It’s no secret that horror doesn’t get very much respect from the Academy. There’s long been a mindset that “genre films” were somehow beneath the integrity and prestige of the cinematic masterpieces that get nominated.
And while horror has been recognized from time to time (especially Silence of the Lambs), these instances are quite rare. So in the interest of honoring the genre that we all love, let’s take a look at five horror films that were unjustly snubbed by the Oscars.
The Dead Don’t Die – Best Original Screenplay
Definitely one of the most unique zombie films ever made (which is saying a lot), The Dead Don’t Die takes a deadpan, quirky approach to tropes that have been done to death (no pun intended). Its ending didn’t quite pay off everything that it set up, but the film’s creativity can’t be ignored. It was funny, different, and had something to say, while still being subtle and nuanced about it.
The Lighthouse – Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Willem Dafoe)
The word “masterpiece” isn’t one to be thrown around lightly, but if any film on this list is deserving of that rank, it’s this one. In fact, The Lighthouse is the only horror film on this list (and in general) that did manage to get a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Cinematography. But the truth is, it deserves so much more!
Robert Eggers’ dark tale is the closest we’ve come to The Shining in 40 years, in that way that it slowly makes the audience feel like we’re going insane just like the characters. Its use of isolation and madness are unparalleled. We also need to talk about Willem Dafoe, who completely immersed himself in a role that required not only an unusual, period accent, but whose dialogue came straight out of the time.
Not since Ernest Hemingway has anyone looked so much like a sailor! But at no point does Dafoe feel like he’s trying too hard or being overly dramatic or Shakespearean. Rather, he plays his character with ease and makes him feel like a real person.
Midsommar – Best Actress – Florence Pugh
To be fair, Pugh is already nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Little Women, but there have been times where people have been nominated for both (including Scarlett Johansson this year). And her performance is Midsommar is equally worthy of nomination.
In a film that slowly draws us into a foreboding threat, Florence Pugh wrestles with trauma and depression, all while trying to hold it all together and move on. By the end, she becomes both horrified and horrifying at the same time. If this was a straight-up drama rather than horror, she probably would have at least been considered, and that’s a sad state of affairs.
Ready or Not – Best Art Direction
Not only was Ready or Not really underrated in the realm of film itself, but it feels like it didn’t get very much attention in the horror community as well. Some of this can be explained as the film being too funny for horror and too gory for comedy, but it was my personal favorite film of 2019.
And the area where it really seemed to shine was in how the Art/Production Design Teams were able to blend 19th Century opulence with board games and pure carnage. Ready or Not was far from the first film to feature a protagonist fighting for their life in a demented game, but it’s the one that looks the most visually/aesthetically pleasing.
Us – Best Actress (Lupita Nyong’o)
What’s harder than playing the lead in a film that’s physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging? Playing both the protagonist and antagonist, differently enough that even the vocal inflection and facial expressions are distinct enough to tell them apart. The fact that Lupita Nyong’o did not get a Best Actress nomination for Us is perhaps the greatest injustice on this list.
Even the Screen Actors Guild saw fit to nominate her for it, but not the Academy (nor the Golden Globes for that matter). As Adelaide, she portrays a woman facing the trauma of her past, and fighting for her family, and as Red, Nyong’o gives us a terrifying villain that turns out to be pretty sympathetic. Performances like this don’t happen very often and it’s an outright travesty that it wasn’t nominated.
Do you think that horror films deserve more Academy respect than they currently get, or like Martin Scorsese described, are they not quite “cinema”? Which horror films do you think should have been nominated? Let us know in the comments below! And for more reviews, rankings, and other fun horror content, follow Halloween Year-Round on Facebook and Twitter!