Friday, September 24, 2010

My Picks for The Greatest... Sci-Fi Film Edition

My good friend over at Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic had a very relevant post on SciFiNow. Issue #44 explored what its readers came up with as The Greatest Sci-Fi Film. Since Gordon opened this up to his readers, I decided I'd post my list choices here since the genre has long been a favorite of mine.

Right off the bat, it was a hell of a lot more difficult than I'd imagined it would be just to select 10 films, let alone trying to put them into some semblance of priority. To help me with that, I had to decide what would qualify as science-fiction. So I fell back to my favorite reference. The dictionary:

Still, not easy. What about the films that seemed more action-oriented (like T2: Judgment Day) or more horror-like (Alien)? How would those films jibe (in my head) with that traditional sci-fi definition? Did it really matter? In the end, another blogger friend (J.D.) cut to the crux of the matter with his comment (and his list):
"With these kinds of lists I'm always wrestling with do I pick the film based on importance or on personal preference and figured I'll just go for a mix of both."
So, I figure I'd do similar with mine. Here goes:
  1. Planet of the Apes (1968) - I'm with author John Kenneth Muir on this one.
  2. Blade Runner - Ridley Scott's masterpiece -- although Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men made the biggest leap for me this year in the genre (thanks to Rachel).
  3. The Lathe of Heaven (1980) - this television film has haunted me since I first saw it (and I avoid the remake like the plague).
  4. WALL●E - how can I not since I made an argument for it?
  5. 2001: A Space Odyssey - 1968 was a hell of a year for sci-fi.
  6. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - yes, I'm one of those who adore this film by Robert Wise.
  7. Forbidden Planet (1956) - there's a reason it's been spotlighted by fans and other directors through the decades (like John Carpenter did in Halloween).
  8. Contact - no disrespect toward his marvelous Back to the Future trilogy, but this Carl Sagan adapted story was a more thoughtful film by Robert Zemeckis.
  9. Ghost in the Shell (original title Kōkaku Kidōtai) - I'll go with the Mamoru Oshii's anime film that helped to inspire the Wachowski Brothers' The Matrix. I'll admit I have an admiration for a similar low-budget copy, Albert Pyun's Nemesis, too.
  10. Stargate - this is the one I wrestled with the most on this list. I had to get a Kurt Russell film in here, and the story (and his anguished Jack O'Neil portrayal) swayed me.
With thanks to Gordon.


  1. I'm disappointed, no honorable mention for "The Wrath of Khan". All kidding aside, besides your very fine list, mine would have the Matrix and the fantastic blue ray Star Trek, we loved it. I never got in to blade runner, must say, Fords acting is usually enough to ruin a movie for me. IMHO. As always, an enjoyable post. 

    ps Might sneak in the Man who fell to earth.

  2. The Wrath of Khan, The Matrix, The Man Who Fell to Earth and so many others were on my larger list. Getting it down to 10 involved some brutal choices ;) . What would be on your final Top Ten Sci-Fi? Love to see it, my friend. Thanks so much, Herb.

  3. "Fascinating" to quote an iconic figure.  No thanks needed.  What a list!  It is interesting how radically different people's tastes run.  While we might all enjoy many of these films, just two would make my own list.  Your top two as a matter of fact.

    But, by the way, you are so right.  It's hard nailing it down, which is why I have been remiss in getting mine completed as a follow-up to that original post.  I'm so damn methodical Mike.  I like to do things a certain way.  Again, this is why your meme hasn't been completed.

    If I don't do things the way I need them to be done, the post sits, because, deep down, I know it's not ready.  But yes, I'm completely a victim of my own making. 

    So yes, your list was very intriguing.  I commend you for your taste in the influential Ghost In The Shell.  Mamoru Oshii's masterpiece in anime certainly lends itself to repeat viewings too.

    Stargate is a good movie.  I do like it.  I love Kurt Russell, but I just can't put it at the top.  Still, that film might have been better in the hands of someone other than Emmerich.  Nonetheless it spawned a TV franchise I quite adore.

    I really had a tough time enjoying Contact.  It was laborious.  Maybe it was my frame of mind, but it definitely was not enjoyed by me.  2001 I can't seem to get all the way through. 

    Wall*E is simply beautiful, especially the first hour.  I really love that first hour the most.  Breathtaking.

    I have yet to see Forbidden Planet.  Can you believe it?  I'm deprived.  But Lathe Of Heaven has my curiosity peaked.  I'll definitely give that a look.  Nice post my friend.  Thank you.

  4. Some of my favorite sci-fi movies are on your list, as well as three I haven't seen. The Lathe of Heaven is definitely on my must-see list.  I'm kind of surprised that Close Encounters of the Third Kind didn't make your list.  It'd definitely be on mine.

  5. I certainly understand wanting to get things just right--and a top 10 Sci-Fi Films for you must have an undeniable pressure to it. Getting it just right goes without saying, my friend.

    I likely give Stargate a preferential nod here for its originality (which went on to spawn the franchise you speak of), Russell (of course), and the fact that it done under Devlin & Emmerich before the latter began to overstep his films (if that makes any sense).

    Not seen Forbidden Planet?!? "And how can this be? For he is the Kwisatz Haderach!" Sorry, Dune flash-back  :-P . I have it in Blu-ray Disc, if you need any enticement. Though it isn't in BD, The Lathe of Heaven is within reach, too.

    Contact does take its time. For me though, the story, Jodie Foster and especially John Hurt's supporting role do it for me.

    This was a challenge, but such an enjoyable puzzle to get through. Thanks so much, Gordon.

  6. CEofTK was in my top 20... right before the most painful cuts of this exercise. Can you post (or comment) your top 10, John? I'd love to see it. Thanks, my friend.

  7. That's a good idea for a blog post.  I'll have to think on it for a while.  I'll probably have it up tomorrow or Sunday.

  8. Once again I'm embarrassed to admit it. Four of these I have not seen. But I won't let my ignorance prevent me from adding two picks of my own.

    A Boy and His Dog
    The Mind of Mr. Soames

  9. A Boy and his Dog is a great one, Naomi. Fine adaptation of a Harlan Ellison tale. Now it's time for me to admit embarrassment. I've not seen The Mind of Mr. Soames. I'll need to rectify that one. Thanks so much.

  10. Great list! I recently read Lathe of Heaven, didn't realize there were a couple films. Hmmm, possible future book/movie post???? Speaking of book/movie posts I've dropped the ball on our latest... maybe in the next two weeks?

    Like SFF, I can't get through 2001. For me, it's like the english patient. A film so many people rave about but is guarenteed to put me to sleep. However, 2001 is worth it as it gave us Hal! I adore Hal. And while the english patient did feature ralph fiennes there are so many other films to watch him in that were better. ;)

  11. Yeah, I understand... and don't get me started on The English Patient (that film drives me up the wall). Fiennes is great actor, and I'd watch him in anything (except in TEP). Wasn't he great in In Bruges?

    I think you've found our subsequent parallel post film with The Lathe of Heaven, Rachel. We can take that on after The Princess Bride. No problem delaying that for a couple of week (I've been pretty busy myself).

    Thank you so much for your comment, Rachel.

  12. Another great list. Delighted to see the likes of Forbidden Planet and 2001 make it, and I really need to see The Lathe Of Heaven.

  13. Loved, loved, loved CONTACT! I'm typically not a big sci-fi fan, but that movie was outstanding.

  14. Yes, The Lathe of Heaven is well worth seeing. Thanks so much, Steve.

  15. I recently picked up the Blu-ray Disc of Contact and will be taking it in again. Thanks, Jen.

  16. Nice to see CONTACT on there. I really love this film and hold it up there with the likes of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and THE ABYSS as an excellent example of benign alien vistation as opposed to the glut of alien invasion films that litter the genre. What I also like about CONTACT is that wrestles with pretty weighty themes, examining the philosophical and religious implications as well as the scientific.

  17. I very much agree with your take on Contact (and the weighty issues it takes on). It's got a great cast, too. Thanks, J.D.