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Oscars 2018: ‘Get Out’ and ‘The Shape of Water’ have a chance to break horror bias


Silence of the Lambs
Orion Pictures via
YouTube


  • Horror films have often been overlooked by the Oscars
    throughout its 90-year history.
  • Only one has won best picture, and only a handful have
    been nominated.
  • This year’s race sees two nominated — “Get Out” and
    “The Shape of Water.”

 

“The Silence of the Lambs” is a notable Oscar best-picture winner
for many reasons.

It’s one of only three films in the Oscar’s 90-year history to
win the “big five” awards of picture, actor, actress, director,
and screenplay. And it’s also the only horror film to win
best picture.

IMDB lists the film’s genres as “crime,” “drama,” and “thriller,”
and it is certainly all of those things. But in the nearly three
decades since “Silence of the Lambs” swept the 64th Academy
Awards, it’s been regarded as one of the best horror films of all
time: It’s number 33 on this
Rotten Tomatoes list of the best-reviewed horror movies
, and
has made countless other lists, including these
from Collider
and Esquire.

Only a few other horror films have managed to even be nominated,
including “Jaws,” and this year’s “Get Out” and “The Shape of
Water.” 

What do all of these films have in common?

They can all easily be categorized by different genres: “Lambs”
as a crime drama, “Jaws” as a thriller, “Shape” as a fantasy
romance, and “Get Out” as a dark comedy (if you ask the Golden
Globes). 

That distinction helped propel “Lambs” to the top and it has
allowed “Get Out” and “Shape” to break through a crowded field of
best-picture contenders this year. In fact, there is still

debate about whether they are even horror films
at all, a
telling sign of the Academy’s reluctance to recognize the genre.

“Get Out’s” social commentary might discourage some from
classifying it as horror, but the best horror films are twisted
representations of our fears and the evil pieces of our own
world. Is that not “Get Out?” And “Shape” is quite obviously

inspired by “The Creature From the Black Lagoon.”

Perhaps the fear is that embracing these films as horror movies
risks their chances of actually winning on Oscar night. The
Academy has a dismal record of awarding the genre. In this
Business Insider list
of the best-reviewed films to never be nominated for best
picture
, “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Psycho” are notable
standouts, as well as other Hitchcock thrillers. In fact,
Hitchcock never even won best director.

But beyond being horror films, what other factors might help or
hinder “Get Out” and “The Shape of Water” on Oscar night?


get outUniversal

“Moonlight,” about a black man struggling with his sexuality, won
best picture last year, signaling for many that the Oscars had
moved in a positive direction in recognizing the work of people
of color. And now this year, “Get Out” has nabbed picture,
director, actor, and screenplay nominations, and won best
original screenplay at Sunday’s Writers Guild Awards, positioning
it as a contender for Oscar gold.

But still, there is the Academy’s legacy that sparked
#OscarsSoWhite — a social media hashtag that trended after all 20
acting nominees were white two years in a row in 2016 and 2015.
That has not completely changed, though the Academy did induct

nearly 700 new members to try and diversify its membership in
2016

“Get Out” also failed to pick up any craft nominations, and it’s
rare for a film to win best picture without a single one.
(“Moonlight,” meanwhile, was nominated for cinematography, film
editing, and musical score.) 

Positive word-of-mouth and an energetic campaign can help its
chances, but the other horror film in contention this year will
be hard to beat.


The Shape of Water Fox SearchlightFox
Searchlight

“The Shape of Water” has suddenly become a frontrunner in the
Oscar race after winning best picture at the Producers Guild
Awards, and picking up the most nominations at this year’s Oscars
with 13.

Not bad for a horror movie.

But “The Shape of Water” could be hindered by the fact that it
has plenty of competition in the original screenplay race — “Get
Out,” Lady Bird,” “Three Billboards,” and “The Big Sick.” If it
can’t win a screenplay award, its chances of winning best picture
are slim by if we look at history as our guide. The last film to
do so was “The Artist” six years ago.

Over at awards prediction website GoldDerby.com,
“Shape’s” odds of winning screenplay aren’t good: 22/1. It comes
in fourth behind “Lady Bird” (8/5), “Three Billboards” (9/4), and
“Get Out” (3/1). “The Big Sick” is in last at 80/1. And at the
Writers Guild Awards, “Get Out” and “Call Me by Your Name” won
the screenplay honors.

But even so, “Shape” is still the frontrunner on GoldDerby, with
the best odds of winning best picture (10/11).


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