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Films 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.

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On Oscar night Sunday, prestigious contenders like "Arrival" and "Manchester By the Sea" will battle it out to join the hallowed cinematic pantheon.

The films deserving of an Academy Award form an august assemblage of cinematic masterworks of filmmaking art that includes "Casablanca", "Schindler's List" and "12 Years a Slave" -- as well as "Speed", "Harry and the Hendersons" and "Suicide Squad".

Yes, while some films are considered no-brainers for Oscar consideration, other winners are more surprising. I'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.

This is a tribute to films outside the magnum opuses considered for best picture or best director. The Academy leans toward certain films for the big awards: usually heavyweight and prestigious dramas, often tackling worthy subjects or real-life stories. 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.

Yet 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 blown up. And it won an Oscar -- that's awesome.

Then again, sometimes an Oscar is a surprise because the film in question is just an out-and-out, copper-bottomed stinker. 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 sci-fi and fantasy movies on this year's shortlists, including "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story", "Doctor Strange", "Suicide Squad", "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", and "Star Trek Beyond".


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