Science Fiction/Fantasy Films in 2010—What Happened?

So, the Academy Award nominations have been announced, and as usual it looks like the genres of science fiction and fantasy are fairly under-represented. Yes, Inception was nominated for Best Picture, and several nerdy films were nominated for Visual Effects and Sound Editing, but beyond that, not much.

But do SFF fans really have a right to be upset this year? (Surely Daft Punk deserved an Oscar nod for best original score, but it’s not like Tron: Legacy was Academy Award material outside of its thumping beats.) Looking down a list of SFF films released in 2010, the candidates for worthy movies looks pretty slim, in stark contrast to what hit the screen in 2009. Let’s compare.

2009 gave us a lot of notable genre movies, many of which received critical acclaim and many of which, even if misguided, were at least trying to convey an authenticity and respect with their worlds. More succinctly: Watchmen may have been a mess, but you had to give it points for trying. We all have our own high standards for SFF films, so opinions always vary, but you can always tell when a movie is really trying (and fails) versus a movie that is almost contemptuous of its own audience.

In 2009 the genre gave us Moon, District 9, Watchmen, The Road, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Cold Souls, Coraline, and yes, Star Trek.  Naturally, there were also some outright stinkers that year. (Wolverine, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen)

On the other hand, 2010 hasn’t seemed to give us as many SFF movies that “tried.” Of course Inception is in there, as is Scott Pilgrim. An argument could certainly be made for Never Let Me Go and Kick-Ass certainly deserves an honorable mention, but it’s nowhere near as strong as something from 2009. For the most part, the 2010 SFF movie list looks something like this: Hot Tub Time Machine, Clash of the Titans, Alice in Wonderland, Predators, The Lightning Thief, Iron Man 2, and if you look at it from a certain perspective, Sex & The City 2.

So what happened in 2010? Where were all the good SFF films? Will 2011 be better?

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