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My Top 20 Science Fiction Movies, And Some Extras

Monday October 17, 2022

I came across somebody’s Reddit thread asking users to post their top 10 sci-fi movies, and ended up looking through my master list to find just the sci-fi ones.

By the time I was done reviewing mine, I had a list of 20, so I thought I’d go from that because there’s more which is great in a favorite topic. So I’ll list them here then break things down further a little bit.

  1. Contact – 1997 (Some of you personality type otaku out there want to know who the INTJ character is in this film, and I will just say I think he mostly works in the background in the story, but damn if he doesn’t make HUGE contingency plans.)
  2. The Quiet Earth – 1985
  3. Back to the Future – 1985
  4. WarGames – 1983
  5. Matinee – 1993
  6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – 1977
  7. Star Trek: The Motion Picture – 1979
  8. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – 1982
  9. Somewhere in Time – 1980
  10. Blade Runner 2049 – 2017
  11. Blade Runner – 1982
  12. Inception – 2010
  13. Tenet – 2020
  14. 2001: A Space Odyssey – 1968
  15. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back – 1980
  16. 2010: The Year We Make Contact – 1984
  17. When Worlds Collide – 1951
  18. Meteor – 1979
  19. Westworld – 1973
  20. The Day the Earth Stood Still – 1951

Most Rewatchable

Those aren’t all super rewatchable to me, and the most-rewatchable list changes more frequently over time. But here’s my current most-rewatchable sub-list:

  • The Quiet Earth
  • Back to the Future
  • WarGames
  • Matinee
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • 2010: The Year We Make Contact
  • Meteor

Points of Hesitation, Pain, Frustration, or Pause

Here are some weird points that stood out to me while I reviewed the list.

  • I really, really wish I could watch The Quiet Earth again for the first time. I caught it on PBS one night and only saw part of it at the time, but it blew my mind. I remember wondering if I’d ever be able to finish watching it someday.
  • Back to the Future stood out by comparison as a kind of bland pop culture title as I scanned my list at first, but thinking on it further, it’s a really damn good film. It gets better the longer it runs, with the beginning maybe the hardest part for me to sit through, in a way.
  • I hesitated on WarGames, like “is this a science fiction movie?” for some reason. But damn if it didn’t really pick up the Colossus: The Forbin Project torch and run with that thing. Plus really quality hacking history in there, and adolescent love, and a radio-controlled flying dinosaur flown by a mysterious wizard…oh and MISTAH POTATAH HEAD!!!
  • Matinee was similarly a strange fit in some ways but I’m not trying to be hyper-exact here. I really enjoy it. Similar with Somewhere in Time as well. I absolutely love the idea of actual, this-is-really-happening time travel via gettin’ dressed up and being authentic, and meditating a bit, and well, it just seems like the sort of thing the ideal universe really ought to reward with the gift of time travel. Even if you do wake up completely exhausted afterward, or worse!
  • Meteor was kind of a sleeper WTF for me. Examples WTFs, “Why The Frick haven’t I heard of this film” and “Why The Flip do I like it?” come to mind. But it’s like comfort food for my mind. There are parts that make me laugh out of corniness, there are parts that make me roll my eyes. But overall it’s fun to watch. I like the score, and I like the look of the titles for some reason. Oh, and I do happen to like Henry Fonda, Brian Keith (god would he read a good bedtime story!), and Karl Malden.

Extra Content! Indie and Low-budget Titles, and Other Points of Interest

  • The Impossible Planet by Dave Herring is one of my favorite indie, home-animated sci-fi films. It’s very low-dopamine. Easy to watch, and yet I found the mysterious vibes compelling and the story works well. Dave also created some other likeable titles, such as The Subway Shining. I think you do have to approach these from a home-crafted point of view, though.
  • I also liked the low-budget The Clones from 1973. The story was solid and it was fun to watch in the procedural sense.
  • More recently, Lavalantula (2015) was entertaining to watch with the family, and I found myself wanting to watch it again, which I didn’t expect.
  • On seemingly different sides of specific political lines, Moscow to Cassiopeia (1974) and The War of the Worlds: Next Century (1981) (free to watch online) are a couple of Cold War favorites out of Eastern Europe.
  • Closer to a romcom sci-fi mix, 2001’s Kate & Leopold is another one I watch at least every year or so.
  • The Black Hole from 1979 is probably my favorite sci-fi crossover with the haunted house genre.
  • I thought about this one very intensely: 1981’s Scanners features my favorite head explosion, by a long shot.
  • 1962’s La Jette is the shortest film on my main list, and also the most slide show-like, of course.

It was fun to take some time and think about all these. I’m already mentally highlighting some favorites to re-watch this week at work!

Filed in: Interests /108/

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