For starters, horror movies tend to be done on the quick. Due to this, their production values, performances, and screenplays tend be not as good as, say, The Post. In fact, they rarely approach anything like The Phantom Thread and they certainly don't look anything like Dunkirk. With Get Out, we have a movie that has the nuance of Call Me By Your Name and the comic sensibility of Lady Bird. All wrapped up in a really good yarn of a thriller.
However, there are many horror films that have garnered Oscars. They are just in categories that aren't as sexy as things like Best Picture, Best Actor, or Best Actress. Yet, the awards the aforementioned films have garnered, essentially made these movies. If there's a reason why we remember these films, these awards are it.
Horror films ebb and flow. One minute they're hot commodities and people can't wait to make the next Split. The next minute the market is flooded and we've got more found footage pictures (thanks Paranormal Activity) than we know what to do with.
However, like all genres, there are times when horror movies are allowed to rise above themselves. It isn't often. Dramas are the movies that tend to inhabit this space. However, Get Out and The Shape of Water have reminded us that great art can be mainstream and make an important statement. So sit back and enjoy, 18 horror movies actually won Oscars.
The Exorcist - Best Adapted Screenplay / Best Sound
Taking home screenwriting and sound honors had to be a letdown for this monumental film. It was initially nominated for 10 awards. The Exorcist, a tale of a possessed young girl having a demon exorcised from her body, has stood the test of time. It has stayed with us because of what was on the page, and what was heard and seen back in 1973. Sure, it was scary. However, The Exorcist didn't take place far away. In took place in homes that looked and sounded like ours. Populated with people that looked like us. That was the scariest thing of all.
Rosemary's Baby - Ruth Gordon / Best Supporting Actress
Director Roman Polanski gave Rosemary's Baby a true whimsical feel. At least this story of a mother carrying Satan's fetus did that in the first half. Then it became a claustrophobic tale of a woman trying to save herself and her child against all odds. Anchoring all of this is Ruth Gordon's portrayal of Minnie Castevet, a neighbor who truly embodies the word nosey. So rich and odd was her performance that it makes sense that she would take home an Academy Award.
Misery - Kathy Bates / Best Actress
Anybody who has ever feared being bound to a bed and mutilated has to be scared to death of Kathy Bates. In Misery she really elevated the fangirl persona to another level. Taking in the writer (James Caan) of her favorite books, Bates truly goes overboard when he kills off her favorite character. There aren't many locks with the Academy Awards but something tells me all the other actresses that year knew she had it in the bag.
The Fly - Best Make-Up
The Fly is one of those movies you rewatch because of the effects. Sure, David Cronenberg has put together an imminently rewatchable story. However, it's the make-up that keeps us coming back. The story follows a scientist that develops a teleportation machine. His body is permanently altered as he teleports and a fly is in his machine. From there his body starts to change in many grotesque ways. He loses an ear. He has to vomit on his food in order to eat it. At one point it seems like his penis is in the medicine cabinet! And the stodgy Academy got passed all that to give this film the high honor of Best Make-Up.
Black Swan - Natalie Portman / Best Actress
Okay, Black Swan is more of an art film than it is a horror film. I mean, it's about ballet for crying out loud! However, Darren Aronofsky's story of a dancer losing her mind as she plays the lead in "Swan Lake," is unlike any horror movie you have ever seen. There are moments we think we know what's happening. Mixed with moments where we have absolutely no clue. Somehow Portman holds this together, with a grand assist from Mila Kunis, and it all comes out as a film the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences couldn't resist.