These are the 5 Best Sci-Fi Mind-Benders in the 21st Century


It’s been a great century for science fiction so far. BBC’s list of the 100 greatest films of the 21st Century is out, and the list includes some of the best future-warping science fiction we’ve ever seen.

BBC Culture polled 177 film critics from 36 countries and culled together what the group considers the best films of the new century so far, with films like David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood rounding out the top three spots. Surprisingly, a big chunk of the rest are newer, more recent sci-fi favorites.

It’s a fascinating list, even though it’s sure to piss some people off — art is subjective, after all. But it’s still a decent way to comb through the swath of movies from the last 15 years or so that are already thought of as new classics. Thankfully they aren’t all just overwrought three-hour historical dramas. The genre fans get some love too.

Here are the top-five sci-fi titles plucked from the larger BBC list:

5. Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 abstract alien freakout starring Scarlett Johansson as a humanoid who attracts unsuspecting Glaswegian men to steal their bodies for some unspecified reason is the closest thing to the aesthetic of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 we’re likely to get.


The once-unshakable Pixar makes it on the list with Andrew Stanton’s 2008 computer-animated tale of lonely robot. Wall-E still doing his job collecting garbage on an abandoned Earth is probably the most heartwarming, thinly veiled critique of consumerism your kids will ever see.

3. Mad Max: Fury Road

One of the newest films on the big BBC list, George Miller’s fourth Mad Max movie is evidence that commercial hits can still be dubbed new classics. In the Mood for Love definitely needed more explosions and car chases, just like Fury Road.

2. Pan’s Labyrinth

Guillermo del Toro is the kind of brilliant auteur who gets the short shrift because he makes fairy tales and not “serious movies.” Pan’s Labyrinth is just as much about the seriousness of the Spanish Civil War as it is about a girl who becomes the princess of a fanciful alternate realm. If anything, Pans Labyrinth should be higher up on the list than #17.

1. Children of Men

Guillermo’s best bud Alfonso Cuarón’s movie came in at #13 on the big list, but numero uno among our sci-fi favorites. Children of Men is a dreary cautionary tale about immigration and infertility that becomes more and more prophetic as the years pass. It’s as entertaining as it is sobering, and we hope that Cuarón isn’t finished releasing new classics.

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