"Star Trek" at the Oscars

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"Star Trek Into Darkness" poster. Paramount Pictures

Star Trek has been a movie series beloved by fans, but has received relatively little respect from the film industry. The Academy Awards, or Oscars, are presented annually by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for the best in movies. The Academy is usually not too favorable towards science fiction, and Star Trek is no exception. Out of the twelve Star Trek movies so far, only six have received nominations. And only one has won in any category. Let's take a brief look at those movies.

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Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Kirk, Scotty on
Kirk, Scotty on "The Motion Picture". Paramount Pictures

Star Trek: The Motion Picture was the first Star Trek movie, and also the first to receive nominations for an Academy Award. In 1980, The Motion Picture received four nominations. Jerry Goldsmith was nominated in the Music category for his original sweeping score, which eventually became the theme song for Star Trek: The Next Generation. Harold Michelson, Joe Jennings, Leon Harris, John Vallone were nominated in Art Direction for the stunning space visuals. Linda DeScenna was nominated for the interior starships through Set Decoration. Douglas Trumbull, John Dykstra, Richard Yuricich, Robert Swarthe, Dave Stewart, Grant McCune were jointly nominated for the epic special effects in the Visual Effects category. Unfortunately, the movie didn't win in any of the categories.

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Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

The Enterprise crew on 20th Century Earth
The Enterprise crew on 20th Century Earth. Paramount Pictures

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock were both snubbed by the Academy. However, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home broke the streak in 1987 when Voyage was nominated in four categories. Don Peterman was nominated for the Cinematography of the underwater sequences, and Leonard Rosenman was nominated for the more humorous tones of the soundtrack in Music. Terry Porter, Dave Hudson, Mel Metcalfe, Gene S.Cantamessa were jointly nominated for Sound. And finally, Mark Mangini was nominated for Sound Effects Editing. Though nominated, Voyage lost out on all of them.

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Cast of
Cast of "The Undiscovered Country". Paramount

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was ignored by the Academy (and everyone else), but Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country took Trek back to the awards in 1992. Undiscovered Country created a new look for Klingons, the first change in the series since Motion Picture. Christopher Plummer requested more subtle forehead ridges and no wig for his role as General Chang to make him more human. For their efforts, Michael M. Mills, Edward French, Richard Snell were jointly nominated for Makeup. George Watters II, F. Hudson Miller were nominated for Sound Effects Editing. But once again, they all went home empty.

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Star Trek: First Contact (1996) Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Picard and Data hunt the Borg
Picard and Data hunt the Borg. Paramount Pictures

Star Trek: Generations skipped the Academy Award with no nominations, but Star Trek: First Contact received one nomination in 1997. For the movie, the makeup for the Borg changed radically from their appearance on the Next Generation TV show. Instead of the pasty white skin from TNG, makeup designers created a look that implied the Borg machinery came from the inside out. For their achievement, Michael Westmore, Scott Wheeler, Jake Garber were nominated in the Makeup category. Sadly, the Oscars resisted assimilation by the Borg, and First Contact didn't win.

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Star Trek (2009)

Cast photo of Star Trek
Cast photo of "Star Trek" (2019). Paramount

Another dry spell came with Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis both receiving zero nominations. But in 2009, Star Trek brought the franchise back to the big screen, and back to the Oscars. In 2010, the new Star Trek reboot movie received four nominations. Star Trek was nominated for Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, and Best Achievement in Visual Effects. Star Trek also became the first Trek movie in history to actually win an Academy Award. Barney Burman, Mindy Hall, and Joel Harlow were awarded Best Achievement in Makeup.

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

USS Enterprise falling to Earth
USS Enterprise falling to Earth. Paramount Pictures

The next Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, was also recognized by the Academy. Into Darkness brought us amazing visual effects, including a spaceship crashing into Earth, a starship battle in hyperspace, and a descent into a volcano. For their work, Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton were nominated for Best Achievement in Visual Effects in 2014. Though the movie didn't win, the nomination showed Star Trek is still at the forefront of special effects in the industry.