district 9

Top 10 Science Fiction Movies of the Decade 2000-2009

All the end-of-year/decade lists going up right now inspired me to hit one up of my own. And all the hype about James Cameron’s Avatar, which is being trumpeted as some sort of monumental science fiction success, gave me just the topic:  the actual best science fiction movies of the aughts.

This list might be controversial, but I stand by it.  I watch a lot of movies, and not just the big-name stuff–indie and foreign flicks comprise probably half of what I see between the big screen and my DVD player.  Science fiction is a problematic genre; it is one of my first loves in movies (although, interestingly, not really in books)–but it is so rarely done well.  2000-9 was a decade of remakes and sequels and also, I suppose, an average decade for SF films.  It had enough true gems to fill out a top 10 list and not a whole lot more.  The years represented tended to be two or three movies in a year or two-year span, then a gap before the next grouping.

And lest any accusations fly over my being some sort of movie snob who won’t watch a big-budget SF movie, here’s a list of movies you might be expecting to see on here and won’t, despite the fact that I did see them–they just weren’t good enough:  Avatar, Minority Report, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, any of this decade’s Star Trek movies (although I did like the newest one quite a lot, and it might have made a top 20), War of the Worlds, Transformers, Terminator III (well, maybe you wouldn’t expect to see that one here, but I did see it), Alien vs. Predator (and half the sequel, which was all I could sit through), Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, either of the Matrix sequels…I’m sure there were a few others I can’t remember, because, if there is one thing big-budget, studio SF movies seem to have in common, it’s that they are forgettable.  Oh, yeah, saw Iron Man.  See what I mean?

Finally, a few words about criteria–fantasy (i.e., magic and not technology) was not considered, so no Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.  I am using as my definition for SF stories that are based in science (anything from medicine to theoretical physics), technology, or a projection of the future.  Magic, the occult, and Middle Earth don’t cut it.  Television series were not considered, so no Battlestar Galactica or Stargate.  I looked at the film equivalents of monographs (vs. serials) only.

So, without further ado…My Top Ten Best Science Fiction Movies of the Decade

10.  Cloverfield.

Included because of the possibility that the monster was an alien, and even if it wasn’t the monster vs. technology mode is a classic form of the SF movie; but I’ll list an alternate at the bottom in case anyone disagrees that this is SF.  Regardless, this movie is a classic monster movie, updated to modern times and given a fresh start.  It took documentary-style filming to a new extreme, and it was very careful to operate within its capabilities.  It didn’t try and reach too far with its special effects, instead playing on the fear of the unknown and the fear of the monster’s destruction rather than of the monster itself.  It showed that a team of unknowns on a shoestring budget can do with dedication, heart, and a creative approach what a studio can’t with endless funds and countless CG programmers.

 9.  Serenity.

Was this a 2-hour episode of Firefly disguised as a movie?  Perhaps.  Was it good enough to convince me to go buy the series (which I had missed entirely) on the strength of the movie alone?  Yes.  And was it a hilarious action caper that also had heart, consequences, and a truly fabulous villain?  Also yes.  I fell in love with the characters in one sitting, and I appreciated the darkness included in the movie.  Despite it starting out light-hearted and ending on a bittersweet but overall happy note, the movie didn’t shy away from brutality or the bleak responsibility for actions.  The Reavers were truly horrifying, not just for what they were but also for what they represented:  an attempt to stamp out the conflict in the human heart.  I loved the sentiment that to take away human conflict is to take away humanity; we’re a flawed but beautiful species, and too often humanity is represented simply as being flawed.  I also loved the philosophical villain, who is frightening because he is so implacable, and wonderful because he can recognize when he is wrong and change his course because of that recognition.

 8.  Code 46

The first of the dystopian-future movies to make the list.  This was an overlooked little movie that is disturbing on a lot of different levels, everything from the control given to the governments over literally every individual, to the horror of being reconditioned to hate what you love or to forget what you hate, to the Freudian sensuality of falling in love with a copy of a genetic parent.  The ending is so very bittersweet; this is one for those of you who love impossible love stories–the stories of a love so great it had to be put aside.  Haunting.  That’s what this story is.

 7.  District 9

What a fabulous movie this was.  Forget all the comparisons to apartheid too many critics made, and just look at it as I think it was intended to be looked at–a what if movie. What if aliens landed a ship above Earth and had no way to get home?  What would happen to them politically and socially?  How far would humanity go to push them away from us…and how far might one man go to save them?  Wikus is the perfect anti-hero:  he is an average man, who operates on a brutally selfish level (as, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us probably would do in those same circumstances) but yet finds a kernel of true heroism in himself at the same time.  The ship effects were fabulous; every detail mattered here, as the groaning and rattling of car windows as the ship moves recall childhood rides on the school bus, and the tractor beam picks up not just its target but also a whole ton of other stuff, and the dirt and filth and grit of the setting tell you that when the interviewees called District 9 a ghetto, they meant it.  The filming is a perfect balance between documentary and cinematic styles, with a few odd-angle fixed shots to keep things ever-interesting on a visual level.  Some of the deaths might even rate a spot on a best deaths of the decade list, so if you like that sort of thing it even has that going for it.

 6.  Sunshine

Danny Boyle is a fabulous director, and he did an excellent job with this film.  So much to love…first, I think, is the simple fact that it’s a movie about heroes.  Every single one of the people on that ship make a personal sacrifice to save the world; they are all heroes, in a day and age where movies seem reluctant to give us heroes because that’s “not realistic.”  These heroes were; some were weak, some were brave, but all of them were human.  Second, because he showcases the human fascination with a destructive power, the absolute beauty of something that has the ability to obliterate us.  Third, because there were no stars in his space–that close to the sun, there wouldn’t be.  I know for a lot of people this movie went haywire with the madman part, and the ship’s AI was really questionable for not catching the intrusion sooner, but I didn’t mind the final wrinkle in the plotline, and the ending was simply beautiful. Visually, and for the outcome of the mission.

 5.  Solaris

Even my list is not immune to the remake syndrome afflicting this decade!  But this was a remake that might have justified its existence by trumping the original.  The movie is compelling because of its acting.  The visuals are great, and the special effects subtle.  The story is achingly relatable–both in the sense that we are all haunted by the memories we carry around, and also in the sense that anyone who has lost their true love can understand the main character’s decision to go back into space, if that meant he could find her again.

 4.  Moon

I can’t say enough good things about Duncan Jones’ debut movie.  If you didn’t get the chance–or didn’t take the chance–to see this movie on the big screen, then you really missed out.  This movie shows why modeling is still a thousand times to be preferred to CG renderings, as Jones went back to some of the old masters to help out on this one.  Every detail was attended to, to make you feel like you are up there on the moon alone with Sam and his AI and his fragmented communication with Earth, from the dirty jumpsuit of a blue-collar working man to the lonely tracks on the moon showing that he was the only one to drive across that landscape to the beautiful blue planet hovering so close but so very far away.  The story will punch you in the gut with its tragedy and frighten you with its implications, and Sam Rockwell deserves a Best Actor nod for his performance, and this was quite possibly the best movie of 2009.

3.  The Fountain

Darren Aranofsky’s foray into SF wasn’t for everyone, but it was for me.  I have seen this movie upwards of ten times, and I love it more every time I watch it.  I love his oils-in-water, 1960s-light-show special effects, and I love the heartbreaking story of a man who spends 500 years trying to save his dying wife, and I love the fact that it is such an open text that after that many viewings I’m still not sure what actually happened and what was simply story-within-story–as in, didn’t actually happen.  And I love that Aranofsky refuses to explain, that he wants people to not be sure, to be able to see what they want in the film.  Also, I love the conception of a truly unique means of space travel; 500 years into the future the technological mechanisms they’re using are going to be as incomprehensible to us as an Ipod would be to William the Conquerer, so, sure, why not make it a floating bubble in space?  It’s not likely to seem any more familiar to us than that does, whatever the future holds.  Also, one of the best love stories of all time, period.

 2.  Donnie Darko

I struggled with whether this is a science fiction movie or some other brand of speculative fiction, but in the end decided that the parallel universe and time traveling ideas counted as physics, therefore…here it is.  This is probably the out-and-out weirdest of the movies on this list, which is saying something considering the company it keeps, but it is a strange little story.  It makes you think:  it makes you wonder what’s going on, and it makes you wonder what if, and it makes you wonder if you’d be brave enough to make the same choice.  It’s another movie that is fabulous from a production standpoint, with excellent cinematography and directing, and a break-out performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.

 1.  Children of Men

This is not just the best science fiction movie of the decade, but a movie that would make my best of all time list.  This movie is a slow burn.  The first time you watch it you might just think it’s interesting and sometimes funny, has a compelling story and good acting, crazy dystopian future and a wild scary premise, but maybe not one that you immediately recognize as amazing. But if you let it sink into your brain for a few days or weeks or months, and come back to it again…you realize that this movie is perfect.  There is not one detail to be changed in its filming or execution, and that is a rare thing to say, indeed.  It has some of the best war scenes I’ve ever seen in an SF film, and the directing pulls off some rather incredible sequences of extended action and choreography ranging into the minutes before any editing break occurs.  The acting is across the board excellent, and the conflict open enough that you don’t really know what’s going on, whether there is a giant governmental (or corporate) conspiracy to control population growth or if it was some strange disease or what.  It tells you just enough to satisfy, and not enough to ruin.  It strikes every balance right, and to change anything at all would diminish the brilliance of the whole.

 A few interesting observations.  None of these were high-budget films; several were made for about $5 million, and most (perhaps even all, but I’m lazy and didn’t look up the ones I didn’t know offhand) for no more than $40 million.  While some of them have recognizable actors, none of them have big stars who are a box office draw on the strength of their name alone.  Yet, somehow, all of them are all quality films from a movie production standpoint–they are well-directed, well-acted, well-written, well-designed, well-constructed movies.  They blow their big-budget counterparts out of the water in pretty much all of those ways, and to me that just sort of implies that SF is best left to those who truly love it, not those who are just trying to capitalize on a current trend.

Most of these movies also have incredible soundscapes to accompany them.  A lot of it is moody, dreamy, hypnotically beautiful instrumentals–specifically Sunshine, The Fountain, Moon, Solaris, and Code 46Code 46 introduced me among other things to Sigur Ros, who are one of my favorite foreign bands now.  The Fountain soundtrack is probably my favorite soundtrack of all time.  From the Sunshine score, which overall is a mixed bag, “Kanada’s Death, Part II” and “Sunshine, Adagio in D-minor” are absolutely transcendent.  Children of Men and Donnie Darko also use very recognizable and iconic individual songs.  I love that music wasn’t overlooked or undervalued by the directors; it can make or break a film.

Finally, a short list of other movies I want to mention and why.  These are not necessarily runners up; a couple of them would be, others weren’t quite SF enough to make my list, others are simply movies I thought were interesting and deserved a bit of attention just for doing something different.
Alternate number 10, if you don’t count Cloverfield as science fiction:  28 Days Later.  Danny Boyle gets major props for being the only director to show up twice on this list.  With this film he created a (biological warfare-based, therefore SF) reinvention of zombie movies, and showed the world that the grotesqueries of horror aren’t necessarily incompatible with good direction, good acting, good editing, and being just a damn good movie.

The Cowboy Bebop movie deserves consideration just for being part of one of the best SF series ever.  Like Serenity, this could be considered a two-hour episode of the show played on the big screen, but the story was self-contained enough that you can love this film without ever having seen the series.  Moreover, if you’re into animation, they went above and beyond the normal fabulousness of the 15-minute episodes in this swan song opus.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was a movie that I just wasn’t sure counted as unequivocally SF as it would need to to make this kind of list.  It does use technology, but is it quite enough technology?  I couldn’t be sure.  So I left it off, but it must be mentioned as a near-miss or a just-barely-disqualified because it really is such an interesting premise, such a good story, such a good love story, and such a performance from Jim Carrey–his best, in my opinion.  One of my favorite movies and love stories of all time, regardless of what other lists it makes.

Mike Judge’s Idiocracy deserves a nod for its truly frightening dystopian future–frightening because it seems so very, very possible at times.  Unfortunately the movie as a whole wasn’t really good enough to earn it a spot, but its first 15 minutes should be required viewing in every classroom in America.  Wake the fuck up, people–that can’t be our future.  As in, we must not let it be.

District B-13 was a minor French SF release that probably didn’t come to your neck of the woods unless you live in NY, LA, or Austin. I have no idea if it’s a serious movie to native speakers; I had subtitles, and so for all I know it’s the equivalent of a Jean-Claude van Damme movie if you speak the language.  But its premise was a near-future worst-case-scenario sort of projection that seems frighteningly possible, and it stars two stuntmen instead of “actors,” so the action is first-rate and nearly non-stop, and for those two reasons it warrants a mention here for those of you always on the hunt for a new dystopian movie to depress yourself with or an adrenaline rush to pump yourself up with.

The Prestige is almost more properly Steampunk than science fiction, since it’s science fiction set in the past and thus not still possible. But Chris Nolan did such a fine job with the film, and it’s just a toe over that disqualification line, that I felt it deserved a mention as an also-ran.

Watchmen is another in the mode of The Prestige that I’m not sure can count as SF since it involves an alternate version of our past.  Also, I don’t know if I would have put it in my top 10 even if I did decide it counted, because I am not sure how I’ll view it in ten years. With the movies on my list, any CG is either small enough or used for blending modeling instead of as the base for action or the world, and I’m afraid that this movie might have relied too much technology that can (and will) be surpassed to still stand strong as a great movie–not a great story or great acting, but a great movie, on the technical side of things–to look as good at the end of next decade as it does now.  However, it is a fabulous story and an interesting exploration of human psychology and morals, and certainly it’s worth watching to give us all pause in allotting too much power to people who “know what’s best for us” better than we know for ourselves.

2046 is another that isn’t quite SF, isn’t quite anything else.  It’s also got strong elements of noir film and the reality-bending psychology that has been so popular this decade.  It’s foreign, it’s subtitled, it’s haunting, it’s lonely, it’s awesome.

So there you have it.  My top 10 science fiction movies of the last ten years, and a few others that people need to see.  But what do you think?

– originally published 1/1/2010


  1. You mean best of A decade, right? THE decade still has a year left in it and there are a few more movies coming out that look like good list contenders.

    Nice list though.

  2. Great list, although Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Primer should have probably earned a spot.

  3. Well, everyone seems to be considering 2010 to start a new decade, so even if it is simply a media construction, that is how it’s being called… There are certainly movies I’m hoping will be good coming out this year that could be contenders for the 2010s decade best of list. 🙂

    Glad you liked this one though!

  4. Kris, that is one I haven’t seen. Will make a point to check it out. Thanks!

  5. Sadly I haven’t seen any of these! I rarely get to the movies and when I do rent, I lean toward stories that will make me laugh and lift my mood. However, I will definitely be checking some of these out. Thanks for the list Elena.

  6. I agree 2009 is the end of the decade. Its the equivalent of 1999 kinda a no brainier then.

    Great list Elena, I enjoyed reading your reviews very much. I stumbled across your page and I’m glad i did.

    I have seen most of these films some more than others. Some i loved and some not so much , And some your reviews have me wanting to see again like the fountain and code 46.

    Only Disagreement i have with you really is Watchmen. It wasn’t awful, but not great either IMO sorry. I love the comic but just felt that this was a film that shouldn’t have been made.

    As far as eternal sunshine goes I couldn’t agree more. Just a fantastic film. I remember originally watching it and thinking wow how many people would do this if they could? and I wonder if it would be covered by insurance? probably not on the latter ..lol But at the end of the day love story or not i think you can make a case for it as a sci-fi movie .


  7. amberdrake, most of these movies do have a bittersweet ending but only one or two are kind of full-on sad. i don’t think you could go wrong with any of them.

    john, i’ve seen several people pan the film, and i think all of them knew the comic first. i do wonder if that has anything to do with it? for me it was great, but i don’t know the comic so maybe as a point of comparison it was terrible. glad i’ve inspired you to revisit some of the others!

    jay, children of men is a seriously underrated movie, and i’m not sure why. but when i’ve explained to friends why i think it’s so great and they watch it again, they always come back in agreement…yet it’s not one i’ve seen anyone else put up like this. pitch black/chronicles of riddick would have been a top 20, as would the new star trek. 🙂 i’m really not sure where eternal sunshine would have ended up in the numbering if i’d put it in the list, but probably in the top 5.

  8. Excellent choice for your top three. I think my list would go:

    1. Donnie Darko
    2. The Fountain
    3. A Scanner Darkly
    4. Children of Men
    5. Eternal Sunshine
    6. Revenge of the Sith
    7. Vanilla Sky
    8. Matrix Revolutions
    9. Moon
    10. Jay reminded me of Pitch Black. Haven’t seen it a while, but I remember enjoying it more than many other big name SF films of the 00s.

    People might rag on me for including new school Lucas and a Matrix film, but oh well. The best stretches of Sith show me more artistry than any number of more vogue picks for good movies. The last 45 minutes of District 9 were some of the most excruciating time I’ve ever spent in a theater (we’re talking close to Terminator Salvation bad). Avatar was a fun adventure, but it’s kid’s play from the man who brought us Hicks and Hudson. I don’t consider The Dark Knight to be SF, but even if I did I find that the initial shimmer of that one is wearing off to the point that I prefer Batman Begins. Being the type of viewer who thought Star Trek V was one of the more imaginative efforts, I thought the Abrams reboot was clinical drivel.

    – Zach

  9. I would have included “A Scanner Darkly”, but agree that “Children of Men” is one of the greatest sci-fi films ever made.

  10. Loved your ten best list, even if I disagreed with it.

    I would have added renaissance and ghost in the shell: Innocence to the list (the Japanese, along with Britain and the US have seemingly inhaled the genre, over the last 20years). Honourable mentions should include Minority Report, a; marker of Spielberg’s maturation of a great, adult S-F director and V for Vendetta, every bit the great S-F cinematic work we’ve seen in the literature’s canon of the last third of the 20th century.

    I would add that Watchmen, undoubtedly a work of S-F in its subgenre of Alt-History, will probably be regarded the way Citizen Kane and Bladerunner came to be regarded despite decidedly mixed reviews and lukewarm ticket sales.

    I wouldn’t overlook another example of the above sub-genre, C.S.A, a sly, witty look at a topic–and evoking it– the great literary SF master, Ward Moore, first covered over half a century ago, in his classic, Bring the Jubilee(and why hasn’t anyone tried filming one of the finest examples of steampunk and Alt-history, Keith Roberts’s Pavane?)

    One more thing: I appreciate the way Elena uses the short-hand “S-F” rather than the obscenity mainstream and even fanboygirl reviewers use with no respect for the legacy of the great Golden Age literary giants (Alfred Bester once conjured up a scathing commentary on the term, “Sci-fi” in a memorable review in F&SF….in an issue from the early sixties!)

  11. Watchmen lost me with its over the top fight scenes. Maybe its length as well. I’m still not convinced that was a story that needed to be adapted for the screen.

    Opening credits were amazing, though.

    – Zach

  12. What about “The Core” ? That was classic science fiction in an updated mode of Jules Verne. The casting of the characters was fantastic – Stanley Tucci and Hillary Swank. My personal favorite of the last 20 years.

  13. No love for WALL-E then? I would have thought it deserved at least an honorable mention.

    Since Elena already brought up an anime movie, I will go ahead and say that I think 5 Centimeters Per Second, Paprika, Origin: Spirits of the Past, and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Solid State Society were all superior sci-fi anime films from the last decade.

  14. sunshine should have scored higher in my opinion i found the story quit compelling

  15. Dang, Greyweather, as soon as I’d written the post, I smacked my forehead over omitting “Wall-E”, a film that, just on the opening visuals, alone, reminded me of Mel Hunter’s iconic “Christmas Robot” that he did for the covers of Boucher’s, Davidson’s and Mill’s F&SF, in the fifties and early sixties. Doesn’t it seem as if the best work in cinematic SF is being done by animators?

    I didn’t like the 3rd GitSac movie as much as the original and the very underrated Innocence. I thought it was a rehash of the 2 great seasons of the TV series. Masamune and Oshii rock!!!

  16. Please…Solaris? Cutting the brilliant ending of Stanislaw Lem’s novel, with Kris contemplating the total alienness of the universe, and turning it into A SECOND CHANCE AT LOVE? That final scene turned the movie into a cliche. Lem never did cliches.

  17. Soooooo.. you figure Cloverfield, Serenity and the Solaris remake as all superior films to …Avatar?!?

    Has it occurred to you that the majority, popular opinion must occasionally be correct, just because this will occur statistically some percentage of the time? I can’t help feeling it’s a juve, kneejerk reaction that you would put those B or C efforts above Avatar just because it’s popular..

    My Olympian Gods, Serenity? REALLY??? Personally, I wouldn’t have put that shite in my top billion-gazillion to the 250th power list of sf films…

    @Kris – yah, Primer serious contender for #1 – I know lotsa engineers, that’s just the kinda blokes they are, how they talk/think/conspire. I figure some engineers musta wrote it.

  18. Cloverfield was the worst movie ever. I am a strong movie watcher, what I mean by that is that I watch a movie every day to keep my mind sharp. I have 256 movies on my 500GB hard drive, and I like all of them and all the movies I have seen so far, but Cloverfield,NO.
    1.5 out of 1000000 stars.

  19. Cloverfield was the worst movie ever. I am a strong movie watcher, what I mean by that is that I watch a movie every day to keep my mind sharp. I have 256 movies on my 500GB hard drive, and I like all of them and all the movies I have seen so far, but Cloverfield,NO. 1.5 out of 1000000 stars. Now The Prestige, that a good movie with a great twist that even I never would of guest. 4 out of 5 stars

  20. I thought Cloverfield was a great example of an apocalyptic horror movie [what I consider a sub-genre of cinematic SF engendered by Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” and, arguably, a legitimate sub-genre of even even literary SF e.g. Wyndham’s “Out of the Deeps” and “Day of the Triffids”]. It played like a fever dream. I thought it had more bang for its buck than almost aniy other movie.made in the last three or four years.

    Thought it was great the way it built the sense of the unknown and the ensuing, slowly developing menace. A great touch–somerthing Romero can be said to have also pioneered–was in the non-explanation. Made it even scarier and more credible. The last by placing you in the stead of an individual smack dab in the middle of what appears to be one weird clusterf—k.

    Don’t know f I’d rate it over an Avatar, though.

  21. I think you need to include “Knowing” which Roger Ebert called “the best science fiction movie (he’s) ever seen.” At the very least, it’s a good alternate. I think a lot of people just didn’t get it, but they didn’t get 2001: A Space Odyssey either.

  22. Spencer:” think you need to include “Knowing” which Roger Ebert called “the best science fiction movie (he’s) ever seen….”

    That recommendation would carry alot of weight with me as Ebert is the most open, S-F friendly [but with discriminating taste–you can almost tell he was immersed in the genre in his adolescence]. The polar opposite of a Mahnola Dargis [NY Times], Janet Maislin [ditto] or an R Eder [who, in the pages of the Gray Lady, in the Seventies, while reviewing A Boy and his Dog, once referred to Harlan Ellison’s, L.Q. Jones’s and Don Johnson’s telepathic pooch, as a “talking dog “.

    I was dismissive of the movie after seeing the trailers–I’ll have to check it out.

  23. Great list, however, I would cross Serenity and Sunshine off of that list. I thought Firefly was crap and deserved to die; Josh Whedon simply can’t do TV and movies right. Serenity is simply more Firefly.

    And Sunshine? Boy, oh boy, I don’t even know where to start. That flick is wrong on so many levels. Bombing the Sun? I mean come ON! Suspension of disbelief ruined, right from the start. Definitely a B movie.

    I believe Children of Men deserves the first place. And Moon was a decent one, but probably not worthy of a top 10 place.

  24. Sunshine is surely a worthy inclusion…and probably the best contrast to Avatar. I wonder what will happen when Pandora’s star begins its death cycle…or a very large asteroid crosses its path? Well, unless that magic tree can manipulate astral physics or solar fusion, it’s probably curtains for the noble Navi’i. Contrast this to the hope and potential illustrated in Sunshine. Yes they bombed the sun (although why this is any more unrealistic than floating mountains, dragons, and humans actually attacking an intelligent humanoid species found on another planet is beyond me) and in doing so created the potential for an unlimited future for humanity. Presumably, the technology involved in Sunshine would someday progress to a human race that could in effect create their own sun, and thus their own planets…eventually leading to manipulation of greater galactic physics and…well, true immortality. And Avatar?

    The statements on the value of the human animal made by these two films is distinct. Sunshine certainly belongs in any top 10, and absolutely posits a better vision for the future than any smurf utopia.

    Children of Men. All time top ten, absolutely. Perhaps in more than just sci-fi. I might include it in my all time top-10 films ever made.

  25. No mention of Timecrimes (2007) aka Los Cronoscrimenes, or Triangle (2009)? That’s a shame.

  26. A decent enough list (really happy you put The Fountain on there which while flawed, I think is very underrated). Ultimately, personal tastes are not something that can be argued.

    However, there is one glaring, unforgivable omission from your list:

    The Man From Earth

    Came out in 2007 and blew my doors off and every sci fi lover I know. If you somehow don’t think it is science fiction, okay, I’ll buy that (but it is : ). If you haven’t seen it, now that’s unforgivable when you’re tasked with creating a list such as this. GO SEE IT!!! You’ll be happy you did.

    I always prefer cerebral sci fi that bends one’s mind and makes one think over special effects and pyrotechnics. And if the former is what juices you up, look no further than The Man from Earth!

  27. Wow, thanks for this comprehensive, well-researched, well-thought out, extremely well-written article. I have not seen all on this list, but am now motivated to do so.

  28. got to disagree with clover field though, ok so they wanted to shoot it blair witch style …. then for gods sake dont make it worse than the blair witch. just like that old number you follow a lot of screaming people from the same pov for about 2 hours and absolutely nothing happens, despite the fact theres a monster running riot. then it ends, leaving you non the wiser to what the hell just happened.

  29. hey man, thanks for this list. I was looking for some good movies to watch that I haven’t seen.

    On the other hand, Cloverfield was one of the worst movies I had ever seen! Please remove it from this list.

    Also, two of my favorite scifi movies of all time which you didn’t list (and really, favorite of all movies of all time, that are scifi movies) are:

    Minority Report (2002)
    Vanilla Sky (2001)

  30. I guess everyone has an opinion which movies they like to be on the top ten lists. Most of these movies would be way down on the bottom of my list if I was doing the article. Solaris was garbage in my book, a sad movie on any scale. Out of the ten movies picked on your list I would have to say district 9 and Moon was a good choice. I agree with you 100% Models beat out CG by a long shot. I hate CG it looks like I am watching a cartoon mixed with real live actors and that’s not acceptable to watch; CG just doesn’t look real to me.

  31. I agree with every pick except for The Fountain. That movie was honestly really boring and pointless. Good pick on Donnie Darko though.

  32. Two movies should have certainly been on this list:

    1 – I, Robot
    2 – Avatar

    I am surprised I, Robot is not there, it is such a brilliant movie

  33. Nice list Elena.

    I’m in the process of writing the second half of my own list. We agree on much especially in regards to the more popular blockbusters.

    1. Eternal Sunshine
    2. Donnie Darko
    3. Wall E
    4. Avatar (it is good, sadly)
    5. 28 Days Later/Sunshine
    6. The Fountain
    7. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (might remove this one)
    8. Artificial Intelligence
    9. Moon
    10. K-Pax or Children of Men, I’m still undecided

    I don’t agree with you about Solaris, finding the original version far superior.
    I can’t stomach Cloverfield and District 9’s documentary style, and Children of Men just left me cold for some reason.

    Overall its been a crappy decade, I’m not seeing any of these films apart from the top 1-4 having much staying power.

  34. Well.. this list has two of my top movies for a long while, Children of men and Moon. So I think it’s pretty good. I think I need to check Donnie Darko since it’s pretty much the only movie on the list I haven’t seen. (although I’ve heard talking of it)

    Now I wouldn’t like to take this conversation out from the real movies department but in addition to cowboy bebop I might add one other animation series that every scifi fan should watch: Planetes.

    It tells about a not too distant future in which Astronauts have already somewhat become main stream in the working class department. The earth has become engulfed by a huge cloud of space debris and the story tells of a company who is working on removing the space debris.

    The story is still scifi (obviously because it’s based on space), but it a scifi that could already be affecting us. In a sense that there’s just too much of space junk already orbiting our space. Of course there’s all the needed human society and romantic conundrum needed for a classic series.

  35. The movie I loved that was missed was Pandorum (2009). It was advertised as a horror film, but like Alien it was really just science fiction with something trying to eat you. The story was classic SF, colony ship gone awry. The ending is a bit rushed with repeated reveals, so I had to watch it again to really grasp what had happened, but it was very interesting and exciting. Highly recommended.

  36. I love lists. All lists are flawed and there are many on any number of topics. Thus I have to judge on overlap with my own thoughts, and in that sense this may be the best list I have come across. There are omissions. I agree the original Solaris was better than the remake, BUT the remake is very good even if quite different in style and story. I tend to agree with some that Cloverfield was a bit…gimmicky? Like an earlier poster, I might have put Pitch Black in this list. A lot with little in that one. Anime-I am simply thrilled that sci fi anime (Cowboy Bebob) is included at all so I am forgiving of the fact that there are several better series that are not mentioned. C of Men, Fountain, Moon, D9 and D Darko…bravo! Eternal Sunshine is sci-fi and a top 5 IMO. Someone mentioned Primer…no! Interesting but a basement film that felt that way. Code 46. All I can say is that that is a gutsy call. Whether I agree or not as to a top 10 is overshadowed by the uniqueness of the pick. I have yet to meet anyone who has ever seen it. And it did leave me haunted. Nice variety here.

    And Avatar was a good omission. I, Robot as well. Vanilla Sky, well, I’d have put it in. But good job!

  37. honestly brilliant film taste here … you took into consideration things like writing and cinematography, instead of simply prioritizing special effects and action, etc. my list would be quite similar.

  38. The only one i think should have been on here would be the dark knight. The joker’s insanity was amazing

  39. Great list glad you ignored Avatar as it’s predictable boring shit of a film.

    3/4 way through you know how it’s going to end and you basically are just waiting for it to finish. If you think Avatar is some sort of masterpiece and your over 16 years old you need to educated yourself.

    Primer needs to be on that list 😉

  40. I can only assume you haven’t watched “Primer”.
    Go get a copy and watch it. Now. You’ll thank me later.

  41. Nifty list, surprised to see that you leave out Pandorum and Cargo as they were probably my favorites. Well not too surprised about Cargo it being in German and all, still the best sci-fi movie in a long time and worth a watch even if you don’t speak German. 😉

    I agree with avatar though. It’s a great watch one time and forget blockbuster that’ll likely send you out cozy of the movies but really? If you know of pochahontas and dancing with wolves you were able to tell the entire story of avatar from it’s trailer and while I won’t argue with it’s popularity or beautiful animation it sure was a terrible, dull and predictable script.

  42. Cannot believe Battle Royale doesn’t seem to make anyone’s list.

    Sunshine would be my number 1 hands down. Gripping film, well shot, simple story but expertly spun.

  43. A really good list , i agree children of men is a superb film and foretells the future much the way Bladerunner did years before.I applaud you for putting it at the number 1 spot.Thought ‘Timecrimes’ might have got a mention, a great low budget spanish time travel flick that has you thinking and working out the ending all the way through the film and for the weeks and months after.

  44. Great list, stumbled on it looking for good recent science fiction movies. I’ve seen almost all of them except for one or two but one movie that wasn’t mentioned that I found amazing was “the man from earth” super low budget but amazing script, great movie if you’re into intellectual scify movies.

  45. Compelling list…don’t know about great, but what list is?…as arbitrary as a thing like taste is. So, to my arbitrary taste: One thing that irks me is the comments…particularly Primer. Primer belongs on the B film good effort list. Also Time Crimes and The Man From Earth, but since Primer is mentioned with such elite appreciation I would like to urge all “Primer as a Top 10 of the decade” nerds to watch it back to back with any film on the list above. It stinks. It is amateur, streaming, syfy webcam porn at best; but without the sound quality. Art, aesthetics, vision! It has to add up! As the above list illustrates very well, it’s not about budget, but it is about whether you can make a good story easy to watch? Primer is a good story, but there is much more than story in a FILM! As one commentator already stated, Primer is a basement film, with basement sound, basement editing…acting, lighting (ha!…brought to you by the sun! or a light bulb somewhere in a room we’re trying to film this film in!…also brought to you by this cup and that cup with a string between the two, since that’s about the best sound you’re gonna get out of this squirt!). It has no aesthetic quality, which every other film in this list does have. So piss of Primer nerds! It’s a good script, but horrid execution. Art matters as much as content.

    “Baby Diego! What a Wanker!”

  46. Great list, thank you. I used it to find a couple of films I haven’t watched=)

  47. Soderbergh’s “Solaris” isn’t even in the same league as Tarkovsky’s original. And “District 9” is painfully overrated.

  48. My top three for the decade are
    1. District 9
    2. Moon
    3. Donnie Darko

  49. Nice to find this list. You guys definitely have my taste in movies. It’s just sad that to satisfy my scifi craving, I am forced to turn to the written word so much. There are so many fantastic short stories and novels that should be made into movies that it’s tragic. Hopefully the success of Inception will change things.

    I agree with most of the movies listed here, so let me make my own list of movies not mentioned that I enjoyed:

    Inception (2010)
    Splice (2010)
    Crazies (2010)
    The Cell
    Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (3d anim)
    Reign of Fire
    War of the Worlds (Spielberg)
    The Host (loved this one, subtitles)
    Slither (one of my favorite horrors, with a scifi slant)
    Eden Log (just to be eclectic, subtitles)

  50. good list, but if you missed “Happy Accidents” (2000), you missed a very interesting sci-fi-ish movie. Basically a man alleges he travels back from a dystopian type of future, in order to save a woman he saw in a accidental death file in the future. The plot twisted and went very deep into time travel theory. It was billed more of a romance, but defiantly had it’s sci-fi twist. The movie is absolutely worth a watch.

    And no love for Shaun of the Dead, perhaps the best sci-fi/horror spoof ever.

  51. For me, the best SF in the last years was District 9, quickly followed by Moon. And there are more good movies that didn’t make the list: Serenity, Hunter Prey, Eden Log, Renaissance, A Scanner Darkly, Texhnolyze, Ergo Proxy.
    Primer is a total waste of time. Pandorum, Cargo, City Of Men are flawed in a bad way. Meaning that despite the fact that they are very good movies, they have flaws that overshadow the good parts.

  52. Great list, but, ladies and gentlemen, i think Inception just bumped all these movies down one spot.

  53. The Forgotten.
    The Road.

    That’s a good start.

    I do like many of the movies others have recommended here, and I do like a good SF action and/or space opera movie, too. But my criteria for a good SF movie revolves around making me think outside of the box. Even if the film might otherwise suck – bad photography, poor lighting, cheap sets, etc., if it approaches the material from a completely different pov, I’m hooked. If it also involves time travel, or else questions the very fabric of consensus reality, so much the better.

    The latest Star Trek entry was a fun ride, and would only make it to my list because of that. District 9 took a different look at the alien invasion trope. Different is good, and it was a great movie because of that. Primer makes you stop and think. If you don’t stop and think, you’re lost, as would be almost anyone who found themselves in a similar situation. The Fountain is another movie that took a look outside of the traditional SF tropes. Donnie Darko did the same thing by offering a non-traditional look into a traditional SF storyline. Revenge of the Sith left us wondering, at times, just who the good guys really were, with an unspoken reminder that the winners write the histories. For similar reasons, I kinda liked Surrogates, too. It also raised questions about certain aspects of our contemporary society. The movie, Next, fits in here somewhere, too.

    Among slightly older movies that fit my general criteria are Avalon, 2001. Directed by Mamoru Oshii. eXistenZ. The Thirteenth Floor. 12:01 PM, and Dark City.

    As for Cloverfield and District B-13, they are kinda fun to watch, but they also offer us insight into the human condition and additional insights into how people may or may not react in chaotic situations. From that perspective, they’re worth the time.

    Movies like Avatar and even WALL-E are great fun, too, but we’re just along for the ride with those types of movies. There’s no real thinking required. (Movies that tell me what I *should* think are kinda irritating, really.)

    Good list by the author of the article and a good discussion by all.

  54. Fantastic list, watched all these films except Moon, and i watched that last night, thatnks to this list, have to say Moon was one of the best i’ve seen in any genre. Another plus was it was fairly low budget and a British film, showing you don’t need conutless millions to make a fantastic film. Thumbs up 🙂

  55. I am legend just for the what if factor very much like children of men.Are we the authors of our own demise.Also in the exact same way i robot should be in with a mention.Granted these are big budget movies both with 100 mill budget and both with A list Will Smith but think they do enough to be on that list.

  56. Children of men? I can’t believe so many of you liked it. Not one thing you would change Elena? How about some decent acting from the support characters? How about some depth to the characters so the audience actually cares if they live or die? How about a gripping plot? (we have to get the baby . .. . somewhere else. What the???). There is a reason this film isn’t well known – it’s mediocre.

  57. Moon? I was shocked to find it on your list.

    Moon has to be one of the most boring, pointless movies ever produced.

    Well, I only saw the first half. Sheer boredom, and the total absence of ANY engaging aspect prompted me to exit the show.

    As for “Every detail was attended to, to make you feel like you are up there on the moon alone with Sam and his AI”..

    Perhaps, if you’re completely ignorant of the most basic science.

    [As in so many movies] In the scenes on the surface of the moon, we HEAR activity taking place.

    This jerks the viewer totally out of any feeling of realism (unless her or his knowledge of science should embarrass a 12 year old).

    Why not add some flying elephants to the scene?

  58. I’m surprised that Avatar did not make the list, despite Joan’s ironic comment(in the very sentence in which she suggests that Avatar fans are very young or uneducated, she uses “your” for “you’re”). I Avatar better than any of those on it (age 50+, PhD – physics, incidentally).

  59. Good list, few missing, few shud b removed. But its your list. As for the Avatar Haters/Lovers…write your own damn list and stop judging this guy who wrote this list.

  60. Awesome list !
    WOuld be close to mine if I ever write down such a list
    Yes Moon rocked it ! so did Children of Men – am still unsure about District 9 tho …
    Some good comments too who helped me find some good movies i had missed
    I found Djalex’s comments very boring very nerdy – but we need those annoying know-it-all geeks for good balance 😉

    Ivan Halen

  61. one of the most boring, pointless movies ever produced certain aspects of our contemporary society

  62. Totally agree with you about District 9.
    This was a real surprise to me as I was expecting something completely different.
    I made my wife sit down and watch it but thought she’d get up in the forst 5 minutes.

    Far from it we were both hooked from the start – I recommend it all the time to friends.

    Like some of the others on your list, haven’t watched them yet but will hunt them out now!

  63. children of men?
    come on…..a dark thought of some author turned into film.
    wastes peoples time.
    nothing sci-fi.
    just some tv drama.

  64. I was looking for a top 10 list with Moon and Children of Men which I had watched lately and got me back into Sci-fi movies..and I found the list I was looking for…thanx for the list gonna check these out

  65. About “Children of Men” — couldn’t agree with you more. One of “Best 10 of All Time,” at the least. The “Crying Baby” scene still brings tears to my eyes, and I’ve seen it five times.

    Few people follow SF closely enough to write a list like this. Especially a girl. You must be quite the ticket.

  66. my comment is on remakes. not the star wars kind of remake where a confused director takes his own film and adds stuff so he can feel better. tho that irks me. im talking about remakes like invasion of the body snatchers or king kong. films that have been remade over and over. it seems to me that remaking films disrespects not only the many great sci fi books (that are truly great stories screaming to be brought to life) but the original films themselves (it was great…but we can make it better). for example would you rather see another remake of Sweeney Todd (remade 6 times since the original in 1933)or would you like to see a first make of Ringworld or the moat in gods eye…or YOUR favorite sci fi book? your list is nice. i would make a few exchanges like solaris for star trek and terminator salvation for serinety.

  67. ?! I enjoy the fact you put Serenity up there, Joss Whedon is one of my favourite directors.
    The Man From Earth definitely deserves an inclusion over some other movies like Sunshine – because in terms of script Sunshine seriously seems unworthy of being in any top 10.
    Another film i’m suprised that hasn’t even been mentioned is The Time Machine (2002), brilliantly thought out script, perfect execution of it aswell!

  68. Wow guys, thank you so much for all the great movies 🙂 I’m gonna have an S-F orgy.

    Grateful Rodomir

  69. lol @ first commenter – was 1990 a part of the 80s? Learn numbers before you go making smartass comments on the internet, buddy.

    also –

    lol @ Ed for making fun of someone’s grammatical error before making one yourself in the next sentence! I funny that!

    Anyway, the list is not so good, but maybe not so bad. My biggest issue is the criteria you set, saying that some of those honorable mentions are not actually scifi. They are. It doesn’t matter what year a story is set in – that doesn’t enter into the definition. Donnie Darko is the least closely resembling the scifi genre of any you mentioned, being more of a surrealist type deal, but I would still classify it as scifi, ultimately (oh but Cloverfield is technically a monster movie, but I don’t even want to talk about that Blair Witch spin-off crap).

    Now, my personal biases.

    -Sunshine was total crap. Should not be on list.
    -Cloverfield sucked.
    -Clooney’s Solaris does not in anyway compare to the Tarkovsky original, and I am sickened and disgusted at the suggestion that it does (hehe)
    -No Scanner Darkly???
    -Wall-E should have at least gotten a shout out.
    -Star Trek should have been somewhere, even if it was a low slot.
    -Children of men probably deserves to be on the list, just because it was so beautifully filmed, but should be knocked down at least 9 slots.
    -Why no Man From Earth?
    -District 9 was hands-down the best scifi movie of the decade (Spotless Mind was probably the second).

    Haven’t seen Code 46 or Moon, thank you for reminding me!

    This was fun! And if you see that guy who made that snide remark about the decade thing, give him a glare for me!

  70. Most of mentioned movies are waste of time anddon’t deserve to be called sci-fi

    God when I read this I’m happy I live where I live. U ppl are soo naive and shallow…ow yes…and stupid. Really stupid. Sorry my english is still improving U stupid fuckers.
    I think U should stick your military and crappy movies to yourselves.

  71. I haven’t seen any of these movies, except Serenity, mainly cause i’m a little too ADD to give my entire attention to a 2 hr block (my ADD call, not diagnosed!), but I want to say thank you for including Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, even as a side note. Ever since Man on the Moon, I’ve thought Jim Carrey made a better serious actor than his usual goofy stuff. Eternal Sunshine rose above anything he has ever done! And a sincere kudos for including Serenity. Joss Whedon is amazing and can tell a story to entertain all.

  72. Thanks for the list and the comments. I’ve just found Moon, Battle for Terra, The Man from Earth and Sunshine – it’s gonna be a sci fi weekend.

    Those wanting to include Inception – I couldn’t help thinking to myself throughout that movie “What a great concept, but it could have been so much better, and scarier. They passed over the horror of being trapped in your own subconscious dreamworld for millennia for a cheap thrills action movie. It could have been a head-fuck movie to rival Jacob’s Ladder. Pity.

  73. Elena,I found so many of my favorites on your list, thanks for suggesting a few others. The feedback was amazingly entertaining. Nothing like a list to set people off. Code-46 definitely deserves to be on the list.

    Also female.

  74. Serenity…. shame the took it off air… glad you liked it!!! And thanks for the list!!! Lots of ones to take a look at!

  75. “Forget all the comparisons to apartheid too many critics made, and just look at it as I think it was intended to be looked at–a what if movie.”

    This is a boneheaded display of ignorance. Even if you’re unfamiliar of the history of apartheid, you could surely have taken the time to research the film. Critics are not merely reaching for comparisons in this film; it’s no secret that it is intentionally allegorical to apartheid. Upon viewing it, this fact should jump out at you, and for many it does, hence the discussion. What’s remarkable is that you go on to say (correctly) that the film raises questions about the scenario of coexistence of humans and aliens on Earth, yet paradoxically fail to see the parallels that this scenario draws to historical ones, which indeed provide much of its basis.

  76. 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

  77. Loved the list although i think some of the choices were…. off target.
    Sunshine IMO was not even close to top ten material, Primer with its 7,000 dollar budget was a better story, even with the half ass filming and audio.
    All the people saying Avatar should be on the list are crazy, its just bells and whistles, the story was predictable and stupid.
    District 9 was a great movie, i thought it was the best film of the decade by far.
    Children of men!! Seriously??? I was bored the whole way through that movie, nothing really had a chance to materialize, it was chaos, and not even controled chaos. It was an interesting idea that was poorly put into film.

  78. Thanks for compiling this list; Good science fiction has the potential to become science fact, and for this Children of Men struck a deep chord within me. I also think A Scanner Darkly has place in the list..

    Oscar Wilde: “a critic has to educate the public. The artist has to educate the critic.”

  79. A solid list to be sure – Children of Men remains one of my favorite films in general and should be near the top of any best sci-fi movies list. Sunshine is the only movie I have a problem with, I would have replaced it with Primer or Timecrimes, but that’s just me.

  80. Nice list.
    Serenity…..I don’t think so. Fight…..morality lecture…….fight……..morality lecture……….fight…..etc

    District 9 #1 for me. Original except for the silly “man in machine” fight scenes. Main character was brilliant.
    Moon = really good.
    Spotless Mind=Brilliant.
    My 2c worth.

  81. Wow….

    How tastes differ. I would consider the majority of these to be mediocre at best, and some – particularly Sunshine – to be unwatchable dreck.

    Donnie Darko looked and sounded fantastic, but it was pure nonsense. Moon was missing its third act. District 9 is only worthy of comment because the production did a lot with a little. Solaris was utterly bland. The Fountain was pretentious nonsense, and Children of Men was reheated SF tropes with a few good action sequences courtesy of Cuaron’s excellent direction, but no real meat. Cloverfield was fun, but the only one of these worth watching twice is Serenity, and even that’s a guilty pleasure.

  82. Wow. Two things jump off the page:

    1) Great List

    2) You sure have attracted quite a collection of nerdlingers (judging by the comments).

    And man, some of these people are PICKY. Like people, realize, you do not score points in heaven for disliking *everything*. Ya’ know?

  83. You are mad knowing was anything but the greatest film and most definately did not deserve a place near the top 10. Everyone loves a good twist in a film to make them unpredictable but aliens taking human kind to a new planet but out of no where no hint just fuck off space ships. tut tut watch more films brother

  84. Good list, but I take umbrage with the following: “While some of them have recognizable actors, none of them have big stars who are a box office draw on the strength of their name alone.” George Clooney is, in fact, a box office draw on the strength of his name alone.

  85. Most of you are probably wondering why you’re alone. Because you’re NEGATIVE. God, what whiners. As someone else commented, you don’t get a prize for hating EVERYTHING! You remind me of the comic book guy on the Simpson’s

    Children of Men is compelling and expertly directed. Weak supporting characters? The movie is so real it’s scary.

    District 9 works on so many levels. It’s not just about aliens, not just about alienation, not just a horror film, not just an action film, not just a drama. It’s all that, and that’s why I liked it.

    Serenity is just hokey fun. There’s a place for that in SF. It doesn’t all have to be dark.

    Donnie Darko Director’s Cut ties in the SF angle much more strongly and makes it a true SF show.

    Solaris goes from weak to pretty good on the strength of the music and the acting. Plus it’s a beautiful planet.

    I, Robot is a solid SF movie and should be mentioned.

  86. A decade ends with 9. That seems to be the world consensus. If your movie was made in 2010, you’ll have to wait till 2019 !!

  87. I agree that ‘Children of Men’ is a perfect movie. The best way to watch this film is late at night, with the lights off and a decent pair of headphones (if you don’t have a very nice sound system). Otherwise, you will not see the same movie many people who love this film saw. The sounds are incredible.

  88. 10: Avatar
    9: A Scanner Darkly
    8: 28 Days Later
    7: Sunshine
    6: Cloverfield
    5: Serenity
    4: Minority Report
    3: War of the Worlds
    2: Children of Men
    1: District 9
    1:a – Battlestar Galactic Pilot

    A few comments:

    >Avatar: succeeds on spectacle, overcoming cliched-to-death characters, weak acting and worse writing… beautiful to watch.

    >Cloverfield: Don’t get me wrong, I loved this movie, but I just don’t understand – did the monster fall from the stars? Come out of the sea? What the heck happened here? Yes – I know that this was part of the charm…

    >Minority Report: Ok, I’m NOT a Tom Cruise guy, TRUST ME. But this one was pretty spectacular. It does what the best SciFi does, introduces us to a new world, shows us how we might live, and gives us the future of everything we do now. Everything from the weird- wall-crawling cars, bioscanning advertising, instant-justice, holographic computer screens, the warehouse prison…all done so well. The chase scene where a car is literally constructed around him, that he gets away with… so cool. Even Collin Farrell couldn’t quite ruin this one…

    >War of the Worlds: YES, THAT one. I’m really surprised how poorly this movie has been regarded, and I think much had to do with Tom’s “Oprah episode” and tabloid issues. This movie is an outstanding sci-fi/horror film. It manages to present EVERY scifi and urban-living nightmare one could think of: earthquake, planecrash, boat-sink, trapped in a basement with Tim Robbins (ok, thats a personal nightmare), used as human fertilizer? It was spectacular, scary and PERSONAL. Tom Cruise’s character was a complete dick and he nailed the journey of a self-involved, conflicted, distant single parent, thrust into the role of hero. I’m still not sure why folks didn’t “get” this one. See it again!

    >District 9: The above commentary is so spot-on I have nothing to add. Except that the final touch of the little flowers showing up at Vikus’s wife’s doorstep nearly made me cry. This was a masterpiece

    BSG Pilot: Ok, made for TV but feature-length cinematic shoot with better production value than many big budget movies. Outstanding story, just gripping, scary and harrowing. The opening “kiss of death” sequence, the scene where the Mary McDonnell character finds out she is president are just terrific. I like the fact that the “military” people ACT like “military people” in this. The characters were well rounded and certainly got beat up and dirty, Adama, Tai, Baltar, the Cylons, Starbuck, all improved drastically from the original ideas.

    But the real breakthrough here is in the realism of the space scenes. The way the spaceships maneuver, how gases, fire, weapons, sounds… all of this, was done to look and feel REAL. It didn’t look or sound phony in any way… this is real people fighting in space and the realism made the stakes seem that much higher.

  89. A decade is 10 years, the very first decade was year 1 to 10 including all of year 10. There is no year zero.
    So, each decade ends with & includes 10.

    The same is true for the millennium, the new millennium didnt really start until Jan 1st 2001 – yes everyone celebrated it in 1999, technically they were wrong.

    Practically it doesnt matter if you want to say 2000-2009 is A decade, it is still 10 years, but if you are going to argue the point check your facts.

  90. Totally agree with you on Solaris. The original is a masterpiece, while the remake is a crappy carbon copy. Still, some of the films on the list are pretty good, namely Sunshine.

  91. Just a few things:

    First, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is most definately and inarguably science fiction, the entire plot and story hinges on the existance of a fictional peice of technology, you may feel like it didn’t play a large part in the story but without it there is no story to tell.
    You say “The Prestige is almost more properly Steampunk than science fiction, since it’s science fiction set in the past and thus not still possible.”
    The Prestige which may be called Steampunk if you wish is a science fiction, if for no other reason but that steampunk itself is a sub-genre of science fiction
    Also, the very idea of leaving it out because its “set in the past and thus not still possible” is about as ludicrous as it would have been if you left out Sunshine on the grounds that its not possible because it effectively contradicts conversation of energy. What timeframe its set in and whether or not it was possible, is possible, or will be possible has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with being a science fiction or not. If I write a story in which some dude in mesopotamia discovers electricity, or another in which the hanging gardens were not actually hanging but were instead stationary space ships, covered in dense foliage, floating above a city, they would both be science fiction regardless of the fact that neither place exists anymore and that in reality they havnt existed for thousands of years (if at all in the case of the hanging gardens).
    And finally, in regards to your comments on cloverfield:
    “It showed that a team of unknowns on a shoestring budget can do with dedication, heart, and a creative approach what a studio can’t with endless funds and countless CG programmers.”
    Create a film in which the characters are damn near one dimensional and no one watching really cares about them beyond wondering how their going to get offed before the end. In which the groundbreaking new form of cinematography is actually a complete lack thereof. In which the only identifiable difference between it and a hollywood movie is the almost complete lack of superfluous eye-candy to distract the viewer from the inevitable grim realization that having paid to see this film means they have increased the likelyhood that others like it will be made. You are most certainly right, in those respects hollywood has absolutely nothing on J. J. Abrams and his ragtag crew of people who had good reason to be nobodies.
    Otherwise half decent list, would have been nice to see at least one foreign language film show up in the top 10 instead of getting relegated to the honorable mentions, but, I suppose most people have a bit of a bias towards subtitles.

  92. “A decade is 10 years, the very first decade was year 1 to 10 including all of year 10. There is no year zero.”

    There was no year 1 either. No one living in “year 1” was aware they were in “year 1.” It wasn’t “year one” until the adoption of the Gregorian calender by the catholic church, and even still wasn’t solidified as the international layman’s calender until the early 20th century. I say layman’s for two reasons:
    First, because astronomers use the astronomical year numbering system which includes a year zero before your precious year 1.
    Second, because the international standard for encoding time and date information, ISO 8601, was set forth by the International Organization for Standardization in 1988 and it has a year 0 (1 BC on the nearly defunct gregorian calender.)
    I love unintended irony, which is why I felt the need to comment when I saw Mr. Paul R. here tell someone else to check their facts. Your facts sir are as outdated as highschool geography texts that include the USSR, Czechoslovakia, Siam, and Sri Lanka.

  93. I kind of hated every minute of time crimes but the start and the ending. The protagonist was such a goofball f-up that I couldn’t root for him. Coulda been a good film.

  94. How can your list not include these greats?!!

    The Matrix
    Star Trek

    Cloverfield was barely enjoyable. Solaris was not that good and although I really liked Serenity, its certainly not on a best of the decade list in my opinion.

  95. A truly worthless list. This person might have viewed the movies, but she didn’t SEE them. This person is “Like a baby,” in the realm movie analysis. “Making noise, but don’t know what to do.”

  96. Good list, Cloverfield would not quite make top ten for me, but it was enjoyable.
    Nobody’s mentioned The Island? I thought that was very good. The Road was disturbing and beautiful also.

  97. Haha, I find it funny how some people get so riled up over lists like this. This person simply made a list of the sci-fi movies he or she likes, based on personal opinions. The internet has to be the greatest social experiment ever made…

    Anyway, good list! Watch The Prestige today after reading your post thingy here. While it wasnt ON the list it was good. Thanks for the tip 😉

  98. From a purely numerical standpoint 12 months constitute 1 year therefore the first twelve months are year 0 —- year 1 begins jan 1st of the 13th month.

  99. Even though it wasn’t officially on your list, THANK YOU for mentioning 2046! One of the most insanely overlooked and underappreciated sci-fi flicks possibly of all time. Definitely not for the mass drones of the population, but for those who aren’t cursed with the attention span of a gnat, this film is quietly amazing and beautiful.

  100. No offense, but this list is crazy. “Children of Men” is okay but nothing special, and “The Fountain” was terrible. “Moon” and “Cloverfield” weren’t anything great either. I agree you should have included “Pitch Black” and “Eternal Sunshine”. You also say that “The Dark Knight” wasn’t good enough to make this list?? Are you serious?? “Terminator III” was good enough to make this list.

  101. first of all the matrix is from the 90`s, inception also belongs to a different decade. I am not sure Avatar would make my top ten list either, highly overrated movie, I am not a hater of it, it`s enjoyable,, groundbreaking and well directed, but looses many point for being so predictabla and falling to cliché. Agree that star trek deserves to be there, that was an amazing movie, did`nt get to see equilibrium

  102. I must say, this is probably the best list of sci-fi films in the last decade I have yet to see. It’s the only one even comparable to mine, though mine would be in a different order. Kudos.

  103. Great list and thanks to this I have now discovered Sigur Ros – which I am very happy about.

  104. Mark – I love Sigur Ros, too! Although I can’t remember if I saw this movie before or after the documentary about them on IFC/Sundance a few years back, so I’m not sure if this movie was how I discovered them. But they’re frakking awesome!

    @ everyone above – thanks for the compliments and the intelligent criticisms…and don’t forget to offer your own list if you don’t like mine!

  105. Loved most of these, especially Serenity, District 9, Moon, and Donnie Darko. I will have to see Sunshine and Code 46 as I managed to miss them somehow. With the Fountain, on the other hand, I walked out of the theatre thinking I had wasted both my time and my money. I don’t mind a touch of of surrealism, but this movie was a total turn-off for me. Sorry.

  106. Well I’ve seen you’re against them, but I really can’t see a reason to not include Star Wars Episode III or Avatar. What if they are mainstream, any sci fi fan should like them… But that’s my opinion. I do understand the Matrix sequels, it’s not that they are bad movies, but they just don’t add anything (like Empire Strikes Back did after Star Wars, for example), after the thrill of the first one…

    Great list with great movies, though =D

  107. oh, finally someone who agrees with me, cloverfield was THE WORST movie I have ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot.

  108. don’t know if this has been pointted out yet or not but you do know that cloverfield IS an alien movie when they show that “flashback” of coney island and the ocean you see something crash into the water and a sailboat almost bites it plus they tell you it is on the dvd release

  109. Inception was the biggest pile of balls i’ve ever seen! woooo a dream with in a dream, smartest film plot ever…NOT. would’ve been better if he was on trial for the murder of his wife but she preformed inception on him so he’d kill her as a revenge for leaving her alone in a dream for a hundered years. I’ve just writen a better story in about 30 seconds. ‘nought said!

  110. I think if you are going to comment on anyone needing education, you should first check spelling and grammar before you post, others might think you were un-educated. As it happens i do think Avatar is a masterpiece, i am over 16 and yes you guessed it i am very educated.

  111. Actually i have to agree with Red, D9 is very over rated, It was a film based on real life which to me has nothing to do with SF, sure there were aliens but so what, the story line is based on true events, its a soty line that is all to South African and is too much of a reminder that Apartheid is not gone in South Africa, despite what many people believe, the only difference now is that its reversed, D9 was IMO a reopening of an old wound that will never heal properly and a disgrace to any one that can call themselves South African.

  112. A lot of what you said makes sense and then you go shoot your self in the foot by making D9 the top spot on your list… OMG!!! how the world is ignorant, D9 is a film by a South African, filmed on location in South Africa, representing exactly what goes on in South Africa, it disturbs me that every one in the world is so blind to what ACTUALLY goes on in South Africa, My comment is not based on the quality of filming, its based on the story line, the whole movie is based on the racismthat still plagues South Africa and every one thinks this is an awesome SF movie, its not its a sick way of hanging the country’s dirty laundry out for every one to see

  113. I agree whole heartedly, I can’t believe how naive people are about the basis of the D9 movie the sickening fact remains that its still happening today…

  114. Says the person that says Avatar is just bells and whistles, District 9 is so much more bells and whistles that you can’t even see the movie for what it is

  115. I have read a few of your lists, and can agree with certain choices and, with respect, have to disaree on others…

    Let me also just say that as a South African, I have to insist that D9 is nothing but a hemroid, not pleasing to look at and painfull to sit through, i say this for 2 reasons, take away the big independance day spaceship and change the “aliens” to normal people, and you would have sat through a true-to-life 2 hour long documentary about what actually goes on in South Africa, talk about “airing ones dirty laundry” i personally find it offencive.

    Any way now that my rant is out of the way, lets get back to subject…

    In stead of making this a long winded annalogy of what a SF movie should be all about, lets just stick to what a SF means to me and what my opinion is of the term… to me A SF should be exactly that, a Science Fiction, fiction to me is what ever my imagination says it is, as long as its got lots of eye candy in it and resolves the “science” part with some form of science whether it be technologically based or Biological, call it a fantasy with science rolled into it, it all goes, but if its going to be a film then it also need to have a “believable” story line, which is why the fountain certainly doesn’t fit in my list i found it a over dramatised love story at best and had absolutley no business being called a SciFi, it was Boring to boot avatar on the other hand IMO deserves to be on My top 10 list not only because it was a very well directed, but the story line was “believable” it made sense, but the best thing about it was it drove my imagination crazy the colours and creatures that were brought to life were fantastic, this movie not only titivated the senses but the imagination.

    Donny Darko somehow just doesn’t feel like a Science fiction TO ME (this is my opinion) and when watching it didn’t really make any sense to me either, but did make me wonder whether or not this movie wouldn’t have been better suited as a thriller of somekind, any way my naive take on the movie is probably the reason why i didn’t understand it and will prolly need to watch it again to make up my mind.

    Clover field was a big waste of time and money in my opinion i get that the lack of “knowing” added to the suspence but in this film it was taken to new hights, because no matter how many times i watch it nothing makes sense because you can’t see anything in the film, how are you supposed to folow the film if you can’t see whats happening the camera is so “allover-the-place” you have no clue what they are running for the story line and the plot are lost on me.

    Other then these opinions i think the list is fairly good

  116. @Fantasy_Junky

    Honestly, you believe that? Shame you’re so jaded. Are you one of the people who have spent almost 17 years rebuilding South Africa? Obviously not, stop generalizing and harden the f up. Not everyone in SA is a narrow minded idiot.

  117. @Fantasy_Junky, excuse me but who gave you the right to speak on the behalf of all South Africans?
    Just because you dislike something or have a difficult paradigm to deal with doesn’t mean you’ll be able to sway others.

    For one I’m proud to say I disagree with you.

    I’m South African, I loved D9.
    All my friends who watched it, young and old of many different racial groups loved it.

    Everyone who sees my D9 shirt says “hey cool shirt, haha don’t feed the prawns, where’d you get it

    Oh ya almost forgot.

    “Harden the F up”.
    Go check it on youtube cos you obviously need to see it.

  118. Some of those top 10 I would never choose, but each to their own. I don’t think science fiction has done too well from the last decade, but I agree with some high budget ones not packing enough edge of your seat story into productions. Have you tried watching “Cargo”, a swedish film, would have to watch with subtitles but i thought it was not a bad watch. The movie “Sunshine” lmao, I’ve studied science so don’t get me started on that movie lol, I thought it was terrible.

  119. Hmmm, I have to agree cloverfield isnt too great, it has a lot of new ideas within film making or ideas twisted with genre in question, and the bouncing around of the camera while catching slight glimpses of aliens is pretty cool but not great, not bad first watch though but doesnt make me want to watch it again. Moon is a good first watch, liked the story line but again couldnt watch it over again. Donnie darko is a classic film and it is a SF. Yes you could argue a psychic connection between the him and the guy dressed as a rabbit, but you can’t get away from donnie being in the right place at the right time with the airplane accident, then at the end vice versa when he time travels back, thats deffo SF. Solaris, has to be one of the worst ever SF movies of all time, it was a new and fresh idea at the time maybe but definately not for me. Avatar was a great movie, ok it cost loads of money to make and grossed more than any other film even though it was pirated more than any other film, but the plot, story, effects etc all rold into one package was amazing. I watched it a couple of times lol. Like i said in my last message, directors went a bit brave with their ideas in the last decade for SF and not all were winners or even good. Thats why films like Aliens kick ass! and yes that does mean I agree that films that rely less on SGI etc are great. Starwars was crap, the old ones are the best, the new startrek was brilliant, better than the old ones, bit of a vice versa on that front lol. Children of men didnt do it for me either, will have to check serenity out, not sure i seen it. But yeah the whole idea of that sunshine movie is stupid, if we know its not possible why make a film about it, if we didnt know for sure then it stretches our thinking more. District 9 wasnt too bad but another weird director idea again eh.

  120. Well said Braiden, very concise! Although some thought on Paul R’s part would have proven himself wrong without any outside influence considering years 1 to and including 10 only spans 9 years. Not to mention the fact that 2001 doesn’t end in ’10’ as his rock solid millennium argument implies! lol

  121. spot on. I would change some of the ordering (in pericular cloverfield and firefly would be more towards the bottom of the list, and children of men didnt do too much for me) but honestly… I have never found a “best of” that I agread with on so many points.

  122. Hey Mr. Arrogant, easy on the “check your facts”. The Gregorian calendar is the de facto for the whole world. The concept of zero was not known at the time of its construction thus the year AD 1 followed 1 BC. Yes it took some time to be adopted (some 300 years) but it started in the 16th century. Most people are not astronomers and thus do not use the astronomical year numbering (yeah, with year zero). Even NASA knows this:

    Here is more detail for you boy:

  123. Hey e, forgot you man. Count again. Paul R said “…the very first decade was year 1 to 10 including all of year 10”. You said “…years 1 to and including 10 only spans 9 years”.

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. If you don’t count 10 years you should’ve paid more attention in kindergarten.

    “… 2001 doesn’t end in ’10′ as his rock solid millennium argument implies.” That’s just weird, you should really read the alphabetic characters since the numbers failed you so horribly. Paul R said “… each decade ends with & includes 10.” He is absolutely right. The first decade ended in year 10, the tenth in year 100, the 201st in 2010 etc.

  124. I’ve never understood the exclusion of zero. If you run 10 meters you start at 0 meters. You don’t say the first 10 meters ends at 10.99.

    You have to get to 1 to be at one. Starting there seems intuitively incorrect. When your counting non progressive things like apples, and objects, ok. If time is indeed linear, such as distance, shouldn’t it start at 0? 2000-2009 would be the first 10 years of the 2000’s.

  125. Somehow “Pan’s Labyrinth” did not make this list, and I can only hope it is because you consider it to be “fantasy” more than “science fiction” (still not clear on that distinction but I realize it makes it easier to narrow down choices). And if Eternal Sunshine was considered and left off purposely, that is a huge mistake, as I consider it on of the top 20 movies, period. But I agree with the majority of this list, minus Cloverfield, which was interesting but gave me a headache and lacked any real depth.

  126. You already trashed this movie, and someone already shut you up.

    stop posting.

  127. “Donny Darko somehow just doesn’t feel like a Science fiction TO ME (this is my opinion) and when watching it didn’t really make any sense to me either, but did make me wonder whether or not this movie wouldn’t have been better suited as a thriller of somekind, any way my naive take on the movie is probably the reason why i didn’t understand it and will prolly need to watch it again to make up my mind.”

    You seem to have a hard time understanding movies, which is probably why you have an idiotic take on D9.

    Even if it does have anything to do with aparthied, theyre still aliens. Aliens in a science fiction movie. Stop being ignorant.

  128. I have to say its nice to see a list like this containing The Fountain but I think we have very different interpretations of the film. I guess thats why you have to love cinema.:)

  129. you should really not write that much becasue when seeing so much writing people cant be bothered to read it. you should really work on shortening your sentences.

  130. I haven’t read all the answers, but I strongly suggest the Korean movie “2009 – Lost Memories.”

  131. Ah…the same was said of Blade Runner. And it did not get cult status until several years after it’s open. As far as world creation, dystopian mood, and competence in direction and production, Children Of Men is the only true cladistic relative of Blade Runner. And it is almost as good.

  132. matrix was in the 90’s…this list is 2000-2009…and the sequels DO NOT belong!

  133. Your organic tomatoes are ready to be picked…and the mailman just delivered your weekly letter from your adopted African child…and you still haven’t put that “Eracism” bumper sticker on your car that you bought at the herbal cafe…and you haven’t decided on the slogan you’ll be using on your sign at your next SAVE THE TRIPPLE-SPOTTED SLAMANDER-BEETLE-CRICKET protest….and you still haven’t finished that article you’ve been writing for “Self Righteous” magazine…don’t you have better things to do than troll a sci-fi list? The world isn’t getting better while your wasting your time in here, ya know!

  134. Kieth, read the article…2000-2009. Matrix, Inception are not in range. She made real clear why she didn’t like Avatar. Equilibrium was indeed a goody. Star Trek…decent for big budget blockbuster, and good compared to franchise…but not great.

  135. Fantasy Junky? More like Apartheid Junky. You really are a one trick pony.

  136. First…I like the web author’s list. Second, I like this commenter because he actually has a list AS criticism…vs: “This is a shitty list…why isn’t Avatard listed???” I might ask the original author about Galactica as well. But I would say by including Serenity, Battlestar is at least given a nod, since Zoic did the space/special effects for both…and in similar style.

    War of the Worlds had its moments…as did Monority Report…but they had so many other moments that were too, well, Micheal Bay-ey…personally, I’d nix the confusion of what should be syfy and what shouldn’t and add Eternal Sunshine and 2046, make it a Top 12 and there it is.

  137. oooooooooo….. i think you forgot to mention one movie….. tron legacy …

  138. The exclusion of 0 is normal. 0 represents nothingness. In order to have 1 year, you must *complete* one year. You cannot count one year at 10 months. The start of the enumeration is arbitary, so, if the ones keeping the calendar started counting from year 0 as the first year, this would make 2000-2009(first and last year included fully) as the decade. If they started from year 1(as Victor says) then 2001-2010(first and last year included fully) would make the decate. Since things are much more complicated than that, I do not think it is trully significant, and the officialy adopted convention(2000-2009) is as acceptable as any, IMHO.
    The arithmetics issue is exactly the same as the one arising after the question “How old are you?”. If you are born on May 1st 2003 and now it is February 3rd 2006, you are 2 or 3 years old?
    Obviously, although 2006-2003 makes 3 years, you are 2 years old, because the third year will be completed on May 1st. So, while 2009-2000 gives us 9 as a result, it is 10 years, because we count from Jan 1st 2000 to December 31st 2009

  139. I personally think Serenity should be higher! But I love this list!

  140. Watchmen lost me with its over the top fight scenes. Maybe its length as well. I’m still not convinced that was a story that needed to be adapted for the screen.

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