Exactly 581 movies have been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, which makes it that much more shocking that only six of those movies are horrors. Horror movies literally account for 1% of the total amount of movies nominated for the most prestigious award in Hollywood.
That’s completely unfair considering how horror films are one of the hardest kinds of movie to make, and when they are done well, they stick with viewers forever. So many amazing horror movies were undeservedly overlooked by the academy, but the six that were nominated are all mind-blowing and were phenomenons at the time of their releases.
6 Get Out (2017) – 7.7
Get Out is the most recent horror movie to be nominated for Best Picture, and it’s one of the best horror movies of the 2010s. The film follows a Black man who visits his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time, only to find out that the family’s community steals Black people’s brains. Get Out is the perfect movie package, as it’s equally funny and scary, and it tackles racism in a way that no other film has before.
While the movie didn’t win Best Picture, writer-director Jordan Peele did win Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards. The 2017 release was a phenomenal success at the box office too, making $255 million off its micro $4.5 million budget, which is unheard of. It’s looking like Peele could repeat Get Out’s success late this year with the upcoming Nope, a mysterious horror flick in which the trailer gives nothing away and raises even more questions.
5 Black Swan (2010) – 8.0
Coming from the mind behind movies like Requiem For a Dream and Mother!, writer-director Darren Aronofsky has always been a visionary when it comes to dark and disturbing surreal horrors. The filmmaker uses vivid imagery to both shock and awe audiences, and that is on no finer display than in Black Swan. The movie is about the New York City Ballet putting on a production of Swan Lake and the lead dancer (Natalie Portman) is under an enormous amount of pressure to perform better than she ever has.
But while it has an Oscar bait-sounding premise, it’s flipped on its head when Nina meets her co-star and begins having hallucinations. It’s low-key one of the most visually disturbing body horrors of the 21st century and one of the best, most terrifying psychological thrillers. Though the movie didn’t win Best Picture, it earned Portman her first Academy Award for Best Actress.
4 The Exorcist (1973) – 8.1
The Exorcist is often still considered the scariest movie of all time, and if what was reported about the 1973 screenings is true, the film totally deserves that title. According to The New York Times, there were several accounts of audiences fainting, and there was even one account of a viewer suffering a miscarriage during the movie, which was chalked up to be due to the demonic themes of the movie. The film is about a 12-year-old girl who is thought to be possessed by a demon, and two Catholic priests attempt to exorcise her.
Though the movie was released almost 50 years ago, it still holds up today, and that’s all thanks to William Friedkin’s directing, as unorthodox as it might have been. The documentary Fear of God: The Making of The Exorcist documents how the filmmaker really frightened the crew to illicit genuine reactions. It also depicts how the actors have had to live with chronic injuries their whole lives, which they had gotten after suffering special effects-related injuries on set.
3 Jaws (1975) – 8.1
There’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that Steven Spielberg is one of the greatest directors of all time, if not the very best. There are countless reasons why, and several of those reasons can be found in Jaws. Alfred Hitchcock was the master of building suspense, but Spielberg gives him a run for his money with the 1975 movie.
Between the iconic John Williams-composed score and the characters’ fear and panic as they splashingly run to land, Spielberg manages to scare audiences without even showing much of the shark. On top of that, only Spielberg could shoot a horror movie in broad daylight and still terrify viewers. Jaws is one of the most influential movies ever made, as not only was it the first-ever summer blockbuster, but it has inspired so many other filmmakers, and it’s even one of Paul Thomas Anderson’s favorite movies.
2 The Sixth Sense (1999) – 8.2
There are incredible, terrifying, gripping horror movies released over the past 20 years that deserved to have been nominated for Best Picture but were unfairly overlooked, such as The Babadook and Hereditary. It seems like the Academy only nominates the most popular and successful horror movies for Best Picture and almost feels obliged to do so, as every horror Best Picture nomination was a shock hit.
Black Swan, The Exorcist, and Get Out all made hundreds of millions of dollars off of tiny budgets, and The Sixth Sense is the best example. The 1999 movie didn’t even get the best reviews from critics, but through sheer word of mouth about the shock twist, it ended up making a just as shocking $672 million worldwide. Audiences loved the twist so much that director M. Night Shyamalan has been chasing that same audience reaction ever since, trying to amaze viewers in the closing moments of all of his movies.
1 The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – 8.6
Of the 94 films that have been awarded Best Picture ever since the Academy Awards began in 1929, only one horror movie has won the award. But The Silence of the Lambs is such an incredible movie that it didn’t only win Best Picture, but it’s also one of just three movies to have ever won in all five major categories. The other awards are Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and only One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and the 1934 movie It Happened One Night has achieved that.
Dr. Hannibal Lector is an iconic and terrifying villain, and where the likes of Freddy and Jason are supernatural, Hannibal is simply a psychopath and serial killer, which makes it that much scarier. The movie has spawned several sequels, but none of them have come close to the quality of the 1991 original. However, Hannibal is only bad compared to its predecessor, and while Jodie Foster didn’t return as Clarice, Julianne Moore made the role her own in the sequel.
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