As Hollywood gears up for the movie industry’s biggest night of the year, we take a look at why ‘Arrival’ might be the big loser of 2017.
2014 proved to be a landmark year for science fiction at the Oscars. ‘Gravity’, starring Sandra Bullock, was a runaway success winning a staggering eight Oscars from an impressive ten nominations – including Best Picture and Best Director. Alfonso Cuarón’s dramatic telling of astronauts stranded in space symbolised a healthy resurgence for big-budget science fiction.
Whilst sci-fi may be popular with cinemagoers again, many would argue that the success of ‘Gravity’ at the Oscars should be viewed as something of an exception. Roll on one year and the Academy’s reluctance to honor science fiction seemed in evidence once more.
Interstellar – Left in the cold by the Academy
Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ had been expected to pick up a handful of nominations at the 2015 awards. Indeed, the film was in the running in no fewer than five categories. Notably though, these were all for technical proficiency rather than any of the more prestigious awards. Ultimately the film won a much deserved, single Oscar for Best Visual Effects, leaving many feeling somewhat aggrieved at the apparent snub of of the film and Christopher Nolan, a director often overlooked by the Academy.
The Martian – Abandoned both on-screen and off
In 2016, the big sci-fi hope at the Oscars was ‘The Martian’. Another critically and publicly acclaimed film that failed to pick up even a single award from seven nominations at that year’s ceremony.
However, adding some degree of context, the film did face spectacular opposition that year with the event being dominated by ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’. The Oscar for Best Visual Effects was awarded to another sci-fi nominee, ‘Ex_Machina’.
Bizarrely ‘The Martian’ did enjoy some recognition that year by picking up the award for Best Comedy at the 2016 Golden Globes. Yes. Best comedy.
Arrival has eight nominations but does not recognise Amy Adams’ performance.
This year the weight of expectation for science fiction fans falls on the shoulders of Denis Villeneuve and his incredible epic, ‘Arrival’. A story that revolves around first contact with aliens.
In my review I described the film as “possibly the best sci-fi movie for a decade“. I stand by that statement and an impressive haul of eight nominations at this year’s Oscars seems, on the surface, to back my opinion. However…
Regardless of how important ‘Arrival’ is to science fiction as a genre, the film is up against strong opposition in key categories. Primarily competition comes from ‘La La Land’ and ‘Manchester by the Sea’ for Best Picture and Best Director. Either of which could legitimately take the prize. ‘La La Land’ is out to spoil the party when it comes to Best Cinematography and Editing too.
In fact, One Oscar night preview indicates that ‘Arrival’s best chance of winning an Oscar this year lies with Eric Heisserer and his nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Bizarre as it sounds, this could be an accurate assessment with another (and inexplicably overlooked) sci-fi blockbuster, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, a very strong contender for the Sound Mixing accolade.
Given the Academy’s reluctance to honour science fiction, and taking into account such strong competition, it’s entirely possible that ‘Arrival’ could wind up being the biggest loser at this year’s Oscar ceremony.
The Oscars take place on February 26th. For a full list of nominees visit oscar.go.com