Top 10 Sci Fi Movies of the Last Decade

Julien Neaves – Editor

Happy New Year’s Day red mangoes aka Redmangoreviews fans (trying the name on for size, you all will tell me what you think). I wish you all great blessings for 2020.

Now I had planned to complement our horror writer Sommer’s Top 10 Horror Movies of the Decade list (see link at the end of the article) with three lists of my own before the end of 2019. But life happens so you are getting them in the first week of the New Year. To quote Todd from Bojack Horseman – Hooray!

Now the 2010s was a great decade for science fiction movies so for the first list we are looking at the Top 10 Sci Fi Movies of the Decade, with one film per year. With a mild SPOILER ALERT let’s blast off:

2010 – Inception. Honourable Mention (HM) – The Book of Eli

Cobb’s inner monologue: You know who this guy reminds me of? Batman’s butler. What’s his name? Alan? Algernon? No…Alfred! Yes, that’s it. Alfred

This film topped my director Christopher Nolan film ranking and it easy to see why with its intriguing concept, wonderful acting, mind-blowing special effects and stellar action. It is rare that you have a movie that makes you think as well as blows you out of your seat. Honourable mention goes to Denzel Washington’s twisty post-apocalyptic action film The Book of Eli. 

2011 – Super 8. HM – Attack the Block

Boy 1: Things just got stranger. Boy 2: Say that again

Director J.J. Abrams dropped this spiritual sequel to 80s adventure films like E.T. and The Goonies and mixed nostalgia, coming-of-age wonder and spectacular modern special effects. Throw in relatable characters and a tonne of heart and you have the makings of a wonderful sci fi fantasy. Honourable mention goes to the genre-bending British film Attack the Block featuring a pre-Star Wars John Boyega and a pre-Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker.

2012 – Looper. HM – Dredd

Oh excuse me. I just pulled aside to take a pee. Just pretend like I’m not here

On the box Looper does not sound like anything special. A time-travel action flick with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis? Meh. But the film is so much more than the sum of its parts and delivers a stylish, unique and surprisingly thoughtful experience. And yes Gordon-Levitt’s Bruce Willis make-up makes him look nothing like Bruce Willis. I probably look more like Bruce Willis than he did. Honourable mention goes to the criminally underrated action spectacle of Dredd. 

2013 – Gravity. HM – Snowpiercer

Houston, Hartford and Hanoi, we have a problem

I remember seeing this film at IMAX and and after the space station finished spinning around I was still spinning around. Alfonso Cuarón delivered a visual feast of a movie and brought out a stellar performance from Sandra Bullock. Get it? Star? Stellar? You get it. Honourable mention goes to cult film Snowpiercer which features a quirky and endlessly entertaining turn by Tilda Swinton.

2014 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. HM – Under the Skin

Hey human. Remember when you made that “monkey wanna banana” joke? No? Well I do…

When the Planet of the Apes franchise was rebooted for a second time expectations were decidedly low, especially with the monkey crap that was the Tim Burton version. But Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 Rise of the Planet Apes was a surprisingly solid film. And then Matt Reeves took it to the next level with the outstanding sequel. This epic struggle between man and ape, and ape and ape, is simply masterful and features an iconic pairing in the wise Caesar and the vengeful Koba. And those special effects? Fuhgedaboutit! Honourable mention goes to Scarjo’s atmospheric and subversive alien thriller Under the Skin. 

2015 – Mad Max: Fury Road. HM – Ex Machina

No, I’m the star of the movie. It says so in the title

This movie really had no right to be as good as it was. A revisiting of an Australian post-apocalyptic franchise three decades later and with the lead actor replaced? I wouldn’t put good money on it. But like a flamethrower guitar writer/director George Miller surprised and delighted both audiences and critics alike. The nuts and bolts is a chase movie but the costuming, set design and mind-blasting practical special effects elevated this film to the stratosphere. Honourable mention goes to the tense and cerebral thriller Ex Machina. 

2016 – Arrival. HM – Rogue One

Louise would later learn that these symbols roughly translated into eggplant and peach emojis

It is sad that really intelligent science fiction has become something of a rarity. Thankfully we have clever films like Arrival to give the old noggin a workout. An alien arrival movie like no other, and featuring aliens like no other, you will be so sucked into the extraterrestrial main mystery that you won’t even realise the movie has messed with your brain in a completely different way. Brilliant! Honourable mention goes to the best Star Wars film under the Disney banner, the dark, boots-on-the-ground Rogue One. 

2017 – Blade Runner 2049. HM – War for the Planet of the Apes

Is that a blade in your pocket or are you just happy to see us?

Could it be a franchise curse? The original  Blade Runner came out in 1982 and lit up minds with its neo-noir aesthetic and imaginative design. But it did not light up  the box office and in spite of that went on to become a classic of the genre. Flash forward 35 years later and Denis Villeneuve delivers a worthy sequel that features A+ performances by Ryan Gosling and original star Harrison Ford and academy-award-winning cinematography by the legendary Roger Deakins. And again it was a box office disappointment. You see why we can’t have nice things? Honourable mention goes to the closing chapter in the glorious Planet of the Ape trilogy.

2018 – Upgrade. HM – Annihilation

Grey felt pain shoot through his body like lightning after stepping on his nephew’s LEGO block

You know one of those films that no one is really talking about, but you see it and it is so ridiculously good that you run around like a headless chicken telling everyone to watch it? Upgrade is one of those films. When a man (Logan Marshall-Green) becomes paralyzed following an attack and agrees to let a billionaire insert a chip into him to restore his mobility he sets off on a path of gloriously bloody and stylishly choreographed vengeance. Just watch this movie and thank me later. Honourable mention goes to the criminally underrated and wildly imaginative Annihilation. 

2019 – Alita: Battle Angel. HM – The Wandering Earth

Aww. You’re so cute. What are you gonna do with that sword? *Zworm* Oh my God you cut off my arm!

What? A live-action anime adaptation is my top sci fi movie of 2019? Shut the front, back and side doors! But yes, this film really exceeded my expectations. Rosa Salazar delivers a breakout performance as the titular cyborg, the dependable Christoph Waltz is on point as father figure Dr Dyson Ido and director Robert Rodriguez sucks the audience into a cyberpunk world that feels live-in and fleshed out. And the action sequences. Ermagerd! You will savour every split of second of transcendent cyborg-on-cyborg violence. The film was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film at the 45th Saturn Awards but lost to the grossly overrated and highly derivative Ready Player One. But it does win the Redmangoreviews top spot for 2019 so I guess that’s something. Honourable mention goes to the dizzying, edge-of-your-seat disaster sci fi film The Wandering Earth from China.

So did I miss any of your favourite sci fi films of the past decade? Feel free to share them in the comments. And if you enjoyed this list how about sharing it with your peeps? Sharing is caring. 

For the Top 10 Horror Movies of the Decade you can click here.

Julien Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel but dreams of being Batman. Also loves creating board games and is an aspiring Caribbean sci-fi author. Says things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.

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