The sci-fi top 25


Entertainment Weekly made a splash lately by featuring a list of “The Sci-Fi 25: The Best Movies and TV from the Past 25 Years.” I thought it was a decent list, despite its inclusion of several weird items like Total Recall and Quantum Leap. No one is ever going to agree on all the items in a list like this, particularly if they are ranked in order of preference. The fact that I agreed with a solid 9 of the selections seemed better than average to me.

So I was surprised when Jim Macdonald over at Making Light wrote a derogatory post about the list, which the commenters mostly agreed with. Most of the criticism was directed at individual works that either should or shouldn’t have been on the list, with the occasional quibble about the ranking order. This seemed like easy pickings criticism to me. Where were the alternate lists?

When Bill over at Candleblog posted his challenge to readers to come up with their own lists, that tore it — I had to make one. Unfortunately for my eyes and back, I wanted to make sure to do it RIGHT (or at least distract myself from work stress for several hours), so I looked through the entire IMDB database of “sci-fi” from 1980 to 2007 (over 6,000 titles!) to make sure I was remembering everything I had seen in the relevant time period. The following is the result of my labors. I figured choosing 25 out of thousands was hard enough, so the list is NOT ranked by preference.

Aeon Flux (the cartoon)
Aliens (non-director’s cut)
Babylon 5
Battlestar Galactica (Ronald Moore version)
Blade Runner (director’s cut)
Castle in the Sky
Children of Men
Donnie Darko (non-director’s cut)
Ghost in the Shell (1 & 2)
NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind
Red Dwarf
Repo Man
Roujin Z
The Abyss
The Brother from Another Planet
The Matrix
The Terminator
The X-Files
V for Vendetta

After compiling my list, and reading large chunks of the comments on EW’s blog post and at Making Light, I was most amazed that hardly anyone else mentioned Tron! That movie was the shit back in ’82, and had some amazing special effects given that it was all done with overlays, crayons and a lot of prayer. (Just kidding, but check out the special edition DVD for an account of the often low tech way they created the “computerized” look of things.)

To me, this proves the worth of my research method: don’t assume you’re going to remember everything that’s worth remembering. Instead, go and check!

About the author

Janice Dawley

Outdoorsy TV addict, artistic computer geek, loner who loves people.


  • Yes, and I assure you it’s not because I’m biased towards his work. I loathed True Lies with a passion, and have never bothered to see Titanic. I just REALLY think The Terminator and Aliens are among the best science fiction movies ever made. The Abyss is more of a mixed bag. Cameron was obviously carrying some anger toward women while he was making it, and the end is really crappy, but there is still a lot of great stuff in it. My housemate loves to quote Michael Biehn’s character in the movie, who starts to freak out about halfway through and talk to himself while looking all buggy-eyed.

    "Gonna have to take steps. Gonna have to take steps."


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