From the post-apocalyptic to the not-so-distant future, here are the ten best sci-fi movies of the decade (so far)!
Sci-fi is one of the most interesting and innovative genres because it poses a specific challenge. How do you show tomorrow while commenting on today? At least, that’s what good sci-fi tries to do. Look at Alien and its sexual politics or Children of Men and its now eerily commentary on xenophobia. Though they’re both formally wildly different, they both challenge certain pitfalls of our society by adding or subtracting an element — adding the Alien and subtracting children.
However, in my opinion, we’ve tapped into a new potential for the genre. We have the ability to go places where we never thought we could go before — the tesseract in Interstellar or the wasteland in Mad Max: Fury Road. That’s why I thought it’d be the perfect time to countdown the best sci-fi movies of the decade. For this list, I decided to mainly look at the sci-fi elements of the movie and how they affect into the narrative as a whole. So, just because it’s a great action movie, doesn’t mean it’s one of the best sci-fi movies. The other parameter I looked at was how its vision of tomorrow supported its commentary of today. Whether that’s thematically or technically. Here are the best sci-fi movies of the decade (so far)!
Honorable Mentions: Edge of Tomorrow, Prometheus, Monsters, Guardians of the Galaxy
7. The Martian (2015)
It’s hard to find a movie this decade that fits the term of cinematic comfort food as closely as Ridley Scott’s The Martian. He balances the genres of survival thriller, sci-fi, humanist drama, and yes, even comedy, to create one of the most satisfying sci-fi blockbusters of the decade. What lands it on its list, past its pure entertainment value, is its focus on collaboration and the human spirit. Going to Mars has always been something on the mind of everyone on this planet. But when we make it there, what if something goes wrong? Well, that’s what The Martian shows us. Is it idealistic? Yes. That doesn’t mean that it’s not riveting.
6. Snowpiercer (2013)
Sure. Maybe a constantly moving bullet train around the world isn’t the most efficient form of preservation during a post-apocalyptic ice age. But that element of Bong Joon Ho’s Snowpiercer is simply the catalyst for the class struggle at the center of the film. The mythic title train provides the perfect setting for the assault on the class system that suppresses those at the back of the train. However, the real standout is the whimsical and nearly surreal world that the movie takes place in. It’s the type of place where you’d want to adventure again.
5. Her (2013)
The relationship between man and artificial intelligence has always been a point of interest in sci-fi. And while 2001: A Space Odyssey pretty much reached the pinnacle of the discussion of the subject, Spike Jones revived it with his humanist take on AI. What if AI existed? And what if we fell in love with it? Jones’ vision of the future almost feels too close for comfort. Her is as much a tender love story as it is a meditation on the not so distant future. It’s the delicate balance act of those two genres that make it one of the best sci-fi movies of the decade.
4. Ex Machina (2015)
While Her studies artificial intelligence from the perspective of the heart, Ex Machina tackles it from the brain. If man plays god, what does its creation think of itself? Of its creator? Those are the questions at the center of Ex Machina. At a high-level perspective, it’s a modern take on Shelley’s Frankenstein However, this time, the monster is more machine. The movie keeps its card close to its chest unfolding like a three-person play. However, digging deeper proves fruitful because the themes don’t just stop at man versus machine. It’s subtle in almost every way. That’s what makes it so brilliant.