Addicted to novelty since 2001

The Sci-Fi Canon

This is a couple of days old from Boing Boing, but I’d been meaning to take a closer look. The author of The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies compiled the Science Fiction Film Canon (he describes them at ‘the most significant’).

I’m going to do the standard memey thing, and bold those movies I’d seen in the list after the jump. There are a couple of dubious inclusions: The Incredibles? 28 Days Later? Jurassic Park? All are decent films, but are they cinematically significant? I’d have replaced these with movies like Dark City or possibly (if it qualifies as sci-fi) City of Lost Children.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!





Back to the Future

Blade Runner


Bride of Frankenstein

Brother From Another Planet

A Clockwork Orange

Close Encounters of the Third Kind


The Damned

Destination Moon

The Day The Earth Stood Still


Escape From New York

ET: The Extraterrestrial

Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial)

The Fly (1985 version)

Forbidden Planet

Ghost in the Shell


The Incredibles

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version)

Jurassic Park

Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior

The Matrix


On the Beach

Planet of the Apes (1968 version)



Solaris (1972 version)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The Stepford Wives


Terminator 2: Judgement Day

The Thing From Another World

Things to Come


12 Monkeys

28 Days Later

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

2001: A Space Odyssey

La Voyage Dans la Lune

War of the Worlds (1953 version)

11 Responses to “The Sci-Fi Canon”

  1. Darren

    Er…whoops, I have seen Tron. Several times. I missed it in my mad bolding.

  2. -j.

    I loved “Delicatessen” (yay, Jean-Pierre Jeunet!) and “Brother from Another Planet” (John Sayles!), but would have trouble counting either one as canonical. Especially the latter…isn’t film canon usually SEEN by more than a handful of people?

  3. double-plus-ungood

    You haven’t seen The Day the Earth Stood Still?

    Then you probably didn’t get the sign hanging from the cubicle in Tron that said “Klaatu Barata Nikto,” or get the inside joke that Jabba the Hutt’s guards are named Klaatu, Barada, and Nikto, or get the banner in the background during Close Encounters of the Third Kind that contains the phrase “Klaatu Barata Nikto.”

    But Gort is such an icon nowadays, you must have seen his image at least once.

  4. double-plus-ungood

    Oh, and Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers kick ass. Almost as good as Big Trouble in Little China, which doesn’t make the list for some reason.

  5. Heather

    Buckaroo Banzai made the list? Many hours of my youth spent watching Superchannel are instantly validated.

  6. Sean Hagen

    I will vouch for Akira. I’m not heavily into anime, but it is one of the few anime films I’ll watch more than once.

  7. Darren

    Double: Yeah, I’m familiar with the movie’s premise, and its most famous sequence.

  8. Derek

    I’m surprised Superman 2 wasn’t on the list—I think it was better than the first one.

  9. Carlos

    Dark City? Yes! It’s like an early version of The Matrix….

  10. Kennedy

    Darren, I’m disappointed.
    Jurassic Park, dubious?
    C’mon. Sure, by now the level of effects exhibited in the original (oh how I wish they’d never bothered with the redundant sequels) are relatively common-place, but 12 years ago… You were there. You must recall.
    There were frikken DINOSAURS on the screen. Not ‘Land of the Lost’/Ray Harryhausen stop-motion dinosaurs, but the kind from my Grade five dreams.
    If your beef is the plot, then I got bad-news for you… go watch E.T. again – there’s a film that relied even more heavily on the sense of wonder towards what Spielberg was showing us. The arc is weak and the logic specious on many levels.
    In the rock-paper-scissors game of cinematic fun, ‘T-Rex in the rearview’ beats ‘Flying BMX’ every time.

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