Sci-Fi and Fantasy Favorites

My Top Ten (no certain order, though) ~
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - grand cosmic film, superbly directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Kubrick and sci-fi legend Arthur C. Clarke; one really must read novel to fully comprehend (OK, I admit I've got this first because it's my favorite science fiction film)
2. Sleeper (1973) - this Woody Allen film is a hilarious spoof of SF concepts and cliches

3. Forbidden Planet (1956) - quite a "deep" movie about a super(?) civilization; looks great; Robby the Robot still the ultimate SF robot; script does occasionally falter, though, especially the maudlin romance

4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version) - fast-paced, well-done alien invasion story; put "pod people" in the English language; best of the "paranoia" films of the 1950s

5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978 version) - not quite as smartly paced as the 1956 version, yet adds some sociology and jokes about urban alienation; also improves on segment near the end of 1956 film when Dana Wynter was transformed, which was puzzling; some prefer this version

6. Fahrenheit 451 (1966) - not as consistently good as the Ray Bradbury novel, but still a very thoughtful story of book-burning society of the near future; Julie Christie always great

7. Doctor Strangelove (1964) - Kubrick film is the ultimate, over-the-top black comedy on nuclear war; Peter Sellers in three roles is awesome as usual

8. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) - classic message film of human violence and the mild-mannered alien who warns us to stop or else; well-made, though conclusion is quite authoritarian in its prescription

9. Planet of the Apes (1968 version) - well-made and thoughtful anti-war film; hampered by unlikely plot that astronauts return to Earth without knowing it, and the fact that apes are little worse than humans have often been; good cast; great Jerry Goldsmith score; more thoughtful than the remake

10. Back to the Future (1985) - first of a trilogy of wacky and fun time-travel stories by director Robert Zemeckis, with Michael J. Fox leading the way; is Lloyd's "Doc" a bit over-the-top, though?
More great films (again, no certain order) ~
11. Amanda and the Alien (1996) - this cable TV film is a witty black comedy of alien invasion; hampered some by a low budget; first movie from a Robert Silverberg story, and he gave it thumbs up (and cameos in it)

12. Blade Runner (1982; Director's Cut) - thoughtful story is visually an early model of "cyberpunk" SF; characters and setting a little thin, and overly violent; great score by Vangelis; Director's Cut an improvement

13. Metropolis (1926, silent, German) - story of exploited workers versus idle rich is still powerful, as is the visual aspect; newest version fills in some missing scenes with stills

14. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 version) - one of the great adventure movies; Kirk Douglas and James Mason stand out; very atmospheric and lavish production

15. 2010 (1984) - not nearly as well done as prequel 2001:A Space Odyssey, this is still a good film; emphasizes the anachronistic Soviet/American antagonism much more than the novel does


16. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) - The Director's Edition - Robert Wise's recent clean-up of this with his "Director's Edition" improved it tremendously, so it's not "motionless" any more - with its more philosophical and less militaristic tone than the other Star Trek films, this is now my favorite of that series; another great musical score by Jerry Goldsmith

17. The Terminator (1984) - largely an action film, lots of violence, but with good SF foundation borrowed from the original "Outer Limits" TV series

18. It Came From Outer Space (1953) - hampered by low budget, script sometimes sloppy, but story from Ray Bradbury is chilling, inspiring, and nice twist on invasion yarns

19. Star Wars (1977) and sequel:
20. The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - great adventure films, with vivid characterizations and compelling good vs. evil story; unforgettable music by John Williams; both are very good as films, but since are more science fantasy are not as high on this list

21. The Island of Doctor Moreau (1977) - though this version has some puzzling elements, H.G. Wells story of genetic engineering is chilling as hell; acting trilogy of Michael York, Burt Lancaster, and Richard Basehart is unbeatable

22. Charly (1968) - Daniel Keyes story of man taken from mentally deficient to genius, then back, is touching and thoughtful, thanks largely to Cliff Robertson's Oscar-winning performance; Claire Bloom good as always, but romance between the two is awkward and not in the original story

23. The Postman (1997) - Kevin Costner directed and starred in this allegory of a future where civilization has collapsed. The title character passes himself off as a U.S. Mail carrier, in which guise he comes to symbolize hope for isolated communities ruled by a ruthless warlord. Taken from the novel by David Brin, this film is very inspiring in making us think of the benefits we easily take for granted in our society. "The Postman" is an underappreciated film, and some have unfairly maligned it.

24. Seconds (1966) - spooky Frankenheimer film of elderly man deciding to live in Rock Hudson's body, then finding he can't adjust; eerily-done "conspiracy" film

25. Brother From Another Planet (1984) - Joe Morton is alien who crashes on earth and is dumbstruck by human vices he sees; good social satire by writer/director John Sayles

26. The Man in the White Suit (1951) - great satire of Alec Guinness discovering fabric that won't wear out or get dirty, so both workers and management try to kill his idea

27. Frankenstein (1931) and sequel:
28. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) - cinematic triumph, many classic scenes; Boris Karloff gives the monster much pathos

29. Monkey Business (1952) - scientists Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant accidentally discover youth serum that turn them into kids with adult bodies; film is homage to '30s and '40s screwball comedies

30. Twelve Monkeys (1995) - Intriguing time-travel film directed by Monty Python alumnus Terry Gilliam, reminiscent in its portrayal of a bleak future to his "Brazil"; at times confusing, though

31. The Man with Two Brains (1983) - crazy farce spoofing the disembodied brain idea of "Donovan's Brain," which itself is nutty; almost goes over the edge, but stars Steve Martin and Kathleen Turner, along with director Carl Reiner, hold it together
32. Solaris (1971, Russian) - often called "the Russian 2001," since both philosophical and mysterious, and both deal with nature and limits of intelligence; also like 2001, reading the novel helps (in this case by the great Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem); film is very slow, though, and somewhat puzzling

33. Solaris (2003, American) - better-paced than the Russian version, and clearer about what is happening, but there's an over-emphasis on the love story part, and the upbeat ending is a cheat and probably makes no sense scientifically

34. A Clockwork Orange (1971) - Stanley Kubrick film is a witty black comedy of a violent near-future and a lesson on why free-will is important; based on Anthony Burgess novel

35. Contact (1997) - thoughtful, well-made movie of first contact with ETs; based on Carl Sagan's novel.