10 best sci-fi movies of the 2000s

The 2000s were a weird and wild time for movies. Technology pushed movies into a new era, society changed rapidly due to events like 9/11 and the Great Recession, and a mistrust of politics and business began to permeate every aspect of culture, leading to a decade of endless dystopian and post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows.

Science fiction was ground zero for this new style, with the genre moving away from grandiose and fanciful space operas and focusing instead on things that scared people. Climate change, disease, drugs and warfare took center stage in the genre, making the 2000s an era of distinctly more depressing sci-fi movies.

But among the pain and anguish that this decade of cinema has produced, there are still a few gems that were exciting, thought-provoking and revolutionary. Here are the 10 best sci-fi movies from the 2000s.

Drawing (2002)

Touchstone photos

Seen through a modern lens, that of M. Night Shyamalan Signs hasn’t aged very much thanks to the crappy CGI, weird undertones of religion and sadness, and Mel Gibson. But for genre fans, it’s still a fun watch thanks to its overly dramatic scares. In the film, humanity discovers that aliens have arrived on Earth and (for some reason) those aliens now invade a small family farm in rural Pennsylvania.

By today’s standards, the aliens look awfully cheap, but at the time Signs was a huge hit, grossing over $408 million at the box office. The film became such a phenomenon that the plot of Scary movie 3 was based almost entirely on Signs and has directly spoofed the film several times. For fans of horror and sci-fi, especially anyone who enjoys a good alien movie, Signs well worth seeing once.

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

In The Day After Tomorrow, a frozen Statue of Liberty stands in front of New York City.
20th Century Fox

The day after tomorrow was a huge blockbuster, as well as a controversial and polarizing film. The disaster movie is an exaggerated take on what happens after the planet experiences too much global warming, changing ocean currents and causing epic disasters around the world.

The day after tomorrow is both a cheesy and fun disaster movie, while also feeling eerily more relevant as natural disasters are increasingly exacerbated by climate change. It was also one of the first major media outlets to get the average person talking about climate change and its potential dangers, making the movie an important piece of history.

Children of Men (2006)

In Children of Men, a pregnant woman is led down a hallway.
Universal images

Children of men was a dystopian film that explored how fragile society is and how quickly it can fall apart. The film is set in the year 2027, after two decades of complete human infertility. When a woman eventually becomes pregnant, she must be protected at all costs in order for the human race to survive.

The film was unsuccessful on its first premiere, despite being praised by critics, and was a flop at the box office. It was pass Children of men was released on DVD that the movie found wider audience and became a cult hit. Tackling issues such as immigration, racism, fear mongering and divisive politics, Children of men has received renewed success in recent years, with many seeing correlations between the film and what happens in real life, making the film more relevant today than when it was first released.

The Fog (2007)

A giant monster is seen in the fog in The Mist.
Magic Rock Productions

After a series of lackluster Stephen King adaptations in the 2000s such as Dreamcatcher And The secret windowthe 2007 edit of The fog turned out to be a surprising success. In the film, a strange fog engulfs a city, bringing with it gigantic monsters. Much of the film takes place in a supermarket and focuses on a group of survivors struggling to make sense of what is happening.

The film perfectly blends sci-fi and physiological horror, with the conflict between the survivors sometimes being as scary as the monsters outside. Although the film was only a moderate box office hit, it found more success in the rental market and remains one of the most popular Stephen King adaptations thanks to its towering monsters and shocking finale.

Resident Evil (2002)

Alice is ready for battle with a gun in her hand in Resident Evil.
Constantine movies

It’s really nothing like the game… at all. But resident evil is such a fun movie that it doesn’t matter. In the film, a viral outbreak in an underground corporate lab turns people into zombies. Then there’s Alice (Milla Jovovich) who suddenly wakes up in a mansion built on top of the underground lab. Neither Alice nor the underground lab (or any of the other characters) are part of the game series, so the movie just sort of did its own thing and went its own way. And you know what? It worked.

It’s a great zombie movie that changed the genre by mixing action, sci-fi, and horror elements to create something completely unique. In fact, director James Cameron recently said rich magazine watching resident evil is one of his guilty pleasures. Maybe one day we can see a copy made by Cameron resident evil movie?

Cloverfield (2008)

A giant monster attacks Grand Central Station in Cloverfield.
Paramount Pictures

One could argue that Clover field has revived the giant monster genre. After Jurassic Park, the genre quickly deflated. Movies like Anaconda And Godzilla were beaten up by critics and audiences and 2001’s Jurassic Park III turned out to be the last nail in the coffin. After that, the genre fell relatively silent until Clover field. In the movie, a giant alien attacks Manhattan and it’s all documented in the found footage style that’s still popular today.

While some complained of the camera work as “nauseating”, Clover field turned out to be the monster hit everyone was hoping for, with excellent terrifying and larger than life shots of a giant monster devastating New York City. Upon the film’s premiere, it became the highest-grossing January release of all time (a record it held until 2014), earning over $172 million at the box office against a budget of just $25 million. Its success helped revitalize the genre and possibly paved the way for films such as Pacific edge and that of 2014 Godzilla redo.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet cuddle up in bed in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Focus features

This award-winning treasure is “soft sci-fi” in the most literal sense, focusing on a couple who decide to have their memories erased after an acrimonious breakup. At its core, the movie is a romance and a drama, with the sci-fi aspect of erasing memories lingering in the peripherals. The film’s true strength came from its compelling, complicated characters and the haunting question that remained at the core of the film: How much are our memories worth?

Thanks to her role in the film, Kate Winslet was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars and the film won Best Original Screenplay at the 2005 Oscars. In 2016, it was also announced that a TV series adaptation was in the works; however, the show has yet to get out of the pre-production stage, so it’s unlikely it will ever begin filming.

Wall-E (2008)

A fat man tries to hand a cup to a robot in Wall-E.
Walt Disney animation

Wall-E can best be described as “terribly depressing” and “perfectly predicting the future”. In the film, rampant consumerism has depleted the planet of its resources, turning Earth into a desolate wasteland. Humanity now lives in giant space stations where they travel on floating La-Z-Boys with giant screens covering their faces, while robots take care of their every need. Obesity and laziness have completely destroyed their physical bodies to the point where they can’t even get up if they fall.

When Wall-E was released, the iPhone had only been around for about a year. The filmmakers probably had no idea how real their predictions about humanity would become more than a decade later. Between rampant phone addiction and the fact that nearly 42% of Americans are now obese (which is expected to continue to grow by 2030), Wall-E can sometimes be a bit painful to watch because it is common at Real. But that’s also why the movie is so powerful and important. Though centered around a robot, wall-E’s real message is about the preservation of humanity.

District 9 (2009)

An alien holds his hands up as the police point their guns at him in District 9.
TriStar Photos

Inspired by South Africa’s apartheid and immigration problems, District 9 is about aliens who arrive on Earth and are then sequestered in a camp called District 9. The film explores concepts such as xenophobia, racism, segregation and class struggle, but still manages to have quite a bit of action as well.

Wall-E And District 9 helped popularize politically charged sci-fi movements, paving the way for later films such as Elysium And The hunger Games. District 9 also became a surprising critical success and was even nominated for a slew of Oscars, including Best Picture. Last year, director Neill Blomkamp said Dextero that he is currently working on a sequel, District 10, which he hopes will appear “in the near future”.

Sunshine (2007)

The captain stares out the window at the sun in Sunshine.
DNA movies

In the future, the sun begins to die and the world plunges into eternal winter. To save Earth, a team must travel through space and launch a giant bomb into the sun to restart nuclear fission. The film was packed with an all-star cast, including Cillian Murphey, future Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh, Rose Byrne, Chris Evans and Benedict Wong, among others.

Halfway through the film, the plot changes completely thanks to a shocking and unexpected twist Sunshine in a horror movie strangely reminiscent of event Horizon. The abrupt change in tone could have easily gone wrong and wiped out the whole movie, but thanks to a great script and a team of fantastic actors, the twist only made Sunshine more intriguing. After a limited release in most countries (including the US), the film found its real success in the rental market, where it became a cult classic and remains a favorite among genre fans to this day.

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