Anyone who has watched this iconic piece of cinema surely realizes that 2001 is not merely a science fiction movie. It goes much beyond its genre and reaches an ethereal point which probably only a handful of films have reached in the history of cinema. I personally consider it one of the most important works of art of the 20th century, at par with Joyce’s Ulysses or Picasso’s Guernica.
What 2001 does not answer questions about life, space, time and existence, but as any important work of art, it asks questions. Who are we? What is our purpose on the earth? Is human intelligence a fallacy of nature and artificial intelligence a fallacy of man? To a well-versed viewer, 2001 will throw open new doors as to the possibility of cinema and the powers of the movie camera. Besides its content, 2001 is also a technical marvel, so much so, it was rumored that all the footage of man’s first landing on the moon were faked by Kubrick and NASA. The movie also won Kubrick his only Oscar, for Special Effects. Here is the list of movies similar to 2001: A Space Odyssey that are our recommendations. You can watch several of these movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.
Dennis Villeneuve is a powerful voice who has already made a huge impact with movies like Polytechnique, Enemy and Blade Runner; 2049, and his 2016 venture, Arrival is another glorious addition to his filmography. Amy Adams plays a famous linguist who along with a physicist is brought along by government officials to one of the large shells which have been landing all across the world one fine day. What she discovers in the shells is an alien form of life far more advanced than human beings in all respects. They are not evil aliens who are here to control the earth, but they are a benevolent race who wish to pass on their language to the earthlings. Their language opens new doors in all fields, and even human consciousness and provides this linguist with a special ability. Much beyond science fiction, Arrival becomes a movie about life and love for you close ones and a desire to connect with others.
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Made only on a shoestring budget of 50,000 dollars, Coherence is another film one must check out. It starts off as a story of eight people at a dinner party, but then a comet passes over them. This will cause severe changes in the lives of each of the occupants and most of all to this woman named Emily. Like 2001, Coherence makes us come face to face with realities we don’t know about and the many secrets of nature which are still beyond the reach of man.
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8. Blade Runner 2049
Dennis Villeneuve again makes his entry in this list with another of his cinematic gems. Though it bombed at the box office, Blade Runner 2049 is not in any way a movie that will be forgotten. Taking off from quite sometime after the first Blade Runner movie ended, Blade Runner 2049 adds on to the world which Ridley Scott was successful in creating in the original movie. The cinematography and special effects are breathtaking, and the movie goes on in a lyrical yet sublime pace, making its futuristic urban landscape blend into the narrative. Here, AIs have here become a huge part of people’s lives; each person even has the possibility of having an artificially designed partner just for her/him. This is a land where it is difficult to pinpoint what is natural and what is artificial. The movie questions human relationships and the effects of scientific growth in our lives, and along with its stunning cinematography which won Roger Deakins an Oscar, Blade Runner 2049 is sure to beat the test of time.
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Spike Jonze’s Her is another great addition to this list. 2001 had a computer called HAL 9000 which began treating humans as its enemy. But here we have another AI device which becomes the object of love and desire for its owner. Joaquin Phoenix alone pulls off the movie with his impeccable performance, only supported by the female voice of the computer, voiced by Scarlett Johansson. Phoenix plays the character of Theodore Twombly who is alone in a near-future Los Angeles when he buys this operating system. He begins talking with it, and as they keep conversing, begins to get romantically involved with this machine, which the machine also reciprocates only through the voice. Her is a beautiful movie about man’s changing world which is becoming more and more virtual and digital with each passing day.
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Primer is a breakthrough piece of work in the genre of low-budget science fiction filmmaking which reveals the genius of its lead actor-writer-director-producer-editor Shane Carruth. With a length of only 1 hour 19 minutes, Primer is an intense, cerebral experience in the genre of serious science fiction. The movie is about two engineers who have suddenly made a breakthrough invention which they do not reveal to the outside world. Instead, they use it to earn money dishonestly. As the movie unfolds, they keep getting trapped in their own web. Primer shows us that nature is more dangerous than we can make it out to be. To play with natural laws is to bring about destruction and danger.
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Things that man knows far outweigh the things that we don’t. Interstellar by Christopher Nolan is a movie in this direction. It starts off in a desolate land where food is becoming scarce. Joseph (Matthew McConaughey) is an ex-NASA pilot who lives in such a desolate land with his children and father in law. They discover a secret NASA base where Joseph meets his former supervisor, Professor John Bard(Michael Caine) tells him about grave problems mankind is about to face. The only solution is either a mass-exodus or transplanting human embryos to a different habitable galaxy where humans can continue surviving. What follows is a gripping journey across different planets which though have an atmosphere, have conditions unsuitable for existence. In space, the concept of time as we know collapses and what Joseph returns to is a lot different from what he had left back before the start of his journey.
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4. Blade Runner
Blade Runner is the first neo-noir science fiction film from Hollywood, directed by the great Ridley Scott. It is set in a futuristic Los Angeles where humans have been able to successfully create replicas of themselves called replicants. They look exactly like humans but have no memories of childhood. Though these replicants were used for science experiments and were always controlled by humans, some had begun going rogue. They had revolted against the oppression which humans had been subjecting them. Certain police officials are sent to capture and “retire” them, and these police officials are known as Blade Runners. One such Blade Runner is Deckard (Harrison Ford) whom the story follows. Blade Runner is an ethereal cinematic experience which deals with distinctly different genre and mixes them seamlessly, along with raising serious questions about the nature of relationships between man and technology.
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Though Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror is not a science fiction movie, its treatment and nature are greatly reminiscent of 2001. Mirror is about the memories of a dying poet, who remembers his childhood with his parents in war-torn Russia. There is a stream-of-consciousness element to the mobile where disjuncted thoughts appear one after the other and raise the cinematic experience to a philosophical and spiritual experience. Mirror’s cinematography is impeccable and is like 2001, a path-breaking venture which pushes the boundaries of things possible to achieve using a movie camera.
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One of the earliest science fiction films, Metropolis is a remarkable achievement of the German director Fritz Lang. It is set in a futuristic class-divided society where two distinctly different groups of people exist, the posh elite classes and the working class who suffers and toil in their dinghy surroundings. Metropolis is a meditation on the perverse effects of urbanization and industrialization. Considering the fact that it was made early in the twentieth century, Metropolis leaves an impression of the genius of Lang, who had been able to correctly predict the dilemmas we as a race are going through now.
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Andrei Tarkovsky again appears in the list with his great science fiction project, Solaris. Much like 2001, Solaris is a movie set in a space shuttle, but inside it, all human understandings seem to dissolve. A man leaves the earth, his consciousness changes, and his true side is made to come to the forefront. Solaris is about the existential conflicts which modern man suffers the fast-changing worlds. Just like 2001, it uses the science fiction genre as a platform but what Tarkovsky creates in this masterpiece is a serious work of art unlike any other in the history of cinema.
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