Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Best Sci-Fi Films of the 2010s so far

With this month's release of Neill Blomkamp's imaginative sci-fi adventure, Chappie, I've decided to use March's Movie List of the Month to highlight the best science fiction films so far this decade (click here for February's list). Although Chappie won't be found on the final list, Blomkamp did manage to produce one of the finest sci-fi features of last decade, District 9. And just as a disclaimer, it was a bold move but I have included one major parameter with the list. I've omitted any superhero movies from contention, so keep that in mind.

Honorable Mention: Chronicle, Cloud Atlas, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Gravity

#5. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

I don't know about you, but I like my sci-fi with a little bit of a romantic twist. I remember seeing a trailer for George Nolfi's The Adjustment Bureau in 2011 and thinking how peculiar its premise looked. When a fast-rising politician and a ballerina unexpectedly cross paths, their budding romance is put to the test by a secret unknown society tasked with keeping order in the world. It sounds strange, right? However, a wildly creative script and two magnificent lead performances from Matt Damon and Emily Blunt propel The Adjustment Bureau to elite sci-fi status ... and hats have never been so cool!

#4. Source Code (2011)

Another spectacular sci-fi film burst onto the scene in 2011, Duncan Jones' Source Code. Jones, the biological son of famed musician David Bowie, left him own imprint on the world as an artist with the 2009 indie sci-fi hit, Moon. And just a few years later, we were given an equally effective sci-fi tale starring Jake Gyllenhaal. When a soldier wakes up in someone else's body, he discovers that he's part of an experimental government program desperate to foil a mass bombing on a train. After his amazing performance in Nightcrawler last year, we all know how talented Gyllenhaal is as a performer. He proves exceptional in Source Code alongside standout turns from co-stars Vera Farmiga and Michelle Monaghan.

#3. Looper (2012)

Critics and audiences alike adored Rian Johnson's 2012 sci-fi feature, Looper. This time-travel themed story pits a contemporary mob assassin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) against his future self (Bruce Willis) once it's discovered that the mob wants to "close the loop". Despite being a bit of a lengthy affair that journeys every which way, Looper unravels as an action-packed and creative adventure from the brilliant mind of Rian Johnson (Brick). Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels and Paul Dano co-star in this effective sci-fi treat that delivers an absolutely unforgettable finale.

#2. Interstellar (2014)

One of the most important aspects of any science fiction story is a filmmaker's desire to push boundaries, and perhaps no other visionary can compare to the great Christopher Nolan. Love him or hate him, he challenges himself and the audience with iconic pieces of cinema like last year's space adventure, Interstellar. With earth's resources fading quickly, a former pilot is called upon to journey deep into the farthest reaches of the cosmos to find some way to sustain human life. Nolan's lengthy, yet mesmerizing, tale features another excellent role from Matthew McConaughey, as well as third act for the ages. Although Interstellar was mostly snubbed during this past Oscar ceremony, it will most likely live on as 2014's most memorable film.

#1. Inception (2010)

Not only does director Christopher Nolan hold the second spot on my list, by a wide margin, he has a firm handle on the top spot as well. Keeping in context with how much cinema has evolved over the past five years with the extensive use of CGI, Inception truly broke the barrier at the turn of the decade. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Cobb, a thief banned from his home country and unable to ever see his children again. All until a powerful figure stumbles into his life with a very simple proposal. If Cobb can implant an idea into a CEO's subconscious using a dream-sharing technology, then he'll be granted immunity and able to reunite with his children. 

As a polarizing film that's been mocked and scorned almost just as much as it's been praised by its loyal fans, Inception's beauty transcends far beyond its controversial and ambiguous final shot. Like many others obsessed with the ending, I had a brief moment of fixation on knowing what does (or doesn't) happen to that spinning top. However, the fact that Cobb can turn away from that spinning top so easily and head for his children simply reinforces that the audience should be able to do exactly the same. Inception is a genius effort from a truly amazing and groundbreaking science fiction filmmaker.

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