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)
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)
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
The Brother from Another Planet
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!