The 13 best sci-fi movies since Avatar

Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited sequel to James Cameron’s chart-topping sci-fi blockbuster Avatar, has lastly arrived. It’s been over 13 years since the unique movie premiered in theaters; evidently, so much has transpired on the planet of cinema, not to mention the world at giant. When Avatar debuted approach again when in 2009, we solely had two Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. Now now we have 30 (and counting). The complete sequel trilogy of Star Wars has elapsed in that point.
As we put together to return to the extrasolar forest moon of Pandora, it feels apt to look again on all of the outstanding sci-fi movies which have come out up to now decade and alter. From operatic post-apocalyptic motion dramas and ecological horror tales to hyperreal parables warning concerning the commodification of humanity, listed here are the 13 best sci-fi movies to have come out within the 13 years since James Cameron’s sci-fi epic. And with Way of Water out within the universe, right here’s to the following 13 years.


Image: Paramount Pictures

Year: 2018Run time: 1h 55mDirector: Alex GarlandCast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez
Annihilation is a film as dense with that means and metaphor because the swamps and forests of its surreal setting: the Shimmer. Created after a meteor touched down on the coast of a southern state of the U.S., each expedition to grasp this alien phenomenon has completely failed. Only one expedition member, portrayed by Oscar Isaac, has ever returned, and he was in a coma. When his spouse, a pitch-perfect Natalie Portman, leads the primary expedition crew composed fully of ladies into the Shimmer, they shortly uncover that animals and vegetation are mutating collectively in frighteningly surreal methods.
During the journey, you start to study extra not simply concerning the Shimmer’s results, however concerning the individuals who would partake in these virtually definitely suicidal expeditions. These tales give the film a shifting perspective on self-destruction and loss, because the (nonetheless residing) members of the expedition uncover clues from the earlier one. Through each its astonishing visuals and minimalist dialogue, the film successfully captures the psychedelic really feel of Jeff VanderMeer’s unique novel, however it’s so way more than a carbon copy of the e book. For instance, not solely does the film’s ending go in a totally totally different course, however using sound results and music is so iconic it vaults the sequence into the pantheon of nice science fiction cinema. —Clayton Ashley
Annihilation is on the market to stream on Paramount Plus.
The Congress

Image: (*13*) Films

Year: 2013Run time: 2h 2mDirector: Ari FolmanSolid: Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti, Jon Hamm
Ari Folman’s live-action/animation hybrid The Congress is a little bit of a multitude narratively, within the method of so many vastly sophisticated tales wrestling with extra concepts than one film can essentially include. But it’s additionally fascinating, heady stuff that feels extra prophetic than ever in an period the place AI bots can reproduce artists’ types in any type customers can think about and James Earl Jones has bought off his vocal rights to an AI firm so Darth Vader can proceed displaying up in new work ceaselessly.
The Congress facilities on a fading actress, Robin (Robin Wright), who sells all rights to her likeness to an AI agency — she’ll must give up performing so she doesn’t compete with the company, digital model of herself. That alone looks like sufficient grounding for a high-stakes film, however from there, the story jumps ahead by a long time, following digital-Robin via totally different states of a quickly creating digital (and animated) world populated with different avatars, and monitoring how artwork and politics quickly shift through technological adjustments.
It’s a bittersweet (and infrequently simply bitter) film concerning the altering types of identification sooner or later, adapting Stanisław Lem’s phantasmagorical 1971 novel The Futurological Congress. It isn’t all the time grounded sufficient in understandable motives or well-realized characters, however it’s visually wealthy and phenomenally narratively formidable — a kind of movies that simply towers above others within the discipline. —Tasha Robinson
The Congress is on the market to stream on Hulu and with adverts on Tubi.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Image: twentieth Century Studios

Year: 2014Run time: 2h 10mDirector: Matt ReevesSolid: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman
If somebody had advised me earlier than watching Dawn of the Planet of the Apes that I’d be moved by the sight of a leering scar-faced bonobo using astride a galloping horse, cackling wildly whereas firing two M249 mild machine weapons at a fortified human encampment, I’d have thought they have been insane. That I keep in mind that second, and what I felt whereas watching it almost a decade in the past in theaters, is a testomony to director Matt Reeves’ means to attract new blood from the in any other case desiccated corpse of a flagging franchise.
The 2014 follow-up to Rise of the Planet of the Apes transforms Caesar from a fearful simian into an virtually Shakespearean king amongst his individuals, attempting to guard the house he has created whereas brokering some tenuous semblance of peace between the apes and a neighboring colony of human survivors. These conciliatory efforts of either side, nonetheless, are undermined by their respective dissidents within the type of Koba (Toby Kebbell), a treacherous bonobo who needs to supplant Caesar as chief of the apes and kill the people, and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman), an ex-cop and chief of the human colony who believes that coexistence between the apes and people is unimaginable. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is inarguably the height of the Planet of the Apes reboot collection, powered by shifting performances and beautiful motion, and simply one of many best cinematic sci-fi dramas of the previous decade. —Toussaint Egan
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is on the market to lease on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu.
Edge of Tomorrow

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Year: 2014Run time: 1h 53mDirector: Doug LimanCast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
Tom Cruise reenergized the blockbuster this 12 months with the smash box-office hit Top Gun: Maverick, and almost a decade in the past he starred in one of many best blockbusters of the century.
Cruise performs a PR officer who’s compelled to hitch a army operation towards invading aliens, solely to seek out himself caught in an limitless time loop. In the loop, he meets celebrated soldier Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt, within the uncommon sort of scene-stealing function that manages to outshine Cruise), who trains him in loop after loop (with out remembering their earlier conferences, after all).
The film makes intelligent use of its time loop gimmick each visually and within the narrative – solely in this type of film can you have got your protagonist die as a punchline. It’s enjoyable, it’s thrilling, and it’s anchored by two film stars overcharged on charisma, working on the peak of their powers in a dynamic much like screwball comedies of days yore (however this time, with mech fits).
My solely grievance is that they selected the worst of their three potential titles; the unique mild novel’s title All You Need Is Kill is superb, as is the film’s tagline, Live Die Repeat. —Pete Volk
Edge of Tomorrow is on the market to lease on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu.

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Year: 2013Run time: 1h 31mDirector: Alfonso CuarónCast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris
Ridley Scott’s The Martian might be the film that first involves thoughts within the sci-fi subgenre of movies about one individual struggling to outlive on their very own amid the forbidding surroundings of area. But for my cash, Alfonso Cuarón advised an analogous sort of story extra successfully two years earlier in Gravity. Sandra Bullock offers one in all her most interesting performances because the movie’s hero, Dr. Ryan Stone, a first-timer paired with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who has to seek out the desire inside her to persevere and use all of her ingenuity to make it again to Earth.
Cuarón and frequent collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki use each second of Gravity’s 91-minute run time for max influence. They take the time for lengthy, languid photographs to ascertain the drudgery of life as an astronaut; the limitless expanse of area; and the huge distance between Earth and our heroes — after which punctuate them with violent interruptions of peril, quickening the tempo of the story and the heart beat of the viewer. The (applicable) omission of sound renders these harrowing sequences all of the extra breathtaking. —Samit Sarkar
Gravity is on the market to stream on HBO Max.

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Year: 2013Run time: 2h 6mDirector: Spike JonzeSolid: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara
The solely factor Spike Jonze received fallacious in his solemn, pastel imaginative and prescient of the long run is {that a} human is likely to be gainfully employed at a enterprise like “” when AI has reached near-sentience. But past the absence of ChatGPT, every little thing else infused into this love story is emotionally on level: The tryst between Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) and his Siri-esque love Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) continues to marvel because of the methods Jonze connects human wants and intestine responses to the technological ingredient. There are satirical jabs — a cute bubble child character in Theodore’s hologram online game devolving into caustic vulgarity is simply too good, even when it’s too simple — however no simple solutions. Jonze offers Phoenix and Johansson time to indulge one another, for love to take off, for failed relationships to be thought of, and for the world round Theodore to really feel each too large and too small. It’s a film wealthy with concepts with out something that goes growth — a special sort of science fiction we virtually by no means seen on display screen. —Matt Patches
Her is on the market to lease on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu.

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Year: 2014Run time: 2h 49mDirector: Christopher NolanCast: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain
Like numerous science fiction on the market, Interstellar is a couple of dad. More particularly, it’s a couple of dad going to area and abandoning his two children, particularly his younger daughter Murph (performed by Mackenzie Foy of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 fame in her youth and Jessica Chastain as an grownup). Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a crew of different astronauts journey through wormhole to the far reaches of the galaxy, searching for a viable dwelling for humanity. Time is working out on Earth, which has been hit by crop-destroying blights. Interstellar was praised for its scientific accuracy and its particular results — that are all very spectacular and funky (that planet with the big tides! The black gap!). But at its coronary heart, it’s a narrative a couple of father and a daughter attempting to attach throughout time and area — and the burden of that’s what makes it resonate years later. —Petrana Radulovic
Interstellar is on the market to stream on Paramount Plus.
Mad Max: Fury Road

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Year: 2015Run time: 2h 0mDirector: George MillerSolid: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Mad Max: Fury Road appears like a package deal of contradictions, shoved enthusiastically in your face. In the wastes of the postapocalypse, it’s a must to battle to your survival — water, gasoline, bullets — and Max (Tom Hardy) fights his approach via all of it. But you’re most likely right here for the spectacle and theater; Fury Road feels a lot to me just like the period of movies that wanted to be watched in theaters.
In Fury Road, the postapocalypse is livid and bombastic, ecstatically violent and explosive. Loud and frenetic action-packed sequences — vehicles decked in terrifying spikes — distinction with the desolation of local weather apocalypse, and the fleshy softness of the human physique. There is a lot happening, and there’s nothing happening, on the lengthy stretch of dusty highway.
Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy give the performances of a lifetime — alongside different unbelievable actors, like Nicholas Hoult and Zoë Kravitz. The collection, which has existed since the late Nineteen Seventies, has been helmed by director George Miller, who you might also know because the director of Happy Feet and Babe: Pig within the City. That different filmography might not sound prefer it is sensible, however when you consider the spectacle of those movies, the underdog arc of their important characters, and the showmanship of all of it — these previous movies make numerous sense. —Nicole Clark
Mad Max: Fury Road is on the market to stream on HBO Max.
Shin Godzilla

Image: Toho Co. Ltd

Year: 2016Run time: 2h 0mDirector: Hideaki Anno, Shinji HiguchiCast: Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, Satomi Ishihara
With the notable exception of most of the American releases, virtually all the Godzilla movies rule. The unique Toho movie is among the best movies ever made, and many of the entries that adopted from that period are an absolute blast. But if you happen to’re searching for a extra fashionable adaptation, you possibly can’t get higher than Shin Godzilla.
Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno took the kaiju collection and filtered it via a bureaucratic lens. Sure, there’s dying and destruction, however the primary rigidity of Shin Godzilla occurs in assembly rooms, as purple tape and incompetent politicians get in the best way of actual options to assist individuals in disaster.
If a Godzilla film about paperwork sounds boring to you — relaxation assured, it isn’t. Anno brings these scenes to life with humor and a cautious eye, and it’s all juxtaposed with a terrifying new design for one in all cinema’s oldest monsters. The remaining shot, best left undescribed, will linger and hang-out you.
Shin Godzilla is a landmark entry in one in all cinema’s most vital franchises, and one in all my very favourite movies of the twenty first century. Anno has since written and produced Shin Ultraman and is directing Shin Kamen Rider, which is popping out subsequent 12 months. If they’re something like Shin Godzilla, I can’t wait. —PV
Shin Godzilla is on the market to lease on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu.

Image: The Weinstein Company

Year: 2013Run time: 2h 6mDirector: Bong Joon-hoCast: Chris Evans, Song Kang-ho, Tilda Swinton
Before his phenomenon Parasite, Bong Joon-ho introduced his satirical scalpel to this English-language adaptation of Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette’s graphic novel of the identical title. And true to director Bong’s previous and future work, Snowpiercer operates on a number of ranges that coalesce into one of many all-time nice science fiction works. In the wake of local weather catastrophe, Earth’s final survivors circle the icy globe aboard the Snowpiercer — however all vehicles will not be created equal. When Curtis (Chris Evans), a lowly caboose rider, decides it’s time for a change, his revolt breaks via automotive by automotive to uncover the reality of their metal jail, and unmask the higher crust who wines and dines whereas they suck down rations of mushed-up cockroaches. Bong weaves collectively brutal motion, crushing social commentary, and Tilda Swinton in wacky make-up to prop up a circus of dystopian proportions. —MP
Snowpiercer is on the market to stream on Showtime and lease on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Image: Sony Pictures Animation

Year: 2018Run time: 1h 57mDirector: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney RothmanCast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld
We don’t deserve Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. The function is a revolution in computer-generated animation and design, a prescient entry within the mainstreaming of the multiverse idea, a set of fabulous vocal performances, and would have had the bangingest soundtrack the 12 months it got here out if it hadn’t shared 2018 with Black Panther.
But probably the most miraculous factor about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is likely to be that it’s… kinda the best model of Miles Morales’ story in any medium? Spider-Verse oozes love for its supply materials, proper all the way down to probably the most minute design decisions, showcasing not only a story that may solely be advised with superheroes, however the iconography that makes these tales indelible.
In the sluggish motion of superheroes to the mainstream, live-action movie is positioned as the final word arbiter of legitimacy, even when it means dropping the expressivity and ease that birthed the style within the first place. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is all of the proof anybody ought to want that the best comedian e book variations — possibly the one good ones — contemplate the medium and never simply the message. —Susana Polo
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is on the market to lease on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu.
Under the Skin

Image: A24

Year: 2013Run time: 1h 48mDirector: Jonathan GlazerSolid: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Adam Pearson
Few movies launched within the final decade — or two, or extra — have the unnerving energy of Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. Mixing naturalistic vérité footage with unforgettable sequences of stark surrealism and a sparse, horrifying rating by Mica Levi, the movie follows an uncanny lady (Scarlett Johansson) who drives a van round Scotland, seducing and abducting males whom she brings again to a abandoned home the place a darkish void awaits. The first hour will go away you chilled and awestruck; the second, as the lady breaks her sample and exams the boundaries of her existence, trades a few of that inscrutable energy for a extra typical story construction, however it’s nonetheless quietly disquieting.
Stripped to its naked bones by Glazer from a 2000 novel, Under the Skin helps all types of interpretations: It’s a movie about alienation, foreignness, gender efficiency and identification, about utilizing and getting used, and concerning the utter strangeness of our world when seen from the surface. It already reads in a different way now than it did on launch in 2013. At its middle is a never-better Johansson, utilizing her movie-star magnetism like a scalpel in a courageous and devastating dissection of what it means to be human. —Oli Welsh
Under the Skin is on the market to stream on HBO Max.
World of Tomorrow 1-3

Image: Don Hertzfeldt

Year: 2015 (World of Tomorrow); 2017 (Episode Two: The Burden of Other People’s Thoughts); 2020 (Episode Three: The Absent Destinations of David Prime)Run time: 17m (World of Tomorrow); 23m (Episode Two); 34m (Episode Three)Director: Don HertzfeldtSolid: Julia Pott, Winona Mae, Jack Parrett
On a listing of movies whose common mixed run instances quantity to roughly two hours, Don Hertzfeldt’s 2015 brief movie is a stark argument by instance that much less is extra. It’s onerous to contest such an argument when you think about the outcomes. World of Tomorrow is a shifting, evocative, unusual, and truthfully visionary work of sci-fi storytelling that transports its viewers to a far-flung posthuman future and asks them to think about what it means to be really human in any respect.
The first installment takes larger visible, emotional, and thematic swings than most of its contemporaries, both animated and never, whereas the second and third movies go additional to increase its universe whereas diving even deeper into the motivations of its intimate forged of characters. All three shorts are distinctive, however if you happen to solely have time to look at one, you merely can’t go fallacious with the primary. —TE
World of Tomorrow is on the market to stream totally free on YouTube. World of Tomorrow Episode Two and World of Tomorrow Episode Three can be found to lease and stream on Vimeo.
And the honorable mentions…

Image: twentieth Century Studios

Alien: CovenantArrivalBig Hero 6Blade Runner 2049Europa ReportThe MartianLooperThe Platform

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