Five Film Favorites: Science Fiction

Malcolm McDowell's "Alex" in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange."

This category is somewhat troublesome for me. You see, unlike many film buffs, I’m not all that much of a science fiction fan. Used to be, when I was a kid. Then, somewhere along the line I began to realize that like cowboy movies, gangster movies and some other genres, most of the Hollywood product is churned out for a loyal audience that is very forgiving.

Maybe the audience for science fiction is the most forgiving audience there is.

So don’t tell me about the finer aspects of “Planet of the Giant Weasels” and “Star Trek, No. 27.” Not interested. Nor can I get all that excited about feature length motion pictures that devote most of their running time to setting up an intricate society in another galaxy, caught in the grip of dealing with the ultimate threat, then serve up a predictably lame conclusion that isn’t at all satisfying.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of worthwhile films which are set in the future, or in alternative dimensions. So, I guess what I’m saying is — a good flick is a good flick, no matter the genre.

Without further explanation here are my five favorite science fiction films, at the moment:

“Brazil” (1985): Directed by Terry Gilliam; Cast: Robert De Niro, Jonathan Pryce, Katherine Helmond

“A Clockwork Orange” (1971): Directed by Stanley Kubrick; Cast: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates

“Escape from New York” (1981): Directed by John Carpenter; Cast: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine

“Fahrenheit 451” (1966): Directed by François Truffaut; Cast: Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, Cyril Cusack

“The Incredible Shrinking Man” (1957): Directed by Jack Arnold; Cast: Grant Williams, Randy Stewart, April Kent

Now let’s hear from the true SciFi aficionados. Which classics and overlooked gems did I leave off the list?

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4 Responses to Five Film Favorites: Science Fiction

  1. Peter Schilling says:

    I’m definitely not a sci-fi aficionado, but I find it interesting that all five of your choices are earth-bound, not a space film among them (nor time on another planet.) Four of them are apocalyptic–I guess I never considered “Brazil” sci-fi, but I love that movie.

    My top five sci-fi flicks.

    1. La Jetee
    2. Children of Men
    3. The Empire Strikes Back
    4. Back to the Future
    5. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    Wish I’d seen Metropolis and Alphaville, so I could at least give them some consideration! (I have seen Tarkovsky’s “Solaris”, but you can have that one.)

  2. F.T. Rea says:

    Peter, “La Jetée” is one of my all-time favorites, but I didn’t consider short films for this list. It’s probably my favorite science fiction film, so I’m glad you brought it up. “Alphaville” was on my longer list, it was among of the last titles cut.

  3. Mark Elliott says:

    I humbly submit that these films (with the possible exception of The Incredible Shrinking Man) are more particularly in the Dystopian subgenre, which usually, but not always overlaps with Sci-Fi. Much of the best science fiction tales, even many of the dystopian ones, offer a hopeful note (Star Wars, The Quiet Earth). However, I too prefer my dystopia grim. In no particular order, here are My Five Favorite Dystopian Films That Are Not Already On F.T. Rea’s List:

    -Delicatessen
    – Twelve Monkeys
    -The Wild Bunch
    -A Boy and His Dog
    -Stroszek

  4. Peter Schilling says:

    Yes, “dystopic”, not “apocalyptic.” Duh on me.

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