James Cameron has long been a critic of the Academy’s refusal to award science-fiction films major Oscars. The “Avatar” filmmaker told IndieWire just last month that science-fiction movies at are “definitely a red-headed stepchild [at the Oscars] when it comes to the acting, producing, directing categories.” Speaking with WIRED, Cameron remembered the first time he realized that science-fiction movies faced an uphill battle at the Academy Awards.
“The first time I noticed this was when I was just a movie fan and not a practitioner yet, when ‘Star Wars,’ which to me was the ultimate science-fiction film of its day, so this would have been 1977, probably the Oscars of 1978, lost to ‘Annie Hall,'” Cameron said. “This little cute relationship story and ‘Star Wars.’ What the fuck are you people thinking?”
Cameron criticized the sentiment the Oscars put forth that “science-fiction is not humanistic enough, that it’s not about real people.” The director said that certain Oscar voters and moviegoers in general think it’s impossible to make a humanistic movie if you’re working primarily with green screens and visual effects, which is something Cameron says isn’t true.
“All movies are artifice. Movies are innately artificial. The truth underlies the artifact,” he said. “The truth of what you’re saying is the connection with the audience. Science-fiction can do that like any other genre.”
“It drives me nuts every year,” Cameron said. “There is science-fiction that plays by the rules of good drama and that is important conceptually and that says something about our society and that has great characters. The Academy just has a blindspot about it. They’ll award it technical stuff but not the real stuff, not the acting.”
Fortunately, Cameron thinks the future of science-fiction at the Oscars looks bright. He told IndieWire that he predicts a science-fiction movie will win the best picture Oscar “in the next five to 10 years.” Cameron seems to counting the most recent winner, Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water,” as fantasy and not traditional science-fiction.
Cameron is currently in the middle of filming the “Avatar” sequel, which is scheduled to hit theaters in December 2020. The director’s new AMC series, “AMC Visionaries: James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction,” airs Mondays at 10pm ET.