In celebration of the Film Junk Podcast’s 10 Year Anniversary, we decided to count down the best horror, comedy and sci-fi movies of the past decade. For more info, listen to the full discussion on Episode #530.
10. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014)
Dir. James Gunn
I didn’t consider any traditional superhero movies for my list, but Guardians of the Galaxy seemed like it was a necessary inclusion mainly because it dusted off the space opera genre and updated it for modern audiences. These days we get a lot of dreary dystopian futures but not nearly enough swashbuckling space adventure, interplanetary intrigue or colourful alien civilizations. Guardians does it all with a self-aware smirk.
9. SUNSHINE (2007)
Dir. Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle’s deliberately paced tale about the crew of a ship sent to revive a dying sun provides plenty of opportunity for unique visuals while exploring our powerlessness in the face of the unknown and the level of sacrifice required to ensure the survival of the species. The late swerve into slasher territory continues to be contentious among some viewers, but it remains as tense as it is beautifully ambiguous.
8. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)
Dir. Rupert Wyatt
This big budget reboot of a respected sci-fi movie franchise could have been a disaster but wound up being one of the most thoughtful summer blockbusters in recent memory. It imagines an origin for the intelligent apes that feels believable while underscoring an updated message about humanity’s mistreatment of the planet and its fellow inhabitants. The groundbreaking special effects certainly don’t hurt either.
7. NEVER LET ME GO (2010)
Dir. Mark Romanek
Although it’s not very obvious on the surface that this is a science-fiction film, there is nevertheless a major twist that qualifies it for this list. Emotionally devastating, Never Let Me Go is a movie that touches on many classic sci-fi themes including what it means to be human, what gives our lives meaning, and how we come to terms with our own mortality.
6. DISTRICT 9 (2009)
Dir. Neill Blomkamp
Neill Blomkamp has become a major voice in sci-fi over the past decade and although his last two films have delivered mixed results, his directorial debut remains a near masterpiece. Using the second-class aliens as an obvious parallel to apartheid, the movie also combines elements of body horror, documentary-style realism, savvy CG effects and humour to tear down colonialism.
5. SNOWPIERCER (2014)
Dir. Bong Joon-Ho
This sci-fi thriller is based on a French graphic novel where a new ice age has frozen everything on the planet and the only surviving humans live on a giant train that circles the globe using a perpetual motion engine. It’s a strange and unique concept that explores issues like class division and government control while simultaneously delivering some stunning action sequences. The film’s subversive climax is sure to spark discussion afterward.
4. UNDER THE SKIN (2014)
Dir. Jonathan Glazer
Great science-fiction films push boundaries and challenge viewers and Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin does exactly that. It presents an otherworldly view of our planet through the eyes of an alien who is stalking unsuspecting victims. The unsettling visuals and haunting score help ensure that this movie will stay with you long after the credits roll.
3. CHILDREN OF MEN (2006)
Dir. Alfonso Cuaron
Although Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men is remembered for its remarkable long-takes and visceral action sequences, the detailed production design and world-building are the that make it such an impressive work of science-fiction. The vision of London in this movie is one of the most convincing dystopian futures ever put to film, which makes it both relatable and terrifying.
2. INCEPTION (2010)
Dir. Christopher Nolan
A brilliant concept with even more brilliant execution to back it up. Nolan uses the mind as a surreal backdrop for a heist movie while probing themes of guilt, grief and the subjective nature of reality. Somehow he manages to juggle multiple layers of plot, exposition and character development in perfect combination, pulling us along without ever dumbing things down. There’s also the fact that as an audio-visual experience, it is simply breathtaking.
1. HER (2013)
Dir. Spike Jonze
No other movie in recent memory has said so much about our relationship with technology with so few special effects. Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who essentially falls in love with his iPhone, which sound goofy on the surface but the emotional journey he takes us on is very real. What is also interesting is that it’s not an anti-technology piece, but something much more pragmatic and imaginative.
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Cloud Atlas
- Robot & Frank
- Ex Machina
- Upstream Color
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
- Edge of Tomorrow
- The One I Love
- The Fountain
- A Scanner Darkly