Why Don’t Horror Movies Get Nominated for Oscars?

Connie Queline

Why Don’t Horror Movies Get Nominated for Oscars?

Will the Oscars ever get their heads out of their asses? Last year, horror fans were quite upset when Mia Goth’s performance in Pearl was passed over for the majority of Mainstream Awards, primarily the Academy Awards. People were shouting from every corner of social media, claiming that Goth was robbed. And watch this scene without thinking she deserves some kind of accolade. She’s phenomenal. Yet I wasn’t surprised by Goth’s snub because the Academy never respects horror. And personally, it was never more evident than when the best performance of the year wasn’t nominated. I’m, of course, talking about Toni Collette in Hereditary.

Ari Aster’s 2018 modern classic makes for a tough watch. This woman is an absolute fucking force in this film. The dinner scene alone should have been enough to garner attention. But her reaction to what happened to Charlie is so haunting that you can feel it in your bones. Hell, I’d argue it’s not just the best performance of 2018. It’s one of the best performances of all time. Yet the Awards circuit was non-existent for Miss Collette. And let’s not forget that Toni was already overlooked for her phenomenal work in The Sixth Sense. So, this isn’t the first time that she hasn’t been given the credit she deserves. And I think a lot of that has to do with the horror label.

Often, the term “horror film” is used as a derogatory label, and it’s no more obvious than introducing the term “elevated horror.” I’ll quote Joe Bobs Briggs in saying, “Elevated Horror is the term used by people who hate horror films to describe horror films that they like.” And this isn’t the first time that this has happened, with films like The Sixth Sense and Silence of the Lambs being considered thrillers. Hate to break it to non-believers, but a child seeing gruesome ghosts and a serial killer hunting down women and wearing their skins? Those are horror films. And yet, the only way these films could enter awards consideration was by dumping the horror label and firmly planting themselves in the horror category.

Even A Quiet Place managed the thriller labeling, but its April release left a lot of distance in the minds of Academy voters. There’s a reason Oscar releases often come out simultaneously: momentum is important. As well as money. I suppose that’s another element that needs to be addressed. Most of the major awards are very dependent on a PR budget to push the film further. Miramax famously pushed Shakespeare in Love to such a degree that it snagged the Best Picture Oscar despite competing against an all-timer in Saving Private Ryan. While Horror may be able to bring in the dough at the box office, there’s often a small overhead cost. So, throwing additional money at its marketing budget will likely cut into the film’s profit. And unlike an indie drama, a studio is unlikely to see a higher return on their investment for an Oscar-nominated horror film vs something on the “Oscar bait-y drama” side.

As mainstream as the genre has become, Horror still has a large distance to go in terms of acceptance. But I guess we, as horror fans, have to ask ourselves: should we even care? Will it actually result in better horror films? I’m unsure if it would truly change the industry, but it would allow these actors/filmmakers to get the praise they deserve. Because Awards work as job security and make you more marketable. Because anyone in the industry knows what a miracle it is just to get a film across the finish line, so anything will help. While I’m unsure we’d see positive change on the horror side, these actors and filmmakers still deserve their flowers.

Leave your thoughts below. And let us know what other horror performances should have received awards consideration.


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