PopSci's Movie Awards:The Good, the Bad and the Highly Implausible

Sure, the Oscars made for juicy Sunday-night entertainment—but where, amid the glittering gowns and flash bulbs, were the geeks? Here's our rundown of the honors the Academy forgot to hand out...

movies_gyllenhaal_485.jpg

PROOF, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jake Gyllenhaal, 2005, © Miramax / Courtesy: Everett Collection©Miramax/courtesy Everett

Last night´s festivities featured the usual rambling acceptance speeches, Harry Winston jewels, outrageously toned celebrity bodies and soaring orchestral background music, but it left us wondering the same thing we wonder every year: Where was the science? With the possible exceptions of Charlize Theron´s alien-inspired dress (it surely didn´t come from any boutique on this planet) and Rachel Weisz´s gravity-defying dcolletage, the Academy gave nary a nod to sci-tech during the ceremony. The year´s behind-the-scenes film heroes-scientists and engineers all-were honored at a smaller shindig on February 18 [see our coverage here.] Still, we couldn´t resist doling out a few awards of our own to the stars of the silver screen. So here we present (drum roll, pleaseâ€) the official 2006 PopSci Movie Awards.

Worst Science-Inspired Business Plan

Of all the impossible occurrences in Fantastic Four, none seems as implausible as scientist Reed Richards´s scheme to make billions of dollars by studying the human genome through the exposure of plants-yes, plants-to cosmic rays.

Most Insidious Breach of Scientific Ethics Outside South Korea

Ignoring all the evidence that his clones are real people, preferring rather to think of them as soulless machines, The Island´s evil scientist Dr. Merrick harvests their organs for profit. All in the name of-you guessed it-science.

Most Irrationally Beautiful Mathematicians

Although Proof won praise for some accurate math-speak, anyone familiar with probability and academia would tell you that the chance of two intellectuals as attractive as Jake Gyllenhaal and Gwyneth Paltrow working in the same program approach zero.

Best Alternative for the Wannabe Space Tourist

Until tickets to space dip below $200,000, the closest most of us will get to the Great Beyond is Magnificent Desolation, the IMAX hit that plants the viewer´s feet right down in the regolith. Other benefits over space tourism: Watching the 3-D film is much less dangerous, the food´s better, and it´s less than an hour round trip.

Most Acute Case of Gadget Addiction

In Batman Begins, the young Bruce Wayne, back from a soul-searching hiatus in the Far East, visits the
technology-development wing of his family´s company headquarters and nearly salivates with excitement over the wild gadgetry. Gas-powered magnetic-grabbing guns, shape-memory materials and that ridiculously cool new Batmobile? It´s a good thing he owns the place.

Most Extraneous Alien City

Close to the end of James Cameron´s documentary Aliens of the Deep, the director accomplishes the near impossible-he makes robotic space exploration positively gripping. As Cameron takes you through a step-by-step animation of a future mission to Jupiter's icy moon Europa, it feels like you're watching a thriller, not a science lesson. Then he destroys all that good work by unveiling the potential payoff: a dreamland alien city hidden beneath the ice. The misplaced fantasy not only overshadows the mission´s real science, it makes the whole enterprise look absurd.