Tech & The Oscars: 5 milestone movies

Oscar-winning movies cover a vast range of themes from love to loss, war to redemption, and even tech. Here are 5 award-winners with a tech twist.

Written: Feb 2017


Academy Award(s) won: Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

‘To erase the line between man and machine, is to erase the line between man and Gods.’ So runs the tagline for Ex Machina, a film deep-diving into the potentially fraught relationships between humans and artificial intelligence. Filmed in an isolated Norwegian forest landscape, the movie confronts a question many of us are asking today: how far will AI go?


Academy Awards won: Best Writing, Original Screenplay.

Could you fall in love with iOS 10.2.1 ? Is it possible that Windows Enterprise 7 could win your heart? ‘No’ to both, right? Maybe that’s the real triumph of the Spike Jonze’s film, Her: that it makes falling in love with an operating system look all too possible. Starring Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely soon-to-be divorcee and the voice of Scarlett Johansson as his AI empowered operating system, Her tosses up some challenging questions about an AI-driven future on the horizon. Watch it once, think about it long after.


Academy Award(s) won: Best Animated Feature Film of the Year.

It’s a solitary job cleaning up the planet one piece of rubbish at a time, so it’s no surprise that Wall-E, the last Waste Collection robot on earth, is feeling a little lonely. Thankfully for our romantic hero, Eve, a spanking-new, shiny modern robot bursts onto earth and into Wall-E’s life. A parable depicting what could happen if the climate change is allowed to go unchecked, Wall-E is a keyhole view into a future where life is lived in space, and robots are seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. With recent advances in robotics, perhaps it’s not such a far-fetched idea after all?


Academy Award(s) won: Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Previously Produced or Published, Best Film Editing, Best Effects.

On the emotional roller coaster ride that is Forest Gump, one storyline stands out for tech fans. Having put money in what he describes as “Some sort of fruit company”, our hero opens a letter one sunny morning years later to read the following: ‘Your foresight, perspicaciousness, and most of all, your money, has made it possible for our little company to become one of the leaders in the computer industry’. The company is Apple, and the rest is tech history.


Academy Award(s) won: Best Costume Design.

A film starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart shouldn’t need much more than that fact alone to command an audience’s attention. But what if we told you that this Oscar-winner also features a first in cinematic history? Yes, Sabrina, directed by Billy Wilder, features the first car phone seen by audiences on the big screen. As the folks at Techwalla explain, ‘Advancements in Technology in the 1940s and 1950s led the development of cell towers that could receive signals in three hexagonal directions. This led to the first car phones being installed in Limousines and other commercial vehicles.’