This Is the Only Horror Movie to Win the Academy Award for Best Picture
Some of the greatest and most acclaimed movies ever are horror movies, however, the Oscars have a spotty history of honoring the genre. To date, only six scary movies have been nominated for Best Picture. Here’s a look at those films — and how one director reacted when his horror movie started winning Oscars.
The first 3 horror movies nominated for Best Picture
The Exorcist was a game-changer for scary movies. It stretched the limits of how violent and profane movies could be. In addition, it made evil children a more prominent part of horror films. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it also became the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture.
It was soon followed by another 1970s blockbuster: Jaws. Jaws is different from a lot of horror films, taking place largely in the daytime. Still, it manages to find horror while eschewing the shadowy darkness associated with the genre. It would also be the last horror film nominated for Best Picture for 16 years.
Finally, the Academy gave the Best Picture Oscar to a horror film. Specifically, it honored one of the most acclaimed horror films of the 1990s: The Silence of the Lambs. The Silence of the Lambs is more character-driven than your archetypal 1980s slasher film, so it’s easy to see why the Academy appreciated it. Jodie Foster and Sir Anthony Hopkins each won Oscars for their roles.
How the Academy honored the horror genre after ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ won
In addition, one other acclaimed 1990s horror film got nominated for Best Picture: The Sixth Sense. With its sensitive performances and deft twist ending, The Sixth Sense became a cultural touchstone. It was the final horror film nominated for Best Picture until Black Swan 11 years later.
Black Swan is more high-minded than some horror films, constantly evoking Swan Lake. Black Swan arguably paved the way for cutting-edge horror films called “elevated horror” movies like Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Get Out established Peele as a major force in modern horror and was nominated for Best Picture. In addition, it helped signal a new era of more socially conscious scary movies and television series.
How the creators of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ reacted to their win?
So how did the creators of The Silence of the Lambs react to the film’s Oscar nominations? Director Jonathan Demme didn’t see The Silence of the Lambs as an Oscar movie. Given the Academy’s track record, it’s hard to blame him.
“The awards were shocking,” Demme told Deadline. “We knew how great Tony, and Jodie, and everybody was. But you just don’t think in those terms because, at the end of the day, it is a thriller. It has this young woman trying to save another young woman, but it is a thriller… The nominations took everybody by great surprise.” When the film started winning, Demme had an interesting interaction with Hollywood superstar Warren Beatty.
We all went out for the Academy Awards, and then…we started winning. I was just completely freaked out. There was a moment when we were seated behind Warren Beatty…. After the second award, Warren Beatty turned around and said… it’s going to be a sweep.’ We were like, ‘A what?’” The Silence of the Lambs swept the Oscars — even if the horror genre has not.