Ticket sales at the box office may have been at a 20-year low in 2014, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything worth seeing. I’m a firm believer that, no matter the state of the industry, there will always be people making exciting, interesting films, you just might have to look for them. Regardless of what this means for studios and their bottom lines, sci-fi fans had a lot to dig into over the past year. There were huge, spectacle style blockbusters right along side quiet, introspective independent features more concerned with ideas than eye candy, as well as everything in between. There are a few gaps in my genre viewing for the year—I still have yet to watch titles like Young Ones, The Zero Theorem, and Under the Skin for some reason—but in this spirit, here are my top sci-fi movies of 2014.
11. The Rover
The Rover had me the second I heard it described as a grim, gritty, post-apocalyptic western from director David Michod (Animal Kingdom). I would have watched for that alone, but the Heart of Darkness style journey, the deliberate world building, and measured, gradual character development deliver one of the best additions to this subgenre in years. Guy Pearce plays a stoic man-on-a-mission, searching for the men who stole his car, clinging onto the last good, loyal thing he has in this shitty world. Robert Pattinson, as far from his sparkly Twilight vampire as you can get, plays the dim, wounded puppy of a sidekick he picks up along the way and is a good here as he’s ever been. Sparse and spare, even using bubbly pop songs to deliver deep emotional gut punches, The Rover is brutal, bleak, and devastatingly human all at the same time. The end has been a divisive point for many, but I’m in the camp that thinks it’s a damn near perfect conclusion.