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 ...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Original Winner: Grand Hotel
Our Winner: THE MUMMY
You'd be angry too if someone toilet-papered your corpse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Original Winner: Casablanca
Our Winner: FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN
Monster crossover films sometimes proved to be epic. How come Frankenstein never fought Mothra?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Original Winner: West Side Story
Our Winner: MOTHRA
Japanese monster movie makers had a penchant for running around with telescopes for eyeglasses.
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.
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.
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.
Original Winner: In the Heat of the Night
Our Winner: QUATERMASS AND THE PIT
Martians are the devil. BSG got it totally wrong.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Original Winner: Kramer vs. Kramer
Our Winner: ALIEN
To aliens, "ruptured chest implants" means something entirely different than it does here on Earth.
Original Winner: Ordinary People
Our Winner: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
Why is it that carbonite is so awesome, yet midichlorians aren't?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Original Winner: Rain Man
Our Winner: AKIRA
A psychic man fights government operatives in a futuristic dystopia. This is how Japan does Carrie.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.