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A Geek's Guide To The 2014 Oscars

  • It's not every year that geeks have Best Picture nominees they can really get behind. In fact, it could be argued that the only geek favorite that's ever claimed the top prize was 2003's "The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King." This year, there are two nominees of interest to techies everywhere: "Gravity" and "Her." While "Gravity" is a feast for the eyes and one of the odds-on favorites, true geeks should take a stand against the liberties that film took with the laws of space and instead pull for underdog "Her," the near-future tale of a man who falls in love with a personalized operating system that connects with him like no real woman ever could.

  • Blink during the Academy Awards telecast, and you may miss the quick summary of the Academy's Technical Achievement Awards given out two weeks before the main event. Several of this year's recipients are worth bringing to the attention of techie cinema-lovers, starting with Olivier Maury, Ian Sachs and Dan Piponi, who were recognized for creating Industrial Light & Magic's Plume system for rendering fire, smoke and explosions as special effects.

  • There are few things techie movie-goers like better than good old car chases, and few innovations have contributed more to the art of filling those chases with spectacular crashes than the Pneumatic Car Flipper -- hence, the Academy's decision to recognize the contraption's creators with a Technical Achievement Award. The team, led by special effects guru John Frazier of Transformers fame, revolutionized the art of destroying police cars (seemingly their favorite subject) when they invented this high-pressure device that launches full-sized vehicles on a pre-determined trajectory.

  • The live-action short category typically doesn't offer a lot of geek appeal, but this year's crop includes "Helium," a Danish entry that deserves the attention of the fantasy nuts who populate the IT world. In it, a hospitalized young boy's treatment is buoyed by a janitor's tales of a magical world of weightlessness called -- you guessed it -- Helium. This fantastic world is not only where, according to the janitor, kids go to get better, it is also a beautiful universe that delivers the kind of jaw-dropping visuals any card-carrying geek demands.

  • There's not a lot of pizzazz in this year's field for Best Animated Feature, but there's still a compelling reason for the serious techie to tune in for this category in the form of "The Wind Rises," the latest from legendary anime director Hayao Miyazaki. For those who don't recall, Miyazaki's 1986 film, the much beloved "Castle in the Sky" (pictured), last year caused the greatest traffic spike in Twitter's brief history -- more than 140,000 tweets in a single second. True geeks will no doubt take note of how Twitter handles the potential landslide of traffic should "The Wind Rises" win.

  • Speaking of animation, the animated shorts category offers its usual juicy assortment of innovative cartoons, but an imaginative marriage of throwback animation and modern technical wizardry deserves the rooting support of techies everywhere. Disney did its name proud with "Get a Horse," the Mickey Mouse short that appeared before screenings of the much less interesting "Frozen." This spirited reimagining of the classic Disney cartoons of yesteryear has Mickey doing battle with arch-nemesis Black Pete on both sides of a screen-within-the-screen -- one in old-fashioned black-and-white, and the other in full-color 3D computer animation.

  • It goes without saying that the award that most consistently captivates geeks year after year is the one handed out for Best Special Effects. This year's nominees feature an impossibly delicious trio of contenders. "Gravity" may have played fast and loose with science, but it's the favorite for providing filmgoers with an incredibly visceral 90 minutes of virtual space walking. "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" delivered the kind of scale and wondrous creativity that fans of Peter Jackson's J.R. Tolkien interpretations gobble up, and has a real shot at the prize. But geeks-at-heart may have a tough time watching the crew of their beloved Enterprise come up short, as "Star Trek: Into Darkness" heads onto Oscar night a heavy underdog (cast pictured above with director J.J. Abrams, second from right).