The Top 10 Science Fiction Film Game

Over at Jason Sanford’s site, he tags John Scalzi’s little game of improving on the AFI’s Top 10 science fiction films.  I imagine every blogger with any opinion about science fiction at all will want to play, because I know I do.  And it’s not that I disagree terribly with AFI, which I do, I just think a person’s favorite Top 10 SF films are their own Rorschach test of personality.

Here are my favorite Top 10 SF Movies at the moment:

  • The Matrix
  • Gattaca
  • Aliens
  • A.I.
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Things to Come
  • The Abyss
  • Starship Troopers
  • The Fifth Element
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

They are somewhat in order, but actually fluctuate moment by moment because my choices are not based on intellect, but mood.  Like music, I experience movies as a mood enhancer, and I like my science fiction to turn up the sense of wonder to the max and make me feel intensely philosophical.  However, my philosophical mood changes often, and if I made the list a month from now it might be very different.

All of these films are upbeat, even if they are sometimes about people who are beaten down.  I prefer Aliens and The Fifth Element over Alien and The Twelve Monkeys because they feel so much more positive.  I also have a nagging feeling there might be dozens of better movies I should be listing but I just can’t remember them at the moment.  What was that little Australian film that showed Saturn rising up in our sky?  That was a cool film.

I quickly pulled these ten titles from Sci-Fi Lists Top 100 Sci-Fi Films.  If you hop over to Google and search on the phrase “Top Science Fiction Movies” you can find all kinds of lists, and surprisingly, there’s a tremendous overlap.  I guess hundreds of SF films were pretty ho-hum or even ha-ha silly and are quickly forgotten.  And ten or twenty years ago my list would have been very different, but many of my old favorites like Planet of the Apes, 2001, Forbidden Planet, Back to the Future, etc., I’ve watched so many times they fizzle more than they bang.  The above list are the ones that still make my neurons explode with excitement.

Jim

4 thoughts on “The Top 10 Science Fiction Film Game”

  1. I would definitely have Empire Strikes Back in my list (with an asterisk which indicates that I have the other two films tucked in closely behind). Serenity would be right up there (with the same asterisk for the Firefly episodes that preceded it). Gattaca is great but I think I’d throw Equilibrium in there instead of it. Matrix of course. I have such fond memories of Escape from New York that I would have to probably pair that with Bladerunner and count it as a two-fer (I do love to cheat at these ‘best of’ lists). The Sting version of Dune is a favorite despite the novel-lovers complaints. Eternal Sunshine–fantastic! and speaking of, I really enjoyed Sunshine, though I probably wouldn’t put it up in the favorites. Love Aliens. City of Lost Children would be right up near the top. God help me, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow thrills me. Back to the Future would probably be in there as well considering that I saw that movie so many times as a teenager and I think alot of it holds up well today.

    By my convoluted, cheating math, that makes 10!

  2. I don’t think I’ve seen Equilibrium, so I need add it to my Netflix queue.

    Shows you what I meant about everyone’s top ten reflecting their personality. Your top 10 includes all great movies too. I don’t think it’s possible to build a definitive top ten list because there are so many great movies and we’re all so different.

    I wonder if you found someone else who had the same top ten SF movies as you if you would have other overlapping personality traits?

  3. I totally agree with your theories about top 10 lists being a reflection of one’s personality. I think it does say alot. Now I think a handful of us could get into a room and make passionate arguments about the artistic merit of various films, etc. and might be able to come up with a list we were somewhat satisfied with, but the truth is that books and films and music are all the same…they touch each person differently at different moments often depending upon where a person is at, their mood, etc. And depending on the state of the person when they experience the book, film, or song, that might have some form of lasting impression with them that causes them to consider it a favorite even if with an objective eye they can see its flaws.

    Not sure what you would think of Equilibrium. It can all be a bit silly depending on what you think of the martial arts/weapon aspect of the film and how it is really a mashing up of many other films. Didn’t stop me from really enjoying it..which probably had as much to do with the cast as anything else.

    Looking back I have to laugh at how I feel about movies because I totally ripped Kurt Wimmer’s (Equilibrium’s director) later film, Ultraviolet and yet that still didn’t stop me from picking up the DVD used for little or nothing and watching it with my wife as well as passing it on to friends. I actually enjoyed it more the second time around, probably because I had no expectations at that point. I suspect I might feel the same way about Aeon Flux if I ever get desperate enough to watch it again. I really panned that film in my review.

  4. Have you seen Wall-E yet? As I watched it, I thought I’d have to push out one of my current top ten SF films to make room for it. Wall-E has all the best attributes of science fiction. Hugo Gernsback would give Wall-E a Hugo himself, and some of its ideas I remember reading in a 1928 issue of Amazing.

    Mood and timing are very important to appreciating a film. When I saw Galaxy Quest at the theater it was a blast. Later viewings it could be ho-hum or just as blasting as the first time.

    I think a measure of a great film is whether or not it works everytime – at least until you wear it out. After seeing The Wizard of Oz twenty times or more, it’s very hard to watch it now. I have to wait five years between watching now.

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