Latest Movie News Headlines

10.04.2013by: Alex Maidy

Top 10 Essential Realistic Space Movies (Video Edition)

Alfonso Cuaron's GRAVITY is being lauded as the most realistic portrayal of being in outer space of all time. There are lots of films that have been labeled as science fiction that have gotten space travel right, but not many have been considered to be realistic. Sure, J.J. Abrams STAR TREK movies look better than past films, but they still operate using very fictional ideas and designs. Here are the Top 10 movies that portray space travel in a scientifically realistic manner. If your favorite didn't make the cut or you disagree with what did, feel free to add it to the talkbacks below.

#10 - ALIEN

Maybe not the most realistic movie in terms of plot, the design and creation of the Nostromo shows a remarkablely realistic portrayal of what space travel would look like in the future. This ship does not look like the Apple store that is J.J. Abrams' Enterprise in STAR TREK. it is a dirty, grimy, and all around industrial vessel that shares an aesthetic with mining platforms and construction sites we see in the world today.

#9 - CONTACT

Based on the novel written by esteemed scientist Carl Sagan, CONTACT is certainly a fictional representation of what first contact with an alien race would be like. But, the film is steeped in the actual processes and methods of agencies like NASA (even though the controversial cyanide pill scene is still disputed to this day), but the construction of the alien device and the results of Jodie Foster's journey in the film are rooted in conceivable science.

#8 - MISSION TO MARS

Brian De Palma's films released in the 2000s have mostly been hot garbage, MISSION TO MARS included, but that does not discount the impeccable scientific realism given to this story of the first manned mission to the red planet. Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, and Don Cheadle headline the movie that wants to do for Mars what THE ABYSS did for the oceans. Sadly, the Martian face that serves as the crux for this film has since been disproven, the rest of the film does still match up with current knowledge of the planet.

#7 - WALL-E

We can argue all day about whether current environmental issues on Earth will end up as dire as they appear in WALL-E, but I am not going to reference that for this list. I want to focus on the space travel component. If we doom our planet and have to leave, large ships may be the only way to make that happen. As Wall-E hangs on for dear life to reach the Axiom, we witness some beaurtiful shots of travel through the Solar System that are some of the most accurate we have seen.

#6 - SPACE COWBOYS

SPACE COWBOYS hit theaters 2 years after John Glenn flew in space at the age of 77. That is a fact! Clint Eastwood's movie is a fun movie it does take the NASA model seriously. Filmed on location at NASA facilities, SPACE COWBOYS accurately portrays what it would be like for old dogs to try and cut it in the modern space program.

#5 - SUNSHINE

A brilliantly under-appreciated movie, Danny Boyle's SUNSHINE knowingly allowed scientific inaccuracies for the sake of plot. But, while the anti-gravity on the ship and the entire plot device of the Sun dying may not be 100% on board with what physicist know to be true, it is the psychological drain of a long distance space voyage that SUNSHINE masters. Whether it be knowing they are journeying to their deaths or the cabin fever from a lengthy trip, the effects on all involved are what truly sells this movie.

#4 - THE RIGHT STUFF

THE RIGHT STUFF is a classy studio motion picture that follows the first manned missions into space. But, it is not just a glossy promotional movie for NASA. THE RIGHT STUFF looks at all of the ups and downs through the evolution of space travel from it's earliest days in the 1940s and 1950s. There is a huge leap in technology from where we were to where we are now and this movie shows it to us, warts and all.

#3 - APOLLO 13

Like THE RIGHT STUFF before it, APOLLO 13 is a near reverential portrayal of NASA and an iconic moment in the history of space travel. When telling a story like this, you have to be as accurate as possible. For those who witnessed the events unfold on the news, all they had were the words of Walter Cronkite and other news anchors. To see exactly what the astronauts suffered through is a harrowing experience all it's own. Ron Howard may be criticized for many of his films, but you can never fault him for the level of accuracy he goes for.

#2 - MOON

Like SUNSHINE or ALIENS, MOON may not portray a real situation that can be scientifically proven, but Duncan Jones' brilliant film takes us into what it would feel like to be isolated on the barren surface of the Moon for an extended length of time. The facility that Sam Rockwell's character inhabits is not flashy or romantic but cold and medical in nature. This is what space travel will likely be like, as depressing as that may be. On such a modest budget ($5 million), Jones was successfully able to make viewers feel like they were alone in the universe.

#1 - 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

The grandaddy of them all, 2001 is the benchmark for realistic space travel movies. We always hear about how STAR TREK foretold technology like the iPad, cell phones, and more. Well, 2001 remains the scientifically accurate way that humans would be able to achieve long distance space flight. From the rotating ship used to create artificial gravity to Hal, the ship's computer, 2001 is mesmerizing in every way, especially when you take into account the limits of film effects when it was made. Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke made a movie that will eternally be looked at as the best film rooted in science fact.

RECOMMENDED MOVIE NEWS

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

+0
5:57PM on 10/05/2013
2001 is still the only movie I know of that accurately portrays the fact that there's no sound in space.
2001 is still the only movie I know of that accurately portrays the fact that there's no sound in space.
Your Reply:



-1
5:50PM on 10/05/2013
If there was a Top 10 list for "Movies the pull the rug out from under the audience", then Contact would be right up there.
If there was a Top 10 list for "Movies the pull the rug out from under the audience", then Contact would be right up there.
Your Reply:



+4
1:48AM on 10/05/2013

2001 deserves this spot hands down, but as others have said Solaris without a doubt deserves 2nd.

Moon was good, very good, I enjoyed it a lot but Solaris is a bone fide masterpiece that is sadly relatively unsung by the American film community.
Moon was good, very good, I enjoyed it a lot but Solaris is a bone fide masterpiece that is sadly relatively unsung by the American film community.
Your Reply:



+0
1:43AM on 10/05/2013

I feel the same way about this movie as I do about Full Metal Jacket

The first half is absolutely stunning but the second half becomes a well-made but totally by the number thrillers that failed to live up to the vision of the first half and could have been directed by any half-way competent director.
The first half is absolutely stunning but the second half becomes a well-made but totally by the number thrillers that failed to live up to the vision of the first half and could have been directed by any half-way competent director.
Your Reply:



+0
1:37AM on 10/05/2013

Getting punched in the face by the chubby kid in 3rd grade after he saw you staring at his tater tots was better.

Yeah, the science might have been realistic but the acting sure wasn't.
Yeah, the science might have been realistic but the acting sure wasn't.
Your Reply:



9:51PM on 10/04/2013

Where's Gravity?

This was a decent list but how could the movie that obviously inspired it to be brought up right now not even make the cut? Evidently Alex hasn't seen Gravity- which is an amazing film that would be in my top three if I made this list-if he had it would be there.
This was a decent list but how could the movie that obviously inspired it to be brought up right now not even make the cut? Evidently Alex hasn't seen Gravity- which is an amazing film that would be in my top three if I made this list-if he had it would be there.
Your Reply:



8:05PM on 10/04/2013
I agree with DeejayForte. Solaris (the original Soviet version) is right up there with 2001 as far as realism. Or any other measure for that matter.
I agree with DeejayForte. Solaris (the original Soviet version) is right up there with 2001 as far as realism. Or any other measure for that matter.
Your Reply:



12:28PM on 10/04/2013
Ron Howard's crowning achievement in my opinion.
Ron Howard's crowning achievement in my opinion.
Your Reply:



12:19PM on 10/04/2013
Nothing beats this movie.
Nothing beats this movie.
Your Reply:



12:17PM on 10/04/2013
NO SOLARIS?
NO SOLARIS?
Your Reply:



12:16PM on 10/04/2013
After all these years, it's still one of the best space movies.
After all these years, it's still one of the best space movies.
Your Reply:



12:13PM on 10/04/2013
I really like Space Cowboys. Glad to see it's on the list.
I really like Space Cowboys. Glad to see it's on the list.
Your Reply:



11:36AM on 10/04/2013
Ummm... how about Space Camp?
Ummm... how about Space Camp?
Your Reply:



10:55AM on 10/04/2013
I don't know why I still have not seen this movie.
I don't know why I still have not seen this movie.
Your Reply:



10:52AM on 10/04/2013
I saw this in IMAX. I sat close and the screen took up my entire sight. It made me feel like I was in space. Due to that theatrical experience, it became one of my favorite movies. My favorite scene is when Cillian Murphy burns up. I know that sounds cold, but that scene is so awesome.
I saw this in IMAX. I sat close and the screen took up my entire sight. It made me feel like I was in space. Due to that theatrical experience, it became one of my favorite movies. My favorite scene is when Cillian Murphy burns up. I know that sounds cold, but that scene is so awesome.
Your Reply:



10:44AM on 10/04/2013
I'm okay to go... I'm okay to go.....
I'm okay to go... I'm okay to go.....
Your Reply:



9:16AM on 10/04/2013
I loved this movie. The casting was spot on, this was Sam Rockwell's best performance ever!!!
I loved this movie. The casting was spot on, this was Sam Rockwell's best performance ever!!!
Your Reply:



+2
8:21AM on 10/04/2013

missed one

not technically a movie but a mini-series, you need to have a honorable mention for "From the Earth to the Moon"
not technically a movie but a mini-series, you need to have a honorable mention for "From the Earth to the Moon"
Your Reply:



8:09AM on 10/04/2013
Yup, nothing else was going to take this top spot. It's really interesting to think that at the time this film was made, no photographs of earth from orbit had ever been taken and the filmmakers had to guess at what earth looked like from space. I think the sequel, which is more of a straight-up adventure, is very underrated and features some very good performances from the likes of Roy Scheider and Helen Mirren.
Yup, nothing else was going to take this top spot. It's really interesting to think that at the time this film was made, no photographs of earth from orbit had ever been taken and the filmmakers had to guess at what earth looked like from space. I think the sequel, which is more of a straight-up adventure, is very underrated and features some very good performances from the likes of Roy Scheider and Helen Mirren.
Your Reply:



8:07AM on 10/04/2013
Goes without saying how brilliant Sam Rockwell was in this, but Kevin Spacey deserves praise as well as the voice of G.E.R.T.Y.
Goes without saying how brilliant Sam Rockwell was in this, but Kevin Spacey deserves praise as well as the voice of G.E.R.T.Y.
Your Reply:



8:06AM on 10/04/2013
I know the general consensus is that the ending ruins the movie, but on the whole, this was a really engaging, believable science fiction film. The cast were all very well chosen; it isn't the kind of movie where you're waiting around for people to die; you want them to stick around. Apparently, the actors all stayed in a dorm together for a few weeks before filming started to get into character, and Michelle Yeoh was the worst cook.
I know the general consensus is that the ending ruins the movie, but on the whole, this was a really engaging, believable science fiction film. The cast were all very well chosen; it isn't the kind of movie where you're waiting around for people to die; you want them to stick around. Apparently, the actors all stayed in a dorm together for a few weeks before filming started to get into character, and Michelle Yeoh was the worst cook.
Your Reply:



8:03AM on 10/04/2013
Love this film to little bits. It's basically Badass Grandpas: the movie. The chemistry and camaraderie between the iconic actors in the main cast worked really well and while it seems like something of a comedy at first, particularly when they're training and getting into fights with the younger astronauts, the space sequences are actually really thrilling; featuring some great miniature work and visual effects. Also a lovely use of Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" at the end.
Love this film to little bits. It's basically Badass Grandpas: the movie. The chemistry and camaraderie between the iconic actors in the main cast worked really well and while it seems like something of a comedy at first, particularly when they're training and getting into fights with the younger astronauts, the space sequences are actually really thrilling; featuring some great miniature work and visual effects. Also a lovely use of Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon" at the end.
Your Reply:



12:14PM on 10/04/2013
I really love "Fly Me To The Moon" scene.
I really love "Fly Me To The Moon" scene.
8:00AM on 10/04/2013
I'm so glad to see this on the list. When Sandra Bullock's character in Gravity (minor spoiler) uses a fire extinguisher to propel herself across a short distance in space, I couldn't help but think of that moment in WALL-E.
I'm so glad to see this on the list. When Sandra Bullock's character in Gravity (minor spoiler) uses a fire extinguisher to propel herself across a short distance in space, I couldn't help but think of that moment in WALL-E.
Your Reply:



7:59AM on 10/04/2013
I didn't mind this. Sure, it seemed a lot like a rehash of 2001, but the actors who played the astronauts seemed relatively believable, the Ennio Morricone score is lovely and the "guy takes his helmet off in space" scene was something I found genuinely harrowing watching this as a kid.
I didn't mind this. Sure, it seemed a lot like a rehash of 2001, but the actors who played the astronauts seemed relatively believable, the Ennio Morricone score is lovely and the "guy takes his helmet off in space" scene was something I found genuinely harrowing watching this as a kid.
Your Reply:



7:58AM on 10/04/2013
Excellent performance by Jodie Foster, and it seems easy to forget now that Matthew McConaughey was in this but he provided an excellent counterpoint to her. The movie brought up philosophical themes without seeming preachy or boring (funny how the internet seems so pro-atheist these days and yet a big part of the movie was how the person who would represent humanity needed to be a theist) and I liked the father-daughter angle. Bit o trivia: the actress playing young Jodie Foster was Jena
Excellent performance by Jodie Foster, and it seems easy to forget now that Matthew McConaughey was in this but he provided an excellent counterpoint to her. The movie brought up philosophical themes without seeming preachy or boring (funny how the internet seems so pro-atheist these days and yet a big part of the movie was how the person who would represent humanity needed to be a theist) and I liked the father-daughter angle. Bit o trivia: the actress playing young Jodie Foster was Jena Malone.
Your Reply:



7:55AM on 10/04/2013
RED PLANET was better. Disney's ROCKET MAN was better.
RED PLANET was better. Disney's ROCKET MAN was better.
Your Reply:



7:55AM on 10/04/2013
The "space truckers" concept was really what gave Alien a lot of verisimilitude. It may have been a fantastical setting, but the people on this ship seemed a lot like everyday folk, so we settled in, got to know them, then bam! Things started to go wrong.
The "space truckers" concept was really what gave Alien a lot of verisimilitude. It may have been a fantastical setting, but the people on this ship seemed a lot like everyday folk, so we settled in, got to know them, then bam! Things started to go wrong.
Your Reply:



Featured Youtube Videos

Views and Counting