just grossed myself out there.

  • I'd settle for decent shelf space at the local book stores.

    As I see it, sci-fi get relegated to the bottom shelf on a hidden corner of the store, while esoterism, alternative medicines crap, and the latest celebrity endorsed diet gets to the front window.

    • Books primarily targeted at women in general seems to get top shelf-space. This is not some sort of conspiracy though, the self-help addicted female crowd are probably the best customers, so you have to cater to them. Just be happy your book store even still carries sci-fi. So really the fault is not in the book store, it is the fact that males in general seem to read a lot less these days.
    • You need a better book store - at my local chain (Waterstones), there is about 50 meters of shelf space given over to scifi and fantasy, with about half of it being scifi. At both of my local independents, there is about 20 meters of shelf space for scifi and fantasy, again with a good leaning toward scifi.

      I have no trouble picking up a new scifi book these days.

      Actaully, this might be a good place to ask - does anyone know the name of a scifi series based around humanity being enslaved by an ancient alien

      • by Shimbo (100005)

        Actaully, this might be a good place to ask - does anyone know the name of a scifi series based around humanity being enslaved by an ancient alien race who created a huge empire out of thousands of enslaved races, with the series starting as the very last member of that master race dying and the rest of the series involving a civil war within the now leaderless empire? The main characters were a male and a female, with the male going on to revolutionise tactics within the fleet.

        I read it ages ago but can't remember what its called.

        You are thinking of the Dread Empire's Fall trilogy by Walter Jon Williams.

  • . . . best Drama, best Romance, best Action, best Boy & His Dog, best Thriller, best Childrens', and even the Best of the Best . . .

    The Academy Awards will become a week long event.

    So many fake smiles in the news would kill folks.

  • by BillCable (1464383) on Friday February 24, 2012 @07:50AM (#39145785)
    No need for a new category... the notion itself is ridiculous. Are Sci-Fi geeks really pining so badly for an Oscar for one of "their" films? Do they need that validation? I don't. I'm just happy to see a good film from time to time. Hell - be happy we're going to see Avengers, Dark Knight, and Prometheus this year. I'm a hell of a lot more excited about that than I am the prospect of someone getting a little gold man.

    If someone ever creates a Sci-Fi film that deserves an Oscar more than all the other films that year, it'll win one. Win because of quality, not because the suits created a little sub-award to placate you.

    PS: Avatar didn't deserve a nomination, much less the award. I think that was a gesture for making a couple billion dollars while hitting all the correct political points.
  • by Nyder (754090) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:10AM (#39145869) Journal

    I saw Avatar and it's not that good of a movie. Sure, it's not bad, but movie of the year good? Oh, hell no.

    It was a 3D Selling Gimmick, not a great movie.

  • An alternative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by windcask (1795642) on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:12AM (#39145877) Homepage Journal

    Start ignoring Hollywood's self-congratulatory circle jerk events (Golden Globes, Oscars, Grammy Awards, etc) and start forming your own opinions on art and media. They won't think twice about deputizing the FBI to kick in your door if you so much as rip a DVD to your computer, so why do you feel you owe them your attention?

    • Who gets to vote

      Golden Globes : 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association
      Oscars : 6,000 motion picture professionals mostly American
      Grammys : NARAS a U.S. organization of musicians, producers, recording engineers and other recording professionals

      So no bias there then ... amazing that US movies mostly win with the occasional English language movie from elsewhere

  • Then we can have categories for all the movie genres that don't win awards and nobody will have to feel left out! Picture it, "Best Romantic Comedy", "Best Direct to DVD Action Movie", "Best Teen Fantasy", etc. Maybe we could just give an Oscar to everybody who's upset they didn't win.

    Just kidding, that's a terrible idea and you should feel bad for having it.

    • by Cytotoxic (245301)

      Actually, I think they already have this award show. It is called the MTV movie awards. They also have categories for "best kiss", etc. See also: "Teen Choice Awards".

  • The academy awards serve a purpose. Just as the Superbowl is more about the ads than the game on the field, And Oscar night has evolved to become more about the red carpet than the statuettes. SciFi = Summer Blockbuster (generally). Blockbuster summer films just don't seem to require the type of hype machine that the Academy dishes up.
  • How was 'Avatar' snubbed? The movie didn't deserve a nomination, let alone win. The movie wasn't very good. It looked good, but that was about it.
  • The Oscar is mere self-promotion in a "voting" as impartial as the elections in Florida. I've had enough of seeing movies that deserve to go to the garbage winning an Oscar for having paid well for the "judges" or fall into the good graces of "film critics", while the audience hated it. And those who matter most: The public that pays for movie tickets and rentals of DVDs or professional critics?

    The Oscar is a circus for vanity, nothing more than that.
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      I'll agree and add my two cents. These people already get paid crap-tons of money, and then they feel the need to have half a dozen or more awards shows a year to "recognize" them for what they were already paid for. We don't have awards shows for chefs, computer programmers, or sanitation workers. Why should we for actors?
      I heard an interesting statistic on the radio the other day. Apparently the average celebrity receives $200,000 in donations and gifts a year. Given that there are literally thousands of
  • Who cares about the Oscars?

  • Should There Be a Sci-Fi Category At the Oscars?

    Absolutely not.

    They'll just fuck it up. In 2002, for example, the Richard Gere musical Chicago won best picture. It was the second year in a row that a musical won best picture.

    The movie it beat? Martin Scorsese's epic masterpiece The Gangs of New York.

    If "The Academy" were to give one Star Wars movie best sci-fi picture, it would have been Phantom Menace.

    Secondly, we only occasionally have a year where there are four really good sci-fi movies worthy of nom

  • When was the last time a non-english movie won, a horror movie, a bollywood movie (Slumdog was a British/American movie) etc. etc ..

    When are people going to wake up that Oscars are voted for by an Elite cliquey non-elected panel of Hollywood insiders known as the Academy

    They are not reflective of actual success, some of the most popular, and most successful movies did not win, some well know actors and directors have never won ...

    • Oscars are voted for by an Elite cliquey non-elected panel of Hollywood insiders known as the Academy

      They are not reflective of actual success, some of the most popular, and most successful movies did not win, some well know actors and directors have never won ...

      Yes, this is true. So what?

      Get over it already.

  • The oscars are a joke and would ruin sci-fi movies as directors scrambled to try and win.

    Also, the Oscars definition of "Sci-fi" would almost assuredly piss most real Sci-fi fans off.
  • ghetto-ise ? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by rudy_wayne (414635)

    'ghetto-ise' the genre?

    Are you referring to Gay Niggers From Outer Space?

  • Some neat special effects can;t cover up the fact that Avatar was simply a blatant plagarism of Pocahontas.

  • The concept of best scifi film at the oscars is pretty silly really. Is there an oscar for best world war 2 film? Is there an oscar for best romantic comedy? best horror? no because the academy awards aren't for genre of story, they are for some technical aspect of producing a film. How well can you engage the audience without using english? without using photography? just overall tell a really good story? none of these categories are genre specific.

    I'd think that best scifi film would be a horrible thin
  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:14AM (#39146751)

    ... could we have a category for "Best Left-handed Actor"? I mean, it isn't like the awards are already bloated, largely meaningless, self-congratulatory or just plain boring, is it?

    Of course, the awards are really for the public. The studios only care about the money.

    .

  • Any movie witht the Internet, or a Cell Phone... would instantly fall into this category.

    We KNOW the internet isn't that fast.

    And, there is NO WAY they could move that much on a cell phone and not drop the call.

    #COMPLETE FICTION

  • Snubbed? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thesandtiger (819476) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:41AM (#39147919)

    Avatar was a beautiful film with interesting technology behind it, but the story was trite, the dialogue was inane, and the acting was adequate to the task without anyone standing out.

    2001 was a beautiful film with interesting technology behind it the story was novel, but much of it was plodding, the dialogue was serviceable and quotable but not particularly brilliant, and the acting was - well, pretty much anyone could handle that.

    To be honest, if you wanted to talk about a sci-fi film getting snubbed, you would be be better off throwing out Moon - well crafted visually, interesting and well written story, very solid performances, realistic dialogue and by and large a superior film all around.

    Hell, Wall-E was a superior sci-fi film to both Avatar and 2001 (at least the first part while on Earth).

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:47AM (#39147995)

    IMHO, there's a lot of content out there that's not "science" fiction but rather fantasy and the two tend to get lumped together. If you're going to go down this road, you need to separate the two. Imagine if you had to pit Fellowship of the Ring against A New Hope or Avatar against Wrath of Khan.

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