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TV and Movies

Movies you probably didn't know won Academy Awards

With the Oscars planning a new category, we salute the genre flicks, effects extravaganzas and other movies you wouldn't expect to have scooped 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.

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The Academy has announced a new Oscar category recognising "achievement in popular film". Could this be a sign the Oscars are going to trumpet box office blockbusters like Star Wars and the Avengers? 

Yes, perhaps the Oscars will finally broaden its scope from such cinematic masterworks as Casablanca, Schindler's ListSpeed, Harry and the Hendersons and Suicide Squad.

Hang on, Suicide Squad won an Oscar? Yes, while some films are considered no-brainers for Oscar recognition, 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 garner Academy consideration.

Also on the list is 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. Hardly the sort of thing you'd expect the oh-so-worthy Academy to appreciate. But win it did -- and that's awesome.

Then again, sometimes an Oscar is a genuine surprise. Some of these movies are just out-and-out, unredeemable, 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, or a sci-fi sequel like Blade Runner 2049.

In fact, 2018 saw the Academy consider a number of films that definitely fall into the "popular" category. Best Picture -- and other awards -- went to pulpy sci-fi story The Shape of Water, while Get Out scored a rare win for the horror genre. Let's see what 2019 brings.  

And... action!

First published Feb. 24, 2017, 7:49 a.m. PT
Updates, March 2, 2018, at 10:38 a.m.: Includes information on 2018 Academy Awards nominees; Aug. 8 at 11:53 a.m.: Adds mention of new Academy Awards category.

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