Why Didn't Never Let Me Go Resonate With the Academy?

What happened to Never Let Me Go? Why did the Academy overlook it when handing out its Oscar nominations? It seems like precisely the sort of film the Oscars love: aching with restrained British emotion, full of desperately lonely people feeling much more than they ever let on, living in a seemingly idyllic world. It stars three of today's hottest young thespians, actors I can't believe the Academy isn't wild to shower accolades upon: Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, and Carey Mulligan. It's a period piece, and though it's not set too far in the past, it certainly qualifies as a costume drama. I think it's the very best film of 2010.

I mean, how could the voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences fail to see all the many ways in which Never Let Me Go truly is the most psychologically complex, most tragic, most powerfully unsettling movie of the year? Imagine if Merchant Ivory made a science-fiction film, and it would be Never Let Me Go. How can it be that this film is being ignored?

Ah, wait -- there it is. Science fiction. We all know how the Oscars feel about science fiction: disdainful. Dismissive. If they feel anything at all. See, Never Let Me Go is a tale of a love triangle among three young people raised from birth and leading their whole lives toward one purpose: to be organ donors to people in a world where medical ethics have taken a different turn, where the dystopic horrors of their culture that are so clear to our eyes are completely overlooked by the people who live with it. Go is very much a science-fiction film not about medical science but about psychology and cultural anthropology, wrapped slyly up in a romance. But not slyly enough. This film draws its power from its science fiction, and all those aspects that make it so wonderful and so very much the kind of movie the Academy usually loves are completely inseparable from the science fiction. The movie works only as science fiction.

I've always imagined that someday, the Academy would learn to see past its blind spot about SF. I even foolishly believed this could be the film that did it. I guess we keep waiting for one of the most influential bodies in the film industry to see the value in the genre.


MaryAnn Johanson will never let you go at FlickFilosopher.com. (email me)