For decades, the horror genre has taken a serious back seat when it comes to the Academy Awards. Simply put, the true horror of the Oscars is the lack of horror.
Since Jordan Peele’s illustrious Best Original Screenplay Oscar win for Get Out in 2018, Peele’s filmmaking career has taken off and been one to watch. In 2019, we faced more memorable frights with Us, and this year his much-anticipated remake of Candyman is slated for release on Oct. 16.
The fact that a horror film was acknowledged with multiple Oscar nominations – and one win – was a surprise to many and a thrill for fans of the genre. However, it’s been made clear over the years that horror is often ignored by the Academy.
One critical piece of evidence is that only six movies of the sort have been granted nominations for best picture in the nearly 93 years the Oscars have been operating. The 1991 masterpiece The Silence of the Lambs is the only film out of the six to win in that category, along with four other Oscar wins and two additional nominations.
Prior to that, the 1973 classic The Exorcist earned an unheard of 10 Oscar nominations, including best picture. However, the cult classic only secured two wins for adapted screenplay and sound mixing. Best picture instead went to The Sting, a beloved crime flick starring Paul Newman.
Few may argue that certain films that aren’t necessarily considered horror have been nominated for best picture in past years.
An example of this is Jaws. Though the 1973 film was scary for its time and resulted in a strong following that catapulted the killer-shark plot, it boasts a giant fake shark that couldn’t execute enough scares for some. Black Swan, released in 2010, emerged with an Oscar-winning turn from Natalie Portman but left viewers debating whether the film was a psychological thriller or a horror classic.
Fans have grown accustom to waiting 10 or more years before seeing any of their favorite spooky classics receive Oscar notoriety, regardless of its exceptional originality or performances.
A Quiet Place hit the screen in 2018 to rave reviews and praise for its ability to create thrilling tension through stellar acting and sound. Emily Blunt was rewarded for her performance from the Screen Actors Guild, while John Krasinski secured a nomination from the Writers Guild of America. The film was ultimately snubbed by the Academy, only receiving one nomination for sound editing.
The next year, Ready or Not had an original script full of scares that garnered rave reviews from fans and critics alike. Sprinkle in a powerful female protagonist fighting her life while sporting a wedding dress and you have a unique and captivating picture. Praise and discussions of Oscar contention were swarming only to be slighted altogether.
When Us was released the same year, fans were confident Peele would see a reprise of acknowledgement from the Academy. Much to their dismay, the original film — with some of the best acting of that year from Lupita Nyong’o —was snubbed, receiving no nominations.
Other horror juggernauts that have left a mark in cinematic history, like Halloween, Night of The Living Dead, The Shining and Hereditary, have also failed to secure any nominations. Others, such as Psycho, Carrie, Rosemary’s Baby, Alien and Poltergeist, received nominations in various categories but not for picture in their respective years.
While the chance for a second film in the genre to win Best Picture is on the horizon with the expansion of special effects and more original stories being told by ingenious directors and writers, frustration will continue to mount if the Academy fails to take notice.
This year there are several promising films, such as Antebellum, Candyman, Wolfman, and A Quiet Place 2, which present an opportunity for the Academy to take notice. While there is a case to be made for many films that have been scorned in the past, here are just a few stellar horror movies already released that will likely get overlooked.
Relic, a story about a family struggling to care for a loved one suffering from dementia, finds the perfect balance of horror, terror and meaningful storytelling. While the movie isn’t widely recognized, director Natalie Erika James uses a particular style in her first feature film that makes the viewer squirm through commonplace and disturbing imagery matched with the reality of a family in turmoil.
For those who enjoy being scared, Relic contains a myriad of ways to make your skin crawl. Whether it’s shadowy figures in the background that aren’t seen initially or disgusting objects unearthed from an old house, there is plenty of cringe-worthy moments.
Ultimately, viewers will be left struggling to control their emotions while cowering from the haunts James offers throughout. The films complexity would be more than deserving of being nominated for picture, original screenplay or director. James has set the stage for her career that has resulted in fans hopeful and eager to see what she’ll do next.
- The Invisible Man
It’s no surprise that this film made it on the list. Between a captivatingly frightful performance given by Elisabeth Moss and Leigh Whannell’s unique directorial flair, no other film on this list is more deserving of the Academy’s recognition. While no easy feat to remake the iconic 1933 film, Whannell brought viewers a more modernized and disturbing version by incorporating themes of mental health, domestic violence and state-of-the-art technology, along with many other tropes that truly heighten the foundation the original movie created.
The Invisible Man is deserving of a wide-range of nominations, including lead actress for Moss. A nomination for visual effects should also be considered, as the team behind the film gave viewers this constant lingering and unsteady feeling that someone unseen was watching us well past the end credits. Furthermore, it makes the viewer second-guess themselves, leaving a mystery to be unfolded in the delightful two-hours it plays. While unlikely, Whannell securing a directing nod would give the horror community another flicker of hope.
Many will be anxiously waiting to see if this film will be snubbed, as well as anticipating Whannell’s upcoming remake of Wolfman, featuring Ryan Gosling.
- The Hunt
Who doesn’t love an unconventional horror movie? Even better, one that makes you laugh while still leaving you glued to the edge of your seat. The Hunt does all of that and so much more. While it has several comedic moments, the story behind the film is more relatable than ever, which makes it all that more horrifying, especially with the viewer unsure of who to believe or trust.
Once the audience latch’s onto Betty Gilpin’s character and follows the storyline hidden behind the bloody manhunt, true horror gem emerges.
The Hunt is unique, but similar in ways to Ready or Not in that it offers a fun storyline that still delivers plenty of jump scares and buckets of blood. What’s different about this film is that Hilary Swank’s character might even make you question your own political views based on who you end up rooting for in the end.
With an engaging, entertaining and controversial story, The Hunt should not be overlooked when considering its original screenplay. Thank you, Nick Cuse and Damon Lindelof for reminding us that it’s possible to write a masterful screenplay based on an original idea. We’re in your corner rooting for your success.
- The Rental
From 21 Jump Street to The Disaster Artist, Dave Franco has secured a spot as a beloved comedic actor. But when it was announced that Franco was directing his first film – in the horror genre – some were both excited and skeptical.
With The Rental, viewers witnessed a distinct directorial style that enhanced the distressing feel the movie encompasses about two couples that rent a vacation home for weekend get-away. To craft a film that targets a “this could happen to you” scare without paranormal aspects is an accomplishment worth praising. The Rental makes you truly care about each and every character — even if you dislike them — and delivers a nail-biting fright that remains with viewers even after the final twist is revealed.
Franco showed he understands what truly scares us and utilizes that fear to his advantage. The Rental also boasts what many other pictures cannot: it has an ending. The viewer isn’t left with unanswered questions, just an uneasy feeling and a discomfort about renting an Airbnb or vacation home.
If you are a fan of true crime or are fascinated by how normal people harbor secrets then The Rental is for you. A nomination for Franco is unlikely, along with a supporting acting nomination for Alison Brie’s fantastic performance.
Do you have a horror favorite you think should have been nominated for Best Picture? Leave your comments below.