Hopefully, the above headline needs no explanation, but in case you have any doubts, we’re talking about cinefantastique the genre, not Cinefantastique, the online magazine of horror, fantasy, and science fiction cinema. Although there have been a few exceptions in recent decades (e.g., a Best Picture win for THE LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING), the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences traditionally under-represents imagi-movies at each year’s Oscars, and the 2013 ceremony was no exception – and no surprise, since few horror, fantasy, and science fiction films were even nominated.
It is not as if there were not some worthy contenders from 2012: CLOUD ATLAS, RISE OF THE GUARDIANS, ROBOT AND FRANK (especially Frank Langella’s performance), THE SECRET WORLD OF ARIETTY, and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – to name a few. However, even in categories that traditionally offer a glimmer of hope (technical areas such as special effects), the genre went ignored.
The only solace, such as it was, took the form of two borderline titles that won in several categories: ARGO and LIFE OF PI. The former is a fact-based political thriller, but its plot is based around using a phony science fiction film as cover to spirit hostages out of Iran, and the film actually uses the concept of sci-fi fantasy heroism in pop culture as a yardstick by which to measure real-life accomplishment. The latter uses effects-heavy imagery to recount one person’s lonely trek aboard a lifeboat in a way that questions the reality of the events, which may be just a personal fantasy.
ARGO took home the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Film Editing (William Goldenberg), and Adapted Screenplay (Chris Terrio). I cannot exactly argue with ARGO’s Best Picture win – it is a great movie – but I would have preferred to see THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (obviously impossible) or at least LES MISERABLES.
LIFE OF PI won for Cinematography (Claudio Miranda), Directing (Ang Lee), Music (Mychael Danna), and Visual Effects (Bill Westernhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer, Donald R. Elliott).
The win for Visual Effects is not a big surprise, but it is something of a disappointment since this is one of the few categories in which outright science fiction films have a shot at the gold statuette. This year’s nominees included THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, THE AVENGERS, PROMETHEUS, and SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN. Presumably, THE HOBBIT and PROMETHEUS lost because voters felt they had seen the effects before in LORD OF THE RINGS and ALIEN, respectively. THE AVENGERS looked too much like TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON. And SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN lost because it was simply a bad movie, and the Academy seldom singles out isolated pockets of quality in otherwise undeserving films.
In the Animated Feature category, voters apparently could not decide on a good film, so they gave the award to BRAVE for being a Pixar Production. Personally, I think nominee FRANKENWEENIE is seriously flawed in the story department, but even so, it far surpasses Pixar’s latest step into mediocrity. Easily the best animated film of the year – THE SECRET WORLD OF ARIETTY – was not even nominated, nor was the worthy RISE OF THE GUARDIANS.
At least PAPERMAN took home the gold in the Animated Short category – the film was the only good thing about having to sit through WRECK IT RALPH, which incredibly was nominated in the Feature Animated category, along with the equally unworthy PARANORMAN. (I have not seen the other nominee THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS, so I will reserve comment.)
SKYFALL, the latest James Bond adventure, is less science fiction-oriented than many of its predecessors, but it still straddles the borderline of the genre. The film earned several nominations, including Cinematography, Original Score, and Sound Editing, and won for Sound Editing (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers) and Best Song (Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth). Adele (who goes simply by her first name) performed the song during the ceremony – the first winner for a franchise noted for its memorable theme songs. (Shirley Bassey was also on hand to perform the title tune from 1963’s GOLDFINGER, which really set the standard for 007 songs.)
The Best Song win for “Skyfall” is one of the few decisions I can truly applaud for the 85 Annual Academy Awards. The song is the best thing about the film – and one of the best James Bond them song in over nearly two decades.
THE HOBBIT, Peter Jackson’s disappointing prequel to his LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, failed to impress Oscar voters. Nominated in three categories – Makeup, Production Design, and Visual Effects – the film went zero for three on Oscar night.
The terrible SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN was had to chances to win – for Costumes and Visual Effects – but lost out in both categories.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (another borderline effort, which includes some fantasy creatures) was nominated in categories for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, and Directing but came away empty handed.
So there you have it. It took AMPAS only 76 years to finally award a Best Picture win to a fantasy film (the aforementioned LORD OF THE RINGS: RETURN OF THE KING). Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another seven decades for history to repeat itself.
Melding the spiritual and the graphic, the scientific and the horrific, that’s PROMETHEUS’ game. Ridley Scott’s return to the ALIEN universe, some thirty-three years after he turned genre film upside-down with the original film (but not a prequel; repeat: NOT A PREQUEL (but it is (sort of))), evidences no shortage of ambition — with a theme tagged to the search for the origins of humanity and a production that splashes every dollar of the budget across the screen in all its dark grandeur, this certainly puts THE PHANTOM MENACE to shame. The question is: With all of that, is it enough? Come join Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons as they discuss this ambitious and undeniably beautiful film and whether its soul is equal to its looks.
Then: Steve and Dan quickly discuss MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED, the third installment in DreamWork’s popular animals-running-amok series. Plus: Dan gives his capsule impression of the THUNDERCATS: SEASON ONE, BOOK TWO DVD set; and what’s coming to theaters.
“Ridley Scott, director of “Alien” and “Blade Runner,” returns to the genre he helped define.
With PROMETHEUS, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”
Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Patrick Wilson headline this semi-prequel to ALIEN, script by Scott, Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof.
In theaters June 8th, from 20th Century Fox.
“Ridley Scott, director of “Alien” and “Blade Runner,” returns to the genre he helped define. With PROMETHEUS, he creates a groundbreaking mythology, in which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.”
PROMETHEUS opens June 8th, from 20th Century Fox.
Here’s something new to me— a trailer for a trailer. This is for the much-anticipated PROMETHEUS, 20th Century Fox’s semi-prequel to the ALEIN films.
Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green
Directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof.
Due in theaters June 8th.
PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION debuts on SCIENCE this Wednesday, with Ridley Scott (ALIEN, BLADE RUNNER) serving as host and Executive Producer.
Via Press Release:
“For years I have been fascinated with the connection between creative inspiration and scientific progress,” said Scott. “Often there is an attempt to separate the worlds of art and science, when in reality the two are inseparably linked. I am thrilled to work with SCIENCE on PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION, which will be the definitive exploration of science fiction’s ability to spark real-world genius.”
Each episode of PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION focuses on a visionary sci-fi figure whose spark of imagination changed our reality. The premiere episode explores the celebrated author, Mary Shelley. Widely credited with creating the science fiction genre, Shelley’s seminal work, Frankenstein, provided a springboard for the future study and development of organ transplantation, cardiac defibrillation, electric batteries, and many other modern advances.
Using iconic movie clips and cutting-edge animation, each episode of PROPHETS OF SCIENCE FICTION features a bold future-forward on-air look that is consistent with Scott’s big-screen legacy. Scott and his group of cinematic and scientific experts, including famed director, Paul Verhoeven, and renowned theoretical physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku, dissect the genius of Shelley and other science fiction titans; such as George Lucas, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, Phillip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, and Robert Heinlein.
“Sometimes it takes a true genius to clearly articulate the genius of others. This is what makes PROPHETS of SCIENCE FICTION such a singular project,” said Debbie Myers, General Manager and Executive Vice President of SCIENCE. “Having the brilliant Ridley Scott as the on-air guide for this journey enables the series to illuminate the one-of-a-kind inspiration that transforms science fiction to science fact.”
Premieres Wednesday, November 9th , at 10:00 PM (ET/PT) with MARY SHELLEY.
“Mary Shelley set out to create a monster–along the way she created a masterpiece.
In 1816, teenager Mary begins stitching together a patchwork of ancient legend, modern technology, and personal tragedy- giving life to her novel, Frankenstein – and the genre of science fiction.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter , Charlize Theron (AEON FLUX) is in final negotiations to play one of the female leads in 20th Century Fox’s PROMETHEUS.
Noomi Rapace (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO) is already signed for the other role in the Ridley Scott science fiction thriller, which began as a prequel to the ALIEN films.
Over at MTV, the also signed Michael Fassbender (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) revealed (or at least re-confirmed) that some link to the ALIEN films does in fact remain, as seen in the video.
“There’s a definite sort of connecting vein, it’s just that, you know, you realize you’re part of something else, but yeah, it’s definitely in keeping with the old ones.
When I read it I was like, ‘Well, okay, another ALIEN. Where do you go with this idea?‘ And then I sort of read the script, and it’s new, yet it’s in keeping with the old traditions as well. But there’s a whole new revelation within this film.”
Rumor has it that one of the characters may be an android, and/or the first film’s deceased “Space Jockey’s” alien race or their technology will be involved.
Prometheus, we remember, was the titan who stole fire from the gods, and gave it to humans—a mixed blessing.
Variety reports that Michael Fassbender (X-MEN: FRIRST CLASS) is in talks with 20th Century Fox for Ridley Scott’s PROMETHEUS.
Fassbender is up for the role of “David” and would join the already signed Noomi Rapace.
PROMETHEUS’s release date has been shifted from March 9th, 2012 to June 8th.
There’s some talk that Scott’s ‘non-ALIEN prequel’ might indeed still be tied into that franchise, though nothing solid has been reported.
I’m going to err on the side of caution for now.
According to Deadline.com, Ridely Scott’s ALIEN prequel is no longer a prequel— or part of the ALIEN franchise.
20th Century Fox announced that the original science fiction film will be called PROMETHEUS.
Noomi Rapace (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGAON TATTOO) HAS been signed to play a scientist character named Elizabeth Shaw, while it’s rumored that Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron are interested in the role of “Vickers”, possibly a “Ripley-style” part.
Apparently, the project did indeed begin as an ALIEN prequel, with a screenplay by Jon Spaihts (THE DARKEST HOUR). But then Damon Lindelhof (STAR TREK) came in to work with Ridley Scott on the idea.
According to Scott:
“While ALIEN was indeed the jumping off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of ALIEN’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative. I couldn’t be more pleased to have found the singular tale I’d been searching for, and finally return to this genre that’s so close to my heart.”
Damon Lindelhof is quoted as saying:
“In a world flooded with prequels, sequels and reboots, I was incredibly struck by just how original Ridley’s vision was for this movie. It’s daring, visceral and hopefully, the last thing anyone expects. When I sat in a movie theater as a kid, feet raised off the floor for fear that something might grab my ankles, I never dreamed in my wildest imagination I would one day get to collaborate with the man responsible for it. Working alongside him has been nothing short of a dream come true.”