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The Fannish Life: Where’s Oscar?

Ann Morris ponders why geek interests are overlooked at the Academy Awards

It’s hard to remember when the last time a science fiction or fantasy movie was in the lists for best actor, actress, writing, directing or best picture for The Oscars.

Sometimes, one or two fantasies or science-fiction films will get into the People’s Choice Awards, and they sometimes make it into the MTV Movie Awards. Those awards are voted on by the public, and the public, it seems, is not respected because, above all other awards, it’s the Oscar (a peer given award}, that will give your career a serious boost. Geek-fare does not garner many Oscar nominations, much less wins, and that’s a shame.

Our stuff gets nominated for production and technical awards, but that’s where the love begins and ends for the most part.

There is one notable exception to this. When our kinds of movies are animated features, we get some hugs and kisses. All of the nominated animated films from 2012 were fantasies. “Brave,” a favorite of mine, won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. In the Best Animated Short category, a sweet little fantasy called “Paper Man” was the winner.

It was a good day for us when the Academy decided to give animated features their own categories. They really are a different animal from live-action efforts, and many of our kinds of stories are told in animated form.

But not all!

Live-action science fiction and fantasy could use its own set of categories or maybe even a separate, high profile award of its own. Why should the people who work on these films be ignored year after year as though they didn’t do work just as good as those iwho work on movies that depict “real” life?

I will give you that “Life of Pi,” which had many nominations in 2013, is a fantasy in which we don’t know what is real and what is not at all times. Technically though, all but the documentary films are fantasies because they are fiction. That being said, they do not all fit into what we, in the geek community, are talking about when we talk about fantasy and science fiction. I think “Life of Pi” is one of those films we would not generally call fantasy or science fiction for our purposes.

It’s no surprise that some of our geeky favorites were given a nod in the production categories. “Snow White and the Huntsman” and “Mirror Mirror” were up for Best Costume Design. “The Hobbit: an Unexpected Journey” had spots in the Best Production Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling categories.

The category with four out of five nominees being geek movies was best visual effects. “Prometheus,” “The Avengers,” “The Hobbit” and “Snow White and the Huntsman” were all given kudos. Sadly, none of the hard working souls who labored on these films went home from the ceremony with a little golden man to put on the mantel.

I have some ideas, notions, theories, opinions — whatever you’d like to call them — about why we geeks are not so very well represented in Hollywood.

It seems to me that there are not enough of our community’s members among the voting groups to garner attention for the kinds of movies we love. How many among your friends want to work on movies enough to make that a reality? Lots of us imagine ourselves acting or creating fabulous things for film, but when we choose career paths, not so many of us go in that direction.

Why is this? Well, I think that while we love movies and we fantasize about working on them, we are more often drawn to doing things such as being scientists, astronauts, computer programmers, engineers, doctors, technicians of various kinds, and teachers. Those of us who enter entertainment fields tend to keep it to writing comics, novels and short stories. They wouldn’t balk at having their works made into films but they are not usually working toward that end.

There are obviously geeks in the film industry, but they primarily work in the technical areas and are not generally in the acting, writing or directing areas. Of course, there are exceptions, or we wouldn’t get “The Avengers” or “Star Trek,” but basically, our folks are a minority group.

I think that a lot of people are intimidated by the kind of intelligence that takes form in understanding and loving math and science and they equate science fiction and fantasy interest with being some sort of weird genius and being non-artistic. It suspect a high proportion of those working in film are in that group. They could “get” fantasy and science fiction if they gave it a chance, but old ways die hard (oh yes, pun intended) and they cling to the idea that art and science cannot meet and thrive in the acting, writing and directing arenas.

Sciencey stuff is relegated to the guys and gals who do all that technical stuff that gives us good explosions, real looking hair on animated characters and longer lasting batteries on cool new digital cameras. They don’t even give the Oscars for many of the technical categories at the same ceremony in which they give the acting, writing and directing awards. That’s a pretty cruel slam, if you ask me.

Yeah, I know that if they gave those awards at the ceremony that is televised, the darn thing would be five hours long. Still, those people who make improvements that enhance movies should be treated better. At least televise the technical awards on G4 or Spike.

I’d like to see the kinds of films I enjoy get recognized for their excellence. It bugs me that people like Chris Evans, who was wonderful as Captain America, or Robert Downey, Jr. who brings Tony Stark to life in grand style, can’t get nominated for best actor awards. It’s annoying that movies like “Bicentennial Man,” “Bladerunner” and “Limitless,” which are real science fiction with great stories, great acting and great directing, got nothing from the jury of peers.

There again is the problem. The jury pool is so full of those who don’t “get” science fiction and fantasy that the chance of the jurors being on your side is slim to nonexistent, and slim just left for a town called Mercy.

In the grand scheme of things, this is what some of my friends call a posh problem —- one that only first-world inhabitants would see as a problem at all. Still, if I could fix this, I would do it by creating an Academy of Science-Fiction and Fantasy Film Arts and Sciences. They could give something like the Luna Award, named for what is considered to be the first science-fiction film, “La Voyage de la Lune,” by Georges Melies, or maybe the Odyssey Award for Stanley Kubrick’s homage to Arthur C. Clarke’s novel “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I’m sure some other names could work too, but those sound good to me and, well, this is my fantasy.

It’s unlikely that there will be a great groundswell of people determined to change things based on what I’ve said here, but I can fantasize about that while I’m at it, can’t I?

I am looking forward to going to see “Jack the Giant Killer” and the new OZ movie and “Iron Man 3” has me waiting anxiously. I’m guessing you might be looking forward to theater visits to see those movies as well. So, maybe I’ll see you there.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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