Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Not Enough Monsters at the Oscars

by Aaron Allen

Despite the red blood they shed on screen and the green cash they put in Hollywood's pocket, horror films are rarely invited onto the red carpet of the much-hyped Academy Awards in Hollywood. 

Occasionally a film like The Exorcist will pick up Oscar nods right and left from the Academy, but no horror film except Silence of the Lambs (Best Picture 1993) has ever transcended the genre to win big award. Most of the time, horror and genre films pick up awards in the makeup, costuming, and special effects category or for the token actor/supporting actor and actress.

And this year is no different. Official nominees for the 85th Academy Awards were recently released, containing only a peppering of horror films for taste. Here's a quick rundown of this year's horror-related nominees.

Django Unchained

- Best Picture
- Actor in a Supporting Role (Christoph Waltz)
- Cinematography
- Sound Editing
-Original Screenplay

This one is a stretch. Despite gracing the cover and innards of Fangoria #319, and despite the fact that director Quentin Tarantino took Fangoria writer and FrightBytes host Lianne Spiderbaby as his date to the Golden Globes, it's not really fair to call Django Unchained a horror film. It's an incredibly violent Spaghetti Western. Slavery was horrifying experience, and there's plenty of blood in this movie, but its real goal isn't to horrify. A good film, but this barely counts.

 ParaNorman & Frankenweenie

- Animated Feature Film

  This year, all the real monsters at the Oscars will be stop-motion. Animated kids films ParaNorman and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie stand alone as the true beacons for the dark and spooky, even if they are for a family-friendly audience. Coincidently, both films break from the pack to offer traditional animation rather than strictly CGI fare. This is the second Oscar nomination for Tim Burton (previously picking up a nod for The Corpse Bride in 2005).

Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)

- Short Film (Live Action)

Again, not quite horror, but certainly more macabre than most of these offerings. This short concerns a soldier stuck in limbo between life and death who collects the shadows of dead men and women for Death in an effort to buy back his life. Doesn't look scary, but certainly on the darker side of the silver screen than most of the nominees on this list. 


- Visual Effects

Dark, border-line nihlistic, and populated with murderous aliens, Prometheus certainly deserves to be placed alongside its originator Alien in the horror sci-fi genre. Although its visual effects certainly helped to obscure some of the film's incredibly irritating plotholes, were they truly that extraordinary in this age of rampant CGI?


- Makeup and Hair Styling

What does it say about this year in horror when the closest nominee for makeup isn't a horror film itself but instead a movie about the making of a horror film -- Psycho, to be exact. Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, and Martin Samuel whip up some makeup magic to help Anthony Hopkins fill out the famed director's iconic profile and recreate the look from the era of Hitchcock's most shocking achievement, but this film is still, at the end of the day, only tangentially horror-related.

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