We pick the winners: 81 years of sci-fi Oscars that should have been

Contributed by
Jul 2, 2015

This year, the expansion of the Best Picture category to 10 nominees is the second-biggest surprise of the Oscars. The biggest surprise is wondering who that old pudgy guy is standing next to Alec Baldwin, then realizing it's Steve Martin.

We're all for expansion, so we expanded our minds and explored an alternate universe where the Best Picture Oscar has gone to the year's most stunning science-fiction film.

We've recounted every single Oscar year and given an award for Best Science Fiction Picture in each. This meant scouring the film universe for the most brilliant sci-fi gem from each year since 1928. It was a huge universe to explore, as the Academy can give the Best Picture award to any eligible film in the entire world. In the spirit of expansion, we broadened their definition of "picture" to include serials, as the serial was a fundamental part of the development of sci-fi theater.

Set the clock for 1928, professor ...


1928

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Original Winner: Wings

Our Winner: METROPOLIS

It's a good thing the Academy allows international films, as neglecting to crown this breathtaking picture would be a crime against humanity. Yeah, we said it—humanity.


1929

Original Winner: The Broadway Melody

Our Winner: WOMAN IN THE MOON

Like introducing a computer virus to a workstation, Woman in the Moon introduced a heavy dose of serious drama to sci-fi.


1930

Original Winner: All Quiet on the Western Front

Our Winner: JUST IMAGINE

This science fiction musical was meant to boost spirits during the Great Depression, as Fox Films was unable to declare war on Japan.


1931

Original Winner: Cimarron

Our Winner: FRANKENSTEIN

This film first brought to screen the inarticulate, pro-wrester-esque Frankenstein's monster, which was in sharp contrast to Shelley's original self-taught creation.


1932

Original Winner: Grand Hotel

Our Winner: THE MUMMY

You'd be angry too if someone toilet-papered your corpse.


1933

Original Winner: Cavalcade

Our Winner: THE INVISIBLE MAN

Apparently, wrapping an actor up in bandages was the key to sci-fi success in the early 1930s.


1934

Original Winner: It Happened One Night

Our Winner: The MASTER OF THE WORLD

In this German film, robots run all the industrial jobs. Today, we know that this premise is ridiculous, as it is much cheaper to outsource.


1935

Original Winner: Mutiny on the Bounty

Our Winner: BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN

It was a perfect match: He was born by lightning, she got her hairstyle by sticking her finger in an electrical socket.


1936 Original Winner: The Great Ziegfeld

Our Winner: THINGS TO COME

This cinematic masterpiece poses the question "What are the ramifications of our rush for progress?" Sadly, it doesn't come up with the actual answer (web-chatting with costumed strangers).


1937 Original Winner: The Life of Émile Zola

Our Winner: BILA NEMOC

This dark Czech film's title translates to "The White Disease," but, oddly, has nothing to do with basketball.


1938

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Original Winner: You Can't Take It With You

Our Winner: FLASH GORDON'S TRIP TO MARS

This serial was set on Mars to benefit from Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast. Luckily, nobody believed this movie was real.


1939

Original Winner: Gone With the Wind

Our Winner: BUCK ROGERS

A serial where Buck winds up in the 25th century and discovers special effects haven't changed much in 500 years.


1940 Original Winner: Rebecca

Our Winner: DR. CYCLOPS

An action film about people who shrink to a foot tall. The only thing that could make this film more thrilling is, well, a cyclops.


1941

Original Winner: How Green Was My Valley

Our Winner: DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE

Spencer Tracy stars in this film about a man whose evil side is revealed. No word on whether Dr. Jekyll apologized in Vegas before seeking family counseling.


1942

Original Winner: Mrs. Miniver

Our Winner: CAT PEOPLE

This debut production for Val Lewton was a blockbuster and proved a film can be awesome and have "cat" in the title. Hear that, Catwoman?


1943

Original Winner: Casablanca

Our Winner: FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN

Monster crossover films sometimes proved to be epic. How come Frankenstein never fought Mothra?


1944

Original Winner: Going My Way

Our Winner: THE LADY AND THE MONSTER

A disembodied brain becomes a telepathic beast. And yes, there's a lady.


1945

Original Winner: The Lost Weekend

Our Winner: STRANGE HOLIDAY

Fascists take over the U.S. government. No word on whether citizens are forced to celebrate 4th of July barbecues at gunpoint.


1946

Original Winner: The Best Years of Our Lives

Our Winner: THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS

A dismembered hand does a bunch of naughty stuff. Again, a crossover battle with "Thing" from the Addams Family would have been epic.


1947

Original Winner: Gentleman's Agreement

Our Winner: THE BLACK WIDOW

Poison spiders ... atomic rocket engines ... this serial was made of the stuff 1940s schoolboys doodle about.


1948

Original Winner: Hamlet

Our Winner: UNKNOWN ISLAND

An island with giant dinosaurs and other freaky-ness is the setting for this epic, which crammed in special effects like IMAX on LSD.


1949

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Original Winner: All the King's Men

Our Winner: MIGHTY JOE YOUNG

This film answers the burning question "What if King Kong got all liquored up?"


1950

Original Winner: All About Eve

Our Winner: DESTINATION MOON

This film gave us a stunningly accurate peek at the forthcoming space race, which we all know was eventually won by the Tang corporation.


1951

Original Winner: An American in Paris

Our Winner: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL

A great year for science fiction; The Thing From Another World also came out in 1951. The Cold War and movies about ominous menaces were like chocolate and peanut butter.


1952

Original Winner: The Greatest Show on Earth

Our Winner: RED PLANET MARS

Peter Graves stars in this film about a possible utopia on Mars. But how could that be, when all the women are from Venus?


1953

Original Winner: From Here to Eternity

Our Winner: THE WAR OF THE WORLDS

Alien fever swept through 1950s media like an emo vampire through a middle school.


1954

Original Winner: On the Waterfront

Our Winner: 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA

We now regard this story to be scientifically inaccurate, as the voyage never stumbles across the wreckage of Flight 815.


1955

Original Winner: Marty

Our Winner: THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT

It must've been unnerving to wonder if outer space was full of infections. Now we know it's just full of loneliness of David Bowie-song proportions.


1956

Original Winner: Around the World in 80 Days

Our Winner: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS

Playing off the notion that your neighbor could be a dirty, dirty Commie became the stuff with which movie executives made house payments.


1957

Original Winner: The Bridge on the River Kwai

Our Winner: THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN

Oddly, this movie is not set in a chilly swimming pool.


1958

Original Winner: Gigi

Our Winner: THE FLY

Another classic sci-fi movie year, The Fly competes with The Blob and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein. But The Fly gets the nod for introducing the matter transporter to the world of sci-fi satire.


1959 Original Winner: Ben-Hur

Our Winner: JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

This spectacular film details an ancient subterranean empire. Amazing, although would it have been that hard to throw a few Old Ones down there?


1960

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Original Winner: The Apartment

Our Winner: THE TIME MACHINE

Despite living for at least another 800,000 years, humans totally fail to evolve a cool third arm.


1961

Original Winner: West Side Story

Our Winner: MOTHRA

Japanese monster movie makers had a penchant for running around with telescopes for eyeglasses.


1962

Original Winner: Lawrence of Arabia

Our Winner: THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS

Plants bring the pain to humankind. Sort of like that M. Night Shyamalan movie, except stuff actually happens.


1963

Original Winner: Tom Jones

Our Winner: THE NUTTY PROFESSOR

Oh, sure, when Jerry Lewis chases after his student, it's a romantic comedy. But when the Police sing about it, it's just creepy.


1964 Original Winner: My Fair Lady

Our Winner: DR. STRANGELOVE

Peter Sellers played four roles in this hit comedy. Had the studio had their way, Sellers probably would've seduced himself in Lolita.


1965

Original Winner: The Sound of Music

Our Winner: ALPHAVILLE

Frankly, Jean-Luc Goddard could probably film his kid's birthday party and it would turn out looking like a sci-fi film.


1966 Original Winner: A Man for All Seasons

Our Winner: FANTASTIC VOYAGE

This film features a micro-sized team running through the human body. Innerspace's Martin Short is fortunately unable to ruin this film, as he is not in it.


1967

Original Winner: In the Heat of the Night

Our Winner: QUATERMASS AND THE PIT

Martians are the devil. BSG got it totally wrong.


1968

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Original Winner: Oliver!

Our Winner: 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

Another gripping year. 2001 beats out Planet of the Apes because those monkey costumes give us nightmares about growing old and wrinkly.


1969

Original Winner: Midnight Cowboy

Our Winner: THE ILLUSTRATED MAN

A woman from the future tattoos a vagrant from the present. How this butterfly affects anything useful, we'll never know.


1970

Original Winner: Patton

Our Winner: COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT

Supercomputers become sentient and take over the world. At least everyone now has wifi access.


1971 Original Winner: The French Connection

Our Winner: A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

Sadly, due to product placement, a remake of this film would probably find Alex a fan of the works of John Mayer.


1972

Original Winner: The Godfather

Our Winner: SOLARIS

This Russian film examines what happens when one's innermost thoughts are manifested. Oddly, there is no appearance by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.


1973

Original Winner: The Sting

Our Winner: SOYLENT GREEN

It's like that musical says, "People who eat people are the luckiest people in the world."


1974

Original Winner: The Godfather Part II

Our Winner: YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks and the dad from Everybody Loves Raymond showed just how hilarious stunted mental development can be.


1975 Original Winner: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Our Winner: THE STEPFORD WIVES

A hot year for sci-fi flicks: A Boy and His Dog and Rollerball also hit theaters in 1975. Audiences are still eagerly waiting for a combo film about robotic dogs playing rollerball.


1976

Original Winner: Rocky

Our Winner: LOGAN'S RUN

Everyone is put to death at the age of 30. This would never work in real life, as nobody would execute anyone because they're all slackers.


1977

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Original Winner: Annie Hall

Our Winner: STAR WARS

Though nominated, Star Wars got beat out for Best Picture. In 1941, Citizen Kane got beat out by How Green Was My Valley. Best not to think about it.


1978

Original Winner: The Deer Hunter

Our Winner: SUPERMAN

This movie took comic-book geeks by storm and made the world collectively afraid to punch a guy wearing glasses.


1979

Original Winner: Kramer vs. Kramer

Our Winner: ALIEN

To aliens, "ruptured chest implants" means something entirely different than it does here on Earth.


1980

Original Winner: Ordinary People

Our Winner: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Why is it that carbonite is so awesome, yet midichlorians aren't?


1981

Original Winner: Chariots of Fire

Our Winner: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK

Given the opportunity to do it all again, Indiana Jones would probably give the ark to Hitler.


1982

Original Winner: Gandhi

Our Winner: E.T.

Blade Runner was another spectacular film, but it didn't reach E.T. moon-freakin'-jumping-awesome proportions until the director's cut, years later.


1983

Original Winner: Terms of Endearment

Our Winner: RETURN OF THE JEDI

You ever wonder if Luke uses that lightsaber around the house, just to slice bread and zap bugs? We would.


1984

Original Winner: Amadeus

Our Winner: THE TERMINATOR

The touching story of a cyborg assassin from the future who falls in love with bodybuilding and political power.


1985

Original Winner: Out of Africa

Our Winner: BACK TO THE FUTURE

This classic movie taught us the creepy old loner down the street is fine company for a teenager.


1986

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Original Winner: Platoon

Our Winner: ALIENS

If there's a friendly race of aliens out there that say hello by hugging your face, they're not going to have a fun vacation on Earth.


1987

Original Winner: The Last Emperor

Our Winner: ROBOCOP

Robocop explores the exact point in future history when will we have enough technology to make superior robots but not enough technology to make superior robots that work properly.


1988

Original Winner: Rain Man

Our Winner: AKIRA

A psychic man fights government operatives in a futuristic dystopia. This is how Japan does Carrie.


1989

Original Winner: Driving Miss Daisy

Our Winner: THE ABYSS

To film this blockbuster, an abandoned nuclear power plant was filled with water. In the nuclear power plant industry, this process is referred to as "an awesome prank."


1990 Original Winner: Dances With Wolves

Our Winner: TOTAL RECALL

Taking a vacation is as simple as implanting a memory of that vacation. Of course, everyone with whom you try to share your experience is going to call you a total liar.


1991

Original Winner: The Silence of the Lambs

Our Winner: TERMINATOR 2

This probably marked the point where James Cameron fully realized audiences want to see a bunch of fantastic special effects, and don't actually care if the plot makes sense/was ripped off from Pocahontas.


1992

Original Winner: Unforgiven

Our Winner: THE LAWNMOWER MAN

A mentally challenged man is put in charge of all technology. This explains how cable service providers are created.


1993

Original Winner: Schindler's List

Our Winner: JURASSIC PARK

Why is it that, upon being given the secret to life, rich people always just make some freaky playground on an island? We're looking at you, Dr. Moreau.


1994

Original Winner: Forrest Gump

Our Winner: STARGATE

Aliens want to ship a bomb through the Stargate to destroy Earth. Let's be honest, though: How many years before Earth tried to ship all its landfill garbage through the Stargate?


1995

Original Winner: Braveheart

Our Winner: TWELVE MONKEYS

Let this be a lesson to every child: When you're having a traumatic childhood event, pay attention to the details.


1996 Original Winner: The English Patient

Our Winner: INDEPENDENCE DAY

Sadly, no matter how sophisticated your alien technology might be, you're still going to get screwed over by computer malfunctions.


1997

Original Winner: Titanic

Our Winner: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

The movie where most audience members first discovered that Milla Jovovich's body is an incredibly powerful weapon.


1998

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Original Winner: Shakespeare in Love

Our Winner: DARK CITY

Aliens swap around people's consciousness. They claim it's to find insight into the soul, but really they're just bored and kind of mean.


1999

Original Winner: American Beauty

Our Winner: THE MATRIX

Machines create a fake reality to pacify humans. However, they make the simulation way too boring, so humans become obsessed with slow-mo fighting.


2000

Original Winner: Gladiator

Our Winner: X-MEN

Oh, sure, it's easy to talk big about not discriminating against mutants. But when your construction job is taken by a guy with a metal skeleton, we'll see who's complaining.


2001

Original Winner: A Beautiful Mind

Our Winner: DONNIE DARKO

Back when teenage dark fantasies involved cool things like time travel and killer bunnies and absolutely zero vampires.


2002

Original Winner: Chicago

Our Winner: 28 DAYS LATER

People get infected with a virus that makes them zombies who are angrier than a pack of drunk Boston Red Sox fans.


2003

Original Winner: The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King

Our Winner: THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING

Although this year had a few stunning sequels (X2, T3, Reloaded), none really stood out like Return of the King. Guess this year the Academy got it right.


2004 Original Winner: Million Dollar Baby

Our Winner: ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND

Hey, wow, Jim Carrey can make a pretty good story when he stops contorting his lips around the sides of his head.


2005

Original Winner: Crash

Our Winner: SERENITY

Every time a sci-fi series goes off the air, it should live further on the big screen. Or maybe not every series—we wouldn't see Daybreak: The Movie.


2006

Original Winner: The Departed

Our Winner: THE HOST

This stunning piece of cinema became South Korea's all-time highest-grossing film. It's sort of like Cloverfield, but with an actual movie put in there, too.


2007

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Original Winner: No Country for Old Men

Our Winner: SUNSHINE

A crew tries to detonate a giant bomb to re-ignite the sun, the only thing harder to reignite than Luke Wilson's career.


2008

Original Winner: Slumdog Millionaire

Our Winner: WALL-E

His chest cavity might be full of garbage, but his heart is full of ... well, yeah, more garbage.

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