This Top 5 may have been the most difficult to narrow down so far. So much so that I cheated a little bit, as this list technically contains 6 recommendations. Due to the limit, two I wasn’t able to include but wanted to were the legendary Star Wars (I figured everyone knew it already), and the cult classic Mad Max (which is getting a new entry this year). Deciding to go for a few lesser known films meant a couple big ones had to get the axe and, sadly, those were the two that got chopped. Hope you enjoy the picks that did make it!
A Clockwork Orange
Starting things off with a bit of a risque choice, A Clockwork Orange is a dystopian, controversial masterpiece from virtuoso Stanley Kubrick. Following the exploits of sociopathic Alex (Malcolm McDowell), the film was heavily criticized at the time of its release for its intense use of sexuality and violence. Decades later, it is now considered among the director’s best. Obviously, the film’s extreme subject matter won’t be for everyone so this recommendation does come with a minor warning.
Okay, here is where I cheated a little bit. I couldn’t possibly pick between these two films from Andrei Tarkovsky (who is among my ten favorite directors). Solaris is probably the more traditional science fiction film of the pair. Coming in the wake of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris is sort of the inward, humanized version of Kubrick’s legendary film. Utilizing psychological drama in the confines of space, Solaris may be a bit on the meditative side for some viewers, especially with its near 3 hour run time. Patient viewers, however, are encouraged to seek this one out!
Stalker, while similarly meditative, is a more naturalized sci-fi experience. Set in Russia after an unknown event takes place, two men are led into “The Zone” by a guide known as a (Stalker). The three go through an intricate journey of trials, metaphysics and philosophy, as each realizes what drew them there is the very thing they need to overcome. It’s complex, heady and can be a little daunting for those unwilling to commit 100% to it’s rhythms will find a haunting and unforgettable experience.
A Boy and His Dog
Switching up from the controversial and the complex, comes a fairly simple tale of a boy and his telepathically talking dog. The two work together in order to surprise a brutal, post apocalyptic Southwestern America in this dark comedy that features one of the strangest pairings in movie history. On the surface, I’m not sure A Boy and His Dog should work as well as it does, but from the opening to the twisted, hilarious ending, A Boy and His Dog is an experience unlike any you’re likely to see. For those looking for something strange, this is the ticket!
The Man Who Fell to Earth
With the release of last year’s excellent sci-fi head trip Under the Skin, I thought it only right to add one of that film’s biggest influences to this list. The Man Who Fell to Earth follows an Alien (David Bowie) as he comes to Earth on a mission to retrieve water for his dying home planet. As he traverses the strange, unfamiliar terrain, he begins to discover the meaning of what it is to be human. It’s hard to fully explain this movie in a short summary, but coming from director Nicolas Roeg it becomes a beautifully endearing story that every sci-fi fan needs to witness.
Come on. It just wouldn’t be a great science fiction list without at least one classic of the genre. Since I had to axe other classics like Star Wars and Mad Max, I knew I needed to keep at least one monumental film in the genre. Alien is the definition of the phrase “Classic Science Fiction” and as we follow badass Ripley in her mission to escape a giant, acid-blooded Alien creature, we come to realize just how terrifying the future might be. Alien wound up spawning a mess of sequels, each to varying degrees of success, but for me it’s always been the original that I look to for science fiction fear. This one shouldn’t be hard to find at all and, if you are a genre fan in any capacity, this film is a must see!
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