When something’s great, you just know it. It’s indisputable (well, almost). In film, there’s the convergence of great writing, a stellar cast, pitch perfect direction, moving score. What’s left is a kind of general consensus. So, why are science fiction movies snubbed for Best Picture nominations?

The simplest answer is perception. Oscar-nominated movies are almost always purely dramatic fair. You won’t find a spaceship, rarely any time travel elements, or monsters. Speculative fiction just doesn’t tend to make the final cut. Best Picture nominations are usually very serious, sometimes period pieces, biopics, anything but science fiction, or fantasy for that matter. It’s been well over a decade since Peter Jackson won Best Picture for Return of the King (the final installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy).

This year, Christopher Nolan’s ambitious mindbender, Interstellar, wasn’t nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, extending the streak of non-sci-fi winners. The Academy voters have rarely gone where no one has gone before with their choices. When a film as moving intellectually and emotionally as 1997’s Contact (starring Jodie Foster) only garners a nomination for Best Sound, something’s terribly wrong with the system. But there have been films that really should have got at least an Oscar nod, regardless of genre. Here’s at least seven films worth noting.

Interstellar (2014)
Director Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar was unlike anything else in 2014. It was a science fiction movie with almost as much heart as theoretical physics. The story of Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his family – particularly his relationship with his daughter – is just as dramatic as anything on the current list of Oscar nominees. The Theory of Everything has a physicist as its lead character (Dr. Stephen Hawking), but it’s a straight-ahead drama. Interstellar takes a different route. Yes, on the surface it’s a near future tale about the human race running out of time before the earth no longer sustains it. That’s just the hook. There’s so much more to the story than traveling into space, or the exploration of black holes. But Interstellar is only up for sound editing, sound mixing, and the music score (by the talented Mr. Hans Zimmer). It makes the case that anything genre, or science fiction for that matter, doesn’t stand much of a chance for a Best Picture Oscar.

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