Typically, movies that come out right after the Academy Awards are widely considered, well, movies that will not win any Academy Awards. February and March are generally not known for producing cinematic triumphs, and while blockbusters released during that time, like Deadpool and Batman V. Superman, may be successful, they're about as likely to win big awards as a kid's home movies. But with the surprise success of this month's 10 Cloverfield Lane , and specifically John Goodman's acclaimed performance, the sci-fi thriller could become an exception to the rule. As more people see the film and more critics discuss it, I wouldn't be surprised if the movie also earned some awards buzz, perhaps for Cinematography or Original Screenplay, but could 10 Cloverfield Lane win an Oscar?
The mystery-filled film, produced by J.J. Abrams, has been earning solid reviews from critics since its release on March 11, with some calling for Goodman to get an Oscar nod for his performance as the creepy Howard. "I wouldn't flinch if someone called it Goodman's best work," wrote Variety 's co-awards editor Kristopher Tapley. Despite his critically acclaimed performances in films like The Big Lebowski and Argo, plus five Golden Globe nominations and 11 Emmy nods, Goodman has never been nominated for an Oscar. By all accounts, the actor is due for some recognition, but it's unlikely to come for 10 Cloverfield Lane, and not just because the movie was released in Oscars wasteland.
Science fiction or fantasy films are rarely nominated for Academy Awards, let alone win them. Those that do, like 2013's Gravity, which was nominated for 10 awards and took home seven, are generally released in the fall or winter. These films tend to be less fantastical and more reality based, like last year's The Martian. As far as fantasy films go, it's an unwritten rule that, unless the movie ushers in a brand new way of filmmaking technology — like Avatar or The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King — it won't be getting any major Oscar nominations apart from behind-the-scenes work. Take the 2015 Oscars, for example, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was largely considered a huge Oscar snub when it failed to get a nomination for Best Picture. No matter how big the box office numbers are or how many rave reviews are written — if a film is classified as science fiction or fantasy, the odds of it being recognized come Oscar night are slim.
Despite not really being a science fiction film, 10 Cloverfield Lane is tied to the monster movie genre because of its short third act and connection to the 2008 surprise hit, Cloverfield. The majority of the film is (spoiler alert) not science fiction at all. In fact, the main intrigue of the film has nothing to do with anything supernatural or alien, making the movie more of a dramatic thriller than anything else. And, yes, Goodman's performance is pretty Oscar worthy. As Howard, a paranoid man who may or may not be lying to the film's protagonist, Michelle, about a nuclear or alien attack in the outside world, Goodman is positively terrifying. It's the kind or performance and role that, in another movie released in another month, would, at the very least, inspire a great deal of Oscar buzz. Alas, it's not another movie, it's 10 Cloverfield Lane.
10 Cloverfield Lane might not be considered such a long shot for the Oscars if it weren't for its third act, which introduces aliens (or monsters) into the plot, complete with a long action sequence and visual effects. This alien aspect to the film, as well as its close association to Cloverfield, severely lessen the movie's chances at the Oscars. Cloverfield remains a niche film, one that was made with the intention of entertaining filmgoers with a new take on an old story. It's very much a genre film, the likes of which don't do well amongst traditional Academy voters. By ditching the found-footage camera style of Cloverfield and casting three well-respected actors, 10 Cloverfield Lane immediately made itself more Oscar-friendly than its predecessor, but the surprise marketing strategy, title, and third act make the the film a genre movie almost despite itself.
Putting aside the alien factor, though, 10 Cloverfield Lane would have a hard time at the Oscars. Thrillers have, historically, not been the luckiest of films at the Academy Awards. Alfred Hitchcock, arguably one of the best and most influential filmmakers who ever existed, was only nominated five times for Best Director at the Oscars, and his films rarely won any awards. Anthony Perkins, meanwhile didn't even get nominated for his portrayal of Norman Bates in Psycho, widely considered a feat of acting. If Goodman fails to get a nomination for 10 Cloverfield Lane, at least he's in good company — although it'd still be a shame to see him overlooked for such a solid performance.
Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy (2)