Sci-Fi at the Oscars? NBR Hails Star Trek As Best of ’09

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The National Board of Review just released its list of the top 10 films of 2009 – an announcement that matters only because they are the first every year to proclaim the best films. So, in theory, they have some influence when it comes to giving frontrunners momentum.

If that is indeed the case, sci-fi finds itself in a good position to compete this Oscar season. The NBR singled out J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek as one of the 10 best, and then went on to note both District 9 and Moon as two of the top “independent films” of 2009. Never mind that District 9 was actually funded by a major studio. The year’s biggest sci-fi gamble meanwhile, Avatar, has yet to screen for any critics.

My first reaction to the news was shock – then giddiness. Just last night, I posted a letter to the Academy, imploring them to remember District 9 when it comes to this year’s supersized 10 nominees for best picture. After seeing what the NBR chose to do, the debate shifted from “Will they honor sci-fi” to “Which sci-fi epic is better?” My brother and I immediately split: I’m going with District 9, he’s going with Star Trek.

So now I’m wondering: Could the brilliant Trek reboot actually have a shot at a solid awards campaign? Will this be the year when more awards bodies go mainstream – and, by default, embrace more sci-fi? In any case, Star Trek: one of the year’s best films. So say these people.

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