OK so what are your favourite SF movies?

These holidays I thought I’d share a list of my five favourite sci-fi movies. In no particular order they are:

A large solar flare observed on 8 September 2010 by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Public Domain, NASA.
A large solar flare observed on 8 September 2010 by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Public Domain, NASA.
  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – quintessential, thoughtful mid-twentieth century sci-fi with (mostly) proper physics. And a vision of a twenty-first century future that should have been…
  2. Forbidden Planet (1956) – one of the smartest sci-fi movies of that decade, based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, and the visual inspiration for both Irwin Allen’s Lost In Space and the original Star Trek (runner up: Invasion of the Body Snatchers – really all about 1950s social paranoia, a theme that still speaks to us today).
  3. Alien (1979) – haunted house in space! Goopy alien with power-shovel jaws and acid blood! Splatter-filled robots! Yes!
  4. Star Wars (1977) – classic kids’ adventure movie that re-defined the genre and (with Trek) helped make sci-fi mainstream.
  5. Gravity (2013) – OK, it had very silly orbital mechanics and took lots of other liberties – so it wasn’t really the ‘real thing’ they were touting it to be  – but apparently it did nail the look and feel of being in space. Everything spins. I saw it in 3D.

Of course these things are always a personal choice. What’s your list – and why? Comment please!

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015


10 thoughts on “OK so what are your favourite SF movies?

  1. A great list. Once I figured out the ending for 2001, it got much better. The first time it was good, but I was like, “what???” 🙂 I finally watched The a Forbidden Planet a couple years back and wished I watched it much sooner. In spite of all the failings, I’ll always have a special place for Star Wars. For me, I’ll add in Empire Strikes Back and the latest one, and Bladerunner. I’m anxious to see The Martian and Ex Machina. I think I’m getting past five.🙂

    1. Blade Runner has to be one of my favourites too (Ok, that’s ‘top six’, in no particular order…) I haven’t yet seen ‘The Martian’, but I’ve heard it’s very good.

  2. I love Forbidden Planet – the plot is a little shaky and as you rightly point out, based on The Tempest but I thought that the acting was good. Alien was good in places I thought but a bit to much unnecessary gore. The original Invasion of the Body Snatchers(1956) was for me quite an unnerving film, as was the original Village of the Dammed (1960)

    1. For me ‘Forbidden Planet’ was a close runner for favourite with ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’. Another is ‘This Island Earth’ which, despite aspects of silliness, was another incisive film. It’s always intrigued me that despite a penchant for what Frank Zappa called ‘cheepnis’ in a lot of the 1950s sci-fi/monster movies, there were quite a number that were actually very smart, and which tackled a lot of the social issues of the day – often on quite low budgets.

  3. Wow, that’s a great list. I wouldn’t disagree with any of them, though I’ve been slow to catch movies the last couple of years and so, believe it or not, I haven’t yet seen Gravity. Going the other direction, I’d start any list with Metropolis (1927). It had all the elements that would become important in later science fiction films that addressed social issues.

    Forbidden Planet (1956) is, as you say, the best representative from the 50s. Yes, it was the templet for Star Trek (as was the robot for Lost in Space). The special effects were underrated. It’s strange looking back, for the 50s, despite a surplus of awful science fiction, also produced many greats like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, The War of the Worlds, and The Day the Earth Stood Still.

    Star Wars (1977) was another breakthrough movie, though I felt The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was the better film. The same goes for the Alien series. Via odd circumstance I saw Aliens (1986) before Alien (1979) and still prefer its intensity. Further looking at the 70s, I must also cast a vote for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). I’m a sucker for hope and I’ve actually been to Devil’s Tower.

    Other movies on my favorites list include, of course, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), a classic breath through; Blade Runner (1982), a gritty examination of what it is to be human; The Fifth Element (1997), just because it’s so much fun and has so many great performances; and Ex Machina (2015), another dark look at human failings.

    1. It’s amazing how much good sf was made, particularly given that the genre was always regarded as cheap or not serious. That’s changed in the last decade or two but before then a lot of sf was regarded as rubbish by ‘serious’ critics. Their loss, of course!

  4. I’m a huge Sci Fi fan, not some much for the science but for the fiction and the escape from reality with often familiar themes and characters in different locations,I don’t get to tied up in the whole accuracy thing, its fiction and entertainment to realistic and they become boring. “Star Wars” is no 1 on my list, saw it 12 times on its initial release and countless time since, and the based on Episode 7 the franchise can only get better (lets not mention episode 1). “Pitch Black” is a favourite of mine of mine, some interesting characters stranded on quite planet not sure what is going to happen once its dark. “Serenity” closed off some of the questions from the short lived TV series “Firefly” and is a great western set in space. The original “Terminator” is high on my list, who does not like time travel, killer robots and the 80’s. the 1960 “Time Machine” again who doesnt like time travel.

    Of course classics 2001, Forbidden Planet ect rate highly but some honourable mentions that rate a mention are “Enemy Mine”, “The last Starfighter” and “Alien and Alliens” and of course “Predator” OK more than 5 favs but its such a huge Genre.

  5. Blade Runner, 2001, Interstellar, Solaris (the Russian version), The Matrix. which unfortunately leaves out treasures like The Fifth Element, The Empire Strikes Back, Inception, and Killer Clowns from Outer Space

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