Everyone has their own favourites, everyone will tell you what it is about this movie or that one, that they so admired that they just had to include it on their Top 10 favourites, whether that’s the last decade, or all time favourites.
So of course, I’m going to add my 2 cents worth, and share my current Top 10 favourites. And yes, I say current, as tomorrow, or next week, or next year, I just might watch another knockout SF movie that blows me away and, yep, nudges out an old fav, to take its rightful place on my list. Which, I guess, over time, will go from being a Top 10 to a Top 100. One day!
After all, it does get harder and harder with each passing year to par a long list down to just ten. Though, it has to be said, I’m still not sure I could do a Top 100, not yet anyway. Even though there are plenty of SF movies I’ve enjoyed over the years, not all would make it onto a Top anything. But they where, nonetheless, still fun entertainment.
For instance, how ever much I love the Avengers movies for the crazy-assed action, they will never make it onto any top favourite list. Like a lot of movies that are in the end, popcorn fun, I want a little more than mad-cap explosions like, an underlying thread or message.
So let’s start with my current Top 10 fav SF movies:
- THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997) — directed by one of my all-time favourite directors, Luc Besson, this movie has it all, as far as I’m concerned. From the wonderfully crazy-assed storyline, to the actors, especially the dead-pan Bruce Willis as Korben Dallas going up against Milla Jovovich’s deadly and naive LeeLoo, to Ian Holm as the muddling Father Vito Cornelius. Each character is played to the hilt. And who could fail to remember Christ Tucker in the extra campy roll of Ruby Rhod? He nearly stole the show.
- ALIEN (1979) — directed by Ridley Scott, this monster/horror movie set aboard an oil refinery in space, has all the classic Hitchcock movie elements in it. Shock and horror delivered by atmosphere and timing, revealing just enough to build the tension, before the big reveal. It was all about what you didn’t see, more than when we finally did get to see the alien. But even then, this seven foot monster is one of the scariest I’d ever seen, way back in 1977, when Alien first came out. It still holds up even after all this time.
- INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978) — the remake directed by Philip Kaufman and starring Donald Sutherland and Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum. A movie I saw when it first came out, and, quite frankly almost had nightmares about it. I went to see it with a couple of friends, and we all got creeped out. Again, like Alien, this one is more about the psychological aspect of scaring people rather than 70 foot monsters invading from space. And the final twist at the end, was classic. Still my favourite version.
- BLADE RUNNER (1982) — another directed by Ridley Scott and, I have to say, up there with Luc Besson, one of my all-time favourite directors. He knows how to deliver on a promise, whether it’s outlandish monster movie, set in space, or a layered SciFi movie filled with replicants and subtext. Scott has an eye for detail. But I should stress here, I prefer the original to the directors cut, which, personally, I didn’t like.
- PLANET OF THE APES (1968) — yes, the original Charlton Heston version directed by Franklin J. Schaffner is still a classic whose themes still hold up well, if not better, than later remake by Tim Burton. Which I felt, never quite captured the underlying message of the original, or the analogy.
- MINORITY REPORT (2002) — directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely adapted from the 1956 science fiction short story by Philip K. Dick. While I could have done without the casting of Tom Cruise in the title role, nonetheless, the movie covered all the bases. And the whole premise of a PreCrime department monitoring us 24/7 is not so far fetched, in this day and age, given the leaps in technology. Even the precogs seem plausible and the context of the movie, stopping crime before it happens, is scary enough. Who decides what’s free will, and what’s determining? All pretty disturbing even though, in places, this was a classic chase film with overtones of futuristic noir.
- 12 MONKEYS (1995) — directed by Terry Gilliam and staring one of my fav action stars, Bruce Willis who, along with the crazed Brad Pitt, who went on to win a Golden Globe for his portrayal of the insane Goines. But given the year we now live in, 2020, and what we’re living through, a viral pandemic, was 12 Monkeys prescient in predicting the future? Even taking that out of the equation, this was still a creepy look at cause and effect in that did Cole himself cause the epidemic to happen, or not? Still a fun ride at the circas.
- DISTRICT 9 (2009) — directed by Neill Blomkamp this film totally flips the idea of an alien invasion on its head. Given that the seemingly passive aliens in question have been forced into ghettos, that boarder on concentration camps. This really is a dark look into humanity’s soul through an alien lens—a look at apartheid in a different light—and such a refreshing change to the usual SFF movie we’ve become accustom too.
- CONTACT (1997) — directed by Robert Zemeckis, stars Jodi Foster as Dr. Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, a SETI scientist searching for alien life, in an adaption of Carl Sagan’s novel of the same name. The movie delves briefly into the metaphysics of does God exist, while being ostensibly an adventure. Ellie, as part of a team that discover a message from space, goes on a ‘trip’ and in a nod to the above question, quite possibly touches the face of God before being rudely brought back to earth. Where everything, including whether she actually left Earth or not, is brought into question.
- ARRIVAL (2016) — directed by Denis Villeneuve, this is one of the best all out SF (all caps) movies I have ever seen. Straight up intrigue and drama, along with a number of layered messages of hope, destiny, cooperation, never mind the great cinematography as well. Like CONTACT, ARRIVAL has so much to say about humans, language, and communication and asks us a number of questions about how we react and deal with the strange, in this case, non-violent aliens who are not hell bent on world domination.
BEST RUNNER UP: WALL-E (2008) — directed by Andrew Stanton for Pixar/Disney and yes, an animated scifi movie. Okay, so maybe it was a toss up between several movies for this last slot but, in the end, I went with WALL-E for so many reasons, not least because the plucky garbage unit exemplifies courage against the odds. And who can fail to have at least one animated feature in their top 10, go on, I defy you to not see WALL-E as the perfect example of a science fiction movie. It has a great hero, it’s set in space, it has a love story, it has redemption, and some of the best damn humour you’re ever likely to find in any movie, period.
Close contenders were also ARMAGEDDON (yes, I know, so I like Bruce Willis in these kind of movies.) As well as SPACE COWBOYS, THE MATRIX, TERMINATOR, PREDATOR, MARS ATTACK (yes, I went there) and yes, even INTERSTELLAR, all for different reasons.