(NEXSTAR) — A lot of times you may be able to tell if a movie is an “Oscar” movie. Maybe the idea of an Academy Award-winning film conjures images of a serious historical drama — but that’s often not the case.
While certain categories, like acting and screenplay awards, do tend to favor more “serious” movies, you might be surprised that some of your favorite popcorn flicks are also Oscar winners. Take a look!
Best Visual Effects
“Independence Day” (1996) — This 90s mega-hit starring Will Smith is forever ingrained in a certain generation’s brains as the pinnacle of a summer blockbuster. But the Roland Emmerich-directed movie didn’t just gross over $800 million, it also earned one of the two Academy Awards it was nominated for. The film lost in the Best Sound category to historical romance “The English Patient.”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (2006) — The second installment in Disney’s massive “Pirates” franchise brought home another Oscar for legendary visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), founded by “Star Wars” creator George Lucas. According to ILM, the company has contributed to over 450 films and has won a total of 16 Oscars, in addition to numerous other coveted honors.
FYI: The first two films in the “Alien” franchise received this award. A team of artists worked on each film to bring the series’ iconic xenomorph to life, including Swede H.R. Giger. Giger designed the phallic-headed beast with two mouths that’s been seen in every film since.
Best Production Design
“Batman” (1989) — Tim Burton directed the first in Warner Bros.’ “Batman” film franchise, remembered for Burton’s signature shadowy style, Jack Nicholson’s bombastic performance as the Joker, and Prince’s hit soundtrack for the film. “Batdance,” anyone? The movie received one Oscar, the first of three wins for “Batman” movies. In 2008, “The Dark Knight” earned Best Sound Editing, in addition to a posthumous Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger, whose Joker portrayal is considered among the finest character acting in cinema history.
“Sleepy Hollow” (1999) — This Tim Burton gothic hit, based on Washington Irving’s 1820 short story of the same name, took home an Oscar for its spooky sets and ghoulish 1800s-era atmosphere. Altogether, Burton’s films have received eight Academy Awards, most recently for 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland.”
FYI: This category was previously known as “Best Art Direction.” The winningest recipient is 11-time Oscar winner Cedric Gibbons, who was also nominated 39 times — both records, according to the Academy. Gibbons worked on such famous movies as “Gaslight” (1944), “An American in Paris” (1951) and “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).
Best Sound Editing
“RoboCop” (1987) — Director Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi classic took home one of 3 possible Oscars, losing its other two, Best Film Editing and Best Sound, to that year’s Best Picture winner, “The Last Emperor.”
“Speed” (1994) — Yes, the movie about Keanu Reeves and a bomb on a bus that can’t slow down is an Oscar winner. The film, which spawned a critically panned sequel about a cruise ship that can’t slow down, also received a Best Sound award.
FYI: Wondering what the difference is between “sound editing” and “sound” are? According to the Academy’s rubric, Sound Editing refers to the creation and recording of sounds for a film, while Sound is more about how those sounds are mixed into the movie. The sound of a dog barking in a movie would be handled by a sound editor. How loud the barking is would be handled by a mixer and falls under the Best Sound category.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Mrs. Doubtfire” (1993) — This childhood favorite of 90s kids snagged its award for transforming late comedy legend Robin Williams into an elderly British woman. The zany family farce beat out more serious competition: HIV/AIDS legal drama “Philadelphia” and the Holocaust-set Best Picture winning “Schindler’s List.”
“The Nutty Professor” (1996) — Eddie Murphy wore elaborate makeup, prosthetics and fat suits to play several characters in this remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis movie of the same name. The film’s depiction of heavier people has been criticized as offensive, with rapper Lizzo saying just last month that the movie made her “sad” growing up.
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000) — Jim Carrey’s turn as the mean green Christmas icon took home one out of 3 possible Oscars. All-in-all, it took about eight hours to get Carrey Grinch-ready (including costuming) and the process was reportedly so taxing it caused tension between Carrey and the crew.
“Suicide Squad” (2016) — The fact that this critically panned — but commercially successful — DC Comics film won an Oscar isn’t lost on the internet. The night the all-villains ensemble piece took home its statue, “Suicide Squad has more Oscars than” trended online and several thinkpieces emerged debating/defending its win. “Suicide Squad” may only have a 26% Rotten Tomatoes score, but it also has an Oscar and a near-$750 million box office, so who’s really winning here?
FYI: Last year’s “The Suicide Squad,” is nominated in this same category at this year’s Oscars. It’s confusing, but “The Suicide Squad” is neither a reboot or a sequel to “Suicide Squad,” but it’s a little bit of both at the same time. Different people who worked on the movie have different opinions.
Movies you didn’t know won multiple Oscars
“Star Wars” (1977) — This little-known movie — which spawned nine sequels and/or prequels, in addition to three standalone films — took home six golden statuettes: Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Visual Effects and Special Achievement for robotics/creature effects for Ben Burtt.
“The Matrix” (1999) — The sounds of Keanu Reeves dodging bullets in slow motion was too irresistible to Academy voters: the sci-fi mega-hit won both Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing. The film won two others, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects.
“Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) — The first installment in the “Indiana Jones” franchise nabbed five wins: Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, Best Film Editing and Best Visual Effects.
“Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (1991) — James Cameron’s follow-up to 1984’s Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster “The Terminator” received four awards: Best Makeup, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. “T2″‘s Oscars also designate the movie as the only sequel to win an Academy Award despite its predecessor receiving zero nominations.
FYI: Three movies hold the record for most Academy Award wins: “Ben-Hur” (1959), “Titanic” (1997), and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003). The latter also holds the record for winning every award it was nominated for.
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