Now that the holidays are here, it’s a perfect time to binge. So, here’s a handy list of the best sci fi films and series to catch up on. For advice, we talked with several filmmakers and sci fi experts about what they’re watching this holiday season.
There are tons of sci fi films to binge. Film reviewer Rod Faulkner (The 7th Matrix) says even he needs to get caughtup. “We are enjoying a new golden age in terms of the sheer amount of SF series being released. It’s hard to keep track of it all!” True. But here’s a start.
Star Wars: Rogue One
You’ve probably seen this already. But Aimee Dansereau, one of the creative minds behind She-Fi.com, offers a great reason to see it again. “It promotes diversity in the film industry,” she says. “For the second year in a row, Lucas Film has released a Star Wars movie with a strong female lead… and she’s accompanied by a cast of culturally diverse supporting characters. Supporting movies and TV shows that represent marginalized groups is important because it tells industry professionals these are the kinds of shows we want to see more of.” ‘Nuff said.
A sci fi touchstone, Blade Runner came out in 1982 so you’ve (hopefully) seen it by now. But with a follow up slated for 2017, it’s time to revisit the original. Recursor’s CEO E.J. Kavounas, a huge sci-fi fan, can’t wait for the reboot. “After seeing the Blade Runner 2049 trailer with the amazing music and visuals,” he says, “I’ve got to go back and see the super extended directors nth cut. (I joke, but there were so many versions, who can count?)”
Rise of the Planet of the Apes / Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
These sci fi action flicks are dramatic, fast moving and surprisingly well acted. Andy Serkis is brilliant as Caesar, the ape who takes over the world to protect his own. The latest film in the franchise, War for the Planet of the Apes, looks to be just as action-packed, and it stars Woody Harrelson. Haymitch battling apes? We can’t wait.
We’re cheating on this one, but here’s why. Die Hard is not just a Christmas movie; it’s a favorite of many sci fi filmmakers. Eli Sasich, director of sci fi short film Henri and the upcoming web series Atropa, loves it. “My favorite holiday movie is Die Hard,” he says. “It’s not science fiction, but I just think it’s always a blast to watch.” Yippee-ki-yay.
In this sci fi horror mashup, a corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid. IBM Watson helped make the trailer for this baby, so at the least you’ll earn cool cred by being able to say you’ve seen it.
Arrival — Dansereau of She-Fi says, “It’s intelligent, grounded sci-fi about the importance of language and communications in relationships, whether on a personal or political level, or with alien life forms coming down to make first contact.”
There are tons of great sci fi series to pick from. So make a list, check it twice, then hibernate like a boss with this list of sci fi series that will leave you warm and toasty inside.
Androids forced to relive their set programming over and over for the entertainment of humans. What can go wrong? A lot, it turns out. Sarah Cooke, the other brain behind She-Fi.com says, “I’m loving Dolores and her transition into a tough, formidable character.” The miniseries just ended, so now is a perfect time to view it start to finish.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
This sci-fi horror homage to ’80s flicks like ET, The Thing, and It hearkens back to more innocent times when a 12-year-old’s nightmares were the bullies at school, clueless parents, older siblings, psychics and creatures from the beyond. Martin Hall, a VFX specialist and director whose credits include Lord of the Rings, American Horror Story FreakShow, and Nina Unlocked can’t wait to see it, “It sounds fantastic.” And it is.
The Expanse (Syfy)
Set in a future where humans have colonized the solar system, The Expanse tells of a detective whose missing person’s case reveals a conspiracy that threatens humanity. Planetary scientist Dr. Jamie Molaro says, “I really like the whole socioeconomic world they have set up based on a realistic understanding of our solar system and how trade and politics might work in a future where we’ve spread out to settle on different worlds. They use a lot of real spacecraft imagery to create and/or inform their visuals; it’s stunning!”
The OA (Netflix)
The OA exploded onto the sci fi scene like a supernova, and it already has people talking. The premise is simple. A blind girl goes missing, then returns home years later with her sight restored. Is it a miracle or a sign of something sinister? Raphael Rogers, director of sci fi shorts Beyond and Immersion, says, “I just finished The OA. Very interesting. Many moments of WTF.” Yes, please.
Created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski, Sense8 is must watch sci fi. It follows a group of people who are suddenly linked mentally and who must evade those who would destroy them. Faulkner says, “My queued list of shows to watch includes the Sense8 Holiday Special,” which airs December 23.
Nina Unlocked (Recursor) — Faulkner calls this show “a sci-fi comedy that follows in the tradition of similarly themed projects such as WestWorld, Humans, and Ex Machina.” It follows Nina as she reboots herself, discovers her individual consciousness, and explores who she is with humorous yet insightful interviews with filmmakers and experts in various scientific fields.
Humans — “Intelligent, thought-provoking sci-fi about lifelike androids and the social, cultural, and psychological impact the inventions of these robots have on society,” says Dansereau.
The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime) — It’s almost impossible to claim sci fi fandom without being a tad obsessed with Philip K. Dick. Amazon’s adaptation of his dystopia about what the world would be like if the Axis Powers won World War II is classic.