Nov 25 2009

The Top 15 Science Fiction Movies of the Last Decade (2000-2009)

Published by at 10:00 am under Lists,Movies

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I wrote last week that I don’t think Avatar will suck, and I think there’s a real good chance it’ll go down as one of the best science fiction movies of the decade.  Which got me thinking, of course, of how many great or even good science fiction movies there have actually been over the last 10 years.  There was a lot of crap released this past decade, but thankfully there were some real gems, too.

There were some movies that I considered science fiction despite their generally not being associated with the genre.  Still, they’re science fiction movies at their core and it’d be tough to argue otherwise.  I didn’t include superhero movies, even if they could be considered science fiction, because that’s pretty much become a genre in and of itself.

I hope I’m right and that Avatar kicks massive amount of ass.  If I’m not, though, this was still a pretty good decade for science fiction movies.  I will say, this list was pretty tough to compile.  It’s often more difficult to rank movies of a certain category when there are so many good ones.  I’m sure your opinions will differ from mine quite a bit.

Keep reading for the top 15 science fiction movies of the last decade.

15.   Idiocracy

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Mike Judge’s Idiocracy is hilarious but also, like a lot of great science fiction movies, offers a poignant social commentary. The movie shows us a future where materialism and anti-intellectualism have run rampant, a world where the President is the most macho, bad ass guy in the world and plants are watered with energy drinks.  A good science fiction movie – most of them, in fact – incorporate some type of social or political statement without hammering you over the head with it.  Idiocracy‘s prediction of our world going to shit because our collective values are in the wrong places is an important one, but it’s done well and there are more than enough laughs to land the film in the top 15.

14.  Moon

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Duncan Jones’ Moon was a throwback science fiction movie of sorts.  It had a heady story that will keep you thinking long after you’ve seen the movie, and a visual style that relies more on atmosphere and mood than it does on special effects.  After Sam Bell discovers a clone of himself in his moon buggy, he comes to realize that he, too, may be a clone, and of course spends his time obsessively pondering his own existence.  That’s the stuff of Philip K. Dick-type stories, and Jones successfully captured the feel of isolated paranoia in this excellent movie.  Moon is definitely the type of movie for which you want to experience repeat viewings.

13.  Revenge of the Sith

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Perhaps lost in all the bitching and whining that George Lucas had raped our collective childhoods – using The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones as the violating objects – was the fact that Revenge of the Sith was pretty damn good.  True, it wasn’t as good as A New Hope or The Empire Strikes Back (what is?), but I’d say it’s at the least comparable to Return of the Jedi.  Aside from Hayden Christensen’s wooden acting and a few groan-worthy love scenes, Revenge of the Sith was an action-packed, visual extravaganza that segued quite smoothly into the Star Wars movies we grew up with. As an aside, General Grievous is one of the coolest movie villains around.  He’s as bad ass as Jar-Jar Binks is annoying.

12.  Star Trek

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It seems as though Star Trek fans were pretty pleased with J.J. Abrams’ big screen version of their beloved franchise.  If you somehow manage to keep the nerds and fanboys happy, it goes without saying that you probably did a pretty good job.  And for the non-fans, well, it seems like they really enjoyed it, too.  I had never seen a Star Trek movie or even a single episode of the show before in my life, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was missing something during the movie.  Visually, the movie was great, although at times it felt more like a space opera than part of a universe like Star Wars.  I especially liked the depth given to Kirk and Spock’s characters and the contrast between the two.

11.  WALL-E

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WALL-E is a simple love story, but it’s told so beautifully it’s easy to become completely immersed in it.  Like Idiocracy, WALL-E has a rather bleak outlook on the fate of mankind.  But it’s easy to not really care about what happens to the fat, pampered humans due to WALL-E’s genuine robot goodness.  WALL-E and EVE, despite being animated robots, share a convincing chemistry on screen together and, as can be expected of Pixar movies, the animation and sound is consistently impressive.  There are a lot of ways to portray outer space, and WALL-E fills it with bright colors and idiosyncratic characters.  There are a lot of great aspects to WALL-E, but I suppose the best is that this movie already feels timeless and will undoubtedly age well.

10.  The Fountain

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Simply based on the gorgeous visuals alone, The Fountain is a movie worth watching.  It seems as thought every shot is framed perfectly, often as a picture of symmetry, emphasized by the camera consistently panning in and out and almost never side to side.  Suffice to say, there’s never been a movie that looked quite like this.  Underneath all the visuals, though, there’s a story that spans 1000 years, from the days of a Spanish Conquistador to a time when space ships are huge transparent spheres.  The Fountain addresses life, death, and our place in the universe, and only when it’s through do we realize the scale of the film.  I know a lot of people are turned off by The Fountain and call it art house pretentiousness, but I’m not one of those people.  I think it’s a great movie that gets even better on repeated viewings.

9.  Donnie Darko

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Southland Tales and The Box were both disasters, but somehow Richard Kelly figured out how to make a damn good movie on his first try.  Creepy does not even begin to describe Kelly’s atmospheric tale of death, tangent universes, and time travel.  Donnie Darko has become a major cult classic since its release, thanks in large part to an original and intriguing (if not wildly confusing) story, as well as great performances from Jake Gyllenhaal, Jenna Malon, and of course, Frank the Rabbit.  It’s a shame that Kelly’s follow-up efforts have been so disappointing, because we need more original movies like Donnie Darko.

8.  The Matrix: Reloaded

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A lot of people didn’t care for Reloaded, but I’m not sure what they were expecting.  After all, The Matrix is a near-impossible act to follow.  I won’t defend Revolutions (believe me, I could), but Reloaded took the style and mythology of the first Matrix movie and cranked it up to infinity.  The clothing, settings, and even the dreadlocks in Reloaded were eye candy of the highest order, and the visual effects were – at the time – the best anyone had seen.  Add to that yet another mind-f*ck (there were more “Ones” before Neo?  Whoa!) and some of the best action scenes in any science fiction movie, and Reloaded, while not as groundbreaking as its predecessor, is truly a spectacle to behold.  To this day, I consider the fight in the Merovingian’s chateau to be one of the coolest I’ve ever seen.  Stopping thousands of bullets in mid-air and blocking a sword with your hand?  Yes, please.

Aside from the visual dynamics and explosion of style, though, Reloaded incorporated a variety of themes and parallels, from computer programming to Christianity to existentialism.  It’s a project to be admired, at the very least, and there haven’t been too many films – science fiction or otherwise – as ambitious as Reloaded.

7.  Minority Report

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Like Moon, Minority Report was a hardcore science fiction movie that at times is as effective as a thought experiment as it is as a film.  Spielberg stayed true to the central themes of Philip K. Dick’s story of the same title, but also managed to create a stunning future where crimes can be seen by “precogs” before they occur.  Which, obviously, leads to many philosophical and ethical questions.  If that sort of cerebral involvement isn’t for you, Minority Report works on an action-adventure level, too.  Tom Cruise is universally hated for having his own beliefs (the guy is harmless, folks) and Colin Farrell is disliked because, well, I don’t know (I thought he was great in In Bruges)…but both actors kick massive amounts of ass in Minority Report.  Also, extra credit for the film demonstrating touch-input and image manipulation technology years before it started to surface in real life.

6.  Primer

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Admittedly, I’m going to hold Primer to a lower standard for the purposes of these rankings since it was made for something like 22 dollars.  Actually, $7,000, but in Hollywood, that’s about the same thing.  And for $7,000, Shane Carruth made about as good a science fiction movie as one can make.  There are virtually no special effects, but the underlying story in Primer is so intriguing and involved that it’s more than satisfying to simply listen to Abe and Aaron discuss time travel and its implications.  Carruth’s background in mathematics helps lend credibility to his airtight script, but you’d have to watch this movie at least a dozen times to figure out exactly what the hell is going on.  Simply put, Primer is a smart, somewhat-realistic look at time travel, and a nice alternative to the cliches of time machines and wormholes.

5.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Director Michel Gondry is known for the surreal elements in his films, so his transition into science fiction must have seemed natural.  And it shows.  In Eternal Sunshine, Joel and Clementine meet on a train, unaware that they had been lovers in the past.  It turns out that the two ex-lovers had gone to a company to have memories of the other erased from their respective minds.  Most of the movie takes place in Joel’s head, allowing Gondry to show off his sense of the surreal.  I normally prefer the literally-talking-out-of-his-ass Jim Carrey to please-take-me-seriously-as-an-actor Jim Carrey, but he manages to both provide laughs while simultaneously giving a great dramatic performance.  And Winslet…well, she’s Kate Winslet.  Eternal Sunshine is a thought-provoking science fiction movie and after watching, you can’t help but ponder what life would be like were you to erase some hurtful memories.  There’s a romance involved, sure, but it all comes back to the science fiction concept of selective memory erasing.

4.  Serenity

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I didn’t watch Firefly back when it was on television, but I didn’t need to in order to fully enjoy and appreciate Serenity.  For Serenity, Joss Whedon created (or at least, expanded upon) an entire universe with a sort of western flavor to it.  He didn’t need crazy gadgets or weird-looking aliens to help make his universe appealing; the human characters and layered storyline took care of that.  Played by Nathan Fillion, Malcolm Reynolds is about as charismatic a science fiction character we’ve seen since Han Solo, and Summer Glau’s River Tam is a delicate yet lethal psychic and, in a sense, serves as the movie’s narrator.  The crew of the Serenity are all memorable, as are the maniacal Reavers they encounter in deep space, but it is Serenity‘s ability to take the audience on a journey with the crew through a postmodern universe that lands the movie in the top five.  Knowing very little about Firefly, I was blown away by Serenity, so I can only image how fans of the television show felt upon seeing it.

3.  The Prestige

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I’m guessing that a lot of people don’t consider The Prestige a science fiction movie, but it absolutely is.  Insomnia aside, Christopher Nolan has yet to make a movie that isn’t incredible, and all the great elements of a Nolan film are prominent in The Prestige.  Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play magicians, each trying to top the other and obsessed with the rivalry that has emerged between them.  Impressively, The Prestige is structured just like a magic trick – an often overlooked but remarkable aspect of this movie – and it’s not until the final act (the prestige) that we see just how science fiction comes into play.

David Bowie is great as Nikola Tesla, who builds a machine for Angier (Jackman) that will allow him to clone anything.  Frustrated that he cannot top Borden’s (Bale) “Transported Man” trick, Angier resorts to cloning himself.  Angier is haunted with the dilemma of not knowing whether it will be he who is transported out of the audience’s sight while his clone plunges to his death in a water-filled tank, or whether it will be he who is drowned while his clone is transported away.

The pacing and tone of The Prestige is nearly unrivaled and it stands as one of the creepier movies of recent memory.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love – let alone like – this movie.  The Prestige is proof that a cerebral science fiction movie can do just fine without action sequences.

2.  District 9

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Adapted from Neil Blomkamp’s short film Alive in Joburg, District 9, to me, was the best movie released this year.  An instant classic, District 9 focuses on the attempts and consequences of man, particularly a field operative named Wikus van de Merwe, to relocated hundreds of refugee aliens known as “prawns.”  There are many aspects – and part of this may be attributed to the documentary-style of filming employed by Blomkamp -that feel “real.”  Instead of hostile aliens attacking humans with mind-control and laser beams, we’re given sick, diseased aliens, weak from traveling across space.  Wikus himself is complex, multi-dimensional and very human. He’s a hard-worker but undeserving of his position.  He doesn’t care much for the wel-being of the prawns but is a devoted, loving husband.  At first, we’re not exactly sure how we should feel about Wikus, and that’s because he’s not written as a one-dimensional good guy or even an anti-hero.  He’s a real human being with positive traits as well as faults, and Sharlto Copley is more than convincing in the role.

And the prawns aren’t all interchangeable, either.  I don’t know how anyone can watch District 9 and not root for Christopher Johnson.

Most poignant of all, and perhaps most realistic, is the humans’ treatment of the prawns.  District 9 isn’t a movie that thinks it’s clever for presenting a science fiction metaphor for apartheid; the film assumes you can figure that out on your own and moves forward from there.  It’s a great, relevant commentary on the nature of man and his desire to exterminate that which is different or that which he does not understand, especially when power is at stake.

District 9 isn’t without fun, either.  Once the action picks up, it’s impossible not to be thrilled.  A gravity gun???  A gravity gun!!!  As great as District 9 is – and I do believe it to already be an all-time great science fiction movie – it’s not the best science fiction movie of the last decade.  That would be…

1.  Children of Men

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The most complete, fully-realized, and detailed look at the future – any future – is in Children of Men.  Director Alfonso Cuaron is the most underrated filmmaker working today.  Not only does Cuaron present a story in which you can’t help but be emotionally devoted to, his virtuoso cinematography puts the audience directly into 2027 London when women can no longer reproduce.

One of the best things about Children of Men is that it respects the intelligence of its audience.  Instead of explaining what a world in which there are no children would be like, it simply shows you.  Elementary schools are run down and covered in cob webs.  With children gone, people pamper and adore their pets, attempting to fill the emotional gap in their hearts left by the vanishing of children.  Some people go on with life and continue to go to work, while others see the end of mankind as a time to make things right or, in contrast, to do whatever they please.  The British government employs Draconian tactics to keep its borders safe and even distributes pills for a gentle, peaceful suicide.  The whole point of Children of Men isn’t why women can’t have children, and that’s why the question is never answered.  People looking for that are watching the wrong movie.  No, the point of Children of Men is to examine the choices that people make once it’s determined that women can’t have children and the human race appears to be at its end – a topic far more interesting and significant.

It is obvious that when creating this dystopian future, Cuaron (who also wrote the screenplay) researched not just what technology would be like, but what governments, economies, and all the aspects of society would be like.  Children of Men bursts with imagery and symbolism while presenting hope and love in the dreariest of futures.  It’s a truly magnificent and brilliant movie, and the sheer scale of the world created makes its themes all the more resonating.  For my money, Children of Men is the best science fiction movie of the past decade.  It’s a true masterpiece.





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103 responses so far

  • http://somosidiotas.com El idiota

    I agree with the two firsts…

    but serenity, startrek, matrix reloaded and the revenge of the sith sucks…

  • Madison

    @ El idiota

    Saying a movie sucks isn’t going to do much to convince me that it does. But thanks for reading.

  • Quiksnowboard

    Oh man, I think you overlooked “V for Vendetta” in this category. Totally agree on “Children of Men”, that movie still amazes me!

  • Dave

    No love for Sunshine? I thought it was at least better than Revenge of the Sith.

  • Madison

    @ Dave

    I saw Sunshine once and couldn’t quite get into it. I’ll have to watch it again in full sometime.

    @ Quiksnoboard

    Glad someone else appreciates CoM like I do. I left off V for Vendetta because I didn’t really consider it science fiction. I could probably convinced otherwise, though.

  • hyuri

    Decent list, although I don’t care much for The Fountain or Donnie Darko (sue me :P).
    Honorable mentions should be at least thrown out for: 28 Days Later (I think it was more sci-fi than “zombie/horror”), I, Robot, V for Vendetta, and I Am Legend (say what you will about the “vampires” and the ending, 2/3 of that movie rocked for me)

  • Nattyb

    Madison we’ve already mentioned how much I hate Children of Men just as you hate Hurt Locker. We’ll agree to disagree but I had to note it.

  • Madison

    @ hyuri

    I am Legend would have been a helluva lot better if it had stuck to the ending in Matheson’s book. That’s the whole point of the title!

  • Warren

    I’d probably go so far as to say that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind is one of the best movies ever but I think I love it more than most.

    I liked District 9 more than Children of Men, I haven’t seen Moon yet because I missed it in theaters and it won’t be on DVD until January, and I’m not a fan of Reloaded at all but overall a good list.

  • http://paul@unrealitymag.com Paul Tassi

    I agree with most of the list, maybe not the order.

    Most definitely sub in V for Vendetta and Sunshine for The Matrix Reloaded and Revenge of the Sith, though I could be persuaded Sith deserves to stay.

    I thought Children of Men was good, but not worthy of the number one spot. I figured Moon would be higher and good call on the inclusion of Idiocracy. Appreciate the love for The Prestige, one of my all time favorite films.

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  • like a boss

    great topic. good list, although not sure i agree with all of them, but the writing is superb.

    two movies i would add are 1)”vanilla sky”- i think it would qualify as scifi?
    2) “signs”

  • Andy

    Thank you for putting Primer on this list. I completely agree with Children of Men being number one. And I will add that I love Southland Tales and The Box as sci-fi films. Sure they are both a jumbled mess at times and have some pretty laughable dialogue, but the same is true of Donnie Darko.

  • Ronin

    The list is good overall.The order of the movies is not exactly the same for me,but i think you have all the important sf movies of the decade.Children of Men is the best of them,no doubt.All the things you said about it are true and i would add the fact that the movie manages to be better than it’s source material,the book.

  • Madison

    @ boss

    Vanilla Sky is definitely sci-fi…I just don’t think it was one of the 15 best. I do like it quite a bit, though. Same can be said for Signs.

    @ Andy

    Primer blew my mind; it’s a shame more people haven’t scene it. I actually own Southland tales on DVD because there are a couple very cool scenes, and the idea itself is great…it is just a totla trainwreck, unfortunately. The Box was a bit more polished, but didn’t have the gravity that Donnie Darko did.

    @ Ronin

    Yes, Cuaron took some liberties with the source material and it seems as though he improved it.

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  • Lagrange

    First of I havent seen 5 of the movies and I wouldn’t consider Donnie Darko and Eternal Sunshine as Si-Fi just for its Fantasy Elements.
    I liked the cinamatography and the message of children of man but sadly I must say that I was rather bored watching it.
    I thought District 9 wasn’t that good either. On the one hand because of silly things like the catfood thing and on the other hand because I don’t like starshiptrooper like gunfights and sci-fi action.
    I was much more impressed by Wall-E and Startreck.

    And btw. I can’t agree on you with
    “Angier is haunted with the dilemma of not knowing whether it will be he who is transported out of the audience’s sight while his clone plunges to his death in a water-filled tank, or whether it will be he who is drowned while his clone is transported away.”
    This statement contains a lot of your personal logic.
    Both copies have the same past and remember the same thoughts. After the cloning both copies had the idea of cloning himself and both considered how it would feel to drown.
    “Angier is haunted with the dilemma of not knowing whether it will be he”
    there is no “whether” because both things will happen and he can’t say “the guy who will survive will be me and I will have no pain”.

  • Korinthian

    I was just about to rant about not including Galaxy Quest and The Fifth Element when I saw you put a time limit on this list. (And I think Alien 4 was pretty neat, actually).

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  • http://blog.ravenport.ch Vega

    Hi Madison,

    Nice Article. A few movies on the list I didn’t know and am now willing to see.

    I think I would set “District 9″ on top but that’s just a matter of taste.

    Thanks a lot for posting this list!

  • Alex

    Not a bad list but kinda….boring since well pretty much everybody knows these movies. I kinda wish you had a similar list with good quality movies that had flown under the radar so that we can actually discover and enjoy something new. But still good job on the effort

  • Madison

    @ Alex

    Thanks, I think. I wasn’t going to make a list just for the sake of including obscure movies, though.

  • Josh

    Lack of Sunshine on this list makes it lose all credibility with me, sadly. =\

  • Madison

    @ Josh

    Sorry buddy. Maybe it would have made the top 16, if that makes you feel any better.

    I liked Sunshine, but the final act was just absurd.

  • mu_fuerte_pa_ti_92

    Have you seen Timecrimes? (originally called “Los Cronocrímenes”) Because it really deserves to be in this otherwise fairly solid list. It’s certainly obscure, but awesome nonetheless.

  • Madison

    @mu_fuerte

    I have not, but I actually have it in my Netflix queue. I’ll probably review it afterwards. Thanks for the heads up anyway.

  • yurigoul

    Matrix Reloaded? They did not make any Matrix part 2 and 3, you can not make me believe that! But they should, it is about time.

  • shld

    Great list; as much as I have been awed by V for Vendetta, I tend to agree with you that it does not really set foot into science fiction that much (at least not in its classical sense); however with that in mind, perhaps Idiocracy doesn’t belong there either.

    I think Sunshine deserves a mention; I would reserve a higher place for Moon. 28 days later might have a place.

    As much as I appreciate your examination and appreciation of The Prestige, I am worried that you are spoiling its plot a bit too much.

    Thank you!

  • Uncoolaidman

    I like this list and most of the movies in it, though I do think Star Trek deserves to be higher on the list. While it is not a perfect film, I can’t remember the last time I had that much fun watching a movie in theaters and that really counts for something. My only argument with this list is some of the movies you have categorized as Science Fiction. There is a difference between a science fiction movie and a drama with some scientific elements (The Prestige, Eternal Sunshine). Great movies in their own respect, but Science Fiction? I don’t believe so. Adding one fictional technology just is not the same. I don’t think you are wrong for considering them as Science Fiction because that line is somewhat vague, I just expected a more traditional list.

  • Madison

    @ Lagrange

    I stand by my logic. It works. And I crushed the logic portion of my LSAT, so I know my shit. Ha.

    Anyway, it’s BECAUSE they have the same past and one will drown that Angier has to wonder which “one” he will be. He may very well die every time, but wouldn’t know it until it’s actually happening. That’s what is so scary about it.

    @ shld

    Idiocracy is kind of like Futurama with the whole sleeping for centuries deal. I thought it was enough. Plus, I really wanted to include it; I love that movie’s message.

    Sorry if I spoiled anything.

    @ Uncoolaidman

    Trek was an asbolute blast, but it just wasn’t original enough. And I don’t mean that in the reboot sense; I mean it was fun and not much else, but there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Eric

    Just glad that you at least included Darko and Primer.

  • Madison

    @ Eric

    I wish more people would see Primer so it could get the repsect it deserves. I actually learned of it through commenters on this site, for which I am grateful.

  • BrockSamson

    Like another commenter above, I was absolutely SHOCKED to not find Sunshine on here. It would be on my shortlist for best of the last 20 years.

    I love that you list Matrix Reloaded and Minority Report, though. I thought I was the only one.

    This is a great list, but I think you need to sit down with Sunshine again.

  • Madison

    @ BrockSamson

    I’m glad the omission didn’t keep you from enjoying the rest of the list. I will make an effort to see the whole thing (Sunshine) for a second time.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Chris

    Why do you imply Insomnia is a bad movie? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that movie had better critical reviews then every other film in this list. Also, Reloaded sucked.

  • Madison

    @ Chris

    I absolutely did not. I just wrote that it wasn’t incredible. Huge difference.

    Your opinion on Reloaded is noted.

  • Lachie

    Yay for Children of Men at number 1. The one-shot rebel attack on the car is but one of the brilliances of this film

  • Laura

    I too hadn’t seen anything Star Trek related, and the main reason I saw the movie was because of my love for JJ Abrams (Alias was my favorite show). I loved it, and waited forever for it to come out on dvd.

    The Prestige is a great one that you wouldn’t necessary think of being science fiction, but after some thought I have to agree. More of like a period piece science fiction. I find myself popping that movie in before bed, and end up staying up to finish the whole thing, much to my sleepiness.

    WALLE just makes me happy watching it.

  • JaySin420

    Nice list, I gotta check out Moon and Children of Men but I totally agree about Reloaded and the fight scene. I think that scene and the one with Neo fighting hundreds of Smiths are maybe the 2 best fight scenes in the history of movies.

  • Madison

    @ JaySin420

    Love the 420. Anyway, I like the chateau fight better than the Smith fight – there’s something about stunts and cables that trumps CGI every time. Once there are like 100 Smiths, it looks like a video game.

    Thanks for reading.

  • theo&thea

    “I had never seen a Star Trek movie or even a single episode of the show before in my life,”

    Then why are you reviewing Science fiction movies? Ignorant and boasting about it can it get worse…

    “Visually, the movie was great, although at times it felt more like a space opera than part of a universe like Star Wars.”

    …Apparently it can.
    Are you insane? Star Wars is the ultimate space opera.

  • Madison

    @ theo&thea

    For one, it’s pretty obvious that Abrams made the Star Trek reboot for everyone, not just Star Trek fans. And people who haven’t watched Star Trek can’t review science fiction movies? That’s like saying anyone who hasn’t seen Animal House can’t give his or her opinion on a comedy. It’s nonsense.

    As for my comparison to Star Wars, yes, Star Wars is indeed a space opera, and so that was a poor comparison on my part. My complaint about Star Trek is that it, too, felt like a space opera, but lacked the fully-realized universe that Star Wars had. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    And who’s boasting? These are my opinions, if you disagree, congratulations.

    Hell, it’s not like a listed 15 movies and said, “OK, these are good and these other movies suck.” I actually gave reasons for my selections, but apparently that wasn’t enough.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Ellie

    I’m really glad that you put Revenge of the Sith up here. I know a lot of people give it hate, but I like it. Especially the fight between Anakin and Obi-Wan (which I’m still a bit peeved that Mr. and Mrs. Smith won for best fight at the VMAs instead of Anakin and Obi-Wan).

    And I’m surprised that you put Wall-e up. I always seem to cry at the end (even though I know that Wall-e and Eve are going to get back together).

  • kubwak

    Soylent Green is PEOPLE!!!!!

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  • tissmekyle

    I thought “deja vu” was a great sci fi movie.
    as for putting matrix reloaded on list I agree with ya, out of the matrix movies thats the one I prefer (story might not be quite as good as origional but is a good for just the fights)
    I think donnie dharko has to be one of my most disliked movies. ps thought reihn of fire was a good movie.

  • Roboto

    I thought Star Trek was awful. I’m a lifelong fan and for me it was just a noisy non-nonsensical movie. Elements from Start Trek lore were thrown into the mix only to have some references for those in the know. The idea of a group of students somehow gaining command of a star ship was preposterous. And Eric Bana’s villain was a dull repeat of from the last movie.

    Also, Moon was a huge disappointment for me. They whole story was obvious from the 10 minute mark and on. While I agree there were some deeper aspects to the story. The fact that it unfolded just as I imagined it would, left me feeling cheated.

    I will have to check out Fountain. That looks interesting.

    Another movie I would recommend is “The Man From Earth”. It takes place mostly in one room, with the characters just talking. But it held me transfixed for its whole length.

  • theo&thea

    “And people who haven’t watched Star Trek can’t review science fiction movies? That’s like saying anyone who hasn’t seen Animal House can’t give his or her opinion on a comedy. It’s nonsense.”

    No it’s like saying that someone who hasn’t read Tolkien cannot make a list of the best fantasy books.You cannot skip certain hugely influential landmark works in a genre and expect to maintain your credibility, it means you lack any sort of background, knowledge and probably interest in the genre you are writing about.

    “My complaint about Star Trek is that it, too, felt like a space opera, but lacked the fully-realized universe that Star Wars had.”

    The movie is made in the context of an already created universe, that you do not know because you’ve never watched any of it.

    “And who’s boasting? These are my opinions, if you disagree, congratulations.
    Hell, it’s not like a listed 15 movies and said, “OK, these are good and these other movies suck.” I actually gave reasons for my selections, but apparently that wasn’t enough.”

    And I attacked you for what you wrote not the list, also don’t start with this ‘it’s just my opinion’.
    You wrote something, if you don’t want other peoples criticism of it just disable the comment section

  • http://tobefullofwin.wordpress.com lostty

    This is really an awesome list and I really agree with all your choices, except for the Matrix Reloaded…..Donnie Darko should have been higher than the Prestige though….

  • Meg

    Really good list. I love reading lists like this because it reminds me of the movies I wanted to see, but never got around to watching yet. Even though it wasn’t released in the last decade, I think an honorable mention should go to Cube. It was such an original movie that explores human nature, what people will do to survive. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s well worth it.

  • Danei

    I feel like A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy should be on this list, solely for the awesomeness of Stephen Fry’s narration.

  • Bell Curve

    Loved Serenity, Donnie Darko, The Prestige and Minority Report… Liked District 9 and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind… Did not see Fountain, Idiocracy, Primer or Moon… was “meh” regarding Children of Men, Star Trek and Matrix Reloaded… but really really *really* hated Wall-E.

  • Madison

    @ theo&thea

    Sorry, but your claim that someone can’t review sci fi movies – of which there are thousands – without seeing Star Trek is absurd.

    I lack any type of background or knowledge on the sci fi genre? Please.

    And like I pointed out, the movie was made for non-fans of the series. Are they not allowed to form an opinion? The very nature of a “reboot” allows it to be enjoyed without references to how it was originally presented.

    Glad you acknowledged that your comment was an attack. I’m fine with criticism – yours was more thoughtful than most – I just happen to think you’re way off base.

    Thanks for reading, hope you come back.

  • Madison

    @ Bell Curve

    You are the first person I’ve ever heard who hated WALL-E. What didn’t you like about it?

  • Madison

    @ Meg

    I saw Cube when I was in college. Loved it.

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  • IcemanD

    Late to the game here, but:

    Primer is a great movie (I actually own it). I just picked it up one day cause I thought it looked interesting. Sometimes you get lucky.

    Great inclusion of Idiocracy, love that movie.

    I also would have included Cube (call it Canadian bias…I’m cool with that) but I always thought that movie was awesome.

    Great list though, I really like all those movies (except Fountain…maybe I need to see it again).

  • Greg

    Fantastic list! I’m not such a fan of Sith or Darko (I know I’m in the minority on that one, but I thought it really dragged and was too self-important) but love all the other movies on your list.

    I would have swapped some of the order, but can’t come up with another movie I’d add. I’m also a supporter of the entire Matrix series. Maybe Speed Racer could even qualify, but it’s more fantasy.

    Looking forward to Duncan Jones’ next, whatever it is!

  • Bryan

    I liked the list, though I would have substituted Sunshine for Idiotacracy (which I did like). Just thought Sunshine has more sci-fi to it, plus I like the creepy factor, though the ending was a bit iffy.

    As for Star Trek, my wife and I have seen most episodes of most of the series (except the last season or 2 or Voyager and missed most of Enterprise), and all the movies, and we loved the new Star Trek. We also had fun pointing out old Star Trek lore that was incorporated, plus guessing when each character was going to show up.

    I’ll now have to Netflix Moon (when it comes out) and I already put Primer in my instant cue. Haven’t had a chance to see District 9 yet.

    I loved Theo&Blah’s dumb comments. Between various genres my wife and I could come up with a couple of hundred movies/books that they haven’t seen that are considered classics in their genre. But I guess being a Star Trek universe expert is the yardstick! :p

    Always love your lists.

  • nico

    great list. though probably a bit too many from 09.

  • Matt`

    I love me some Firefly, really a brilliant series (and everyone should watch it, ASAP) and the film being made was sort-of-but-not-really compensation for the loss of the series after it was cancelled. The problem is that in certain things it’s trying to rush through what would otherwise have been long-running, slow-reveal plot lines.

    I still liked the film, it’d be hard for me to not like it given the characters in there, but it’s a poor substitute for what could have been, if Firefly had been given a proper run as a series. Plus the ending was a hell of a deus ex machina – Mr Universe and his “broadcast everywhere” device were purely an invention for the film, not a reference back to anything in the series as might be assumed if you just watch the film.

    Conclusion: go watch Firefly, it’s awesome. Watching Serenity will be different after watching the series, but still good.

  • JeffMow

    Where the hell is A.I. ?

  • Madison

    @ Matt

    I actually *did* see the two-hour premiere (was it 2 hours?) of Firefly, and a random episode where Lattimer from The Program gets sucked into a giant fan. It’s one of those shows where I need to do a marathon DVD viewing.

    @ Greg

    I thought I was going to hate Speed Racer, but those visuals…my lord. Don’t know if it’s sci-fi, though…but I did like it for what it was.

    @ Bryan

    That last act of Sunshine kind of ruined it for me. I do want to see it again, though. Glad you enjoyed.

  • http://popcultureentertainment.wordpress.com Brandon S.

    I have to give you mucho kudos for including The Matrix Reloaded on here – an overlooked sci-fi great. Simply because it didn’t match the tone of the first movie people assumed it was crap (I think it was Keanu Reeves who put it succintly: The first movie is birth, the second, life, the third, death), and it bugs me when it’s automatically shrugged off even though it’s the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time and was generally well received critically at the time too. (70%+ on RT.) EW gave it something like a B and proceeded to put in on their 25 Worst Sequels of All Time list not four years later.

    But when you look at the insanely intricate storyline, the mind-blowing special effects, excellent soundtrack, and action sequences that still haven’t been topped six years later (the freeway chase?? 100+ Smiths?? The Castle scene?), combined with a story that keeps you guessing and throws a curveball and another aspect of the world of the Matrix at you every five minutes, it’s a movie that’s only grown in appeal to me every subsequent time I’ve watched it.

    Bravo! :-D

  • Gamer

    I say meh to the list. Good titles, a lot of cult classics. Though I would argue that the order is all wrong and would be happy to flame some of these titles as bad movies, or good movies with bad endings *cough* Minority Report. Its hard to make a list that will please everyone, but The Fountain over Star Trek??? Lame.

  • Madison

    @ Gamer

    The Fountain’s a polarizing one for sure, but to argue in favor of it over Star Trek: I had never seen anything like The Fountain and I felt the experience went beyond just a simply movie viewing. Star Trek, while excellent, just didn’t add more than being a fun, well-made movie.

  • Gamer

    @ Madison

    I will agree with you that The Fountain is something unique. I must admit that it bored me. The visuals were pretty amazing, but the plot just couldn’t keep me interested. I’m not saying it was a bad movie, I just don’t see it as an industry best. We will just have to agree to disagree :P

  • MacGyver1138

    Nice list. I agree with at least the ones I’ve seen being on here. I love Children of Men and District 9, and they are in the right place. I’m also glad you included The Matrix Reloaded and Revenge of the Sith, as I think people hate on those movie more because they don’t live up to their predecessors rather than because they are bad movies. When judged on their own merits, I think both films hold up pretty well. Sure, they aren’t perfect, but I get sick of everybody acting like they were terrible.

    Also, I’m going to have to check out Moon (too bad it didn’t get a wide release) and The Fountain.

  • Madison

    @ MacGyver1138

    Yes, Sith and Reloaded are at such a disadvantage because they are inevitably compared to their predecessors, two of tje greatest sci-fi movies ever. Besides, it’s so cool to hate the Star Wars and Matrix sequels. Reloaded and Sith are far from terrible; they’re both better than 99% of the ridiculous sci fi crap that’s prduced every year.

    Thanks for reading.

  • John

    Holy moly, thanks for “District 9″ and “Moon.” Just watched 9, which was on my list anyway but thanks for reminding me… and Moon which I’d never heard of. Both were amazing! Primer will be next as soon as I can find it.

  • Madison

    @ John

    Glad you liked them. Primer is unlike anything you’ve seen, but it’s friggin brilliant.

  • Mattrix

    Equilibrium is number one for me. No contest.

  • Dax J.

    @ El idiota

    You’re right, “El idiota” is the perfect designation for you.

  • Padidas

    Sunshine would be my number 1.

    Despite it’s abrupt change from sci-fi to something closer to a slasher/horror movie, I still thought it captured a believable portrayal of the human psyche. Along with its stunning visuals, highly emotional soundtrack, and compelling message, the movie deserves at least top 5 in my list.

    FYI, second time watching it, especially on BluRay was a lot better than the first.

  • john k

    where’s the props for “eXistenZ”?!

    One of Cronenberg’s greats and although it will always be in the shadow of the Matrix, it is a solid cerebral film with an eerie yet satisfying take on videogame ‘life’.

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  • Brandon M. Sergent

    Didn’t read the comments, don’t expect anyone to read this.

    Just saying I’m damn tired of movie list comments consisting almost entirely of “this movie sucked” or “you left out *movie I’m clever for thinking of that you didn’t*”

    Everyone needs to shut the fuck up or make their own damn list.

    Asshats.

  • greybeard

    children of men sounds a lot like an old sf novel by brian aldiss called “greybeard” –considered a classic.

  • Jordan

    I don’t like the inclusion of Matrix Reloaded on this list because I felt like it destroyed all of the themes that the original Matrix established. However both sequels are pretty good and make a great trilogy. I just feel like the Matrix would have been better if it stood alone.

    Also I felt that you divulged a little too much information about the Prestige. That you likely spoiled that movie for those who hadn’t seen it.

    I also disagree with you saying Insomnia is the only Nolan movie that isn’t incredible. Because I happen to think that that movie is also incredible.

  • http://themoviehater.wordpress.com/ Dave

    I certainly found all of my favorites on this list – I’d have reordered them, but that’s inevitable. But how on earth is Idiocracy on any best of list? I’ll also join the many who decried Matrix: Reloaded. The first Matrix is vastly over-rated and they only got much, much worse.

  • http://flaim.wordpress.com flaim

    Very nice list. As a huge sci-fi fan I’ve seen all this – too bad I love ALL sci-fi movies and watch them over and over again- just because there aren’t many : ( – and I’m hungry all the time.

    My top four would be moon (music is important to mention here – this adds a flavor which most of the movies on the list lack!!!), d9 (too many reasons), fountain (music again, and nice analog effects), star trek – but this is pretty personal for everyone.
    Sunshine and Equilibrium should be on the list too (both somewhere in the middle-end) – but isn’t Equilibrium older than 10yrs?.
    I can’t agree with Serenity which is a really simple flick for me and gives an impression of a computer game – not a really serious movie.
    Minority Report fits well – why didn’t u put I am Legend as well ?- there are two different endings on the DVD release making it a bit better and less annoying.
    Matrix, star wars ..why not? – people tend to kick them in the butt for being sequels- but these movies can defend themself – they are actually far better than most sci-fi productions and had bigger budgets giving the audience a better eye-candy – and that’s part of good SF!
    Star Trek – pure sci-fi classic theme and it’s a miracle the new version didn’t spoil the old mood.

  • Madison

    @ flaim

    Interesting that you mention the music in Moon and The Fountain…Clint Mansell did the score for both. He’s pretty good.

    Equilibrium is from 2002, but I don’t think it was a top 15 movie. Cool concept, but ultimately pretty forgettable, IMO.

    I didn’t think I am Legend was great – it was decent, and it was pretty infuriating that they changed the ending, completely missing the point of the title of the book/movie.

    Thanks for reading.

  • FoxInSocks

    If only you had made this list extend one more year – you could have included 1999′s The 13th Floor. It had story and style without any over the top cheesy effects. Still one of my favorite movies of all time.

  • chris

    The Man From Earth – made in 2007, undoubtedly one of the best science fiction films in the last decade. But nobody’s seen it yet. And very few critics want to touch it due to its religious controversy. * Sigh * At least folks at the IMDB (Internet Movie Database) got it right and named it in the top 10 best science fiction movies of all time.

    So glad that Primer and Fountain are on the list. Those are 2 other movies I thought would have been lost in the mix. Sunshine was great until it completely fell apart at the end and so I think is undeserving – the movie was a big tease as in: “I could of been great, but psyche! I’m not!” Haven’t seen Idiocracy yet, so that’s on my list. Also a big shout out to Cypher (2002) with Lucy Liu, another amazing sci fi gem that nobody’s seen.

    Other than that…Revenge of the Sith, Matrix Reloaded, Star Trek…really????? Forget a top 15 list, are those movies even worth the time to sit down and re-watch again????

    P.S. Sci Fi’s BSG the tv series is the best thing ever created…ever… : )

  • Madison

    @ chris

    The Man From Earth is actually available on my streaming Netflix through Xbox…I’ll make it a point to check it out. I’ve heard great things about it.

  • chris

    Madison – awesome! You won’t regret it! : )

  • PH8

    You say you’ve never watched an episode of Star Trek or Firefly but think you are qualified to even speak to what is good scifi? PLEASE!!!

  • justin

    code 46 is a very overlooked movie that anyone who likes scifi should check out. Its sure to please. :)

    >>begin rant
    I think the OP does have a good list but frankly have to agree with PH8 about not being qualified to do a top 10 list if you have not watched ANY star trek or firefly. Firefly could be forgiven if you wanted to be polite, but NO STAR TREK? How it that possible?

    Its like saying you are doing a top 100 music list of the century and had never listened to the beetles, elvis or beethoven .

    >>end rant

  • MacGyver1138

    @ Justin:

    I see your point, but none of the music you listed would be in this century. Beethoven would not even be in the last century.

  • THEcreationist

    A good list. I agree with you on all points but two. Reloaded deserved a better position, certainly in top three. And those who underrate it surely did not understand it. Maybe they are just action lovers, or they love magic or fantasy more than science fiction. What reloaded showed was truly high order science fiction, but being a computer scientist, let me tell you, everything was within bounds of science.
    Secondly, I don`t think District 9 was that good to make it to top three. I would better be at 4 or 5.
    Overall, good list.

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  • http://www.fantasynews.co.uk Jonelle Rumery

    I’m a huge science fiction fan and I absolutely love the stuff you have on this site. Please keep up the good work and I’ll keep checking back. If you get more information on The Event I would love to read it. Thanks

  • Will

    awesome list..the inclusion of primer, which was probably one of the cheapest time travel movie ever made, was awesome… Donnie Darko was also a good time travel move… great opinions!! ive seen every movie on the list, and was really bored with the fountain.. except the ending, which was pretty cool.. thanks !!!!

  • S.O.

    From the whole list, the only movies I didn’t watch are The Fountain (which I had never heard of, but I’m gonna give it a try), The Primer (that’s sitting on a stack of “to be watched” for months) and Serenity. When I came across your list, there was also another movie I didn’t watch: Children of Men. Considering that my feelings towards every other movie in this list range from “like” to “love”, and I’ve seen Children of Men listed as a great movie before, I was quite hyped about it. Unfortunatelly, it didn’t make the cut for me. Except a few scenes, I was bored from start to end. And it’s not like movies need to be all about time travel or high speed chases or whatever to me. I LOVED Moon, for instance. It was compelling and kept you guessing. And you cared for that poor bastard. Unfortunatelly, I can’t quite say the same for Theo or any other character in CoM.

    Overall a good list, but a misleading #1.

  • http://www.allisnow.com/horror/ Stephen Frasier

    Nice list. I’ve been looking at several “best sci-fi movie of decade” lists, and yours ranked in the top ten in my Google search. I enjoyed Children of Men (Clive Owen is fantastic; I’ve been a fan of his since the first Bourne film), but I don’t think it makes my top 10. Sunshine does, though, and so does District 9. I also think the Terminator movies are fantastic (for the most part) so I’d probably include one of them as well.

    Idiocracy is hilarious – seeing it in a top-of-decade list was a pleasant surprise.

    Keep up the great work; I’m glad to have finally discovered your site.

  • David H

    Your missing butterfly effect lol, when i first seen it i thought, the best film ever. dnt quite think that now but still a great film and still needs a mention.

  • http://meh Glen

    I am glad to see someone else who appreciates the complex and wonderfully dramatic film “The Fountain”. It contains Hugh Jackman’s best film performance to date and was able to tie in the three stories without losing its way at all. Also, Mansell’s soundtrack for it is worth listening to on its own.

    Children of Men; Asides from everything else that makes it great, people need to check out the long cut in the ruins. All one-shot, no cuts and it lasts a couple of minutes all with explosions, action and people running around. I do not know how they managed to pull it off, but is is the best shot in all of sci-fi.

    For “The Prestige”, why would you give away the reveal that Hugh Jackman’s clone dies in the vat? In the film this is brought to light about half-way through (perhaps even later) and it is such a fantastic plot twist (or reveal) that you really should not have spoiled it.

    SPOILER:
    Minority Report was fine until a huge plot-hole towards the end. In the film, Cruise’s wife (or EX) uses an eye-ball to get into the prison room. What I found terrible is that asides from having the eye, how did NO person notice her going all the way to one of the areas with the most important function and, one would think, the most security? Her springing Cruise was such bad writing that it ruins the ending of the film.

  • http://www.3mph.dk Rolfie

    I miss the Cube-films. Forget the 2nd one, 1 & 3 are truely amazing.

  • jason

    District 9 was one of the few movies I quit on. There was nothing subtle about it and it felt sooo preachy from the get-go.

  • Lion

    Children of God is nothing but socialist crap communist shit.

    • 5vankmajer

      No.

  • seriously

    whats wrong with being social and living with people i dont get it ?

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