Science-Fiction has remained one of the most popular genres in the film industry, in large part due to the enduring legacy of Star Wars. However, many independent sci-fi movies have come out in the past couple decades that haven’t, perhaps, gotten the attention they deserve. The following are independent sci-fi movies definitely worth your time.
10. Ex Machina
Ex Machina’s smart concept and solid execution made it immediately one of the more popular independent sci-fi movies out there. Earning rave reviews all around, the movie’s tense atmosphere combined with amiable performances made it accessible to mainstream audiences without losing the audiences looking for more artistically daring cinema.
Following up Ex Machina with Annihilation in 2018, a solid independent sci-fi flick in its own right, it’s clear that director Alex Garland has a talent for bringing compelling sci-fi ideas to the independent stage.
In a more cerebral movie, Moon outshines other movies in the sci-fi genre by being a more meditative endeavor in the vein of Tarkovsky’s 70’s classic Solaris. Centered almost entirely on Sam Rockwell in the leading role, Moon is a slower-paced, thought-provoking film that ranks among recent independent science fiction movies as one of the most intelligent.
Probably the largest budget movie on this list, Her features a plethora of recognizable stars and boasts a high profile director in Spike Jonze. Jonze’s unique style blends perfectly with the quirky character antics and socially astute commentary. Frequent praise went to Scarlett Johansson (who is only a voice in the movie) and Joaquin Phoenix who’s given the unenviable task of almost single-handedly holding the audience’s attention.
Following the story of a man who falls in love with a vocal aid/virtual assistant, Her’s satire and critique of our generation’s fascination with electronics is obvious to see. Probably the most brilliant part of Her, though, is how Jonze actually gets the audience to care about the central relationship and makes them want it to work.
Bong Joon-Ho’s English language debut, Snowpiercer, is a bleak dystopian sci-fi action movie. The critically acclaimed director brings his allegorical approach to a mainstream genre. The science-fiction and action genres have been defined by loud, grandiose, high budget spectacles but Snowpiercer’s merit comes from its grounded approach. It doesn’t have non-stop, mind-numbing special effects and its wisely structured though that it doesn’t have to.
Bong Joon-Ho clearly knows how to stage exceptional action sequences and there’s no shortage of them in this and it’s an independent movie that shows that a lot can truly be done with little. Taking place almost entirely on a train, Bong Joon-Ho turns what would, in the hands of an inferior director, be a muddled, claustrophobic mess, into an uncompromising vision with astute political and social commentary.
Snowpiercer is very much a movie that can appeal to multiple audiences and, given the stars in it, it’s largely flown under the radar. This is unfortunate because it just means that so many people are missing out on a truly refreshing sci-fi flick.
6. The Lobster
Director Yorgos Lanthimos made his way into American cinemas with this independent release. The Lobster is a movie that will likely be an acquired taste and polarize those unfamiliar with Lanthimos’ darkly comic style.
As with some other movies on this list, The Lobster uses sci-fi elements to incorporate some sharp social critique. The premise surrounds a housing structure that puts people together in the hopes that they will find a mate at which point they are free to live the rest of their lives together. If they don’t find a mate, they turn into an animal of their choice.
Mainstream audiences shouldn’t be discouraged by the bizarre premise as it is a movie that creates its own society and world; a world that viewers can immerse themselves in and find great enjoyment in doing so. Quirky, awkward humor is infused the in the more serious elements culminating to singular movie-going experience.