We have been blessed with an awesome run of Science Fiction movies

So I saw ‘Arrival’ over the weekend and that’s a truly great piece of quality science fiction. I mean, it’s not space opera or anything, it’s real science fiction.

And it occurred to me that we’ve had a run of good science fiction movies over the last little while. Star Wars is great and Star Trek ok, but I’m talking about science-based movies that make one think. I’ve been very pleased.

Think about it. We’ve had:

Ex Machina
The Martian
Europa Report
District 9
Hell, even such films as Snowpiercer and Attack the Block show off a certain amount of real science (not a lot but they postulate something and then extend the concept to its consequences).

Seriously, have we ever had a run like this of good science fiction movies?

How could you forget “Interstellar”?

Flawed, yes, but so were they all. And you can hardly have a movie with Kip Thorne backing up the science and claim that it’s not scientifically plausible, at least in many of the overall principles!

Inception is the top of the list for me and one of the finest movies of the past decade. I’ve seen all of those except Arrival(brand new) and I agree that all were good. Having said that, I would not have included Sunshine or Europa Report. Only OK. And I thought Her was massively overrated, but I am in a small minority on that.

I’ll add:

Predestination - I suggest you watch this immediately and look up nothing on it. Ethan Hawke is in it. Everything else is huge spoilers. Loved it. I will zip my lips now. I believe it meets your requirements, though.

…and at the other end of the spectrum we have the shameful gibberish of Prometheus. What a waste. With a $100-million budget and spectacular visuals, how could the creative team take no pride in their work? It would have taken so little extra effort to devise a compelling story that was scientifically credible and did not have dozens of gaping plot holes.

The $100 mill was for the visuals. The script cost about sixty bucks, and that includes the photocopying.
I’m not personally inclined to call this a golden age or anything. Some sci-fi films have been genuinely impressive, others seem to impress everyone else while leaving me baffled and annoyed (i.e. Ex Machina). The look of the films has improved massively in a technical sense, but often the stories are still just plain ol’ dumb.

I agree with Jonathan’s premise. We can quibble about individual films, but overall the films have been well-made and well-written ands there have been a lot of them.

Next year is gonna be a fucking GREAT year for SF films!

Agreed. Of them all,* The Martian *tops my list, but soo much greatness.

Also good SF TV recently, what with Westworld, Black Mirror, Orphan Black, etc…

Inception was okay, I guess, but I couldn’t really help but see it as anything more than a less impressive Matrix rip-off.

Looper was exceptionally awful. Joseph Gordon-Levit’s make-up was an eye sore, and the plot was full of implausibilities.

District 9 was alright. It felt realistic, and was pretty creative with its setting.

Primer was an interesting movie that felt so real it was almost like a documentary. Their theories were so complex I couldn’t quite wrap my feeble brain around it. It’s been years since I watched it though.

My favorite sci-fi post-2000 was Another Earth (2011). Brit Marling starred in it and co-wrote the screenplay with Mike Cahill. Cahill also directed the movie. It’s more of a drama, with subtle sci-fi elements. Sound of My Voice came out in the same year, directed by Zal Batmanglij, and again starred and was co-written by Marling. It has a stronger sci-fi theme, and I’d recommend it as an interesting movie with great acting and writing.

The Animatrix (2013) is another favorite of mine. I even like it more than the original Matrix. While the Matrix had a potent twist, it tends to loose its effect after that initial watch. The Animatrix on the other hand just gets better with every re-watch.

Gonna give a shout out (Like I did yesterday in the “best films of past 3 years” thread) to the little-known The Congress.

Please don’t.

Who’s this “We” you’re talking about Jonathan.

In particular, there’s 3 in a row on your list that are very typical of the type of crappy SF movies that have been made lately.

Ex Machina
The Martian

The first is just a boring remake of a Frankenstein story. Not the least bit original and, well, boring. The word “predictable” doesn’t come close to how trite this was.

The second two were just horribly irritating to watch. “Oh, no, A Bad Thing is happening and the Hero(ine) is about to die!” “Whew, saved at the last second but a completely implausible sequence of lucky events.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

The rest of the OP’s list are either okayish films but not great or ones I didn’t see. Except Her. That at least was a nice film in most regards.

I don’t totally agree with the OP’s list, but I won’t nitpick. I would , however, like to add Edge of Tomorrow.

Was the Animatrix not in 2003, some 13 years ago?

Yes, it was. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328832/

Right, I thought we were focusing on the last few years. I did like the Animatrix, though. Better than the sequels we ended up with.

A few I haven’t yet seen mentioned are Timecrimes, The Man from Earth, and Under the Skin. The first of those makes the third excellent time travel movie to come out after 2000, two of which are already mentioned in this thread (Looper wasn’t one for me); used to be, you could count such movies on the fingers of no hands. And Under the Skin shows that Scarlett Johansson is really present at all points of the spectrum—Her, for me, really wasn’t very good, but Lucy was just abysmal.

Oh, and there’s also the excellent Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, of course!

Heh, seems like you’re my polar opposite in terms of movies—I thought Ex Machina was perhaps the first exploration of the theme of strong AI that really made sense in a movie, and both The Martian and Gravity went out of their way to provide a realistic sense of space exploration, while keeping a constant sense of suspense.

Her, on the other hand, just failed at everything it tried to accomplish, so much so in fact that I’ve been thinking it was originally meant as satire, but when that fell through with focus groups, they ended up playing the love story straight, which simply made no sense when the rest of the movie (at least, to me) seemed to be playing up the idea that technological simulacra of real human relationships are always ultimately empty and insipid.

Ah, of taste there’s no accounting.

I thought the real brilliance of Ex Machina was that it was impossible to tell which character was the protagonist. Honestly, that’s going to change person-to-person. That’s a good script, with good effects and wrapped around good performances.

Another +1 for Jonathan and “2 and a Half Wits” :wink:
I thought “Ex Machina”, about giving sentience/consciousness to a “machine” is vastly different from “Frankenstein” (re-animating life).

I enjoyed both “Gravity” and “The Martian”. As a stark contrast to the Star Wars/Star Trek movies, both movies gave more realistic depictions of just how unforgiving space is to humans.
“Gravity” could be argued to have pushed the limits of “miracle saves” a bit (especially the ending). But “The Martian” took a very pragmatic approach to 1) solving problems, 2) encountering “glitches” that are inevitable, and 3) devising alternate plans to deal with the new situation. This was done by the stranded guy (Damon) as well as NASA (and the rest of the crew).

My one exception (of the movies I’ve seen) to Jonathan’s list would be “Inception”. Though an entertaining movie, it was kind of like “The Matrix” on steroids. That is, the “sci-fi ness” of it was all in manipulating the brain/senses.

I think we’ve reached the point where great effects are so plentiful and “easy” that they can get out of the way and the writers can actually write a real science fiction story and not just an action movie with aliens or robots. And even a smaller, independent film like Ex Machina can have stunning effects. (Though honestly, the script probably didn’t really need them.)

Ava’s look certainly added to the unsettling feel, but if you were willing to accept a practical makeup effect instead, and stripped out some of the modern references, it could have been made 20 years ago just fine.

And when you do have the big budget, you can get stuff like Interstellar, which, while I didn’t really love it, felt like a Clarke or Asimov novel brought to the screen. Or Inception, which again, I didn’t love, but asked real interesting questions about reality, while having stunning visuals to boot.

That, and with all the technological wonders of the past 50 years or so, science fiction is getting closer to reality. While I know intellectually that humans haven’t been on Mars, while I was watching it, The Martian felt almost as much of a historical fiction piece as Apollo 13 did.

I think it’s just a matter of the time being right in terms of what we can do on the screen, what we can do in real life, and what people are willing to accept and take seriously. (There’s a lot less looking down on scifi as childish than there was 20 or 30 years ago).

(On the other hand, I found Gravity too schmaltzy and hollywood-predictable. Decent movie, and the scene of the initial accident is stunning and harrowing, but all the stuff with her daughter… ugh. I loved the fact that The Martian forewent all that and never gave him a daughter or a wife back home to pine for, and barely mentioned his parents. (if at all… that might have been in the book only.)

I would throw in some sc-fi comedy too.

Paul, Shaun of the Dead, and Evolution.