I know it seems like I just sit around and read books and binge watch science fiction all day. But that’s not true at all. I work. I find the time for all this fun shit. I squeeze it in. For you. Because I love you. Most of the time I’m doing things like this:
Especially right now. These few weeks are the busiest part of the year. It’s crazy town. I was going to wait and do this in October, like last year, but it started raining early so I’m hitting you with it now. There are five Thursdays in October this year, so there would have been no way to reconcile the situation with my OCD overlords anyway.
I’m doing movies this year. Yay! This was actually much, much harder than last year’s book list. And since I had to whittle it down to just twenty (ten scifi and ten fantasy), let me make this perfectly clear: These are either my personal favorites or ones that I think are important for a particular reason. This is not a list of widely-accepted “bests” or obvious “must sees”. You will note a glaring lack of things like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Because I’m not going to waste perfectly good slots on a very short list telling you things that we all already know. I also tried to skip stuff that I’ve already blogged about, just so you don’t have to listen to my blah blah twice.
So here we go. The first installment in Vanessa’s Second Annual Liststravaganza. In no particular order:
The Matrix – 1999, the Wachowskis
I think this one hit so hard because it fucked us all up psychologically. It’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility that we could be so easily manipulated by rewiring our brains. The logic is sound. Or it could have just been the 90s and I was really high. That’s a perfectly reasonable assumption. Neo is a new tech superhero, as well as an underdog, an everyman, bumbling and surfer-y as Keanu may have played him. I think the worldbuilding is really key in this one, but you know I loves me some secret world-within-a-world conspiracy theory shit. Love it! But what makes this movie tick, I think, and made it a huge hit, is that it showed us a way out. A ridiculous and overblown science fiction way out, granted, but a way out, nonetheless, of cubicles and frustration and soul-crushing boredom. Sad but true.
The Abyss – 1989, James Cameron
Underwater aliens, y’all. How cunning. How sneaky. I think if aliens were actually hiding out on Earth, underwater would be the smartest way to do it. Besides germs – germs could totally be aliens. Think about it. Anyway. The effects are really great for 1989. If I remember correctly, that was the first time that I had my mind blown by effects. And, for me, this establishes Ed Harris as the quintessential loveable hardass. But I do have a soft spot for bald guys with chiseled jawlines. So there’s that. I also like that the alien in this movie is soooo alien. It’s not just a dude with a fucked up forehead (why is it always the forehead?), or some other whacked-out humanoid. We tend to think that aliens are going to be at least a little bit recognizable, don’t we? Something whose hand we could shake. How bloody arrogant are we? I still say germs, you guys. Germs. Seriously. Monsters from another world.
Jurassic Park – 1993, Steven Spielberg
Remember when we were all mindfucked by this movie? As a nation, we were baffled by cloning. Fun fact: Dolly the sheep? She was so-named because the cells they used to clone her were from an udder. Flattery? I’m not sure, but it’s still funny. Anyway. The book was better, obviously, but everything Crichton does is gold so that’s no surprise. He’s great with the scary medical tech stuff. I’m a big fan of the science-gone-horribly-wrong movie, even if it’s sometimes executed really badly. Science is awesome, despite some occasional apocalyptic risks. Do not fear the science, people. It’s good for you in the long run. Oh, yeah, why else do I love this movie? Dinosaurs. Fucking dinosaurs. Big damn toothsome monsters that are so from another time that they feel like they’re from another planet. Can’t beat that.
Alien – 1979, Ridley Scott
Again with the Sigourney Weaver love. She’s so awesome in everything she does, but this was the film that firmly established her scifi/action cred. Ellen Ripley is one of the best characters in all of scifi, and I’m not even going to start in on her as a strong female role model. Because, come on, she’s a smoking hot badass with a gun. Not to mention the rest of the cast. John Hurt was an icon way before that larval alien burst out of his chest, but that scene is one of the most well-known in the genre. And the alien itself is one of the best movie monsters ever. Thanks, H.R. Giger, for the nightmares. I particularly like how they show the alien grow up, so it’s like we get four or five creatures for the price of one. The rest of the franchise is pretty lukewarm, but this first movie is genius.
The Fifth Element – 1997, Luc Besson
What about this movie doesn’t rock? It’s hilarious. It’s gorgeous. It’s got a great soundtrack. The aliens are outstanding. The cast is phenomenal. It even makes me want to weep a little at the end there. But I put it on the list because it’s so unlike anything else in the genre. Truly unpredictable and original movies are becoming rarer and rarer. Plus, bonus points for bringing religion and massive conspiracies together without being didactic or heavy-handed about it. I like the attention to detail, too. It’s the little things that make the future seem more future-y. Screw the flying cars; dude’s got a bed that makes itself. And in the midst of all the cool techy stuff is a monk with stacks of dusty old books and he’s the one who saves the day. Ish. That’s a great juxtaposition.
Alright, y’all. Back next week with the next five on the list. Stay tuned.