Good space movies are a rare treat. But when they do grace the silver screen, we can’t stop marveling at the beauty and magnificence of such features. Here are my five picks for some of the best space films of all time.
Directed by Academy Award winner Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity tells the tale of Dr. Ryan Stone (played by Sandra Bullock) who is a medical engineer on a space shuttle. She is joined by other astronauts on the mission including Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) who is on his last flight before retiring from the profession. Within the first few minutes of the film, a disaster shakes them apart and the team is left stranded in space. What follows is a stunning story of human grit and survival. Finding a way home back to earth from deep space is as hard as it sounds, and the movie perfectly captures the emotion one can expect to flow through a person during such a moment. The haunting soundtrack adds the thrill and electricity in the tranquil environment of space. It was a film that won the hearts of every movie lover and landed the director an Oscar following other accolades. Neil deGrasse Tyson did disagree with some of the physics in the movie but hey! We can surely forgive a few mistakes for such a splendid piece.
While Gravity missed the proper physics, Interstellar was a masterpiece that duly stuck to it. Coming from the mind of the admirable Christopher Nolan, it tells the Saga of a former pilot (played by Mathew McConaughey) who is selected by researchers at NASA to go to space along with fellow scientists in the search for a new planet. Earth is shown as an uninhabitable place for humans and there appears to be a dire need for searching a new home across the galaxies. A stellar cast giving the best emotional performances in years makes it even more spectacular and the cinematography is literally out of this world. It reimages what our future could be if we continue our attitudes towards the mother earth and what it might take to save it. Real-life scientists and physicists worked on the project and most of the theories and work, shown in the film, are real. The intense and striking soundtrack by Hans Zimmer fills it with new life and it is guaranteed that one cannot make it to the end without shedding a few tears. Also, you will be surprised to know that the black hole shown in Interstellar was the closest adaption ever and it was proven almost correct when the first black hole image was released this year. What a coincidence!
First Man (2018)
Just last month, we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing. And last year, the first biographical movie on the First Man to walk on the moon, that is Neil Armstrong, was released, in which Ryan Gosling played the lead role. The enchanting picture shows us the life of a celebrated hero who had to go through a lot to achieve the historic feat. Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle was a part of the film and Claire Foy was the female lead. Based on the book of the same name by James R. Hansen, it explores the ups and downs and the sacrifices the Apollo mission team and crew made and how much effort it took to put humans to the moon. Aspects of Neil’s life were also shown along with true events and the spirit of his humble character. Justin Hurwitz managed to put even more emotions through the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack and the key moments of the mission felt personal through that. The giant leap for mankind actually took a lot of steps and efforts, all shown in this epic.
The Martian (2015)
Ridley Scott is the genius behind some of the greatest sci-fi films of all time such as Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus, etc. In 2015, he directed ‘The Martian’ starring Matt Damon. The drama explores a frightening theme i.e. being left behind on a strange planet. Believe it or not, it is a scary concept that is surely hidden somewhere in the back of our minds. But fear not, as this movie tells you exactly how to survive in space, Mars to be exact. Astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) is left stranded on Mars during a mission and it is all up to him to figure out how to connect the crew on Earth and go back. It is a feature of hope and ambition showing that there is no limit to human strength and determination and that nothing is impossible. The movie was shot in the deserts of Jordan which beautifully mimic the environment on the red planet resulting in exceptional shots and cinematography. The star-studded cast gave brilliant performances and the film undoubtedly kindles a desire for space exploration in the hearts of the audience.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Stanley Kubrick is known as one of the greatest visionary directors of all time. And he came through with that title in his sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is one of those movies that always makes its way into the lists of the best movies of all time and does it fittingly so. It is a great film where we see astronauts sent to a mysterious mission to space along with a computer HAL that ultimately leads to what we fear… Robots turning against humans. Even though it was released in the 1960s it predicted some amazing future gear which was surprising. Such as, in the very beginning, we see characters talking to a computer screen in space and now that we have the technology of video calling or Acritical Intelligence, it is still bewildering how it managed to show us a peek of the future in such an era. Kubrick used brilliant techniques to shoot the film and created a stupefying space and future for us to get bewitched.
Maham Maqsood is the Managing Editor at Scientia Pakistan. She is a senior at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad studying Biochemistry. An avid reader and a freelance writer, Maham has worked for several organizations including Globalizon and MIT Technology Review Pakistan.