The decade's 9 most influential sci-fi/fantasy movies

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

It's been a really good decade for sci-fi and fantasy movies; you might say it's the decade that's going to change forever the way they make such movies and the way we see them.

So we thought it would be worth taking a look back at the Naughties (Aughts? Zeroes?) to see which movies most altered the sci-fi and fantasy film landscape.

And this isn't just us; it's also you, based on your Twitter responses to our query @scifiwire: What's your pick for the most influential sci-fi movie of the decade? Use the hashtag #scifiwiremovie. You can still register your vote there, or add your comment below.

In no particular order:

The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)

Virtually everyone agrees this may be the pinnacle of the decade for sci-fi and fantasy. Peter Jackson's movies showed how to do epic fantasy seriously. They showed how to adapt a previously unfilmable literary work into a compelling series of movies. They showed that subject matter deemed too narrow could appeal to a worldwide audience and gain the recognition of the mainstream (Oscars, etc.). Here's a sample tweet from you:

AxDrake definitly LOTR. It rlly has set the bar high 4 book-2-screen productions.

X-Men (2000)

Bryan Singer's first movie in the franchise did several things. It showed that a comic-book movie—and one based on a then-obscure franchise, at least to the mainstream—could be entertaining, yet serious, yet respectable. It showed filmmakers a new way to consider superhero/comic-book movies, as adult films, and created the superhero industry we now live with. And it made a s--tload of money, made Hugh Jackman a star and revitalized the fortunes of Marvel.

Batman Begins (2005)

This movie revived a much-loved film franchise that had been reborn once before, with Tim Burton's 1989 Batman. After that, and Burton's own follow-up Batman Returns, the series quickly devolved into awful camp under the directorship of Joel Schumacher, ending with 1997's Batman & Robin, which was notable for putting nipples on the batsuit. But with Christopher Nolan's brooding reboot, featuring a raging Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman, the franchise rediscovered its black heart; Nolan's follow-up, The Dark Knight, is arguably the best comic-book movie ever made.

28 Days Later (2002)

This sci-fi zombie movie, from Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle, was single-handedly responsible for injecting a welcome dose of viral energy and scariness into a genre that had lumbered into history after being virtually created by George A. Romero. Appealing to a new and broader audience, it (and Zack Snyder's reboot of Dawn of the Dead two years later) showed that movies about the undead could be relevant again, not to mention a heck of a lot of fun. Here's one of your tweets:

filmgurunet 28 Days Later... because it re-introduced the zombie genre in film, setting the stage for so much this decade.

Children of Men (2006)

This sci-fi movie from Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron makes our list because it is something new: mature science fiction about serious themes, based on a serious novel (by P.D. James), which was taken seriously by the mainstream (with an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay) and shot in a new style of handheld guerrilla filmmaking that made a sci-fi universe feel absolutely real. That style has influenced subsequent creators of both serious and schlock science fiction, and one of its descendants is Neill Blomkamp's District 9 (see below).

Cloverfield (2008)

This monster movie from J.J. Abrams is inconsequential but for a few things: It marked a new genre, the cinema verite sci-fi movie with A-list visual effects, shot as if it were found footage from a personal video camera. It gave us a new descriptor for sci-fi: "Cloverfield," referring both to creatures that resemble its giant monster and to the nausea-inducing, handheld run-and-gun style of its filmmaking. And it refined the viral marketing techniques introduced with The Blair Witch Project, with sly references to "Slusho" and various faux Web sites that hinted at the film long before anyone was aware that it existed.

District 9 (2009)

The hit movie, from producer Peter Jackson and newbie South African director Blomkamp, invented a new genre: the socially conscious verite sci-fi action docudrama. It made sci-fi a world phenomenon, with a story set in South Africa and featuring a cast of South Africans and others, dealing with South African concerns. But it also had universal appeal, as does the best sci-fi, and like Cloverfield, introduced an energetic, exciting new way of making and seeing sci-fi movies. You can expect knockoffs and imitators for years to come. Here's one of your tweets:

daug21 'District 9' will be the new standard for sci-fi movies for the foreseeable future

Star Trek (2009)

Love it or hate it, J.J. Abrams' movie resurrected the movie franchise, brought in a new generation of fans and made Trek fun again, at least for those of us who liked it. It also managed the suprising feat of making Trek kinda hip among mainstream audiences. And it brought new creative blood to the franchise, led by the prolific TV and movie producer Abrams and his team, who also gave us Alias, Lost, the new Mission Impossible movies and Fringe, not to mention Transformers. These guys are transforming sci-fi for all of us. Here's one of your tweets about Star Trek:

zoefaithowens For most influential sci-fi movie? I think I have to say Star Trek XI, because it introduced a whole new generation to ST

Avatar (2009)

The movie doesn't open until today, but we're putting it on the list because of a couple of things. Whether it's a big hit or a big flop, the movie has already been influential because it moved 3-D into the mainstream of big studio movies. Anticipation of Avatar motivated theater owners to install the expensive 3-D projection systems, creating a critical mass that persuades studios to green-light other 3-D movies. Cameron has also pioneered new kinds of 3-D filmmaking technologies, not to mention new ways of capturing performance and motion, which are light-years ahead of the techniques used by Robert Zemeckis and others and which you can expect to see in many more movies in the future.


(We didn't include one of the most influential sci-fi movies of recent times, The Matrix, because it debuted a year early, in 1999.)

From your tweets:

JediTrilobite: Moon. It's heady, interesting and beautiful.

pedrotalhari: Minority Report, cause it brings godly sent interfaces.

janettwokay: "Space Cowboys" because it reminds us that people are not disposable once they hit the age of 30.

JaymEsch: Serenity. Best Sci-Fi movie of all time: 100% believable universe w/perfect cast, acting, plot, & production.

MtnMeister Non-fantasy, non- supernatural influential SF-ish movies I don't classify as SF: Transformers, Iron Man

jkeitz #scifiwiremovie The most influential sci-fi movie of the decade has to be An Inconvenient Truth.

What's your vote?

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