The Best Space Movies to Binge Watch in 2020
Last updated: 3rd February 2020
Despite being mostly made of void and large regions of emptiness, Space has always been the place for epic stories, tales of exploration, galactic battles, cosmic mysteries and fascinating documentaries. Since 1902, and the release of what is considered to be the first sci-fi movie (“Le voyage dans la lune”), filmmakers have used outer space to create the most epic of stories. After all, the human imagination is vast, just like space, and so everything is possible: any life form can exist, any sort of technology can be used, any world can be explored…
If you fancy a little bit of space adventures while sitting comfortably on your sofa under a blanket, here is our selection of some of the best space movies.
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One year after the success of Gravity’s success, both artistically and financially, the talented English director Christopher Nolan delivers a film about how humanity’s last hope of surviving resides in exploring new regions of space. Interstellar is probably one of the most impressive space movies of the last decade. With a complex storyline in the like of “Memento” or “Inception”, along with superb space shots like those of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, it is an impressive science fiction film full of philosophy and masterfully directed by Christopher Nolan. I know that not everyone liked it but as a lifelong space enthusiast, I thought that it had a thrilling story without dead time despite the 2h 49m runtime.
This space movie is a magnificent cinematographic experience, playing with both space and time, and their intricate connection. A special mention to the movie soundtrack: Hans Zimmer’s music is once again superb. The music is very pure and the presence of an organ gives emotional power to the soundtrack.
Ad Astra, which means “to the stars” in Latin, is a recent film produced by James Gray and released in September 2019. More than a space exploration movie, Ad Astra is above all an introspective journey of a man in quest for answers.
Important magnetic phenomena causing significant damage are increasingly being recorded on the Earth’s surface. In order to stop further catastrophe, an expedition is sent to space to neutralize the cause and investigate signals which are transmitted from a remote base in the solar system, the one Roy’s father (Brad Pitt) set out for when he was young and never returned from.
Don’t expect to see an action-packed space film with Ad Astra: Despite the urgency of Earth’s situation, the movie takes its time and can be quite slow at times. However, the few suspenseful scenes are quite effective and if you like stories set in space, the imagery and visuals are likely to enchant you.
This space movie is an adaptation from Andy Weir’ book. The Martian’s plot is quite simple: During a mission to Mars, Mark Watney is left for dead after a gigantic storm forces a team of space explorers to retreat and leave the planet. However, the astronaut is not quite dead and his journey for survival, and more importantly, going back to Earth, begins.
Yes, Matt Damon needs saving again, but it’s on Mars so I don’t mind at all! I have always been a fan of Mars, even though it has mostly desert landscapes to offer: a kingdom of red earth without limits or hope. The whole film is fascinatingly focused on “positive thinking”, our Martian “Robinson Crusoe” is entirely driven by action, knowledge and hope.
Some of the science stuff explained in the movie is the result of a collaboration between Ridley Scott and NASA: Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA, spoke with Scott at length as soon as he began work on the film.
Ps: You gotta love Donald Glover as a genius scientist!
Gravity is a space movie about two astronauts attempting to return to Earth after the destruction of their space shuttle, leaving them both stranded in space. This movie is a realistic depiction of the vastness and emptiness of space and how terrifying of a place it can be. The special effects are incredibly beautiful and the attention to detail (particularly the work on the weightlessness effects due to the lack of gravity) is top-notch.
The characters are facing a very dire situation and I have enjoyed the intensity of the story: Sandra Bullock offers a fantastic performance – we can really feel her panic as she whips through space, desperately trying to survive.
A few people online have complained about some of the science being wrong – ie the big difference in orbits between the ISS and the Hubble telescope… which would make it impossible to travel from one to the other in real life. I don’t know of any space movie that got science 100% right, to be honest.
Gravity won a total of 7 Oscars: Best visual effects, Best sound editing, Best sound mixing, Best cinematography, Best film editing, Best original score and finally, Best director.
Europa Report is not an extremely famous space movie… I like the poster but I don’t think it was heavily marketed, or it was potentially shadowed by Gravity which came out the same year… However, it was a really nice surprise when I stumbled upon it on Netflix and decided to give it a go.
Europa Report is about a crew of 6 astronauts embarking on a journey to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moon, in order to investigate the possibility that life could exist in the ocean under the surface’s ice mantle. Obviously, things will go wrong and we’ll get to discover if that mission was worth the trouble or not!
The film is using the (overdone) documentary / found-footage style to tell its story. However, Europa Report remains a great example that you don’t need a “Hollywood” type of budget in order to produce a decent science fiction movie. I know that a few people online described the film as soulless, and I can agree that it is not the space movie of the century, but I enjoyed my viewing. It definitely gave me my fix of space when I needed it 🙂
In 1968, Kubrick produced and directed his 7th film: 2001: A Space Odyssey which was co-written with Arthur C. Clarke. Even though it’s now more than 50 years old, 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of the biggest and most famous space movies in the history of cinema. This film is unanimously recognized as a masterpiece that left a lasting mark on the science fiction genre.
2 astronauts embarks on a trip to Jupiter to investigate a mysterious black monolith (from alien origin?). On board the “Discovery” spaceship, they are helped by an artificial intelligence called Hal 900 whom starts showing signs of minor malfunctions…
Their journey is essentially representing the endless search for humanity’s origin while giving us a glimpse of what the future may look like. I thought that it was a fascinating and incredible movie, especially now that AI is becoming part of our daily life. I loved the retro feel to it and it definitely makes you think about humanity’s existence and our future.
This movie is about Apollo 13 which is famously known for a dramatic near accident that could have cost many lives. Despite the unlucky number attached to it, the thirteenth U.S. mission in the Apollo program seemed like a routine trip. But before reaching the Moon, the explosion of an oxygen tank forced astronauts and scientists in Houston to find an emergency solution in order to return safely to Earth.
We all know that famous quote from Jack Swigert: “Houston, we have a problem”. These memorable words resonated in the cockpit of Apollo 13 less than a year after man walked on the moon for the first time. As this space movie is based on a true story, we already know the outcome before the film starts but Ron Howard brilliantly manages to make you hold your breath at times. In total, it received 9 Oscar nominations, and was a success with both the critics and the general audience. A classic for sure!
Wall-E is one of the most successful animated movies produced by Pixar (for Disney) and a heartwarming story about what the future may look like for us if we don’t start treating our planet a little better. Taking place in a futuristic setting, Wall-E is about a small robot whose mission is to clean up the planet after every humans left it.
Earth is no longer habitable due to pollution, so humans decided to leave the planet and look for a new place to live in outer space aboard a massive spaceship. During this journey lasting a few hundred years, they regularly send scouting robots to Earth in order to check for signs of life. One of those robots, E.V.E, meets Wall-E on the same day he discovers a growing plant. There begins their crazy journey to bring the plant back to the ship and show humanity that Earth is habitable again! Ecology, robots, love story, morality, fun and cute moments… Wall-E has got it all!