I'm selecting one obscure movie from every year since I was born to watch and recommend.
This is part of an effort to list out my favorite films in various main genres. I’m doing them decade by decade to accomplish a couple things. First, it makes it more of an apples-to-apples kind of comparison. Second, it makes it easier to come up with the lists, as doing all-time type lists makes it tougher to make selections and to rank them. I start the decades on the zero year, so this would be movies released from 2000 through 2009.
#1 – Serenity (2005)
Yeah, I know – it’s probably hard for any of us Browncoats to think of this movie objectively. That may very likely be the case for me, but so be it. I don’t feel at all guilty, were I to be overly ranking this one. It’s quite probable that this one genuinely is my favorite sci-fi film of the 2000s. The movie has everything the series had going for it: great characters, a wonderful mix of comedy, action and drama, as well as fantastic dialog. You can’t stop the signal.
#2 – Pitch Black (2000)
I absolutely loved this movie when I first saw it. I saw it theatrically at least half a dozen times during its initial run. I’ve enjoyed the two sequels that have followed (with hopefully more to come after the time of this writing). Like a lot of sci-fi, it relies on a fair amount of convenience and coincidence, but this movie has all the rest where it counts.
#3 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (2005)
This movie could have turned out so bad in so many ways. It had been in development hell for decades. The source materials it’s based on are not only esoteric and bizarre, but all the forms of that material conflict with each other in many ways. The fact that they got the tone right for the material, added in some clever new stuff to the mix (the empathy gun, etc), and almost completely got the casting right (Mos Def missed the mark, but it was at least a bold choice that was trying for something interesting) is quite remarkable. As a die hard Hitchhiker’s fan, I was very pleased with the movie.
#4 – Moon (2009)
A throwback to sci-fi films of decades past, this charming and inventive modest budget film was remarkably good. That’s thanks largely to writer/director Duncan Jones and the immense talents of the film’s star (and nearly only actor), Sam Rockwell. I’ve seen it a number of times, and it continues to be impressive with each viewing.
#5 – WALL-E (2008)
PIXAR doing Sci-Fi? Yeah, that’s a cool combo. The film is equal parts charming and funny, with plenty of nifty little sci-fi kinds of ideas going on throughout. WALL-E definitely makes most of the lists of greatest cinematic robots.
#6 – Star Trek (2009)
It was such a huge relief that Star Trek managed to be rebooted as well as it was. The plot is very Star Trek in nature, and works so very perfectly to reboot the franchise while still keeping it within canon. The cast is spectacular and the production is excellent.
#7 – Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow (2004)
Of all the ones I feature here on this list, this one will probably draw the most debate. I think this is a movie you either like or you don’t. It just works for you, or not. For me, obviously, it worked. I love the tongue-in-cheek stylistic approach to the material. This is very much an exercise in stylistic presentation. The cast and crew is clearly having loads of fun making it. I’m likely one of the few people who has seen this movie quite a few times (20 so far, perhaps?). Oh, and I LOVE Edward Shearmur’s music score (not that I don’t for some of the others on this list – I just felt the need to mention it on this one).
#8 – Titan A.E. (2000)
The fact that this movie got kinda buried in the Star Wars prequel marketing machine that Fox was obsessed about at the time is absolutely criminal. It’s one of my favorite animated films of the last couple decades AND one of my favorite sci-fi films of the period as well. It’s not perfect, but it gets most everything right, including many things that most movies of its kind get wrong.
#9 – Avatar (2009)
Yeah, this movie may not be perfect, but I highly enjoyed most of it very much. It’s one of the very few examples of a movie that’s worth actually seeing in 3D, too. Jim Cameron does his typical job of pushing movie-making technology forward by a number of years. This is technical production wizardry on full display. The question with those kinds of movies is if it will hold up over time. This one has a pretty good chance of doing so.
#10 – District 9 (2009)
I could definitely do with far less shaky-cam cinematography in this one (I freakin’ hate shaky-cam), but otherwise very much enjoyed it. For the budget it was on, it has remarkably good visual effects. It basically put South Africa on the map for production quality. It was kind of a reworking of Alien Nation, in a rather nifty way.