The Oscars' Bias Against Horror Should Scare Us

Because there's nothing scarier than systemic bias.

The Exorcist oscar horror movies
Warner Bros.

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that investigates why the Oscars don’t take horror movies seriously.


Let’s get one thing straight: the Oscars have more blind spots than a chihuahua driving a semi-truck.

And to a degree, a blindspot here and there makes sense: like all art, film is subjective. But the range of that subjectivity narrows in troubling ways when the majority of your in-group looks the same. And while Academy voter diversity is starting to change for the better, their long-standing prejudices aren’t about to reverse overnight. And one of their more ingrained aversions (at least when it comes to storytelling) is a categorical dismissal of the horror genre.

In ninety-three years, out of five-hundred-and-fifty nominees, only six horror films have been nominated for Best Picture. And only one of those six (1991’s The Silence of the Lambs) took home the big prize. Indeed, the Academy’s bias against the genre infects all categories. While horror tends to boast some of the most interesting and nuanced performances each year they’re snubbed, time-and-time again. Likewise, versatile directors, used to wins, tend to go home empty-handed when they dabble in the macabre.

Horror has a long and storied history of being swept under the rug. It doesn’t take much imagination to suppose that the Academy would dismiss the genre on the grounds that it might sully the lauded standard the Oscars represent. But as the following video essay suggests, the exclusion of horror can tell us a lot about the Academy’s limitations. Oscar voters often fail to see past the films that promote obvious, earnest messages, especially when it comes to the Best Picture category.

So much of horror’s power lies beyond the literal: in a goopy, grotesque space reserved for allegory and monstrous metaphor. Horror is, by definition, a transgressive form of storytelling: it’s slippery and subversive. And historically, such deviance has proved simply too much for the Academy to handle.

Watch “Why Don’t the Oscars Take Horror Movies Seriously?“:

Who made this?

This video comes courtesy of the fine folks at Little White Lies, a film-obsessed magazine based in the United Kingdom. Leigh Singer wrote and edited this video, and Adam Woodward produced it. You can follow Little White Lies on Twitter here. And you can check out their official website here. You can subscribe to their YouTube account here.

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(Senior contributor)

Three toddlers in a trenchcoat. Currently running The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope.