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Stanley Kubrick Won His Oscar in an Unexpected Category

Stanley Kubrick pictured smoking a cigar during a break from filmingStanley Kubrick pictured smoking a cigar during a break from filming
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Stanley Kubrick is considered by many to be one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century.

Yet, despite this claim, the revered director and creator only received a single Academy Award after five decades in the movie business. 

From memorable films such as “Full Metal Jacket” to “Eyes Wide Shut” and “The Shining,” it is difficult to understand how Kubrick only ever received a single Oscar for his work. While the filmmaker was nominated for an Academy Award on 13 occasions, including four for Best Director and three for Best Picture, his long-awaited trophy came in a category no one expected. 

In 1968, the masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey” hit cinemas across the United States. Often considered the highlight of Kubrick’s career, the space epic played a pivotal role in the evolution of sci-fi movies. It was revered for its special effects and its exploration of topics, including artificial intelligence, advanced technology, aliens, and the path of human evolution. 

The film was eventually nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, and Best Visual Effects. Movie critics talk about the latter to this day for its authentic feel during the era. From the spaceship sets to ape costumes which were indistinguishable from reality, right through to the unforgettable black hole scene, the special effects truly were a masterpiece ahead of its time.

Kubrick was finally rewarded for his efforts with an Oscar, when “2001: A Space Odyssey” won the Best Visual Special Effects category in 1969 at the 41st Academy Awards.   


Speaking with EuroNews about the visual effects employed throughout the film, Douglas Trumbull, who was involved in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” said, “Stanley Kubrick was a maverick, and his personal filmmaking philosophy was to try to make movies that were different. His attitude was that if everybody’s doing something in a certain way, he wants to do it in another way. Do you want to invent some new way? Just shoot differently, tell the story differently, and explore cinema as something other than just a normal storytelling format. He was a very adventurous filmmaker.”

The film was one of the greatest released during the era in terms of technical prowess and was an expression of what was possible in the film industry. While parts of the movie were left to interpretation, the unexpected ending, which left fans either hopeful for the future of humanity or dreading its eventual doom, stands as a testament to Kubrick’s work as a one-of-a-kind filmmaker. 

Douglas went on to say there are few filmmakers like Kubrick alive today.

“No, I don’t see many directors that are doing what Stanley Kubrick did in his lifetime,” he continued. “He was a pioneer of exploring visual effects: computer photography, robotic cameras, post-production techniques, and animation for that movie. It was very successful, and it broke a lot of rules. The camera never stopped moving, and editing was completely different.”


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