The Academy Awards air this Sunday, and Jordan Peele’s Get Out is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. The horror film is one of the few to ever be nominated for Best Picture, and though it isn’t the favorite to walk away a winner, it remains a huge accomplishment for the genre. Horror is not at fault for the lack of frequent nominations, though, as performances and films in general are often more quality than they get credit for. In the spirit of this, we’re looking at five horror films that should have absolutely been nominated for Oscars.
Night of the Living Dead (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay)
It comes as no surprise that George A. Romero’s timeless Night of the Living Dead failed to be nominated for any Oscars. The film was traumatically terrifying and gross by the standards of 1968. Not a single film from that year, though, remains as culturally significant.
Featuring groundbreaking gore effects for the time, a sharp political undercurrent to accompany the horror, and a black man as the hero (which was unheard of at the time), the film paints a portrait of 60’s America and domestic racism without skimping on the zombies.
The Babadook (Best Picture, Best Actress)
Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook has the added bonus of being divisive, which is a yearly staple of nominated films. Tackling themes of mental illness in a metaphorical manner, the film follows a widow as she struggles to raise her troubled young son alone.
Essie Davis shines as the fractured mother, gaining viewer sympathy through her perfect portrayal of depression and grief before scaring the hell out of everyone in the deeply disturbing final act. Even more-so than Best Picture, it’s absurd that Essie Davis didn’t receive the slightest hint of buzz for the Oscars.
The Shining (Best Director, Best Actor)
The Shining is often considered to be one of the greatest horror films ever made, but it was completely snubbed at the Oscars. Though he diverted from the source material, Stanley Kubrick helmed the film in a distant, cold manner that worked as an effective palate for the psychologically unnerving story. Kubrick’s direction is technically brilliant, and despite naysayers of the time, it remains as such to this day.
In addition to this, Jack Nicholson gave arguably the most iconic horror performance of all time as Jack Torrance. The character’s descent into madness is unrivaled in cinema, and Nicholson chewed every scene in nightmare-inducing fashion. Torrance is one of horror’s greatest villains, and Jack Nicholson should have absolutely been nominated.
Halloween (Best Original Score)
Few soundtracks and themes are as recognizable as John Carpenter’s musical work in Halloween. The film is one of horror’s all-time greats, and is so iconic that we’re getting a highly anticipated sequel this October- 40 years after the release of the original. There’s no chance that a slasher film would ever be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, but the fact that Carpenter wasn’t nominated for Best Original Score is downright inexcusable. Highlighting the terror of the film and upping viewer anxiety, there’s a reason that non-horror fans can even identify the famous music.
The Thing (Best Visual Effects)
Sticking with John Carpenter films, can we just agree that The Thing is one of the scariest movies we’ve ever seen? This is due in part to the dreadful atmosphere, the isolation, and the paranoia that comes along with it, but it’s largely thanks to the masterful special effects that remain terrifying to this day.