Best Sci-fi Movies of the 21st Century
It’s a good time to be a hardcore sci-fi movie watcher. Over the past ten years we have been blessed with a great large number of phenomenal science fiction films. If you ask any science-fiction movie fanatic what their go-to film is, you will get a bunch of different responses. From Avatar to Transformers and even the most recent Dawn of the Planet of the Apes you are sure to find a science fiction film the resonates with you as a movie fan. So in honor of all those great science fiction films that have come out recently I have put together a list of some of my personal favorite Sci-Fi films of of the 21st Century. Im sure I missed a few great films so be sure to comment below and let me know what I missed.
A few years ago in 2012, director Rian Johnson released Looper. A film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Paul Dano as assassins for hire called Loopers. Although the core plot has been done before it’s the approach to the film that catapults it onto this list. Johnson takes the element of time travel and tweaks it just enough to keep you engaged. In this film Victims are sent to the past from the future, as it’s easier to dispose of the bodies that way. These jobs are performed by Loopers, but when your contract as a Looper ends, you must kill your own future self. In Looper, Johnson combines intellectual elements with action, suspense and what you get is a hell of a good time.
The film that has made Neill Blomkamp a house hold name in Sci-Fi films. District 9 which is based off of the director’s short film Alive takes the idea that an alien spaceship that has parked over a city in South Africa and adds some controversial social commentary. Made for a mere $30 Million District 9 snuck under the radar of most, but due to word of mouth became one of the most successful films of 2009. Nominated for Best Picture and Best Screenplay at the Oscars that year its clear to see why District 9 belongs on this list.
In what could be considered Steven Spielberg’s last great action movie Minority Report was a hardcore science fiction film that created a stunning future where crimes can be seen and prevented. Starring the great Tom Cruise as a member of the pre-crime task force the film lead to many philosophical and ethical questions, but if going to watch an intelligent Sci-Fi film isn’t for you the film also works as a great big budget action movie. The film is easily one of the best sci-fi films in recent memory.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
So for most people Jim Carrey is known as the comedic actor that uses slap-stick humor to make his money. From films like Ace Ventura and The Mask he is not known to play characters the resonate with you on an intellectual level. That all changed for me in 2004 with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind a film where Carrey portrays arguably one of the most fully developed protagonists in a sci-fi drama. The movie is about a broken man who agrees to a procedure in which the memories of his recent ex-girlfriend will be wiped from his mind. The twist is that Jim Carreys Joel starts to change his mind in the middle of the process. What follows is a an exploration of what makes up a relationship, ranging from the sweet to the tragic. A film that proves Jim Carrey is much more than a comedy actor Eternal Sunshine is a film that must not be missed.
Proof that not all Sci-Fi films need to be big budget Duncan Jones film Moon was one of the most fascinating science fiction films of recent times. Moon is a film that relies more on atmosphere and mood than it does on special effects.
Staring Sam Rockwell as an astronaut alone on a spacecraft, the film is more of a character study than anything else. Sam is two weeks away from returning home but he begins having delusions that result in a moonrover crash. The more he learns more about this journey and mission the more questions audience has about whats going on. The film is carried by the performance of Rockwell and it’s a movie that will leave you thinking about it long after its over.
Children of Men
Alfonso Cuaron’s 2006 film Children of Men depicts a world in which women have become infertile. Aside from an interesting plot and Oscar worthy performances by Clive Owen and Michael Caine, some of the most memorable aspects of the film involve the camera work. So many scenes from the film have proven to be famous for the minutes without cuts.
Children of Men bursts with imagery and symbolism while still giving some glimmer of hope for humanity even when the future looks doomed. Cuaron present a story in which you can’t help but be emotionally devoted to, his amazing cinematography puts the audience directly into 2027 London.
For most people The Prestige is not considered a science fiction movie, but to me it absolutely is. The Christopher Nolan film is one that many forget about when speaking of the directors past work. The Prestige stars Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as rival magicians, each trying to top the other and have become obsessed with the rivalry. The film is structured just like a magic trick, everything matters from the opening till the final act.
The pacing and tone of The Prestige is nearly rivals Nolans best films. Although filled no action sequences the movie will keep you glued to your seats until the very last trick is performed.
Christopher Nolan has easily become the best big-budget directors working today. And with Inception it once again proves how original, stylish, and skillfull the filmmaker is. In what will go down as one of the best assembled blockbusters of all time, Inception proved that Sci-Fi original stories are still out there. Nolan never tells us more than what we need to know and Inception is one of those rare films that everytime you watch it you see something that you missed before.
Add to the mix Hans Zimmer’s already iconic score and some of the best action sequences ever put on screen. It is no surprise that it is one of the greatest blockbusters of all-time.
Sure throwing Star Trek onto this list is not very original since the property has existed for decades, but when J.J. Abrams’ takes a franchise that was looked at as a running joke and turns into a big screen blockbuster you have to give respect when its due. Visually, the movie was phenomenal it took the Star Trek universe and brought it to the 21st century. We get to explore more into Kirk and Spock as characters and the contrast between the two. Combining a great cast, thrilling set pieces, and a solid story made the brand more popular than it has ever been.
Rise of Planet of the Apes
One of the most surprisingly good movies of 2011 was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Sure after the disaster that was the Tim Burton remake Planet of the Apes most people were not eager to see the next installment in the franchise. But non the less Fox went forth and green lit a reboot with unknown director Ruper Wyatt. What we got was arguable one of the best films of that year. A film that gave us a character driven and intelligent blockbuster with a story that had heart and gave us one of the most impressive mo-cap achievements ever put on screen by Andy Serkis.
Taking a different approach Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells the origin story that results in the takeover of Earth by apes that forms the basis of the original 1968 classic. It snuck up on everyone and became a mega hit, leaving everyone highly anticipating the sequel.
Many people know Danny Boyle for his Oscar nominated films, but most have never heard or seen the directors Sci-Fi adventure Sunshine. Sure the film had an ending that didn’t really fit with the tone of the movie, Sunshine is a refreshing take on hard science fiction. It had gorgeous visuals, a unique sense of direction, and a great cast that deliver solid performances across the board.
The concept is that the sun is dying and as a last resort humanity has sent a team of scientists to carry a bomb into the sun that theoretically will spark the sun back to life.
Director Danny Boyle, stated that he was influenced by past sci-fi films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, and Alien to create Sunshine. Sure for most the movie is two films in one, the first being an examination of the journey to the sun and the second half of the film turning into a routine slasher film that felt out of place. The great acting and direction of the film allow the film to be a must watch science fiction adventure.
Attack The Block
2011’s best science fiction movie Attack the Block has made it onto several of my other list already. Im sure many are tired of me singing the films praise, but when a film is good its good. The film centers on a bad neighborhood in South London where a swarm of aliens arrive and start killing everyone in sight. Attack the Block is a fun, stylish action movie and was one of the best times you would have had in a theater that summer. The aliens have a real reason for being there, and the film’s triumphant ending is just Amazing.
V For Vendetta
OK so for most the film is not considered a Sci-Fi film but if you really dig deep you will see otherwise. Set In the near future, civil war rages in the U.S and much of the rest of the world is overrun by disease, poverty, and war. The United Kingdom remains as the only stable country thanks to its dictator. Exciting, stylish and challenging, V for Vendetta is one of the bolder sci-fi films in recent memory. Based upon a graphc novel by the same name it speaks about issues largely ignored by movies. It benefits thanks to an outstanding performance by Hugo Weaving, who creates one of the most memorable modern movie characters of the last decade. Remember Remember the Fifth of November
Alfonso Cuarón’s first movie since Children of Men had enormous expectations that most filmmakers could never live up to. Luckliy for us Cuaron is not like most filmmakers. The story of two astronauts adrift in orbit was even better than most could have hoped. A movie that turned one person’s fight for survival into the most intense roller-coaster of the year, Gravity became a spectacle that must be seen to be believed. At its core, the movie is beautiful marriage of character development and problem-solving. Science fiction at its best, this is a movie where the problems and solutions are based purely on science. Like in his previous film one allows this film to stand out is the director’s camera work and breath taking visuals.
It’s no secret that I love the J.J. Abrams film Super 8. It has been on several of my list for throughout the year. So it should shock no one when it makes it on to my list for best science fiction films. Being an admirer of the classic Steven Spielberg adventures films myself, it came as a pleasant surprise when J.J. decided to pay homage to that style of Spielberg film. Like most people of his generation, films such as Close Encounters, Goonies, and E.T defined his youth and influenced him to become a director.
In 2011 Abrams got the chance of a lifetime when he collaborated with Spielberg while working on Super 8. Using a sci-fi mystery as a backdrop for a charming coming-of-age story featuring a terrific cast of talented child actors, Abrams gave audiences a creature-feature with heart. It may not be original, but it gave every generation of movie watcher the ability to see what made the 80’s adventure films so special.