The infinite space and the dream of traveling among the stars have always been the object of the human ardor and ambition. A dream that in recent years has become much more concrete thanks to the evolution of technology, and all those companies that continue to invest to bring tourists to visit the cosmos. To live the experience of observing the Earth from heights not even imaginable before. And if it is true that the story of "stellar" enterprises is becoming more and more present thanks to the commitment of companies of the caliber of SpaceX or Virgin Galactic that reserve front row seats to tycoons and billionaires, we mere mortals can do nothing but wait our turn devoting ourselves to the vision of some film about space, whether it is a cult or a fresher production.
Those same films protagonists of our special, dedicated not even to say just the best films of the genre. What follows is not a ranking in the strict sense of the word, but is more a collection of milestones in the theme, and which also ranges in other sub-genres such as horror, psychological thriller and the always fascinating sci-fi.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
We could only open this roundup of the best space movies to watch with Stanley Kubrick's 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey, which single-handedly succeeded in reigniting the world's enthusiasm for space exploration. In the film, after discovering a mysterious artifact buried under the lunar surface, humanity decides to launch a quest to find its origins. The instrument useful to the mission is intelligent supercomputer H.A.L. 9000.
This is one of the masterpieces of modern science fiction, inspired by the 1948 classic The Sentinel by Arthur C. Clarke, but with a completely personal story and a peculiar key to the director, who wanted to distinguish himself from the original material. The feature film, nominated for four Academy Awards, managed to snatch a statuette for Best Special Effects, curated by Kubrik himself. Currently, 2001: A Space Odyssey is also available for streaming on TIMVISION and Chili, remaining undoubtedly still a cultural and cinematic testament of rare depth.
For fans of science fiction, the original Alien can only be one of those films to see, and see again!, at all costs. The 1979 film signed by Ridley Scott sees a freighter land on a remote planetoid after intercepting an unknown transmission, interpreted as a distress call. On the planet, one of the crew members is attacked by a mysterious life form that once on board will abandon its human host and evolve into a vicious predator hungry for human flesh.
In Scott's film, the progenitor of a true anthology, science fiction and horror are mixed for an unparalleled result, which managed to launch in the collective imagination the heroine Ellen Ripley, played by an extraordinary Sigourney Weaver, and the iconic and fearsome Xenomorph. Alien also won an Academy Award for Best Special Effects thanks to the efforts of Hans Ruedi Giger, Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder and Denys Ayling.
Mission to Mars (2000)
Distributed in 2000 and set in the same year, Brian De Palma's Mission to Mars originates from the same suggestions that drive space exploration today. It is no coincidence that the events of the film revolve around the conquest of Mars, the real goal of Elon Musk and his SpaceX. The story follows the first human mission to the Red Planet and the exploration of the mysterious region of Cydonia, where the crew is wiped out by a mysterious force.
The only survivor, Luke Graham, to which lends face and acting talent Don Cheadle, sends an SOS. As a result, a second voyage is organized with a new crew, with the aim of revealing the truth about what happened to the first explorers and unraveling the mystery surrounding Mars and its fascinating surface. The film is available for streaming on Chili, and is a must-see for those who would like to get caught up in all those nightmares that space has embodied practically since the dawn of civilization.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Available for streaming on Netflix, Ron Howard's Apollo 13 showcases a stellar cast to tell a piece of history. The film focuses fairly faithfully on NASA's ill-fated mission of the same name, which was supposed to deliver its third moon landing to the world, but failed miserably due to a malfunction. The U.S. agency is then busy devising a strategy to get Apollo 13 back to Earth safely, in an effort to save the lives of the three astronauts on board. Howard directs Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris in 1995, and manages to take home nine Oscar nominations with two statuettes won: Best Editing and Best Sound. All this with the technical assistance of NASA, useful to make a film incredibly accurate, and some scenes of which were shot aboard a plane in reduced gravity for the realistic representation of the absence of gravity that astronauts experience.
Andrei Tarkovsky's masterpiece dated 1972, Solaris is one of the greatest expressions of science fiction cinema. And consequently one of the films about space that could not miss in the list. The film is a journey among the stars that becomes a "banal" pretext to explore the motions of loneliness and to tell the incompleteness of human nature. The plot has as its protagonist Chris Kelvin, played by actor Donatas Banioni, a psychoanalyst sent to a space station where cosmonauts are gradually losing their minds, evoking distant memories and the reflection of their loved ones now deceased. Chris will also have to come to terms with his dead wife, for an emotional feature film that can also be (re)watched by streaming on TIMVISION.
In Gravity, class of 2013, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play two astronauts working together to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space. It's a sort of Castaway in space, directed by a very inspired Alfonso Cuarón, who was in his time nominated for 10 Oscars, winning 7 of them: best director, special effects, cinematography, editing, soundtrack, and sound editing. Thanks to an impressive production effort, the director stages what is perhaps the most realistic representation of space on the big screen. Extraordinary visual effects, made by the British company Framestore for a total of 80 minutes out of 91 that make up the film, as well as the photography of the inseparable Lubezki, for what is a great modern work made of silences and voids full of meaning. It can also be seen streaming on Amazon Prime Video and TIMVISION.
Christopher Nolan's ninth work, Interstellar is set in the not-too-distant future, where humanity is on the brink of extinction. It follows the desperate journey of Cooper and Amelia Brand, respectively Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway through the cosmos, in search of a new home for mankind. With the famous phrase "Love is the only thing that transcends time and space", Nolan gives us a complex work in which the exploration of space becomes a metaphor for the exploration of ourselves.
The first feature film by Duncan Jones, son of the late David Bowie, Moon is a low-budget film that nonetheless manages to captivate viewers with its visionary ideas. The 2009 work was shot on a single set with only $5 million, and features only one actor: Sam Rockwell. In this minimalist gem, Rockwell plays Sam Bell, who is completing his three-year stint on the moon where working alongside his computer GERTY extracts a mineral resource to send back to Earth to help reduce our planet's energy problems.
Survivor - The Martian (2015)
We return to Mars and under the careful direction of a sacred monster like Ridley Scott to introduce in our list of the best movies about space that Survivor - The Martian landed in theaters in 2015. In the film, the director of the aforementioned Alien recounts the struggle for survival of astronaut Mark Watney, played by a convincing Matt Damon, who was trapped on the Red Planet after a failed re-entry attempt, so much so that he was believed dead by his colleagues at NASA. This is a film in which, in spite of the specter of death constantly hovering over the head of the protagonist, are highlighted ingenuity and goodwill, not to mention a certain amount of irony. For streaming, you can turn to the Prime Video catalog of the giant Amazon.
First Man (2018)
Among the best movies about space to see is also the recent First Man, directed by Oscar winner Damien Chazelle in 2018. The film aims to be the film adaptation of the official biography First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong written by James R. Hansen and published in 2005. In the role of the first man on the moon we find Ryan Gosling, who accurately lends his face to the man who made one of the most memorable space feats of all time. Also in the cast are Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Abbott, Patrick Fugit and Lukas Haas, with Steven Spielberg executive producing the film.