This has been an especially strong year for science-fiction. So far we've gotten a handful of good to even great sci-fi stories, either told on a grand or small scale. It's been an all-around good year in general. Already there have been enough quality films to write a respectable Top 10 list for 2014. Of course, those kind of lists are going to become even tougher to write once the fall movie season begins.
This fall we'll, sadly, see less science-fiction movies. We have [Interstellar](movie:813746), of course, but not too many sci-fi stories besides Christopher Nolan's space adventure, unless you count [The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1](movie:446261). Thankfully, we've had enough sci-fi to fill our appetite until 2015.
Here are the best science-fiction films of the year (so far, anyway):
Edge of Tomorrow (Available on blu-ray October 7th)
By all rights [Edge of Tomorrow](movie:267902) should've been a monstrous hit at the box-office. It's the most effortlessly cool, funny, subversive, playful action movie of the year. Was it the title that didn't draw more people in? Tom Cruise has had hit movies the past few years, so his involvement certainly doesn't turn that many people off. Whatever the case, director Doug Liman's movie is a blast. It's got Cruise playing a different kind of role (as a guy who initially wants to run from a fight) and Emily Blunt seriously kicking ass, both of whom bringing enough dramatic weight to the project.
Edge of Tomorrow is a movie that people will look back on and think, "That wasn't a hit?" There's no chance this movie won't stand the test of time.
Lucy (Now in theaters)
Luc Besson's superhero movie is a delightful surprise. The modestly budgeted action movie has killed at the box-office and earned mostly favorable reviews, while also dividing audiences. A polarizing film in the summertime is a rarity, which is a sign [Lucy](movie:935973) is more than a middle-of-the-road tentpole movie. Besson made a pretty wacky popcorn flick with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. The last 15 minutes drew audible confusion from my audience, making me love it all the more. Lucy is a refreshingly straightforward, get from point A to point B narrative. It's not the smartest piece of science-fiction, but it sure is a ton of fun.
Guardians of the Galaxy (Now in theaters)
This is science-fiction in the way Star Wars is: you just go with it. It's relatively easy to jump into this world because of how lovable its characters are, all the wonderful sets, and, of course, its great sense of humor. The world of [Guardians of the Galaxy](movie:424073) is a place you want to see more of when the credits roll. Thankfully Marvel's latest is a hit, because we'll be seeing these characters again in less than three years. Writer-director James Gunn is returning for the sequel, so hopefully the next time we pay a visit to these characters, they're just as lovable and troubled.
The Zero Theorem (Available on VOD August 19th)
Terry Gilliam fans will be pleased with [The Zero Theorem](movie:567555). It's his most focused film in years, harkening back to the themes and ideas explored in his earlier work. This and Brazil are brother-sister films. They feature loners overwhelmed in a world where technology has taken over. Except, unlike, say, Terminator, people have gladly let tech consume their lives.
This is a paradoxical movie about love, reality, existence, God, and more. The Zero Theorem asks a lot of questions, but it also tells a quietly moving tale about a character, Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), hoping there's more to his life and the universe than his ghastly surroundings. There has to be meaning to all these relationships we have and technobabble, right? Qohen tries to answer that question in Gilliam's funny tragedy.
Coherence (Now available on VOD)
An inventive slice of suburbia science-fiction. Coherence is about one of the most unforgettable dinner parties ever. What happens during this party is best kept secret until one experiences director James Ward Byrkit's debut feature film. It's a clever movie that shows the dangers of throwing a dinner party: some uninvited guests may show up, someone may say the wrong thing, etc.. There's also the slight chance of a freak occurrence, which is what a compelling ensemble grapples with in Coherence.
The Congress (Now available on VOD)
A trippy, gorgeous, and moving science-fiction story all about the importance of choice. Robin Wright stars as a version of herself, a mother and actor about to sell over her image to the studios. What she sells is much more than that, though. What the world does with her image is haunting, comical, and animated. The animated world in [The Congress](movie:864937) is a nightmarish landscape, driven by an obsession over celebrity, the desire to be someone or something else, and a dangerous choice. The Congress is a beautiful movie that should be seen on the biggest screen possible.
Under the Skin (Now available on Blu-Ray)
Jonathan Glazer doesn't make enough movies. In the span of 14 years the busy commercial/music video maker has only made three pictures. Thankfully, each film -- Sexy Beast, Birth, and Under the Skin -- is different, original, and wonderful. Under the Skin is an assault on the senses. It's a visual marvel, for sure, but it's packed with haunting sounds and images. This story of an alien (Scarlett Johansson) is a horrific and oddly moving story that isn't for everyone. It's a body horror movie, a coming-of-age story, and a frightening alien invasion film.