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Academy flirts with sci-fi, but that’s about it

Ben Stiller's Avatar
Ben Stiller … in the Na’vi (Mark J. Terrill, The Associated Press)

Many were saying this would be the year sci-fi ascended to a proper art form in the eyes of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with the field of Oscar contenders doubled to 10 in an effort to give genre films a shot (or just get more viewers and charge more to advertisers, depending on how you look at it).

But while films like Avatar and Star Trek received honors in the technical categories, as expected, it looks like they had about a snowball’s chance on Pandora.

James Cameron’s 3-D epic Avatar lost out in both the directing and best picture categories to his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq combat film The Hurt Locker. Even the best original score Oscar went to Michael Giacchino’s music for Up, rather than James Horner’s Avatar score or Giacchino’s own Star Trek — which wasn’t even nominated.

Star Trek did win in the best makeup category, in a hilarious presentation in which Ben Stiller appeared on stage in a full Na’vi costume from Avatar. Avatar won best visual effects, however.

It remains to be seen whether the expanded best picture competition will be a boon for the Academy and the network, and therefore whether it will be repeated. Has the door been opened for filmmakers who choose to tell their stories in otherworldly locales or with nonhuman characters? Maybe.

Check out a replay of our Academy Awards liveblog here.

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