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The best sci-fi movies of the last 15 years

but heaviness also brought plenty of substance to accompany this style. A career-best performance by Sandra Bullock as an astronaut stranded in orbit and forced to improvise through one harrowing life-or-death scenario after another is suitably riveting, given Bullock’s carrying the film almost entirely alone. But then there’s also a perfectly cast George Clooney as her crewmate, bringing his typically wry sense of humor to the infinitely cold and unforgiving void. It’s a masterful pairing in a similarly masterful film. – Mike Cecchini

16. Pacific Rim

Guillermo del Toros Pacific Rim is quite simply the most beautiful giant robot vs kaiju movie you will ever see. Take a little Godzilla, a little Ultraman, throw in some Robotech and Gundam for a good helping, then spice it up with del Toro’s quirky beautiful style and you get Pacific Rima blockbuster so weird and wonderful it’s almost hard to believe studio executives even let it in the first place.

In a near future where kaiju ravage the world for almost a decade, Pacific Rim tells of how humanity strikes back with mentally powered, heavily armed giant mechs known as Jaegers. If she hasn’t sold that yet, well, maybe Pacific Rim is not for you On the other hand, it’s perhaps the ultimate evolution of the aesthetic of Toho, Toei and other purveyors of kaiju and tokusatsu fare, trading the ridiculousness of the “man in a suit” for some of the best special effects of the 21st century and treating a concept usually dismissed with reverence and love as inherently stupid. -MC

Cast of Guardians of the Galaxy

15. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

During the hugely successful series of 27 films that make up the Marvel Cinematic Universe, very few directors have been given free rein to create a particularly stylish vision. The MCU is all about telling stories well and efficiently, but ‘style’ is occasionally sacrificed on the altar of ‘story’. Then James Gunn came up with the first Guardians of the Galaxy Movie, a movie so different from the rest of MCU production that you almost wouldn’t believe it was part of the same franchise.

Gunn offered fans a genuine, old-fashioned space opera with the kind of lived-in sci-fi aesthetic that fans of the original loved war of stars Trilogy and Tom Baker era Doctor Who with more than a dash of color reflected in Mike Hodges’ Flash Gordon. As if that wasn’t enough, Gunn has put together one of the most memorable soundtracks in recent years, chock full of AM radio staples, power pop and glam rock… and made sure there’s a historical reason why these songs get played inside spaceships. Sure, it’s chock full of Marvel Comics characters, locations, and concepts, but prior to this film, Groot, Rocket, Gamora, Drax, and Star-Lord weren’t exactly household names. Well, they sure are now, all thanks to this wonderful piece of sci-fi, with hardly a superhero in sight. -MC

Felicity Jones in Rogue One

14. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Before we had the right term for “Legacy Sequels” in 2012, Disney was busy bringing it up war of stars back to the big screen. The studio’s plan? Returning to the franchise roots that were established way back in 1977. The result was 2015 The Force Awakensa film that felt like a makeover A new hope at the time and only significantly more so by the end of the sequel trilogy. And for its next follow-up trick, Disney has revised it again A new hope Well, but this time with a 2016 prequel movie Villain One, the story of the rebel agents who stole the Death Star plans, also known as the MacGuffin from the original film. Overall, it’s a much better film and arguably does a better job of celebrating George Lucas’ legacy than the 2015 copy.

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