It’s time for me to pontificate about horror movies and the Oscars. As such, let me lay out a couple basic propositions:
1) In their ongoing attempt to reward quality filmmaking, the Oscars have infamously preferred a certain type—namely, “prestige” pictures that can seem to advance film as an art form while catering to (and flattering the intelligence of) a broad audience. Serious and “ambitious” dramas, by and large, trump their less overtly dignified brethren in Oscar’s eyes.
2) Meanwhile, “horror movies” have been ghettoized by mainstream film critics and moral authorities, who deride them as anti-prestigious, cheap, morally/artistically suspect, etc. It’s a process that’s slowly being reversed, but old habits die really hard.
The end result, as a cursory glance over Oscar history will tell you, is that horror movies are almost never recognized by the Academy. To expand on that, let me hazard another proposition:
3) Because of these biases, horror masterpieces are constantly ignored by the Oscars in favor of absolutely inferior movies that look safe and award-worthy.
None of this is especially revolutionary thinking. In fact, genre bigotry like this is widely accepted as one of the Academy’s major weaknesses. But I do think there’s plenty more to be learned by closely examining that “almost never.” When does the Academy embrace horror? The short answer is “Roughly once a decade.” The long answer is “It depends on what you consider horror.” Let me explain by going chronologically…
Read a near-comprehensive history of horror at the Oscars after the jump.