So Shaun Duke says Interstellar is one of the best sf films of this century and I’m like no way and he’s like way and so he challenges me to produce my own list of top ten sf films of the last fourteen years… And it’s actually quite difficult as I can think of two dozen off the top of my head that are better than Interstellar, but I have to whittle it down to only ten. Which I did. And here they are…
1 Cargo, Ivan Engler & Ralph Etter (2009) I’m surprised this film isn’t better known. Perhaps it makes a little too free and easy with some well-known tropes, but this Schweitzer Deutsch production puts them to excellent use, and still manages to ring some changes.
2 Avalon, Mamoru Oshii (2001) A Japanese film made in Poland with a Polish cast. It looks amazing, and the VR game plot with its layers of realities seriously messes with your head.
3 Primer, Shane Carruth (2004) Probably the best time travel film ever made. And it’s impossible to work out the plot.
4 Under The Skin, Jonathan Glazer (2013) An improvement on the book. Shot guerilla-style in Glasgow, with Scarlett Johansson as an enigmatic alien.
5 John Carter, Andrew Stanton (2012) Commercially a flop, but there’s much to like in this tentpole blockbuster – it looks gorgeous, the script is far smarter than the material had any right to expect, and the cast all play good turns.
6 Sky Captain and the World Of Tomorrow, Kerry Conran (2004) A CGI-fest which makes perhaps too much of a feast of its source material – while the pulp production design looks wonderful, the pulp narrative didn’t sit well with modern audiences.
7 Dredd, Pete Travis (2012) Who knew an art house version of the Mega City One lawmaker would work so well?
8 Upstream Colour, Shane Carruth (2013) Elliptical and even more of a mind-fuck than Primer.
9 Timecrimes, Nacho Vigalondo (2007) More time paradoxes than you can shake a reasonably large Moebius loop at.
10 Sound of My Voice, Zal Batmanglij (2011) A clever study of the cult mentality, with Brit Marling as a “prophet” from the future.
Honourable mentions: Apollo 18 (2011), amazingly accurate rendition of an Apollo mission, with monsters; Gravity (2013), not quite as accurate, no monsters either; Possible Worlds (2000), odd and under-stated many worlds thriller; Natural City (2003), frenetic Korean cyberpunk actioner; Time Of The Wolf (2003), Haneke does post-apocalypse.