Alfonso Cuaron says he doesn't consider his space blockbuster Gravity to be a science fiction film.
The space thriller is a front runner for best picture at the Oscars, and Cuaron is the favourite to win best director.
"To be honest, I never thought I was doing a science fiction movie," he told the BBC in an exclusive interview in Los Angeles.
"I thought I was doing a drama of a woman in space."
Gravity, which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts stranded during a shuttle mission, has made more than $700m (£420m) worldwide.
The Mexican director added: "I don't think the film is a science fiction film in the sense that it takes place in the present with technology that exists.
"We heighten the reality because obviously there are plausibility issues, but I'm happy with whichever label [it has]."
Oscar history shows that sci-fi or space-themed films haven't fared well when up for best picture.
The original Star Wars lost the best picture prize to Woody Allen's Annie Hall.
In 2010, District 9 and 3D juggernaut Avatar both lost out to low-budget bomb disposal drama The Hurt Locker. The following year, Inception lost to The King's Speech.
"I guess there's a connotation that science fiction lacks gravitas," said Cuaron.
" But you have 2001 [A Space Odyssey] and I don't think you can go more serious than that."
Asked how he felt to be favourite for best director Oscar, he admitted:
"I don't think so much about it. I take it one day at a time. It's a celebration - I'm going to have fun no matter what."
The Oscars take place in Hollywood, Los Angeles, on Sunday 2 March.