The seven best space films ever

Cinema is much more closely related to space than it seems. If you read the memoirs of various scientists, astronomers and astronauts, you can pay attention to the fact that many of them first became interested in the sky thanks to cinematography. It was under the influence of the films watched in childhood, telling about the wonders of the universe, the exploration of the unknown and the meeting with an extraterrestrial mind, that they decided to connect their future life with space.

Commemorating the World Space Week, The Universe Space Tech has compiled a selection of the seven best space movies. These are the films that have the highest ratings among critics and viewers, and are now considered classics of the genre. If for some reason you haven’t seen them, now is the time to fill that gap.

2001: A Space Odyssey

What is the movie about?

The spaceship Discovery, piloted by two astronauts and the computer H.A.L. 9000, travels to Jupiter to unravel the mystery of a weird alien artifact. During the journey, many unexpected discoveries and dramatic events await the heroes.

Why is it interesting?

Any list of the best space movies in history includes A Space Odyssey by default. And it should not surprise us, because it was this movie that created a kind of standard for depicting space in the cinema. In almost all subsequent films of the corresponding subject, one can find numerous borrowings and references to Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece in one way or another.
A frame from the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey

Of course, considering the tempo and construction of the story, Space Odyssey is noticeably different from modern blockbusters. It is very leisurely and cannot boast of a large number of dialogues explaining what is happening. But this is compensated by the grand scale of the story created by Kubrick in collaboration with the famous writer Arthur C. Clarke, as well as the innovative visual effects that still hold the bar high.

In addition, the film contains a large layer of reflection on human evolution, artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial intelligence, and its ending is still a matter of controversy. So anyone with even the slightest interest in space fiction should watch A Space Odyssey. It can be safely named the godfather of the entire genre.

The Right Stuff

What is the movie about?

Adaptation of the documentary book of the same name by Tom Wolfe, which tells the story of experimental high-speed research, the conquest of the sound barrier, the formation of the American manned program and the early years of the space race.

Why is it interesting?

Of all the films on the list, The Right Stuff is perhaps the least known in our country. But in the United States, Philip Kaufman’s movie has long become a real standard for a film about space based on real events.

A frame from The Right Stuff movie

And this is quite natural. The Right Stuff can boast of excellent aerial shots, poignant historical details and paying equal attention to both the various equipment in the frame and the people who flew on it. The movie is literally permeated with the thirst for the sky, great speed and reaching new heights. So, even despite its bulky running time (three hours), the film literally flies by in a blink. It’s a truly monumental perspective of the dawn of the space age.

Apollo 13

What is the movie about?

The history of the Apollo 13 mission is one of the most dramatic moments in the history of space exploration. In 1970, Apollo 13 was to become the third spacecraft to land on the Moon. However, a serious accident occurred during the flight, which not only made the landing impossible, but also threatened the lives of the crew.

Why is it interesting?

Apollo-13 is another benchmark of a space movie that tells about a real story. And what a story! The Apollo 13 mission had such a number of unexpected events that any Hollywood screenwriter would envy. Among them are the unfortunate number of the expedition, and bad omens before the start, and the explosion on the spaceship, and many dangerous situations that the crew had to go through and, finally, its dramatic return to Earth.

A frame from the Apollo-13 movie

And Apollo-13 is the model of the film, whose authors truly did their best to achieve maximum realism in the frame. There is great attention to detail, exact replicas of space equipment and spacesuits, and even true weightlessness, which was created using a special aircraft. If we add to this a great cast and filigree direction by Ron Howard, we get a film that is now rightfully called one of the best in the genre.

October Sky (1999)

What is the movie about?

October 1957. The USA is shocked and frightened by the launch of the Soviet satellite. But for the teenager Homer Hickam it becomes a source of inspiration. He’s really charmed by the vision of space exploration and trying to find like-minded people to build his own rocket.

Why is it interesting?

In October Sky several primordial themes were interwoven at once. Among them is the search for one’s vocation in life, and the problem of choice between dreams and harsh reality, and the conflict between parents and children. With the wrong approach, all this could constitute another poor melodrama. Fortunately, this is not the case.

A frame from the October Sky movie

The director Joe Johnston managed to make a great motivational movie that tells why it is important to fight for your dreams. The movie captivates you since the first minutes and does not let go until the end. And the fact that the film is based on real events only adds strength to its message.


What is the movie about?

A disaster occurs during the launch of American astronauts into outer space. Only researcher Ryan Stone and veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski remain alive. Now they need to find a way to get back to Earth.

Why is it interesting?

Gravity is first and foremost an attraction film, viewing which can be compared to riding a roller coaster. As soon as we have time to catch our breath, the main character gets into another deadly situation. And so it happens until the final.

A frame from the Gravity movie

From a technical point of view, the movie by Alfonso Cuaron is made impeccably. It can be safely used as a visual guide to all modern space technology — from the Hubble telescope to the ISS. Also, the film is a rather vivid demonstration of the danger of the Kessler syndrome — uncontrolled chain reactions of the destruction of satellites, which will lead to the situation when the Earth’s orbit will become unfit for safe navigation. And if you add Sandra Bullock’s excellent acting to the excellent direction and special effects, we get a movie that rightly deserves all its praise.

By the way, of all the space films, Gravity can boast the largest number of various awards. It won seven Academy Awards, including best direction and cinematography.


What is the movie about?

An ecological disaster has put the Earth on the brink of destruction. A group of astronauts and scientists embark on an epic interstellar journey through a wormhole to find a new home for humanity.

Why is it interesting?

Interstellar can rightly be called a scientific blockbuster. After all, the history of the project began with the idea of ​​the famous scientist Kip Thorne to create a science fiction film that would familiarize the mass audience with the latest astrophysical concepts — wormholes, black holes, gravitational waves and the five-dimensional universe. Such a film should inspire a wide audience to take an interest in science, and even to embark on a scientific path.

A frame from the Interstellar movie

The director Christopher Nolan undertook this task. He managed to create, perhaps, the most “popular” space film of the 21st century. Interstellar combines all the best elements of a spectacular Hollywood blockbuster, combined with the principle of maximum scientific plausibility laid down by Kip Thorne. The film entertains the audience with a number of extremely visual images (consider the black hole, for example), a great soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, and a perfect acting by Matthew McConaughey. The movie also popularizes a very valuable idea. Unlike many other films about outer space, which strongly imply that humans, by and large, do not belong to interplanetary void, the authors of Interstellar think differently. For them, outer space is our next step, without which humanity will simply have no future.

Interstellar also has a companion book written by Thorne. In it, the scientist described in detail the concepts that formed the basis of his plot. So those who want to learn more about the phenomena shown in the film, it definitely makes sense to read the book.

The Martian

What is the movie about?

Botanist Mark Watney stays on Mars after his crew is forced to evacuate the planet due to a sandstorm. Now he needs to find a way to survive for four years on supplies until the next expedition arrives.

Why is it interesting?

The Martian is an adaptation of Andy Weir’s novel of the same name, which became a real sensation and instantly won recognition among fans of science fiction around the world. And it is more than deserved. The book is filled with love for science, humor and, in general, has a life-affirming attitude. And this is exactly what is so sorely lacking in our time.

A frame from The Martian movie

As for Ridley Scott’s film, it’s a great example of how an adaptation should be done. The movie skillfully combines all the best elements of the novel. As a result, we got a modern-day Robinson story that vividly demonstrates how knowledge of science and the basics of farming (and having a sticky tape handy) can save lives, even on Mars. So it is not surprising that many astronauts recommend “The Martian” to everyone who is thinking of joining the ranks of engineers or even conquerors of space.