5 Action Movies That Made It to the Oscars

5 Action Movies That Made It to the Oscars
5 Action Movies That Made It to the Oscars

The prestigious Oscars, also known as The Academy Awards, have a tendency to nominate dramas as their top contenders. While action movies are often overlooked in major categories, they occasionally achieve recognition for their special effects, sound editing, and other technical elements. However, there have been shining examples throughout the storied history of the Oscars where an action movie has triumphed and earned nominations in some of the major categories.

Certain action movies have broken the mold and garnered critical acclaim, showcasing that action movies can be just as deserving of recognition as dramas in the eyes of The Academy. These exceptional films have proved that action movies can offer compelling storytelling, complex characters, and masterful filmmaking that deserve recognition on the grand stage of The Oscars. So, here are 5 iconic action movies that made their way to the Oscars.

5. The French Connection (1971)

Gene Hackman, William Friedkin, Roy Scheider, Eddie Egan, and Randy Jurgensen in The French Connection (1971)

The 1971 crime thriller The French Connection follows New York City narcotics detectives Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) and Buddy “Cloudy” Russo (Roy Scheider) as they investigate a massive heroin smuggling operation. The plot revolves around their relentless pursuit of a French drug smuggler named Alain Charnier, leading to a tense and suspenseful showdown. While not a straight-up action flick, The French Connection is often categorised as falling into the action genre due to its intense shootout scenes and its iconic car chase sequence.

Widely hailed as one of the best car chases ever captured on film, the thrilling chase through the streets of New York City showcases director William Friedkin‘s mastery of tension and pacing, adding an fuelled element to the film that cements its status as a classic in the action genre. The French Connection was nominated for eight Oscars and won in the following five categories:

  • Best Picture – Philip D’Antoni
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role – Gene Hackman
  • Best Director – William Friedkin
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium – Ernest Tidyman
  • Best Film Editing – Gerald B. Greenberg

Watch The French Connection on Disney+

4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward Furlong in Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is considered a monumental achievement in cinema for several reasons. Firstly, it stands as one of the finest examples of a sequel that surpassed its original movie in terms of box office numbers and critical praise. The film, directed by James Cameron and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, not only built upon the success of the first Terminator film but also elevated the franchise to new heights with its groundbreaking special effects and action sequences. Secondly, Terminator 2 was the highest-grossing movie of 1991, solidifying its place in cinematic history as a commercial success. Lastly, the film blazed a trail for sci-fi action movies to be accepted by prestigious awards like the Oscars. Terminator 2: Judgement Day was nominated for six Oscars and won in the following four categories:

  • Best Sound – Tom Johnson, Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers and Lee Orloff
  • Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing – Gary Rydstrom and Gloria S. Borders
  • Best Effects, Visual Effects – Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Gene Warren Jr. and Robert Skotak
  • Best Makeup – Stan Winston and Jeff Dawn

Watch Terminator 2: Judgement Day on Prime Video

3. The Fugitive (1993)

Harrison Ford in The Fugitive (1993)

The Fugitive is a gripping action thriller that follows Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), a man wrongly accused of his wife’s murder. After escaping transit,  Kimble goes on the run to prove his innocence and unravel the truth behind the crime. Evading capture by the authorities, Kimble then relentlessly pursues the mysterious one-armed man he believes is the true killer, all while being tracked down by the determined U.S. Marshal, Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones).

The Fugitive captivated audiences with its heart-pounding chase sequences and intense performances. Furthermore, the film was a massive stride forward in action movies being recognized by the Oscars, as it was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Tommy Lee Jones won his first and only Oscar to date for his outstanding supporting role as the relentless FBI agent, Samuel Gerard, solidifying The Fugitive as a groundbreaking and critically acclaimed action movie.

Watch The Fugitive on Netflix

2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is undeniably one of the most monumental achievements in martial arts and action cinema. Directed by Ang Lee, this visually stunning film tells the story of two skilled warriors, Li Mu Bai and Yu Shu Lien, who find themselves entangled in a complex web of love, loyalty, and betrayal as they try to recover a stolen sword known as the Green Destiny. The film’s breathtaking martial arts choreography and emotional depth captivated audiences worldwide, making it a box office smash hit. Additionally, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was widely praised by critics for its artistry, storytelling, and performances, earning it 10 nominations at the Oscars, including Best Picture. Out of it’s 10 nominations, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon won in the following four categories:

  • Best Foreign Language Film 
  • Best Art Direction-Set Decoration – Tim Yip 
  • Best Music, Original Score – Dun Tan 
  • Best Cinematography – Peter Pau

Watch Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Apple TV+ 

1. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

In 2015, Tom Hardy teamed up with George Miller to bring new life to the iconic character of Max Rockatansky in the long-awaited follow-up, Mad Max: Fury Road. Hardy replaced Mel Gibson in the role and delivered a riveting performance as the road warrior who finds himself caught in a high-octane chase across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The film was a box office smash hit, grossing an impressive $380.4 million at the worldwide box office. However, what truly set Mad Max: Fury Road apart was its critical acclaim, making it one of the most critically accepted action movies of all time. The film garnered an impressive 10 Oscar nominations, including a nod for Best Motion Picture of the Year. Although it did not take home the gold for Best Picture, it won in the following six categories:

  • Best Achievement in Film Editing – Margaret Sixel
  • Best Achievement in Costume Design – Jenny Beavan
  • Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling – Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
  • Best Achievement in Sound Mixing – Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
  • Best Achievement in Sound Editing – Mark A. Mangini and David White
  • Best Achievement in Production Design – Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson 

Watch Mad Max: Fury Road on Netflix

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