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(Credit: Joi Ito)

Film

J. J. Abrams names his five favourite sci-fi movies of all time

There was a moment in time, around the late 2000s, when there were few names in the movie industry that carried as much weight as J. J. Abrams, a director who many saw as the future of blockbuster filmmaking. 

First gaining the attention of the industry when he created the original concept for the ABC TV show Lost in 2004, Abrams would later make the leap to cinema, bringing the blockbuster action flick Mission: Impossible III to the big screen in 2006. Three years later and the sci-fi lover was put in charge of bringing Star Trek back to the big screen, casting the likes of Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Simon Pegg, Eric Bana, Zoe Saldana and Winona Ryder to help bring his vision to life.

Receiving rave reviews from both general audiences and stony critics, it was due to this film’s success that Abrams was employed to do the very same with the forthcoming Star Wars reboot, The Force Awakens. This was a dream come true for Abrams, particularly as he’d told Entertainment Weekly in 2011 that the original 1977 movie was such an obvious pick that he hadn’t even included it on his list of all-time favourite sci-fi’s films. 

Instead, the Stanley Kubrick movie 2001: A Space Odyssey kicked off proceedings, with Abrams telling the publication that the 1968 film is “The most spectacular vision of the future. Eerily accurate and wild with suspense”. Well-known as one of Kubrick’s very best movies, Abrams explains that it’s one of his favourites, “simply because of its oblique nature, undeniable coolness, and spectacular special effects and production design”.

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Second on his list of all-time favourite sci-fi movies is the James Cameron cosmic action film, Aliens. Calling the film, “the textbook example for How to Make a Sequel,” Abrams gushes over the 1986 classic, praising it for not altering “the essence of the brilliant Ridley Scott original”. Praising the characterisation of Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, the filmmaker controversially claims that the sequel to Scott’s film is indeed better than the original. 

Though, if Scott narrowly missed out to James Cameron before, at least he takes the fourth spot, with J. J. Abrams opting for his 1982 classic Blade Runner at number three. “Rarely does sci-fi make you feel as transported as this Ridley Scott film. The mood, texture, and eeriness — plus the soundtrack, visual effects (yay, real miniatures!), and photography,” the filmmaker exclaims, listing each and every superior aspect of the influential sci-fi.

It’s hard to dabble in the history of sci-fi without even mentioning David Cronenberg, with the 1986 film, The Fly, taking the fourth spot on J. J. Abrams’ list of favourites. “Cronenberg made fringe science sexy in this wildly emotional remake of the 1950s classic,” the filmmaker stated, naming it one of his very favourites thanks to the “beautiful and tragic” love story that runs through the movie’s core.

Covering all bases, Abrams’ list is finished off with a bit of Steven Spielberg magic, namely the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Baffled by the film, Abrams calls Spielberg’s classic, “A remarkable movie that, on paper, shouldn’t work: How are we supposed to relate to a man going mad and abandoning his wife and children — and planet? And yet we do”. Indeed, it would’ve been criminal if the filmmaker omitted Spielberg from his list.

Take a look at the full list of J. J. Abrams’ five favourite sci-fi movies, below.

J. J. Abrams’ five favourite sci-fi movies:

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  • Aliens (James Cameron, 1986)
  • Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
  • The Fly (David Cronenberg, 1986)
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)

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