Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nerd Movie Lists: Top 10 Science Fiction Movies of All Time

This will hopefully be the first entry in a running series where me and my two buddies, Zach and Adam, rank our favorite movies by category. This started as a harmless e-mail thread as Zach was watching the end of Battlestar Gallatica and its since taken on a life of its own.

As you might imagine from a series that spawned through discussion of the greatest science fiction TV show of all time, the first entry will deal with the greatest science fiction movies of all time. Here are our lists with plenty of explanation, rationalizing and debating.

I cheated by looking at top 100 list and was surprised at what gets included in Science fiction. I mean, I think Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a really really fantastic movie but its not sci fi. I also split the Star Wars trilogy up. 

Here are some bordline sci fi movies I left off that would have otherwise gotten serious consideration: Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Donnie Darko, Clockwork Orange

1. A New Hope - Original cut (this applies to all 3). Empire might be better but I love this one the most if for no other reason than the ending with Han saving the day. And Porkins.
2. Serenity - Malcolm Reynolds is perhaps my favorite character in any science fiction film. He's like a grown up, angrier version of Han. Between the humor, the wit and the action I just love this movie irrationally. 
3. Blade Runner - Gritty, weird. Ford is fantastic in the whole thing and it does a ton without saying a lot and without a ton of action. I saw this ~2 years ago and it still holds up really well I think.
4. The Empire Strikes Back - Yoda. Wampas. Boba Fett. Lando. Never tell me the odds.
5. Return of the Jedi - I don't hate the Ewoks. There, I said it. Plus the last 20 minutes are really well done at splitting between the three actions sequences. The Jabba's barge escape scene is also awesome. And Luke as an honest to goodness Jedi Knight!
6. Children of Men - This movie is pure grit and grim and misery. It might be the best depiction I've ever seen of what a future would actually look like where there is no hope. Plus the car chase tracking shot might be the greatest cinematic accomplishment in history.
7. The Fifth Element - I saw this on TV over the weekend so I might be giving it too big a bump. Whatever. I enjoy this movie. Bruce Willis as futuristic cab driver for the win. Also the chick is hot (hey it never hurts).
8. The Matrix - Spawned literally a million copies of its fight scenes, and yet the lobby attack scene is still probably the coolest scene of any of them. The sequels were awful in my opinion bu this movie absolutely delivered.
9. Terminator 2 - I think this was the first R movie my parents let me watch. This might shape my impression. It's weird to watch now because the special effects aren't as jaw-dropping and any movie with Arnold is a bit weird. Still fun though.
10. Minority Report - Snuck on to the list as something of a surprise. I love a good mystery and this one does a good job of mixing action, suspense and all the precog sci fi elements together. 

For the record I, Robot and Planet of the Apes (original) make this list if I combine the Star Wars movies. I really wanted to put 2001 on here but at the end of the day that movie just grinds to a halt in so many places I can't deal with it.

Here is mine. This is tough shit. If I kept looking at it I am sure I would continue to move stuff around, but it was already taking too long. Note on not including Blade Runner - I know it is ranked by about everyone at the top, but I have only seen it once and don't know/remember it well enough to put it in the top 10. Need to re-watch obviously. My list feels a bit "popcorny," but it is what it is. These are the movies that have impacted my life the most. The other thing I noticed while looking at the top 100 lists (I cheated too, afraid I would forget something) is that there are a lot of sci-fi movies that I have not seen yet. 
  1. Star Wars
    1. The reason why we are talking about it. This was the start of my love for sci-fi. Also helped lead to my general fascination with space/planets/astrophysics in general.
  2. Alien
    1. The most prominent theme of my nightmares over the year: the alien from Alien. Fucking scary movie. The ending sequence is unbelievable. Also, gets ranked higher b/c my Mom and I share a love of the Alien(s) movies and I first watched it with her. It was just us two, b/c my Dad hates scary alien movies.
  3. Empire Strikes Back
    1. Mature Star Wars. I could watch the lightsaber battle everyday. Plus, Yoda shows up. The appearance of Yoda should be ranked right behind the Civil Rights movement in terms of societal importance.
  4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    1. A realistic alien movie that is brilliant, funny and heartfelt. I will be able to hum those 5 notes for the rest of my life.
  5. Aliens
    1. The reason why Adam is my best friend.
  6. Matrix
    1. The story concept is amazing. Groundbreaking action sequences and filming techniques. Might deserve higher ranking based on the fact that it is an amazing movie despite Keanu Reeves being in it.
  7. 2001
    1. I only understand about half of what is going on and it took me a while to appreciate its pace, but am still blown away. Causes me to seriously think more than any other film on the list.
  8. Jurassic Park
    1. First movie that did justice to the Dinos. Still remember going to see it with my parents on a Friday night at the theaters. Thrilling - a wonderful combination of awe and amazement with being scared shitless.
  9. E.T.
    1. Integral part of childhood. Cried. Somehow found a way to take an ugly-ass alien and make it lovable.
  10. T2
    1. ACTION at its finest. Debated the original (more gritty and whatnot), but couldn't do it. Arnie at his peak.
Honorable Mention (no specific order)
  • The Abyss
  • Serenity
  • Star Trek II
  • Back to the Future
  • The Fifth Element
  • Blade Runner
  • Children of Men
  • District 9
  • Independence Day
  • Predator
I must recall my rip of you guys looking at top 100 lists. Necessary move it turns out, so many movies out there. I had to go back and I missed a lot.

I'm gonna have two lists. The first is the scifi movies that had more of an impact on me as a kid and I am still fond of even if they don't stack up today, but most still do.

Honorable mentions: Waterworld (I know for adults at the time that it bombed and Kevin Costner looks weird with balding long hair, but I still grew up with it and liked it), The Last Starfighter

10. Daryl - This is one of the movies we had taped off TV. I watched it a ton. He flies a Blackbird!
9. Flight of the Navigator - Compliant.
8. Short Circuit - Johnny Five is Alive.
7. Explorers - just so cool. They build their own spaceship. Another taped off TV movie. Did you guys see this one?
6. Innerspace - Martin Short at his finest. Meg Ryan at some of her hottest.
5. Independence Day - Let's kick the tires and light the fires.
4. Stargate - Them walking through the liquid wall/door blew my mind, especially with all the wormhole effects after.
3. ET - Made me cry like a year ago.
2. Back to the Future - This is just one of my favs.
1. Aliens - I think I might be able to recite this whole movie. Probably will always be my fav.

The next is all encompassing. I think some of these might be higher, but there are some that I haven't gone back to enough to score higher. Also, War of the Worlds was on over X-mas. Solid movie.

Honorable mentions: MST 3K The Movie, the Prometheus trailer, 5th Element, Contact, The Fly, The Abyss, Total Recall, Children of Men (I think this would be a lot higher, but I only saw it once), Predator. It's probably too early to include Super 8, but I liked it.

12. Star Trek II - The scene in the nebula storm is so good.
11. The 5th Element - Lelu Dallas multi-pass. Chris Tucker, solid movie.
10. Jurassic Park - Still great, but I watched it over Thanksgiving and I mean, the tree scene is ridiculous. I still wish they would have put in Pterodactyl's and the raft scene from the book. Alas, a classic though.
9. Minority Report - Very good, very futuristic, Tom Cruise running (of course), I agree with AJ, this is a surprising one.
8. Serenity - She is starting to damage my calm! I'm a leaf on the wind.
7. The Empire Strikes Back
6. The Matrix - I watched this again recently. Do you think we will always think special effects are AMAZING and then 5-10 years later they won't be as amazing? Why is that?
5. ET - classic
4. T2 - Your clothes, give them to me.
3. Return of the Jedi - The Ewoks never bugged me either. The scene in the woods with the hoverbikes or whatever they are is great. This one is the best for me.
2. Back to the Future - Enough said. George McFly was in the building here today by the way.
1. Aliens - Game over man.

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