For movie fans, the Academy Awards are kind of like the Superbowl. But unlike the Superbowl, when it comes to the Oscars it hasn't always been an even playing field. In the world of sports it all seems so simple: if you win, you get a spot in the championships. But in the world of movies, sometimes the films that are the most loved by audiences (or critics) are overlooked by Academy members because of a long-standing prejudice against blockbusters, or because they're labeled as "genre fare". But, a recent article in Variety has suggested that sci-films (which have traditionally been relegated to the tech categories) could finally be earning some respect as Best Picture contenders. For some time now, there has been a complaint that the Academy has lost touch with modern films, and that the members still suffer from a touch of snobbery when it comes to what makes a film worthy of consideration for that little golden man.

But things are changing, and with 10 spots open for Best Picture nods there is a chance that this year maybe it won't be the same old movies making it into the winners circle. Sci-fi is more popular than ever before, and in 2009, some of the best reviewed flicks were genre films. But until those nominations are announced, we can only speculate, so I decided to put forth my suggestions for sci-fi films that I think have earned a shot at an Oscar. Now before we get started, keep in mind that I'm not saying these films should win an Oscar, just that they deserve a shot.

After the jump: My 5 suggestions for sci-fi Oscar contenders....

1. Moon

Why it could be nominated: If the Academy wanted to honor a sci-fi film that isn't packed with lasers and explosions, then look no further than Duncan Jones' Moon. The film was a huge hit with critics and fans, and brought back the notion of 'serious' sci-fi and even earned comparisons to Kubrick's 2001. Not to mention, it isn't easy to carry a film, but Sam Rockwell's performance as the lunar technician was a standout this year.

2. Avatar

Why it could be nominated: It may be a little early in the game, but James Cameron's 3D opus has what it takes to be a big winner at this year's festivities -- and not just in the technical achievements either. The buzz for the film is already in overdrive and Cameron has proven before that he can wow the Academy. After all, if 'popcorn epics' like Gladiator and Braveheart can walk away with the gold, why not the Na'vi?

3.
District 9

Why it could be nominated: Hollywood loves the story of the 'little film that could', and there was no better feel-good story than Neil Blomkamp's rise from obscure short-filmmaker to helming one of the biggest (and best reviewed) hits of the summer season.

4. Star Trek

Why it could be nominated: Not only did J. J. Abrams make one of the best sci-fi action films in recent history, he did the impossible: he pleased novices and Trek fans alike, and if that doesn't earn the man a nod, I don't know what could.

5. The Road

Why it could be nominated: Like Moon, this flick proved that sci-fi can be as dramatic and harrowing as any typical 'best picture' hopeful. Plus, once you throw in the literary pedigree and the Oscar nominated (and winning) cast, you've got an ideal candidate for the gold.

So what do you think -- could a sci-fi film walk away with Best Picture, or is the Academy too set in their ways to let a different kind of movie into the winners circle? Sound off below...