question of the day: What will it take for a science fiction movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture?

Fred Topel yesterday at Sci Fi Wire pondered the Oscar chances of The Road, which could be a serious contender this year. In its favor: its grim subject matter, its awards-season debut, the powerful performances by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and its home at The Weinstein Company — where the folks are known for agggressively campaigning for movies they believe in.

Not in its favor: It’s science fiction.
A science fiction movie has never won Best Picture — the closest we’ve come is the nomination for Star Wars, which may have been the most likely moment when such a movie could win an Oscar in categories other than technical ones. The film was such a blast of fresh air that even its nomination is likely an expression of the surprise and delight of the industry. But now movies like this one have become staples of Hollywood’s output, with bad examples far outweighing the good ones, never mind one so great that they could potentially be Best Picture worthy.

No one has ever won an Oscar for acting in a science fiction film, though Jeff Bridges was nominated for Best Actor for 1984’s Starman.

Not many people have seen The Road yet — my review is here — so it’s hard to talk specifics about this one film yet. But it’s worth asking: What will it take for a science fiction movie to win an Oscar for Best Picture?

Will it have to be a movie that some people don’t even see as science fiction because it doesn’t feature spaceships and robots?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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