The past few years have brought us some science fiction juggernauts. Nope, Dune, and A Quiet Place all earned rave reviews, and on top of that, they managed to score big at the box office. People will flock to the theaters to see the next big sci-fi blockbuster, but that doesn’t mean every science fiction film captures a sizable audience.
Every year, there are countless releases that go mostly unnoticed. This could be due to poor marketing, miniscule budgets, or a general lack of exposure. One thing should be made abundantly clear; this doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an abundance of low budget rubbish. While there are definitely some significant misfires, there are also countless underrated gems that simply get overlooked.
Below, you’ll find ten of those films. Specifically, this list focuses on well-received science fiction movies released within the past few years. In an effort to spread the love evenly, the list will be in alphabetical order. In other words, every entry has earned the same seal of approval; it’s up to readers to decide what might click with them.
1. Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (2020)
Junta Yamaguch’s first feature focuses on a computer monitor that predicts the future, or at least it appears to. Basically, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes asks important questions about fate. Do we control our future or does our future control us? There are plenty of philosophical questions to answer, and there’s also plenty of fun to be had.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes crams an insane amount of creativity in less than 90 minutes. This one-shot microbudget time travel flick plays with time travel in ways that would make Christopher Nolan proud. When you factor in the eclectic sense of humor and deeper themes, you’re left with one of the best science fiction movies of the 2020s. Saying any more would ruin a number of pleasant surprises; just go watch it.
2. Brian and Charles (2022)
In a rural Welsh town, Brian Gittins is a bit of an outlier. He spends most of his days in solitude, fidgeting with the quirky contraptions he assembles. The citizens tend to question his day-to-day choices, and this ultimately pushes him into a dull, lonely lifestyle. This all changes when Charles Petrescu enters his life.
To be clear, Charles Petrescu isn’t just a random townsperson; he’s another one of Brian’s quirky contraptions. More specifically, he’s a robot capable of bringing some much needed joy to Brian’s dull routine. In theory, Charles Petrescu’s undeniable charm should also add a little joy to the average viewer’s day.
Brian and Charles, like Paddington and Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, frequently aims to charm. Given the titular robot’s eccentricities, you could argue that it gets by on cuteness alone, but then you’d be ignoring the creative script and underlying messages. While there are countless cute moments, there’s more to this film than most viewers may anticipate.
Brian and Charles has a lot to say about things like friendship, humanity, and mental health. Charles Petrescu may do funny things, but those funny things almost always serve a purpose. There are lessons to be learned, and thankfully, they come with great dialogue delivered by lovable characters.
3. Gagarine (2020)
So many films fail because they can’t successfully balance conflicting tones. Gagarine is, at its core, a poignant movie. At the same time, there’s a playful tone brought upon by the story’s magical realism. In theory, this balancing act could be disastrous, but there’s an undeniable attention to detail that allows this unpredictable gem to feel perfectly put together.
It’s not always fun in the traditional sense, but it’s thought-provoking and engaging in its own way. Thanks to some challenging themes and well-developed characters, Gagarine is worth the sub-ninety minute commitment. It is a brilliant debut from a pair of directors who should stay on everyone’s radar for many years.
4. Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy (2022)
Featuring kooky sound effects, over-the-top fart jokes, and shoddy visual effects, Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy is absolutely the product of a bygone era. It plays out like a late ‘90s Disney Channel Original Movie in that it’s unapologetically goofy, and that’s because it knows its audience. This is not a movie for viewers opposed to aggressively saccharine campiness. However, folks looking for something on the sweeter side
In the film, a lonely 8-year-old boy discovers an alien girl named Maika. While Maika doesn’t immediately recognize the social cues of earthlings, she quickly learns and connects with the protagonist. From there, the two go on an adventure to find Maika’s lost alien companion.
Western viewers will no doubt catch onto the ET parallels, but Maika: The Girl from Another Galaxy is hardly a reskin. Its eccentric tone and low-budget charm goes a long way, and on top of that, the pair of heartwarming protagonists should win over some of the more cynical viewers. Certain aspects are bound to polarize, but a majority of viewers should leave with a big smile.
5. Significant Other (2022)
Ruth and Harry have been together for 6 years, and although there have been some rocky moments, the two appear to be content with one another. At least, that’s the vibe they give off when Significant Other begins. Unfortunately, things start to get a little shaky after a mysterious red object falls from the sky. That’s where things get interesting.
When it comes to Significant Other, it’s more about the journey than the destination. Although the film attempts to have some clever mystery, it’s projected from what feels like miles away. You’ll certainly guess the ending long before it happens, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride.
For the most part, Significant Other proves to be turn-your-brain off fun. The script doesn’t ask much from the audience, but it nevertheless provides significant entertainment. Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy are more than capable of keeping up with the wilder story beats. In fact, they steal the show. Even if the script occasionally crumbles under the weight of its own ambitions, the two talented actors carry every single scene in which they appear. If Significant Other isn’t an intellectual exercise, it’s still a ridiculously good time.