Honor roll: Science Fiction films

Each of these Science Fiction films has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

Film:E.T.

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg’s 1982 hit about a stranded alien and his loving relationship with a fatherless boy (Henry Thomas) struck a chord with audiences everywhere, and it furthered Spielberg’s reputation as a director of equally strong commercial sensibilities and classical leanings. Henry Thomas gives a strong, emotional performance as E.T.’s young friend, Robert MacNaughton and Drew Barrymore make a solid impression as his siblings, and Dee Wallace is lively as the kids’ mother. The special effects almost look a bit quaint now with all the computer advancements that…

Film:Back To The Future: Part 1 of trilogy

Back To The Future: Part 1 of trilogy

Robert Zemeckis

Filmmaker Robert Zemeckis topped his breakaway hit Romancing the Stone with this joyous comedy with a dazzling hook: what would it be like to meet your parents in their youth? Billed as a special-effects comedy, the imaginative film (the top box-office smash of 1985) has staying power because of the heart behind Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s script. High-school student Marty McFly (Michael J Fox, during the height of his TV success) is catapulted back to the 1950s where he sees his parents in their teens, and accidentally changes the history of how Mom and Dad met. Filled with the humorous ideology of the 50s, filtered through the knowledge of the 80s (actor Ronald Reagan is president, ha!), the film comes off as a Twilight Zone episode written by Preston Sturges…

Film:Alien Nation

Alien Nation

Graham Baker

They get drunk on sour milk. They have two hearts and bald, spotted heads. They’re highly intelligent, but if you drop them in seawater they’ll melt into a puddle of goop. They’re “Newcomers,” and they arrived as refugees in a massive alien slave-ship, quarantined for three years and then reluctantly accepted as citizens of Earth. To some humans—including seasoned Los Angeles cop Matt Sykes (James Caan)—the Newcomers are unwelcome “slags.” Sykes’s own virulent “speciesism” intensifies when Newcomer thugs kill his partner, but he sees logic in teaming up with Sam…

Film:The Purple Rose of Cairo

The Purple Rose of Cairo

Woody Allen

One of the high points of Woody Allen’s career. Cecilia (Mia Farrow), a depression-era waitress married to a brutish husband (Danny Aiello), finds her only escape at the movies, her current favorite being a light comedy about an explorer among socialites, called The Purple Rose of Cairo. She sees it so many times that the main character, Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels), falls in love with her and steps off the screen to woo her. When news of this gets back to the movie studio, the producers send the actor who played Baxter (also Daniels) to convince Baxter to…

Film:Robocop

Robocop: 1st in series

Paul Verhoeven

When it arrived on the big screen in 1987, Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop was like a high-voltage jolt of electricity, blending satire, thrills, and abundant violence with such energized gusto that audiences couldn’t help feeling stunned and amazed. The movie was a huge hit, and has since earned enduring cult status as one of the seminal science fiction films of the 1980s. Followed by two sequels, a TV series, and countless novels and comic books, this original RoboCop is still the best by far, largely due to the audacity and unbridled bloodlust of…

Film:Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors

Frank Oz

The off-Broadway comedy-horror-musical hit that ran for years makes a successful transfer to film with a bevy of big-name cameos and two perfectly cast leads. Rick Moranis is the nebbish Seymour, who pines for flower-girl Audrey (Ellen Greene) while living in the basement of florist Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia). Things start turning around for Seymour, though, after he buys a little plant during a solar eclipse, christens it Audrey II, and discovers that it likes to drink blood. Soon enough, though, Seymour finds out that Audrey II, now grown to epic…

Film:Cocoon (Ron Howard)

Cocoon

Ron Howard

An offbeat and charming comedy with elements of science fiction thrown in, director Ron Howard’s (Ransom, Apollo 13) unlikely fantasy ponders the price of immortality and the power of everlasting love. A group of aliens travel to a Florida retirement community to rescue some long-stranded colleagues cocooned and buried beneath the sea. But as the aliens take on human form and stash their counterparts in a swimming pool, a group of elderly retirees discover the pool and after swimming in the water find themselves rejuvenated, with boundless energy…

Film:Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters

Ivan Reitman

Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis wrote the script, but Bill Murray gets all the best lines and moments in this 1984 comedy directed by Ivan Reitman (Meatballs). The three comics, plus Ernie Hudson, play the New York City-based team that provides supernatural pest control, and Sigourney Weaver is the love interest possessed by an ancient demon. Reitman and company are full of original ideas about hobgoblins—who knew they could “slime” people with green plasma goo?—but hovering above the plot is Murray’s patented ironic view of all the action. Still a lot of…

Film:Time After Time

Time After Time

Nicholas Meyer

In this clever speculative tale, story collaborators Karl Alexander and Steve Hayes and screenwriter-director Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek II and VI) send two famous historical figures ahead in time. In late 19th century England, writer H.G. Wells (Malcolm McDowell) unwittingly includes Jack the Ripper (David Warner) in his social circle. When one of Wells’s dinner parties is crashed by the police looking for the Ripper, Jack uses the author’s time machine to escape. But there’s one catch—after it has been used, the machine returns to Wells’s time.…

Film:Aliens

Aliens: 2nd in Alien Quadrilogy

James Cameron

Aliens is one of the few cases of a sequel that far surpassed the original. Sigourney Weaver returns as Ripley, who awakens on Earth only to discover that she has been hibernating in space so long that everyone she knows is dead. Then she is talked into traveling (along with a squad of Marines) to a planet under assault by the same aliens that nearly killed her. Once she gets there, she finds a lost little girl who triggers her maternal instincts—and she discovers that the company has once again double-crossed her, in hopes of capturing one of the aliens…

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