8. Ex Machina
Alex Garland, USA
Alex Garland, whose screenwriting credits include 28 Days Later, and Never Let Me Go, cut his director teeth with another script of his, the speculative fiction Ex Machina. Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) is a programmer for a search engine called Bluebook, who’s illusive CEO, Nathan Bateman (Oscar Isaac) has assigned him to a lucrative new project involving artificial intelligence in the form of Ava (Alicia Vikander, brilliant).
Despite the limitations that come with a chamber piece, and Ex Machina is structured as such, the film not only dissects grand ideas, it details how people behave when they know they are being watched, and, best of all, articulates a dystopia that’s charitable towards AI but as for humanity? Well, we might just be fucked, let’s put it that way.
7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Michel Gondry may be a common name in the cinematic universe nowadays, but back in 2004, he was hardly recognized. After directing and co-writing his second film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Gondry saw himself taking home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
The film holds all of Gondry’s trippy technicalities such as a non-linear dialogue, poetically cartoon-like visuals, and challenging dialogue, but what truly makes this film stand out from Gondry’s other outings is its emotional core. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet’s chemistry is entrancing and combined with Gondry’s signature style makes this film a science fiction classic with an uncommonly emotional center.
Done by Rian Johnson, who has recently been passed Abram’s Star Wars director torch, Looper is a true example of modernized science fiction at its finest. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a criminal who is sent back in time to assassinate individuals. Bruce Willis plays the character’s future self, and their chemistry is fantastic.
One of the movie’s best elements is its refreshingly pulpy tone, which one rarely sees in sci-fi nowadays. As one of the most well received movies of recent years, Looper is a fantastic entry in the log of sci-fi history.
No spoilers here. If you’ve seen the movie, great. If you haven’t, great. You’re still a part of the inescapable realities of the vast cosmos we call life. This film explores the boundaries of our modern scientific knowledge, and in doing so, unleashes a string of thought-provoking sci-fi cinema that makes it not only a classic of the genre, but one of the best films of the 21st century.
Nolan’s vision is big… But like the expanding cosmos, this vision will only get bigger as history progresses and new, fresh minds enter the world of science fiction to put their imprint on the genre, the cinematic world, and the universe itself.
4. The Congress
This film may be one of the most overseen masterpieces of science fiction ever. The Congress is an Israeli-French film done by Ari Folman and starring Robin Wright that one could call ‘Citizen Kane on psychedelic drugs’. In no way is the plot similar to Citizen Kane, but its attack on the rulers of Hollywood who abuse their power does bring back memories of the social impact that Orson Welle’s classic had on the public.
In the movie, Robin Wright, who plays herself in the movie, gives her DNA to a production company called Miramount so she no longer has to act and can simply let an advanced algorithm provide her with a cinematic avatar. The film transcends into a lush, animated landscape when Robin Wright ultimately revisits the studio she sold her DNA to in order to renew her contract and speak at the Futorological Congress, which is also the name of the book that the movie is based on.
What ensues is one of the most intriguing and rewarding final acts in a movie. With an ensemble cast, mesmerizing animation, and a beautifully meta-layered story, The Congress might forever be diamond in the rough of science fiction history, but its brilliance is undeniable.
As Duncan Jones’ first attempt at a major feature film, Moon was an unexpected hit when it came to American theaters in mid 2009. The story follows Sam Rockwell’s character, who is on a brief mission to the moon in order to mine a resource fuel being used on Earth. Upon arriving there, though, he soon finds a clone of himself, and realizes the scale of time-travel technicality involved in the mission.
Moon is an amazing directorial debut from Duncan Jones as well as a challenging, albeit rewarding piece of science fiction from the late 2000’s.
2. Children of Men
Alfonso Cuaron, who most people would identify with his most recent film, Gravity, got his American filmmaking start with this masterpiece back in 2005. Based on P.D James’ 1992 novel of the same, this film follows Clive Owens’ character as he struggles through a world gone mad due to the fact that women can no longer become pregnant.
The movie’s realistic atmosphere makes the dystopian landscapes feel all too real, resulting in a movie that truly rivets both the heart and the mind. Children of Men will remain a classic for generations to come.
Seeing as this movie is quite recent and won Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars this year, it is most likely fresh in all of our minds.
Joaquin Phoenix’s character is a man in the near future who falls in love with a new interactive form of AI on his OS. The film explores many themes of love, independence, and connection to the world around us. What I find truly fascinating about this film, though, is the man it came from.
Spike Jonze was well-known in the early 90’s skateboarding world as one of the first people to make ‘artsy’ skate videos. After making quite a few classic skateboarding videos, Jonze went on to help produce and direct Jackass: The Movie, as well as the Jackass series. Less than a decade later, he releases Where the Wild Things Are, and proved himself as a truly universal and humble artist.
A few years later, he did Her, winning him Best Original Screenplay, and proving that skateboarders should run the world.
Author Bio: Bio: Tyler Easterday is a 24 year old freelance writer and student at Full Sail University. He aspires to become a screenwriter and filmmaker. He also enjoys skateboarding, good tunes, and reading.