The argument over the greatest science fiction movie of all time is a constant, heated debate among genre fans. There are always a few staples, including the likes of Star Wars, The Matrix, and War of the Worlds. Recently, the Discovery Channel’s DNews YouTube Channel explored some of the cinematic options in one of their latest videos, arriving on a top five. The results might just surprise you.
Host Anthony Carboni sat down with filmmaker and Film Riot host, Ryan Connolly, to talk about their top sci-fi movies. While the discussion was purely anecdotal, Carboni injected how the films link to real world situations and technology. The conversation, not only circled around the movies that form the core of the genre, but also how science fiction influenced hard science and the real world.
First up, Connolly picks Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film Children of Men. While everyone seems to be over-the-moon with Cuarón’s latest, Gravity, Children of Men is still widely considered to be the Mexican director’s best and most important work. The film takes place in a future where humanity has stopped reproducing and the war that follows in the aftermath of the last human birth. The film points to the recent global birth rate, which is currently in decline in countries like the United States and Japan. Cuarón’s masterpiece perfectly illustrates what will happen when the entire world falls into a complete, hopeless despair.
Next up is Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report from 2002. Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1956 short story of the same name, Spielberg translated Dick’s words into a modern genre classic. While the film was released a little more than 10 years ago, we can see how the imagined future technology has influenced modern computers with gestures and number-crunching predictions, namely in data mining.
The next selection is Ridley Scott’s seminal 1979 film Alien. The science fiction/horror hybrid bridged the gap between glossy and clean and real world grit and grime. As Connolly put it, the film was about, “Space Truckers.” Scott’s narrative is dark and bleak with a great sense of terror and tension. Alien, in turn, had a huge impact on the industrial design of modern space travel and exploration, according to DNews.
Fritz Lang’s highly influential silent film Metropolisis next on the top five list. Although the film is almost 100 years old, Metropolis is still a staple in modern filmmaking and cinema. The production design alone is something to consider when you’re putting together any movies list. While the film was made in 1927, the themes of social inequality still carry as much weight and import as they did in Germany of the 1920s.
The last film on the list is Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. You had to see that one coming. Arguably the most important film in modern cinema, Kubrick’s film about humanity’s place in the world and with technology continues to inspire and influence new generations of filmmakers and engineers.
All the films on this list center on the idea that great science fiction is not only entertaining and groundbreaking, but also shines a light, or holds a mirror to, the contemporary social and political world and humanity.
What movies did DNews leave off the list? Let us know what you think are the best sci-fi movies of all time in the comments below.