4. TIME CRIMES / PRIMER
Where Darko had time travel alongside it’s angst, these movies take the pretzel logic fun to extremes. Primer has supreme indie nerd cred on its side, which make the ambiguities more tolerable. And the Spanish gem Time Crimes feels like a perfect Philip K. Dick adaptation brought to life. Both mature and thoughtful pieces that rely on your brain more than spectacle.
The concept behind this movie is brilliant: Let’s add more gunfights to Brave New World. Kurt Wimmer’s badass tale of a “utopian” society that’s not allowed to feel introduced us to two wonderful things: Gunkata and Christian Bale as an action hero. Gunkata battles have yet to be matched onscreen since, and without this movie, we’d have no Dark Knight. Think about that, then check this movie out again.
2. DISTRICT 9
There are scenes in District 9 when things are working so well, you’re sort of amazed that this is a first time director. You can see elements in the film of what director Neill Blomkamp’s adaptation of Halo was going to be. I’m glad he made this one instead. It does what sci-fi does best (presenting the topics of today through the filter of the future) but puts such a fresh perspective on it, and how that story is told, that this should be a classic for years to come.
1. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
I debated for awhile whether or not to include this movie on the list. But when you get right down to it, the story really is the same sort of conceit of great sci-fi: The What If machine. It helps that it was expertly written and shot (thank you Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry), it’s full of fantastic performances across the board, and a heaping helping of what makes all the greatest stories that much better: heart.
RUNNER-UPS: (Or is it “RUNNERS-UP”?) It didn’t feel right to not include Avatar somewhere on a list of great sci-fi from the past decade, but there are far more that deserve recognition as well, so here are some equally solid flicks that didn’t quite make the cut.
- PITCH BLACK/CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK
- MINORITY REPORT
- A SCANNER DARKLY
- THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
- NIGHTWATCH/DAYWATCH SERIES
- The first 2/3 of I AM LEGEND
The cut of ALIEN Vs PREDATOR I’m making, where I’ve eliminated as much of the human elements from both AVP movies as possible, and what’s left is what you the audience wants to see from these movies: An Alien verse a fuckin Predator!
* Actually, Revenge of the Sith doesn’t deserve a spot on the list because of one simple word: “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!”