Science Fiction is a genre that’s not easy to pull off. In the history of all of cinema, there have been only a handful of science fiction films that have managed to impressed everyone. And within science fiction, one of the most oft-repeated themes has been about movies set in future, which actually are even more difficult to pull off for the simple reason that nobody has much of an idea how future is going to look like.
So, more often than not movies are based on the vision of its filmmakers who each have a different way of looking at the future. With that said, here is the list of top films set in the future where filmmakers actually did manage to impress us. You can stream some of these best futuristic movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
10. Gattaca (1997)
In “the not-too-distant future”, eugenics is common. A genetic registry database uses biometrics to classify those so created as “valids” while those conceived by traditional means and more susceptible to genetic disorders are known as “in-valids”. Genetic discrimination is illegal, but in practice genotype profiling is used to identify valids to qualify for professional employment while in-valids are relegated to menial jobs. The film presents a biopunk vision of a future society driven by eugenics where potential children are conceived through genetic manipulation to ensure they possess the best hereditary traits of their parents.It centers on Vincent Freeman, played by Ethan Hawke, who was conceived outside the eugenics program and struggles to overcome genetic discrimination to realize his dream of traveling into space. A film that will leave you thinking for days.
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9. Brazil (1985)
Directed by Terry Gilliam, the film centres on Sam Lowry, a man trying to find a woman who appears in his dreams while he is working in a mind-numbing job and living in a small apartment, set in a consumer-driven dystopian world in which there is an over-reliance on poorly maintained (and rather whimsical) machines. Jack Mathews, a film critic and the author of The Battle of Brazil (1987), described the film as “satirizing the bureaucratic, largely dysfunctional industrial world that had been driving Gilliam crazy all his life”. Though a success in Europe, the film was unsuccessful in America. It has since become a cult film.
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8. Interstellar (2014)
In the near future, Cooper an ex-science engineer and pilot, is tied to his farming land with his daughter Murph and son Tom. As devastating sandstorms ravage earths crops, the people of Earth realize their life here is coming to an end as food begins to run out. Eventually stumbling upon a NASA base near Cooper’s home, he is asked to go on a daring mission with a few other scientists into a wormhole because of Cooper’s scientific intellect and ability to pilot aircraft unlike the other crew members. ‘Interstellar’ is visually breathtaking and technologically awe-inspiring. It is also dense with ideas like blackholes, warmholes, theory of relativity, 5th dimension and warping of space and time.
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7. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The film is set in a future desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities. It follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), who joins forces with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) to flee from cult leader Immortan Joe and his army in an armoured tanker truck, which leads to a lengthy road battle. ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is such a thrilling piece of work not because of its action scenes, but due to the ideas that it tries to propagate. Chief among them — apart from the brilliantly conceived apocalyptic world itself — is that in an apocalypse like scenario, or even otherwise, would women as nurturers, survivors and protectors be able to take much better care of the world than men?
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6. Twelve Monkeys (1995)
An unknown and lethal virus has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. A convict (James Cole) reluctantly volunteers to be sent back in time to 1996 to gather information about the origin of the epidemic and locate the virus before it mutates so that scientists can study it. Unfortunately Cole is mistakenly sent to 1990, six years earlier than expected, and is arrested and locked up in a mental institution, where he meets Dr. Kathryn Railly, a psychiatrist, and Jeffrey Goines, the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert. Directed by Terry Gilliam (‘Brazil’) and co-written by David Peoples, who previously authored ‘Blade Runner’, ’12 Monkeys explores the subjective nature of memories and their effect upon perceptions of reality through the concept of time-travel.
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5. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Creativity and art’s reception are highly subjective and it comes as little surprise when one of the best filmmakers of all time bagged a highly controversial film in his kitty. Stanley Kubrick made ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in 1971 to show a futuristic Britain, the dystopian society and the crime surrounding it. Kubrick, being renowned for his attention to detail and his meticulous approach to filmmaking, depicted the crime graphically, drawing out the scenes in a gory manner and chilling the audience with the rawness of the crimes. The violence was intense and bordered on the extreme. The psychopathy seemed real and the juvenile crimes were too hard to bear for some. The rape scene whilst singing ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ was a disturbing one indeed, but that is what Kubrick wanted it to look like.
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4. Blade Runner (1982)
The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation. The use of replicants on Earth is banned and they are exclusively utilized for dangerous or menial work on off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and killed (“retired”) by special police operatives known as “Blade Runners”. The plot focuses on a group of recently escaped replicants hiding in L.A. and the burnt-out expert Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down. The film has a cult following for a reason: it is a science fiction masterpiece.
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3. The Matrix (1999)
The film depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called “the Matrix”, created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies’ heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer “Neo” learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the “dream world”. Way more than just a movie, ‘The Matrix’ has been nothing short of a phenomenon. It changed the way people looked at the world around them and even turned them cynical. Directed by the Wachowskis, the American-Australian movie could very well be described as a living nightmare. A film that virtually introduced the rather terrifying concept of simulated reality, it asked a number of vital philosophical questions about humanity and its actual purpose.
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2. Children of Men (2006)
‘Children of Men’ is set in 2027, where epidemics and social anarchy has left much of the world without political order. Britain is the only surviving nation-state, whose authoritarian government has maintained a tight leash, with immigrants and refugees being treated as animals. Brilliantly written and executed with finesse by Alfonso Cuaron, ‘Children of Men’ is a science fiction thriller which emotionally moves you while leaving you pondering about our future as a civilization and question your own faith and principles. Undoubtedly a benchmark in cinematic parlance, ‘Children of Men’ is one of the finest science-fiction film of the century.
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1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1967)
Undoubtedly one of the most authoritarian piece of cinema ever made, Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ could aptly be described as the ultimate exploration of “the unknown”. With themes ranging from existentialism to evolution, the film has acquired a cult status over the years. Inspired by a short story named ‘The Sentinel’ written by Arthur C. Clarke, who co-scripted the screenplay along with Kubrick; the movie chronicles the journey of a crew of scientists to Jupiter along with the sentient computer HAL 9000. The movie went on to become one of the biggest influences on future science fiction projects and is easily the best movie made that is set in future.
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