Community: What Are Your Favorite Films Set in Space?

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One of the surprising aspects of the original “Guardians of the Galaxy” was how well it fit into the space opera genre. You can easily place the film alongside others like “Flash Gordon” or even the “Star Wars” films. With the release of the second film this week, it looks like we’re in for more of the same from our favorite outlaw group. With the release of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.,” what are your favorite films set in space? We’ve listed a few of our own below, but let us know yours on the Awards Circuit Message Boards and in the comments below! For the purposes of this article, we disqualified the “Star Wars” franchise. They would have been answers 1, 2, and 3 (“Hope,” “Empire,” “Rogue One”). Here are our other favorites!

1. “Aliens” (1986)

One of the landmark franchises of all time, the debate over which entry is better will never die. While “Alien” may be the stronger horror film, as well as a successful monster film, “Aliens” is a better entry for the space film category. The cast is absolutely chock-full of awesome actors all of whom are having a ball. There are obvious standouts, including Bill Paxton as Hudson and Michael Biehn as Hicks. What makes this film more fun than the previous entry was its choice to be a rescue film. The idea of the hardest and best soldiers in the galaxy heading back to LV-426 was an awesome idea, and the action pays off tremendously. It’s one of the seminal action films of the 1980s, and Sigourney Weaver earned that Oscar nomination a hundred times over.

2. “Star Trek” (2009)

It’s easy to forget the excellence of the 2009 reboot of “Star Trek,” especially after the thud of “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” However, there was a push for J.J. Abrams‘ take on the classic franchise to get into the best picture hunt (not too dissimilar from another rebooted property he did in 2015). He brought a levity to the franchise that simply worked. While the film was not perfect, it exemplified the wonder of the franchise in many ways. Traveling to new locales, fighting aliens, and using time travel/alternate realities are all here in the first entry. This wasn’t your parents’ “Star Trek.” The film grabbed four Oscar nominations for its incredible below-the-line work.

3. “Apollo 13” (1995)

Perhaps no film lost momentum with Oscar as quickly as “Apollo 13” did in 1995. The cast is great, with Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton playing off of Tom Hanks spectacularly. The real MVPs were on the ground, with Gary Sinise and Ed Harris selling the confusion and frustration of NASA as they try to bring their men home. At the end of the day, this film is Howard’s showcase as a director. His ability to bring tension into a film where we know the outcome is incredible work. The film was obviously winning best picture, until all of a sudden, there was no Ron Howard in Best Director. Competitor Mel Gibson should continue to send fruit baskets to 1995 Academy members for gifting him the Best Picture win.

What do you think? Which films set in space are your favorites? “2001: A Space Odyssey”? Or something a bit smaller like “Solaris”? Let us know in the comments and on the Awards Circuit Message Boards. 

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, May 5.

  • Hahahaha…”Alien” is definitely better.

    • I’m also team “Alien” but didn’t want to gush about for like the 5th time when I haven’t written about “Aliens” yet. These are some of my favorites, but not a definitive list. I also left 2001 off despite the fact it’s obviously a top 3.

  • Brennan

    Gravity?

    • Technically brilliant, but not one of my personal favorites. Solid choice though!

  • Calvin Damon

    Okay, A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back I get, but you’d really call Rogue One one of the all-time great space films? To each their own, I guess

    1. Alien
    2. Wall-E (I know the first half is on earth, but I’m counting it)
    3. Star Trek 2009

    • I like the Wall-E pick. I considered it but ultimately dropped it for the reason you cited. Plus I wrote a lot about on the Sci-Fi article a few weeks back.