January 12, 2009

10 science fiction films for the 'thinking man'

Jeff Giles of Rotten Tomatoes has put together a list of what he believes to be the top ten sci-fi films for the thinking man:
10. Planet of the Apes
9. Dark City
8. Sleeper
7. Gattaca
6. Primer
5. Children of Men
4. Solaris (1972)
3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
2. Blade Runner
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
I think #1 and #2 are spot on, but Solaris deserves third spot. Gattaca and Children of Men are both great films, but a bit overrated -- particularly the latter. Close Encounters at #3!? And where the hell is The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell?

Oy, I need to straighten this out; Giles's list has some problems. Here's my (i.e. the definitive) list of the best "thinking man's" science fiction:
10. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
9. Planet of the Apes
8. Contact
7. AI
6. Ghost in the Shell
5. Metropolis
4. The Matrix
3. Solaris (1972)
2. Blade Runner
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey

12 comments:

Nato said...

I think there's some confusion about Primer. It's extremely clever and pathbreakingly realistic, but it doesn't necessarily make us ask really fundamental questions about who we are and what we're doing here. I'm glad it gets recognition, but George is right, it shouldn't necessarily be on a list with such a title.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with you George!

"Contact" has been one of my favorite moves even since it came out. "AI" is an incredible experience, so much emotion in a sci-fi film!! I've never been the same again. As for Matrix, GitS and the others, well they're simply classics!

Excellent list!

Damien

ArcAnge1M said...

George, I can't believe you left off Serenity.

ano said...

Soylent Green, Silent Running and THX 1138 would get a look in for me. Along with 12 Monkeys and Equilibrium. 10 you say, tricky these list things.

James Peden said...

I love that you gave respect to Ghost in the Shell. It is still one of the best anime films of all time.I was a bit suprised that Equilibrium was not on there. And I have to say, I was dissapointed to not see Cloverfield on the list. If that were to ever happen, that is almost exactly the way it would happen. I suggest that everyone who can, watch Cloverfield in Blue Ray!

Nato said...

Now that I'm thinking about it, I do think perhaps Dark City would be better on the list than The Matrix. The latter brings up great issues, but the setup isn't actually plausible if you think about it for a minute. I'm not sure if this leads to distortion once it comes time to take something home from the movie.

In a related note, AI treatments in mass media (including the movie AI) tends to be terrible - sometimes good at engendering some empathy, but always representing AI as so fundamentally other as to cast doubt on the meaning of that empathy. Is there any real counterexample to this?

al fin said...

Breaking them up into categories might make it easier to achieve a ten item list. Post-apocalyptic, Dystopian, Time Travel, etc.

Has anyone noticed how closely real life is beginning to imitate the movie Idiocracy?

Nebris said...

I would vote for "Forbidden Planet" and the semi-forgotten classic "Things To Come".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Things_to_Come

Nebris said...

You can watch "Things To Come" on Google.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9193023742763462354&ei=GDRvScqvJ6L8qAPJ5LSpBA&q=Things+to+Come&hl=en

Michael Vassar said...

You loose George. The Matrix is WAY too elementary. Primer takes its place. Good call with Metropolis though.

nick Lashmet said...

Any top ten list should look at;

Fahrenheit 451.
Clockwork Orange.
Road Warrior.


Or does science fiction have to be ruled by special effects not good stories?

Phil said...

Stalker (just so there are two Tarkovsky films in the list).

Phil