In honor of the oncoming school year, io9 is conducting a crash course in science fiction this week, and one of their three initial posts has been on classic sci-fi films. The list's geared towards newcomers rather than old-timers or general fans, but I think it can serve as a must-watch list for anyone who wants to be well-versed in SF. (Possibly in the same way those "100 Top Books of All Time" lists can, where you have to take them with a box of salt, but hopefully not. The films io9 lists are good films, important films, and I don't think many people will contest their importance in the sci-fi canon.)
Of course, I had to compare my own viewings to the recommendations, and I was pleasantly surprised! I don't think of myself as well-versed in science fiction, the way I think I'm well-versed in fantasy*, mostly because I've read more fantasy than sci-fi, but I've seen a lot more of the films on the list than I thought I would.
So, the list, with commentary:
Metropolis (1927) - Seen, thanks to SF club at my university. Enjoyed.
The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) - Have not seen.
Forbidden Planet (1956) - Seen, thanks to the SF club at my university. Thought it was okay, but cheesy and slightly confusing at points.
Planet Of The Apes (1968) - Have not seen.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - Seen, because I'd heard about how wonderful and groundbreaking it was. Did not understand in the least. Possibly was too young (17).
Alien (1979) - Seen, because Dad said, "What do you mean, you haven't seen it?" after years of, "Sorry, it's too dark and disturbing for you." Moderately enjoyed.
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) - Seen, because the children of the family friend who babysat after school liked it. Seen several times since. Enjoyed it, and its sequels, far more than I enjoyed the prequels.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) - Have not seen.
Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982) - Have not seen.
Blade Runner (1982) - Seen, thanks to the SF club at my university. Moderately enjoyed, though I'll admit to not following 100% of the mind-bendy-ness.
E.T. (1982) - Seen, because my parents rented it for family movie night—or was it "we want quiet time, have a movie" night? I can't remember. Definitely enjoyed, enough to watch it a few times since.
Tron (1982) - Have not seen. Plan to see before the sequel comes out later this year.
Back To The Future (1985) - Have lost track of how often I've seen. Love it to pieces.
Brazil (1985) - Seen, thanks to Dad's love of Monty Python. Thought it was so-so. Really did not follow much of it. Again, possibly too young for it (early teens).
RoboCop (1987) - Seen, thanks to the SF club at my university. Thought it was okay, if slightly cheesy.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) - Have not seen.
Ghost In The Shell (1995) - Have not seen.
The Matrix (1999) - Seen, years later, after Dad bought it at a garage sale and said, "What do you mean, you haven't seen it?" Enjoyed more than I would've then when it came out, because I knew about cyberpunk by then.
Primer (2004) - Have not seen. Kind of wanted to at the time, but was on a student budget.
The Incredibles (2004) - Have seen. Want to see again. Definitely enjoyed, but think I'll get more from the rewatch.
Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) - Have seen. Enjoyed, but didn't love. Found it rather trippy in most places, but that was kind of the point.
Children Of Men (2006) - Have seen, thanks to Father-Daughter Movie Night. Enjoyed, but didn't quite love. Close, though. It's definitely a great film.
Moon (2009) - Seen a few months ago. Enjoyed it a lot. A refreshing break from Hollywood action and a return to thought-provoking, slower-paced SF cinema.
District 9 (2009) - Seen, partly because of all the buzz and partly because a friend said, "OMG you haven't seen it yet! You so have to!" Very, very much enjoyed. I very highly recommend, but not to the squeamish.
Inception (2010) - Seen last week. Definitely enjoyed, definitely a great film, definitely should be on the list—but can't quite say I loved it even though it's brilliant. This seems to be a standard reaction, though.
How do you guys do on this list? Anything that you think is essential and not on it?
*Actually, I may not be as well-versed in fantasy as I think I am, but I plan to persist in the delusion until io9 posts its Best Fantasy Films list.