Genuine science fiction films

I'm an avid fan of literary science fiction, from widescreen space operas to paranoid dystopias. But in film ask anyone to name a science fiction film and chances are the first thing they come up with is Star Wars. Aaarrrgh!

Don't get me wrong, I like Star Wars as much as the next 40-something film nerd. BUT Star Wars is as much a genuine piece of Science Fiction as Lord of the Rings is a historical drama. These are Science FANTASY films.

So here is a list of movies that in my opinion have the sensibilities of genuine literary science fiction.

Read notes
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • A.I. Artificial Intelligence
  • Mad Max
  • On the Beach
  • Seconds
  • Quatermass and the Pit
  • Moon
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Sunshine
  • Contact
  • Blade Runner
  • Alien
  • The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • Silent Running
  • RoboCop
  • Akira
  • Children of Men
  • Videodrome
  • Twelve Monkeys
  • The Man in the White Suit
  • Ghosts... of the Civil Dead
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth
  • Armageddon


  • Hah, Armageddon.

  • Phil put it on list view and read the comment with Armageddon ;)

    I love Dark City, but I consider it more a fantasy film

  • I thought I was alone in my non-hatred of Contact.

  • And I figured that was the reason why Armageddon was on here.

  • If you've got 12 Monkeys, should probably stick La Jetee on there too. How about a Vincenzo Natali film? I have a soft spot for Cypher . . .

  • I like your list. If I were to construct a list similar I would have included the following: Primer (2004), not a big budget film with lots of effects but done really well and grounded in science; Enemy Mine (1985), liked this film due to its philosophical undertones and who could forget the Drakks. Don't quote me on the years, just shooting from the hip. Another film that touches on some horror as well as science would be John Carpenter's The Thing (1982). ;-)

  • Oh man, Primer has one of my favorites lines from movies ever.

  • Great list - How about Soylent Green ?

  • Richard: I should have La Jetee, but I've shamefully never seen if. I'm not a Natali fan.
    Primer is on my to watch list. Thanks for the other suggestions, all films I've see but not in a long time. Except for Carpenter's The Thing which I adore, but which I think of as more horror than SF

  • So you like literary science fiction, huh? Then I highly recommend both Stalker and Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky.

  • I need to put the time into the Tarkovsky Solaris, but I do feel that Soderberg's version is vastly underrated. I loved just about everything about it except the tight seats in Virgin's economy class.

  • I've tried with Tarkovsky's Solaris, but it's too much like watching Waiting For Godot in space for my short attention span. I must give Stalker a go.

  • It was a very long time ago when I watched Solaris, so I should probably revisit it

  • You had me at "Waiting for Godot in Space."

  • Never even considered Man In The White Suit on an SF list, but you're right goddamit! The whole core concept holds perfectly. Good pick. I'm with The Phantom on Primer, think I've seen that nearly as much as Bladerunner. Timecrimes makes a great companion to that too.

  • Definitely another vote for Primer. Has a few of the more eerie scenes I've seen in a movie.

    Have never seen the original Solaris. Is it heavy on philosophical themes?? If so, I'll give it a try.

  • Great list by the way. I practically agree with you 100% on the majority of these choices.

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