“2020 Is The Best Year For Sci-Fi Movies In Ages”
2020 is already shaping up to be the strongest year for sci-fi movies in ages. Between an unexpected trilogy-capping entry in a beloved ’80s series to an adaptation of one of the genre’s most celebrated novels, this new decade is already looking bright.
The 2010s were ripe with memorable science fiction films. Whether they explored more grounded territory like The Martian or dove into fantastical corners of the unknown like Under the Skin, the decade had plenty of sci-fi films for the books. Some even went so far as to earn critical praise, as well as recognition from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, like Inception, Gravity, Blade Runner 2049, and Interstellar. Now, the ’20s are off to an encouraging start, with the first year of the decade setting an impressive precedent for what’s to come.
To get 2020 started, the genre is mostly intermixing with horror in the first quarter of the year; and, though not all of the genre’s offerings are guaranteed winners right out of the gate, there’s promise. Kristen Stewart headlined the aquatic creature feature Underwater, James Wan’s longtime collaborator Leigh Whannell’s is helming a remake of The Invisible Man, and John Krasinski is returning to direct his wife, Emily Blunt, in the sequel, A Quiet Place: Part II.
Once the fall season rolls around, two iconic juggernauts will come face-to-face in Godzilla vs. Kong. It’s a lofty premise that runs the risk of offering more than it can potentially deliver, but the success of previous films in each beast’s respective franchise ensures a promising outcome. Also, audiences (finally) have the release of The New Mutants to look forward to, though its release date has still yet to be confirmed. Whether it can live up to two solid years of hype remains to be seen, but even in horror, there’s hope.
While the debut sci-fi film in 2020’s summer blockbuster season is technically Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Artemis Fowl, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is easily the summer’s earliest sci-fi release attracting the most attention – hopefully for good reason. The OG Ghostbusters torch is being passed to a new generation (not only in terms of its characters, but its director), and even though there may still be some bad blood surrounding the franchise from fans who wanted to see Paul Feig’s reboot continue with a sequel of its own, the film’s first teaser showed promise. It’s also in good company, as far as ’80s comebacks go, with Bill & Ted Face the Music being another long-awaited entry in a decades-old franchise.
That said, Christopher Nolan has a knack for kicking off decades with memorably mind-bending spectacles. In 2000, he made his mark on Hollywood with Memento; in 2010, he established himself as a technical innovator with Inception; and in 2020, he appears to be raising the bar yet again with Tenet… not unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is continuing Phase Four with cosmic exploration courtesy of Eternals in the fall.
Judging by their track record, it’s hardly a gamble to release a film in the MCU. Still, with Avengers: Endgame closing the book on two of its leads, while also marking the end of an era, Eternals isn’t the safe bet that a more recognizable title, like Spider-Man or Thor, might be. Though, in a way, that angle is kind of a blessing, and it keeps this new entry in the MCU from seeming old hat.
An “Oscar caliber film” is as loose a term as it is arbitrary. That said, there is a certain attention to detail in making a film that might improve its odds when it comes to being recognized during awards season. It’s the reason why a sci-fi film like Howard the Duck might be overlooked, though a film released that same year – Aliens – stands to earn a few nods. This is why a handful of sci-fi movies in 2020 fall into this category. They may not have a guaranteed shot at receiving any nominations, but they’re awards-friendly through and through.
This year, perhaps the two most anticipated sci-films are the aforementioned Tenet and Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel, Dune – both of which are nearly shoo-ins to rub shoulders with next year’s other Oscar hopefuls. Both promise something bold, with call sheets that border on intimidating, and the respective track records of their directors are all the assurance audiences should really need. Then again, seeing as Dune is considered to be unadaptable by its most diehard fans (David Lynch’s adaptation is memorable, but it hardly measures up to the gargantuan scope of Herbert’s novels), there are no guarantees that Villeneuve can pull it off. Then again, that’s the beauty of the genre after all – having the vision, no matter how seemingly inaccessible something might seem, to make the unimaginable possible.
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