5 Greatest Movies About Space to celebrate 50 years since the moon landing

Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of mankind’s greatest achievements – successfully faking the moon landing!

Maybe for the 100th anniversary of Apollo 11’s remarkable mission, we’ll be able to celebrate by taking a stroll to the Moon ourselves – but until then, we’ll have to settle for some classic films about and/or taking place in outer space.

Please enjoy this entirely objective list of the five greatest space movies ever made.

2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)

It’s fitting that the man who directed the moon landing also directed one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. 2001 is indisputably one of Stanley Kubrick’s masterpieces – a movie that can make you go ‘how the hell did they do that?’ even 50 years later. It’s one of those films that no amount of praise or analysis can do justice. You just have to see it for yourself. It’s a brain-melting experience like no other.

Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)

Space is as wondrous as it is absolutely terrifying – and this seminal sci-fi horror film captures that perfectly. The titular xenomorph is the perfect nightmare given form. The claustrophobic, industrial look of the spaceship Nostromo is as distinct as it is timeless – a wonderfully detailed retro sci-fi maze of death and terror for the alien to play around in. And who could forget Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley?

Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, 2013)

A space movie that is equal parts harrowing and inspirational, Gravity follows two American astronauts (played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) as they get stranded in space after an accident. Gravity is visually stunning and features a powerhouse performance from Sandra Bullock. The more scientifically inclined/knowledgeable viewers may scoff at at few parts, but if you’re willing to let stuff like that go, you’re in for an emotional journey of survival and rebirth like no other.

The Martian (Ridley Scott, 2015)

Matt Damon one-ups being stranded in space after an accident by being stranded on Mars after an accident. The Martian is a captivating and very enjoyable celebration of scientific ingenuity and the indomitable human spirit. It’s a crowd-pleasing tale of survival against all odds that is well worth seeing again and again.

The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner , 1982)

There had to be at least one Star Wars movie on this list. I am more partial to the new trilogy, but since that is as of yet incomplete, I’m gonna go with the old favourite. Practically the textbook example of a darker sequel that pays off in spades, Empire Strikes Back is… well, it’s Empire Strikes Back, innit? Yoda’s first appearance, Luke fights Vader in one of the saga’s greatest duels, followed by one of cinema’s most iconic twists – and that’s just the tip of the Hoth iceberg. It ends on a sour note, but fortunately, Return of the Jedi stuck the landing right after. Hopefully, Episode IX will do the same for the new trilogy.

Honorable Mentions:

First Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018) and Apollo 11 (Todd Douglas Miller, 2019) are terrific films that are about the actual moon landing – the first is a dramatisation that focuses on Neil Armstrong, while the latter is a documentary made solely with archival footage.

P.S. Interstellar sucks.

Stanyo Zhelev

Socially awkward geek that loves movies and writing about them. King's College London graduate. Look for on Letterboxd (https://letterboxd.com/cinemastan/) and my personal site (http://thecinemastan.com/)