Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Nominee #01 - Aliens (1986)
‘Aliens’ was vintage James Cameron.
Hollywood and movie-watchers all over the world must be eternally grateful to Canada for producing one of film history’s greatest sons. The ground-breaking Aliens hit us a few years after The Terminator (1984) and came a few years before The Abyss (1989). It was Cameron in top form. He took Ridley Scott’s 1979 masterpiece, Alien, to a whole new level.
Sigourney Weaver, one of the most under-rated female leads of all time, plays the ballsy Sgt Ellen Ripley fated in outer space to battle an acid-spewing Alien that is determined to colonise earth. Funnily enough that performance secured Weaver her first nomination for Academy Award (for Best Actress).
Aliens also secured the great film-score composer James Horner his first Academy Award nomination (Best Original Score).
''This ship will self - destruct in T minus...''
Aliens was special because it introduced so many memorable characters to audiences – like us - who stayed faithful to the Alien franchise for 30 years:
Lance Henriksen as the Android Bishop (that knife trick on an splayed human hand)
The little girl Newt who is the sole survivor in the abandoned colony (Carrie Henn, then a girl, was chosen out of 500 girls for that role but decided not to continue in films)
Paul Reiser as the scheming corporation man
Michael Biehn leading a ‘’you wanna live forever?’’ daredevil marines corps including Bill Paxton and the irrepressible Jenette Goldstein as Privates Hudson and Vasquez.
The nerve-shattering encounters with the Alien are the most breath-taking with Ripley as she, Bishop and the marines try to defend themselves and Newt with the help of an alien beep-tracker. And they reach fever-pitch as Ripley stumbles upon the Alien Queen, quietly hatching her eggs.
Even today, we remember as kids staggering out of the theatre 20 years ago, with that metallic spacecraft announcement ''this ship will self - destruct in T minus'' booming in our ears.
Remember Bishop? When he's taunted to take on a dangerous mission on the pretext that as a mere android he feels no fear shoots back: "Believe me I'd prefer not to. I may be synthetic but I'm not stupid".
Of course Weaver played Ripley before and she’d play Ripley again and again. But in no other Aliens movie and in no other scifi movie has a female lead held the entire story of a scifi thriller together, almost by herself and with such mind-numbing tension.