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The 25 Best Sci-fi Movies of The 21st Century

19 November 2014 | Features, Film Lists | by Tyler Easterday


Since the beginning of storytelling, man has always sought out new ways to give wisdom and understanding through mediums of entertainment. All genres have a different purpose; we have comedies to make us laugh, dramas to make us cry etc. One genre stands out as the most cerebrally connected with our true being however, and that is the genre of science fiction.

Science fiction, like most genres, has grown exponentially more immersive over the years with the emergence of video games and 3D film. In recent years, we’ve seen stunning visual effects in films like Gravity and Interstellar, a progressed sense of intelligence in the genre with films like Upstream Color, and an overall revitalized sense of kinship between sci-fi and humanity. This relationship is truly meta, seeing as it is the strongest link between science and aesthetics in existence.

Through science fiction, one is given freedom to not only lose themselves in a thought-provoking story, but also learn more about their own nature through the genre. The content of a sci-fi story may all be theoretical, but ultimately it opens the minds of humanity to understanding the connection between ethos and pathos by carrying a story about logic, although with relatable characters that have emotion.

The genre has not only shaped humanity’s artistic side to be more exploratory of our being, but also opened up many minds to very idea of science itself. It is unfortunate that we live in a world where some people truly shun out science as theory rather than a search for truth, but we all know this is a fact. Science fiction has shown many lost hearts the wonder of the stars above them.

It was reported in 1980 that almost 20% of astronauts at that time had either been completely influenced, or at least nudged a bit, into science by the first Star Trek series. Nowadays, about half of all scientists and astronauts claim science fiction has had some kind of effect on them over the years that have influenced their endeavors into both the known and unknown.

Today, science fiction is more popular than ever. In fact, the father of science fiction, Jules Verne, has gained a millennial cult following in the modern style called ‘steam-punk’. These die-hard Verne-heads dress in attire that resembles the landscapes and clothing worn by the characters in Verne’s sci-fi classics like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days.

There has also been a massive uprising in the rate of scientific discovery, resulting in the past ten years being the most scientifically productive decade since the beginning of time. This has yielded a grown interest in scientific findings among not just the youth, but adults as well.

A lot of this can be traced back to the convenience of the internet. People no longer have to subscribe to a monthly science mag or hope that recent discoveries are mentioned in the most recent newspaper. Now, people can simply get online and search for true scientific facts and recent findings. We are truly living in the golden age of discovery.

The modern era has directly shown us the excitement and emotional reaction to this influx of scientific knowledge through the various entertainment mediums of today. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the movies.

Over the past 15 years, we have seen some of the best science fiction since the beginnings of film. The content has grown bolder, the effects have become hyper-real, and the overall effect of a modern great science fiction film has become undeniably breathtaking. There have been several titles each year that shake both the box office and the world of scientific theory itself. Here are some of the best science fiction films of the post 2000’s.


25. Primer

Primer (2004)

As Shane Carruth’s directorial debut, this movie has been considered one of the most challenging sci-fi films ever made. The characters in the movie accidentally stumble upon a means of time-travel and what ensues is pure cerebrally challenging story-telling.

The movie has been noted for its well use of an extremely low budget, and Shane Carruth’s writing/directing talent. This one may not be for everyone, but if you’re ever willing to take the ride, you might want to be ready to take notes in order to not have to watch it 10 times over before the story makes sense… But that’s why fans of the film love it so much.


24. Metropolis


Despite the title, this film is not based on Fritz Lang’s 1927 classic of the same name. In fact, it’s actually based on a manga that was based on the imagery of the classic silent film. In no way is the film derogatory of the original, though; in fact, it’s one of the most original anime films we’ve seen in decades.

The film’s plot is slightly cliché, but is made up for by the film’s visceral and eccentric visuals. Metropolis is a mandatory addition to any sci-fi, or anime, fan’s collection.


23. Time Crimes


Time Crimes is a Spanish sci-fi horror/thriller released in 2008 in the States. The movie uses a time-loop device that writer/director, Nacho Vigalodo, gives quite the twist-y treatment as the plot progresses. The ultimate result of the film resembles early episodes of Twilight Zone, but its dark, droll tone makes it a truly unique achievement.


22. A Scanner Darkly


Based off of Phillip K. Dick’s novel of the same name, Richard Linklatter’s adaptation of A Scanner Darkly serves as just another reminder in the writer/director’s filmography that reminds us he’s one of the most important filmmakers of our era.

The film uses the same animation stylizing, called ‘roto-scoping’, as used in Waking Life. The dystopian story stays quite respectful to the original, but Linklatter’s vision is endlessly unique and riveting. It may be hard to compare to some of Linklatter’s more dramatic and dialogue-driven film treatments, but A Scanner Darkly remains a gem in the world of sci-fi.


21. Source Code


As Moon director, Duncan Jones’, second shot at the big screen, Source Code provides an equally satisfying view as Moon. Jake Gylenhaal assumes the main role in this time-travel thriller that I must say is the closest film to this years Edge of Tomorrow that I have ever seen.

In the movie, Gylenhaal’s character keeps repeating the same events, but doesn’t know why. He soon finds himself in a loop and slowly uncovers the truth behind the events. If you’ve seen Edge of Tomorrow, that does sound quite familiar, doesn’t it? Well, just wait until the final act. The resolution to this movie is what makes it truly rewarding and unique, and is an essential addition to any sci-fi fan’s collection.


20. Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow

The unofficial sister plot of the movie, Source Code, Edge of Tomorrow is Starship Troopers meets Groundhog Day meets awesome. Enough said.


19. Super 8

Super 8

Following the success of Cloverfield and Star Trek, director, J.J. Abrams and his production company, Bad Robot, decided to create this nostalgic masterpiece. Super 8 was produced by the master of the ‘summer blockbuster’ himself, Steven Spielberg.

The movie draws elements from classics like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T., but does so with a modernized reverence for these kinds of films. It also uses modern cinematic technicalities, effects, and plot devices that help revitalize the genre. Super 8 may be just one of the films In Abrams’ amazing filmography, but before he was working in a ‘galaxy far, far away’, he was reminiscing on the sci-fi classics of old with Super 8.


18. District 9


Easily one of the most popular films of our era, District 9 took over theaters in 2009 to critical acclaim. District 9 was director, Neill Blomkamp’s directorial debut, and quickly proved him to be a worthy talent. The movie is unique in that its one the first films since Spielberg’s classics that portrays extra-terrestrials as innocent and helpless.

The movie has a lot of heart… And a lot of blue blood. Since District 9, Blomkamp has released Elysium and is currently working on what looks like may be his finest since District 9, a film about an innocent AI unit going through this life searching for itself called Chappie. Due to the explosion and aftershock of District 9, it looks like Blomkamp is here to stay.



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