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TV and Movies

Movies you probably didn't know won Academy Awards

With the Oscars coming up Sunday, we salute the genre movies, effects extravaganzas and other films you wouldn't have expected to scoop up an award.

The all-action "Speed" may not be the Academy's idea of a best picture contender, but it still took home an Oscar.

ullstein bild/Getty Images

On Oscar night Sunday, prestigious contenders like "Get Out" and "Dunkirk" will battle it out to join the hallowed cinematic pantheon at the 2018 Academy Awards.

Past Academy Award winners form an august assemblage of cinematic masterworks that includes "Casablanca", "Schindler's List" and "12 Years a Slave" -- and, er, "Speed", "Harry and the Hendersons" and "Suicide Squad".

Yes, while some films are considered no-brainers for Oscar consideration, other winners are more surprising. So we've compiled a list of films which, for one reason or another, you might not have expected to earn Academy recognition.

There's also a tech company you probably wouldn't have thought had any ties to Hollywood: Research In Motion. You read that right -- the Canadian company that used to make BlackBerry phones was handed an Academy Award. Click through the pictures to find out why RIM won.

The Academy leans toward certain films for the big awards, like heavyweight prestigious dramas tackling worthy subjects or real-life stories. But when that's the benchmark for cinematic achievement, it can be hard for genre movies, such as sci-fi, comedy and especially horror, to get their due. So this is our tribute to films away from the magnum opuses often considered for best picture or best director. 

Yes, genre movies often deserve recognition for technical breakthroughs like jaw-dropping makeup, eye-popping visual effects or impressive sound editing. They're a reminder of the skill that goes into even the corniest of popcorn blockbusters and of the sheer imagination found in the unexpected places.

Many of the films on this list are absolute crackers in their own right. To be clear, I'm not suggesting they don't deserve Oscars. It's just that "Robocop" includes a guy melted by toxic waste and then messily splatted across the windshield a speeding car. And it won an Oscar -- that's awesome.

Then again, sometimes an Oscar is a surprise. Some of these film, while technically impressive, are just out-and-out copper-bottomed stinkers. Hello, "Pearl Harbor".

Still, it's good to know that every now and again the grand poobahs recognize good, old-fashioned movie magic when they see it -- even when it's part of a two-fisted, diesel-streaked genre flick like "Mad Max: Fury Road".

That's why we're rooting for the beautifully crafted and technically ingenious sci-fi and fantasy movies on this year's shortlists, including "Logan", "Blade Runner 2049", "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2", "Kong: Skull Island", "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" and "War for the Planet of the Apes".

And ... action!

First published Feb. 24, 2017.  
Update, March 2, 2018 at 10:38 a.m.: Adds information on 2018 Academy Awards nominees. 

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