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Oscars for the apocalypse: The end of the world according to Hollywood

These dystopian and apocalyptic science fiction films won or were nominated for Academy Awards. Some of our favorites didn't make it, though.
when-worlds-collide-1951.jpg
1 of 35 (Image: Paramount)

When Worlds Collide (1951)

Won: Best Music, Best Special Effects

Nominated: Best Cinematography, Color

The plot of this film, directed by the legendary Polish cinematographer Rudolph Maté and produced by George Pal, is eerily like many of the disaster movies we have seen in the past 20 years: A rogue star system is on its way to collide with ours, and scientists have to race against time to build a rocket that will transport a small number of humans to populate the new world as its sun destroys ours.

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2 of 35 (Image: Paramount)

War of the Worlds (1953)

Won: Best Effects, Best Special Effects

Nominated: Best Sound Recording, Best Film Editing

George Pal is on a roll here -- long before there was the summer blockbuster of Independence Day, this adaptation of H.G. Wells' classic novel wowed audiences with special effects that still impress over 60 years later.

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3 of 35 (Image: United Artists)

On the Beach (1959)

Nominated: Best Film editing, Best Musical Score

Can a movie about nuclear war -- one of the most popular apocalyptic topics on this list -- also be a tragic love story? It can, if it has Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner in it. This one is not to be missed.

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4 of 35 (Image: MGM)

The Time Machine (1960)

Won: Best Effects, Best Special Effects

After his success with When Worlds Collide and War of the Worlds, George Pal decided to adapt another classic H.G. Wells novel about a scientist from the nineteenth century who travels millions of years into the future, only to find that society has utterly collapsed into primitive conditions.

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5 of 35 (Image: Universal)

The Birds (1963)

Nominated: Best Effects, Best Special Effects

This classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller was almost certainly the progenitor of the "Nature-driven apocalypse" genre. The birds are pissed, and they attack. Over and over and over again.

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6 of 35 (Image: Columbia)

Doctor Strangelove (1964)

Nominated: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Writing, Best Screenplay

NO FIGHTING IN THE WAR ROOM!

Just as On The Beach is a romance disguised as an atomic apocalypse, Doctor Strangelove is a camp comedy disguised as a cautionary tale against the insanity of nuclear war. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this is considered one of Peter Sellers' best performances as the wacky Doctor, the stuffy British captain, and the feeble president Merkin Muffley.

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7 of 35 (Image: BBC)

The War Game (1965)

Won: Best Documentary

This teledrama directed by Peter Watkins is a frightening depiction of what a nuclear attack on Great Britain might have looked like at the height of the Cold War.

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8 of 35 (Image: American International)

Wild in the Streets (1968)

Nominated: Best Film Editing

Set against the backdrop of the height of the many protests occuring in America at the time, this film depicts how society might collapse under (the extremely unlikely possibility of) complete civil disorder led by the teen population.

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9 of 35 (Image: Chernin)

Planet of the Apes (1969)

Won: Makeup

Nominated: Best Costume, Best Music

Starring Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall and Maurice Evans, the film portrays an astronaut on an interstellar mission that crash lands with his crew on an alien world, seemingly populated by intelligent simians who have enslaved a group of primitive humans.

The acting is great, the film is a lot of fun, and is best known for its shocking ending.

YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! AH DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!
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10 of 35 (Image: Universal)

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

Nominated: Best Art Direction, Set Direction

Based on the Micheal Crichton's bestseller and directed by Robert Wise, this thriller depicts a team of scientists that must race against time to find a cure against an alien virus that could wipe out all life on Earth.

1971-a-clockwork-orange.jpg
11 of 35 (Image: Warner Bros)

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Nominated: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Film Editing

Based on the 1962 Anthony Burgess novel, directed by Stanley Kubrick, and starring Malcolm McDowell in his career-defining role, this film depicts a future British society inhabited by a strange subculture of violent mobs and a fascist state which attempts to reform the Beethoven-loving protagonist of the film using mind control.

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12 of 35 (Image: Warner Bros)

Logan's Run (1976)

Won: Special Achievement for Visual Effects

Nominated: Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction

In perhaps one of the best known sci-fi dystopia films, after what appears to have been a global apocalypse of an unspecified or forgotten nature, humanity's known population has been consolidated to the safety of a single domed city. All their citizens wants and needs are provided for, but with one catch: Life must end at 30 years old.

RENEW!
1979-meteor.jpg
13 of 35 (Image: American International)

Meteor (1979)

Nominated: Best Sound

Before there were the summer blockbusters of Deep Impact and Armageddon, there was Meteor. Starring Sean Connery and Natalie Wood, the film depicts a team of American and Soviet scientists that must work together to destroy an asteroid before it impacts and ends all life on Earth.

1982-blade-runner.jpg
14 of 35 (Image: Warner Bros)

Blade Runner (1983)

Nominated: Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Visual Effects

Blade Runner is considered by many to be the best sci-fi movie ever made -- and one whose futuristic film noir visuals have inspired the look of many other films since released. Starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer (in his most famous role as replicant Roy Batty) and the film debut of a very young Darryl Hannah (as well as a very memorable performance by Sean Young), this Ridley Scott-directed adaptation of a Philip K. Dick short story depicts a overly-industrialized and populated world where short-lived synthetic life forms are engineered to serve humanity.

1983-wargames.jpg
15 of 35 (Image: MGM)

Wargames (1983)

Nominated: Best Writing/Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Sound

The young Matthew Broderick stars in his big film debut as a teenage computer hacker that accidentally finds his way (via dial-up modem) into a secure military computer network and triggers a series of events in which he must race against time to stop an artificial intelligence from accidentally kicking of a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union.

1985-brazil.jpg
16 of 35 (Image: Universal)

Brazil (1985)

Nominated: Best writing/Screenplay, Best Art Direction-Set Direction

Perhaps one of the weirdest dystopian movies ever, this Terry Gilliam dark comedic masterpiece depicts a retro-future where a small-time bureaucrat attempts to correct a minor administrative error, and through a series of unfortunate events, becomes the Enemy of the State.

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17 of 35 (Image: Orion)

Robocop (1987)

Won: Special achievement for sound effects editing

Nominated: Best Sound effects/Film editing

In this classic over-the-top comic book dystopian thriller directed by Paul Verhoeven, Peter Weller stars as a terminally wounded cop, in a future crime-ridden Detroit, who returns to the force as a powerful, deadpan cyborg haunted by submerged memories. This campy, ultra-violent film has it all -- with some of the best villain performances by Ronny Cox and Kurtwood Smith you'll ever see in a sci-fi movie.

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18 of 35 (Image: Carolco)

Total Recall (1990)

Won: Special achievement award for special effects

Nominated: Best Sound/Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing

On the heels of Robocop, Paul Verhoeven pumps out another great campy film. This time, an adaptation of Philip K Dick's We Can Remember for You Wholesale. Mr. One-liner Arnold Schwarzenegger gets his ass back to Mars in this paranoid, fast-paced thriller about an everyday guy in a future dystopian Earth who discovers he's a sleeper agent after undergoing a psychological memory implant procedure that goes awry.

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19 of 35 (Image: Carolco)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1992)

Won: Best Sound, Best Effects/Sound Effects Editing, Best Effects/Visual Effects, Best Makeup

Nominated: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

This 1991 James Cameron blockbuster is widely considered to be the best film in the Terminator franchise. As with the first film, a killer cyborg -- played by our favorite Austrian ex-bodybuilder -- is sent back in time from a dystopian machine-ruled post-nuclear apocalyptic future where humans are enslaved by an all-powerful artificial intelligence. This time, he is programmed to protect rather than to kill, but you'd never realize it considering the massive body count in this film.

COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TO LIVE.
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20 of 35 (Image: Universal)

Twelve Monkeys (1996)

Nominated: Best Supporting Actor, Best Costume Design

In a future world devastated by disease that has killed off most of the population, a convict is sent back in time to gather information about the man-made virus that wiped out most of the human population on the planet.

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21 of 35 (Image: Universal)

Waterworld (1996)

Nominated: Best Sound

In a future where the polar ice-caps have melted and Earth is almost entirely submerged, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw "smokers," and he reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land.

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22 of 35 (Image: Twentieth Century FOX)

Independence Day (1997)

Won: Best Effects, Visual Effects

Nominated: Best Sound

Independence Day set the mold for box office earnings expectations for summer blockbuster movies and set Roland Emmerich on a pattern of directing various template, mostly forgetful end-of-the-world disaster flicks. Essentially, it is a basic alien invasion film, with big explosions and lots of battle scenes. Will Smith had his first big leading role in this film, but Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, and Harvey Firestein steal the show.

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23 of 35 (Image: Touchstone Pictures)

Armageddon (1999)

Nominated: Best Sound, Best Effects/Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Music/Original Song

The movie is primarily remembered for its theme song, "I don't want to miss a thing,"written by Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, NASA recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save the planet.

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24 of 35 (Image: Warner Bros)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2002)

Nominated: Best Music/Original Score, Best Effects/Visual Effects

Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Haley Joel Osment, in the far future, a highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother. The film chronicles his journey through time, up until the point in which he outlasts humanity itself.

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25 of 35 (Image: 20th Century Fox)

Minority Report (2003)

Nominated: Best Sound Editing

Another Philip K. Dick adaptation. In a dystopian future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.

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26 of 35 (Image: Universal)

Children of Men (2007)

Nominated: Best Writing/Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, this is probably one of the most realistic and troubling dystopian futures ever depicted on film. In 2027, in a chaotic world, in which society has deteriorated and in which women have become somehow infertile and the human race is dying out, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.

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27 of 35 (Image: TriStar)

District 9 (2009)

Nominated: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing/Adapted Screenplay, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects

In this breakout film written by the highly talented South African director and film producer Neill Blomkamp, an extraterrestrial race that is forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.
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28 of 35 (Image: Pixar)

Wall-E (2009)

Won: Best Animated Feature Film

Nominated: Best Writing/Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures/Original Score, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures/Original Song, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing

In the distant future, where Earth has become a garbage dump, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

2011-inception.jpg
29 of 35 (Image: Warner Bros)

Inception (2011)

Won: Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Nominated: Best Motion Picture of the Year Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures/Original Score, Best Achievement in Art Direction

In this Christopher Nolan film set in a dystopian future, a thief, who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology, is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.
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30 of 35 (Image: Annapurna)

Her (2014)

Won: Best Writing/Original Screenplay

Nominated: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures/Original Score, Best Achievement in Production Design

In a near dystopian future, a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.

2015-interstellar.jpg
31 of 35 (Image: Warner Bros)

Interstellar (2015)

Won: Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Nominated: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Production Design

In this Christopher Nolan film, a team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival from an Earth that can no longer sustain life.

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32 of 35 (Image: Warner Bros)

Mad Max: Fury Road (2016)

Won: Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Production Design

Nominated: Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Cinematography Best Achievement in Visual Effects

A woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in post-apocalyptic Australia in search for her home-land with the help of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshipper, and a drifter named Max.

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33 of 35 (Image: DNA)

Ex Machina (2016)

Won: Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Nominated: Best Writing/Original Screenplay

A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breath-taking humanoid AI.

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34 of 35 (Image: Chernin)

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Nominated: Best Achievement in Visual Effects

In the third installment of the modern re-imagining of the franchise, the apes suffer unimaginable losses, and Chimpanzee leader Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

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35 of 35 Jason Perlow/ZDNET

Blade Runner 2049 (2018)

Nominated: Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Visual Effects, Best Achievement in Sound Editing, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Production Design

Directed by Denis Villeneuve and set 30 years after the end of Ridley Scott's original 1982 film, a Replicant police officer (Ryan Gosling) on an ecologically ruined Earth exploring the fringes of a Southern California megalopolis wasteland seeks out answers to the question of his origin by tracking down Rick Deckard, the long-missing protagonist of the first movie played by Harrison Ford.

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