This past week I saw both Interstellar and Theory of Everything. One was really good and the other reminded me of all the bad space movies I’ve ever seen.
Here are 40 of them, ranked worst to best.
40. Avatar – I think I would have loved this movie if it came out when I was like, five years old. But do you know what else I loved at that age? Eating my own boogers. This movie is like a giant bucket of snot.
39. District 9 – I’d rather contract a triple case of chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhea than watch this movie again. Sorry not sorry.
38. Elysium – Did nobody ever think to explain the white savior complex to Matt Damon? No?
37. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith – Jar Jar Binks was barely in this movie, which is about the only good thing I can say about it. Mostly, I think about the intense regret I would have had if I’d ever gotten that Star Wars tattoo I wanted as a kid. Like, if I had one and saw this movie, I’d immediately cut that skin from my body with a dull, rusty butter knife. Wouldn’t even wait to exit the theater.
36. Gravity – I don’t understand how Sandra Bullock’s character (a medical doctor!) was allowed up into space to service the Hubble. And if she’d received any astronaut training from NASA, I highly doubt she’d be flailing about waiting for George Clooney to save her.
35. The Chronicles of Riddick series – Watching this movie is like watching a clown ride a too-small bicycle through an obstacle course in the middle of rush hour traffic, cars whizzing by on all sides. The clown weaves in and out of the course precariously, spinning his wheels, dripping sweat, and it’s just like… why?
34. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – Watching this movie in the theater was like going trick or treating as a kid and realizing that all the adults in the neighborhood had conspired to only hand out raisins and toothbrushes that year.
33. The Day the Earth Stood Still – It’s a classic, but also, I fell asleep during this movie. So it can’t be that good.
32. Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones – The only good thing about this movie was Natalie Portman’s hair when they were being romantic in that field.
31. Men in Black II – I thought this would be better, considering MIB I. Overall, I feel like Dark Willow on this: bored now.
30. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – I mean, why can’t the whole movie just be that meme? KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNN!!!!!!!!
29. Aliens vs. Predator 2 – Almost so bad it was good. Almost.
28. Sunshine – I was totally with this one for a while, but then it unexpectedly veered off into the worst possible direction. I think I read somewhere that the two directors were fighting over what the movie should be about, and from the looks of the plot, they never really resolved that.
27. Star Trek Into Darkness – Such lens flare! Many explode!
26. Independence Day – Ehhh, I wish the aliens won.
25. Armageddon – God, Liv Taylor is such a babe. Too bad she’s the only woman on planet Earth.
24. Space Jam – They just don’t make movies like this anymore, you know? (Possibly for a reason.) (That reason possibly being that nobody makes good movies anymore.)
23. Men In Black – Will Smith was in his prime here, and that ending with the galaxy on the cat’s collar charm was deep. At the time.
22. Interstellar – Maybe I would have liked this movie if it were gender flipped, and like, it was a woman making the difficult decision to leave her children behind while she saved the Earth, and a man arguing on behalf of love before science. But it wasn’t. Matt Damon was entirely unnecessary in this movie, and I just don’t think Chris Nolan is as clever as he thinks he is. Also, if they were trying to repopulate a new world, why would they send four dudes and one woman?? IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALL WOMEN. #MATRIARCHY
21. Spaceballs – This is excellent at being exactly what it is. But really, how hard is it to parody Star Wars? Not very.
20. Ender’s Game – I’m not going to lie; I cried during this movie. Takeaway: humanity is awful.
19. Serenity – Still upset over what happened to Firefly. GET IT TOGETHER, WORLD. THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.
18. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – The movie didn’t meet the expectations I had based on the book series, but I suspect that may be an impossibly high standard to meet. Solid effort, though.
17. Galaxy Quest – How awesome is Sigourney Weaver? Let’s all take some time to quietly reflect on that together.
16. 2001: A Space Odyssey – I enjoyed this, but I probably would have enjoyed it way more if I’d been high.
15. The Theory of Everything – Kudos to the casting director for finding the most charismatic, adorable actors on the planet.
14. Contact – Carl Sagan. Jodie Foster. Angela Bassett. An interesting plot, star studded cast and compelling female characters. What more could you ask for? (Maybe less Matthew McConaughey? Or maybe I’m just still annoyed that there were hardly any women in True Detective.)
13. Star Wars: A New Hope – Incredible movie, but there are literally two female characters. Only one of them has lines. Sorry, but that’s completely unacceptable. Even if I can recite every scene of this film by heart.
12. Apollo 13 – That scene where they’re laying out all the items to figure out what Tom Hanks can build up in space is one of the best movie engineering scenes of all time.
11. Alien Vs. Predator – This movie is like someone wrote a fanfiction crossover by playing Mad Libs with the History Channel. An absurd, jumbled, paranoid mess. Also: hilarious.
10. WALL-E – Proof that Pixar can turn any situation into a heartwrenching cinematic masterpiece. (Two garbage-collecting robots who don’t speak for 104 minutes? Shockingly good.)
9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – This movie is so good! It’s full of mystery and suspense, but not in a cheap way — do you know what I mean?
8. Total Recall – It’s like Blade Runner, kiiiind of, but you can actually see what’s going on. And I do love me some protagonists questioning the construct of reality and their own identities.
7. Guardians of the Galaxy – The comedic timing in this movie is just perfection. And the music! And everything else!
6. Aliens – Totally stuck the landing. Just as good as the first one, and they accomplished it in a different way. I appreciate and respect that.
5. Alien – Have you enjoyed your time quietly reflecting on how awesome Sigourney Weaver is? Well now it’s time to loudly reflect. Alien was groundbreaking. FUCK YEAH, SIGOURNEY WEAVER!
4. Moon – Oh gosh, this was fascinating. Has anyone else here listened to The Mountain Goat’s concept album about a guy who was sent up to mine things on the moon and he goes crazy from the isolation and starts eating bodies? This movie is not that, but I felt just as delighted watching what this movie actually is unfold. (There are multiple twists. Don’t read up on it if you think you might watch it. Which you should.)
3. The Empire Strikes Back – Sometimes movies do incredible, groundbreaking things and then everyone copies them and then when you go back and see the original it’s like, well this is a dumb cliche, so many other people have done it better. But that actually isn’t the case with this one! I can still watch the original and be blown away. That’s got to count for something.
2. Return of the Jedi – Objectively, I know that the “right” answer is that Empire is a better movie than Jedi. But in my heart of hearts, I just don’t believe it. I freaking love this movie. Even the ewoks. Especially the ewoks.
1. The Fifth Element – Evidence of this movie’s ultimate greatness, Exhibit A:
Evidence of this movie’s ultimate greatness, Exhibit B:
Yay I didnt go see Interstellar. Lol. Im happy Wall E is high on the list. That movie was adorbs. Also I think Gravity shouldve been lower? I remember thinking WHEN IS THIS GOING TO END and WHY DID IT WIN SO MANY THINGS
Oh god it was so bad.
But I maintain that 37-40 were worse. I hope you never suffer through them.
Gravity won many awards for the special effects, which were inarguably awesome. It wasn’t for plot, acting, etc.
I’m pretty sure I still know at least half the lines of the Fifth Element by heart. Thanks for this list, Laura, it brings old memories back (mostly of two teenage girls watching these movies at 2 a.m on a small screen).
“God, Liv Taylor is such a babe. Too bad she’s the only woman on planet Earth.”
I’d put Empire first but I know everyone has their own feelings about Ewoks and I will respect your feelings about Ewoks. Yub nub!
Now I have to go watch the Force Awakens teaser for the twenty-sixth time, because apparently I did not learn my lesson after The Phantom Menace.
Trust in the JJ. Believe in the JJ. Manifest greatness and the JJ will bless you.
I love the Fifth Element SO MUCH that I’m considering forgiving your heinous snub of the cinematic masterpiece that is Independence Day.
jk laura this is amazing and so are you
**spoilers on Interstellar**
I’m an angry, always-talking-about-gender-equality feminist, and I was actually extremely happy with how women were represented in Interstellar. Yes, McConawhatever was the main character, but his daughter was clearly given immense respect. SHE ended up being the one to realize how to solve the equation, the space station was named after her, and everyone kept going on about how brilliant she was. They could have easily had the son become the really smart one, but he was “just” a farmer. Anne Hathaway’s character was also the only one besides Matthew who actually survived. I think they were both shown as powerful, intelligent women and this was not male-based at all. Most movies like this would have an all-male cast, with a hot female astronaut thrown in for looks. I really don’t think we have room to complain about how this movie isn’t feminist enough.
ALSO I also thought it was annoying that Anne Hathaway’s character was arguing about love, but the movie ended up painting her as correct for that argument. And McConaghueyejfydy also said that she was right about the love thing. And that planet ended up being the habitable one. So I’d say they more than compensated for the woman arguing on behalf of love. Plus, the men in that movie were supes emotional. Like Matt Damon sobbing when they pulled him out of the thing? And Matthew was crying every ten minutes.
I feel all of this immensely. Especially “Matthew was crying every ten minutes.” That comment made me legitimately laugh, probably because I was also crying every ten minutes for reasons that are still unknown to me.
right?! I wanted to cry so hard when the 23+ years passed. that was effed up. I was shocked lol. and Matty did cry a boatload but I was like yay defying gender stereotypes!! because he cried WAY more than anyone.
I totally agree with you on this, Silvana! The daughter scientist saves humanity. And Anne Hathaway’s astronaut’s emotional strength and moral insight enable her to, alone, go forward with the lonely task of colonizing another planet by raising the first human embryos there. McConahay’s physical courage and love of science and personal sacrifice in no way dwarfs the sacrifices of the two other female leads. So, yes, this film was feminist without screaming it from the rooftops.
Yeah and Matthews plan was entirely hinged in how brilliant his daughter was. He had faith she’d figure it out just for being her. Without her intelligence, his plan never would have worked. He devised the plan but she did all the legwork.
AGREEEE this is one of the reasons I really enjoyed this movie
Gahhhh. Your taste in space movies is so spot on it hurts.
This list is hilarious and it also makes me want all the awesome feminist scifi I’ve read adapted into giant space operas #agirlcandream
Ooh if you’re willing to share, I’d be grateful for any book recommendations!
OKAY when I started reading this my only thought was, “I hope Laura picks Fifth Element as number 1!!” AND THEN YOU DID. I knew I believed in you!
I’ve seen approximately four of these movies but I really enjoyed reading this list.
The Fifth Element: the greatest film of all time, or the GREATEST film of all time?
it’s basically the only film, when you think about it
i LOVE the fifth element. it’s a fun movie, and milla is a total babe, but ranking it the number one space/science fiction movie is a bit of a stretch.
I have to say that I strongly disagree with many of these rankings. That being said, I still respect your taste in movies.
I mean “multipass” and all, but ALIEN below fifth element…
Ellen Ripley 5ever
Re: the sublime awesomeness of Sigourney Weaver: YESSSSSSS!
Also sublimely awesome: you, Laura Mandanas.
I disagree about the Star Trek placements but maybe that’s because that show and its movies were and are the sustenance of my youth. (Is it pretentious, to start a comment with “I disagree . . .”? Life questions with Juliet.) I will say that I’ve been meaning to see The Fifth Element and now that you’ve recommended it as your top movie I’m definitely going to check it out at the nearest opportunity.
Star Trek TNG was/is everything. Still waiting for that to be properly translated into a movie… but I doubt JJ is going to be the one to do that. Like he didn’t even watch or enjoy TNG before he started making the movies. -_-
Yeah, I’d love for TNG to be adapted to film, but I agree that JJ is probably the one for that task. TNG is actually what started me on Star Trek in the first place, and I’d want it to be represented properly.
The key word in that statement being the “not” which I missed. Not the one, I meant.
I mean, I like TNG, but Voyager. Captain Kathryn Janeway. (Also I have so much love for Seven of Nine like woah).
Wrath of Khan being considered more bad than good and being ranked below the generic awfulness of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, SACRILEGE
Oh come on. JJ’s Star Trek was the best comedy movie of the year.
Thankyou this list is just what I needed. Currently waiting to finish work so I can have a sci fi marathon and forget that a thin layer of ice is about to take over this city.
Oof and so I kind of liked Interstellar?…I’m sorry. Hardly anyone I know enjoyed it as much as they thought they would, and I went in with low expectations (like, super low), which were exceeded. Plus I’m a sucker for well orchestrated film scores, so.
Also speaking of music. I’m excited to find/watch Moon. Probs due to Sudden Oak Death. Because yay.
I’m so pleased you exist and that this list could help you find Moon. <3
Oh, that was fun! Some of those, I haven’t seen in a while. I have some additions, but they’re not really ranked:
Fire in the Sky – I watched this on TV when I was 13. It gave me nightmares. Aliens are jerks.
The Fourth Kind – Aliens speak Sumerian! But they’re still jerks.
Dark Skies – Aliens pull mean pranks like they’re filming an awful reality show for channel 5 back in the Zeta Reticuli system. Jerks.
Mars Attacks! – Aliens are, well, yeah. But, it had Natalie Portman too…playing a girl named Taffy as I recall.
X-Files: Fight the Future – The truth is in here, rather than out there: Humans are also jerks.
X-files! Yes, hello Dana Scully. This movie rocks so much.
I have never seen Fifth Element and now I feel like I must watch it immediately. Like, yesterday. Like, why have I not watched this?
Oh come on, half this movies aren’t as bad as that. Starting with the obvious: Space Odyssey? It’s a freaking masterpiece. Also, Interstellar is interesting, well made and it has crazy sciencey,spiritual ideas = win.
Wall E 5ever. Semi-genderless silent, sentient romantic brilliance. Plus an ecological message.
I was about to say I didn’t think we could be friends because you ranked Wrath of Khan below Aliens vs. Predator 2, but then Fifth Element was at the top and I got over it.
Your analysis of Space Jam is illuminating, thoughtful and generally makes my heart come alive.
Darn it, I need to watch more films about space.
Incidentally, before I got assigned a classroom with an interactive board at school, I used an old-fashioned overhead projector-on-wheels which I called Wall-E and that was one of the few things that ever made the 12-year-olds think I was a little bit cool.
Wow, I think you hate everything.
I always love your comments because you are so right
33. Say what?! If you fall asleep during a movie, that could have much to do with how you were feeling at that time than the content. So movies you really do have to see twice before you really can appreciate (or maybe even understand) what there going for. And certainly to provide a proper criticism. Sorry Laura, I now this is just supposed to be your personal reflection, but I always get a little testy when hear such flimsy argument for why a movie “can’t be that good” (and I’ve heard some really doozies, believe me.) Granted some of the others I kind of flimsy too, but that one just floored me.
This is totally my list! Right down to the dislike of District 9 and complaining about True Detective.
Maaaaaybe I’d put Aliens at number one though (a movie my old room mate only learnt to appreciate after he finally saw it without me saying all the lines like movie karaoke).
For the record, I admit TDTESS is more of social drama/space invader movie that an action adventure/space invader move. So of course it’s slow moving with more talk than action. But if you accept that’s what there going for and can get past the dating acting, dialogue, and special effects it still very good for what the set out to do at the time. Yes it’s can I’ve a period piece, but to that effect it’s amusing and enlightening commentary on the social tension of that period.
MOON SHOULD BE NUMBER 1. Yes it needs more ladies but IT IS AMAZE. But Fifth Element would be my number 2.
Also my experience of Gravity was a 90 minute panic attack, so.
i was gonna be productive this eve but 5th element is on netflix instant.
also re interstellar, saying C Nolan isn’t as smart as he thinks he is really nailed it. It’s great that he surrounded himself with smart scientists for better technical accuracy in the plot. But as my friend said, choosing to represent the vast expanses of space by showing extreme close-ups of matthew mechanical’s face was like watching the parade of lens flares in abram’s star trek into shlockness: a gimmick so ham-fisted and ineffectual that it pulled me out of the movie.
TARS the robot and the sound track over cool space scenes were the best parts of interstellar.
the star trek movie with the whales was awesome though, right?
i really liked reading your movie reviews; more please!
Ahh I forgot about that one with the whales! Yeah, that was great.
Sounds like I should go watch a couple dozen more space movies so I can make another highly scientific ranked list… :)
yes to more movie reviews!
wait let me ask you about the mumbling in interstellar!
speaking of gimmicks by nolan, every time there was a crucial development in the action, someone deliberately mumbled their lines in what seemed like an attempt to extend the tension? Confusion does not equal tension, though. It was so irritating! They spoke perfectly succinctly until something important happened (mumblemumblemumble) and then you had to wait until the character regained their ability to speak clearly and explain the latest development to another character in order to know what just happened.
ok time for popcorn and netflix. thanks again!
i think i have my answer: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/19/interstellar-seven-types-of-mumble-dialogue-inaudible
Oh wow! Haha.
We’re onto you, Mr. Nolan.
YES I noticed that too! That scene with the professor on his deathbed was torture. Mumble mumble mumble. And it was such a weird and consistent tick throughout the movie, I feel like they must have been directed to do it. I don’t know if it was an attempt to make it feel more ‘real’ or what, but it was super annoying.
My only complaints are that Space Jam isn’t ranked higher and there’s not enough Star Trek! But yess I love this list, and space. And Sigourney Weaver.
The bad parts about Interstellar were baaaaaad, but it also kept me awake for two nights in a row thinking about the nature of the universe etc. and I like it when movies do that to my brain, so.
#1: Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same
YES SO GOOD
I fully respect your space movie choices but I’m disappointed Gattaca isn’t on this list! (I mean, it’s more eugenics than space, but it’s a space movie, right?). It’s fantastic, if anyone hasn’t seen it. High recommend.