NYTimes' A.O. Scott on Top Sci-Fi Films - His List, More

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Following the huge success of "Avatar" and now with "Inception" mixing it up during this summer movie season, it may seem the science fiction genre has re-invaded in recent months.

The New York Times' chief film critic A.O. Scott says the genre allows us to reflect on our own time — the anxieties and the issues.

“This is really a form of allegory," Scott told On Point host Tom Ashbrook on Friday (listen to the audio here.) "If you want to think about issues in the world we live in, in a simplified and more imaginative and more vivid way, science fiction is really the main form for doing that.”

Annalee Newitz, critic with, said there is often more to the best science fiction films than just aliens or fantasy tech worlds.

“There is always going to be an audience that is excited about escapism," Newitz said. "But the thing that makes science fiction, I think, an enduring genre is that it also manages to pull issues and science from the present day and really hook you in and by saying, ‘Hey, we’re talking about stuff that’s going on right now in your world, but we’re extrapolating out into another dimension or into the future or into your mind…”

Scott and Newitz gave On Point their lists for top science fiction films of all time. Here they are:

Picks of A.O. Scott, New York Times:

AI/ET/Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Fahrenheit 451
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kevin McCarthy and Donald Sutherland versions; not Nicole Kidman version)
Metropolis–Fritz Lang version AND Rintaro anime
Spaceballs/ The Empire Strikes Back
Robocop/Starship Troopers

Picks of Annalee Newitz of

The Day the Earth Stood Still
Star Wars: A New Hope AND Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (tie)
Blade Runner
Terminator 2
Ghost in the Shell (Japanese version)
Teknolust (Lynn Hershman-Leeson)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I hadn’t thought of this as sci-fi but it makes sense)
Honorable Mention: Primer (Shane Carruth)