Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies of the Decade

First let me say, I have tickets to see Avatar this coming Saturday, so this list may (or may not) be amended come Sunday.

While researching all the great Sci-Fi movies of the last 10 years, I found lists that included films I would categorize as 'Fantasy,' which also included plenty of Superhero movies. These will be addressed in a separate post. And while many Superhero films contain Sci-Fi elements (Superman is from another planet, after all) but to me, they are more Fantastical than Scientific.

Again, these are entirely my opinions. You can agree, disagree or ignore them completely; I don't care.

10. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

Larry Blamire's hilarious tongue-in-cheek 50's homage about a pair of stranded aliens, their radioactive pet; a mad scientist and his lab-created girlfriend and a mind-controlling skeleton in the California desert is just pricelessly funny."Dance, Animala! Dance!"

9. Pitch Black

Director David Twohy introduced the character Riddick (and the actor Vin Diesel - oh, how I'd love to hear that voice whispering dirty talk in my ear) in this surprisingly good film about a group of travelers stranded on a planet inhabited by blood-thirsty bat-like monsters who only come out during the yearly eclipse of its two suns. The survivors struggle to make their way through the exceptionally hostile environment to a ship that save them, led by the criminal Riddick, who has had his eyes surgically altered to see in the dark. An original concept and well-developed characters helped make Pitch Black better than most B-movies. Radha Mitchel, Cole Hauser and Keith David round out the cast in this exciting and scary movie.

8. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michael Gondry directs Charlie Kaufman's script about a man (Jim Carrey in an extraordinary performance) who hires a company to erase the memories of a love affair gone sour. Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Jane Adams, David Cross, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Wilkinson round out the exceptional cast of this weird, haunting and beautiful film.

7. Slither

James Gunn (author of the Dawn of the Dead remake) directs Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry in this comedic take on a small town over-run by alien slugs who turn the residents into zombies (and Rooker into a tentacled monstrosity). Slither crosses the line between Horror and Sci-Fi, though the alien elemnet makes it Sci-Fi in my book. Disgusting and hilarious. Best line: "Somethin's wrong with me!"

6. Star Trek

J.J. Abrams' reboot of the classic series was the second most fun I had at the movies last summer. Near-perfect casting and a clever script that maintains the integrity of the original TV series while allowing for new elements and character relationships helped make Star Trek one of the few franchise reboots that actually work, despite what my Trekker friend Dan (no, not my dear D) thought. A thoroughly enjoyable film, made all the more so by terrific performances from Chris Pine; Zachary Quinto; Zoe Saldana; Karl Urban; Simon Pegg; John Cho; Anton Yelchin; Leonard Nimoy and Eric Bana.

5. Children of Men

Afonso Curaon's adaptation of the P.D. James novel set in the not-too-distant future is a dystopian nightmare, where no children have been born for 18 years and one man finds himself the unlikely guardian of the only pregnant woman on the planet. Dark, grim, violent and bloody, Children of Men is ultimately hopeful about mankind's future. It also features some of the most amazing continuous shots ever set to film. Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine head up the cast of this extraordinary film. Sorry K, I know you hated it, but I loved it.

4. Moon

Duncan Jones' brilliant film tops my list of the best films of 2009, hearkening back to the great 'quiet' Sci-Fi films of the 70's. Sam Rockwell's amazing performance alone is worth the price of admission.

3. Donnie Darko

Richard Kelly's 2001 debut casts Jake Gyllenhall as the title character, a young man who finds himself caught up in a bizarre time-travel conundrum involving an evil 6 foot tall rabbit named Frank and a jet engine falling from the plane carrying his sister home from a dance competition in the future. Maggie Gyllenhall; Mary McDonnell; Patrick Swayze; Beth Grant; Jenna Malone; Noah Wylie; Drew Barrymore (who produced) and Katherine Ross all give fine performances in this weird, wild and wonderful film that is still the subject of conjecture and debate among critics, film enthusiasts and physicists. Sadly, Kelly's follow-up films (Southland Tales; The Box) have not lived up the potential he displayed in his first outing.

2. Wall-E

Pixar's amazing story of trash-compacting robot who longs for companionship was tied for my choice (along with The Dark Knight) for Best Picture of 2008. Gorgeous, hilarious and deeply romantic, Wall-E is director Andrew Stanton's eco-warning love story for the 21st Century, and quite simpley one of the best Sci-Fi movies ever made.

1. Artificial Intelligence; A.I.

Originally developed by the late Stanley Kubrick, Stephen Spielberg's adaption of Brian Aldiss' short story 'Supertoys Last All Summer" was the first film I professionally critiqued on the now-defunct As one friend commented after we saw it, A.I. is a 'thick' film. Part fairy tale (Pinnochio), part domestic drama and all heart, Speilberg's Sci-Fi masterpiece may well be his most contested film. But astounding performances by young Haley Joel Osment as the robot David who longs to be a real boy and Jude Law as the framed-for-murder 'pleasurebot' Gigolo Joe help elevate this deep, dark and ultimately thoughtful film about what it means to be human into something much more than the sum of its parts. Derided by many critics when it was first released, opinions about this movie have changed greatly over the past nine years, and I am glad to report that I am no longer among the minority of folks who love it.

My picks for the Top 10 Fantasy Movies of the Decade, next.

More, anon.


Stephen said...

I always enjoy your lists (hey, I love lists).
I might add Danny Boyle's SUNSHINE.

Prospero said...

I totally agree and am ashamed for not having included it.

Stephen said...

Hey, a list can only be so long...
& I don't want to make your feel ashamed, I want to make you feel good.

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