Thursday, May 1, 2008

My Favorite Flicks with Astronomy or Space Themes

This one’s just for fun. Post your picks for favorite films with an astronomy or space theme, or comment on mine. Hmmm, I’m getting a sudden, strong craving for Red Vines and Raisinets…

5) Red Planet (2000) Stars Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Benjamin Bratt. I found this film very entertaining, and it really transported me to a somewhat believable Mars, unlike some other contemporary films set on Mars. Moss in a great strong woman role, and the usually annoying Kilmer well directed as a wolfish underling who is ultimately sympathetic. Good edge-of-your-seat, old-fashioned outer space flick.

4) 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick's enigmatic masterpiece, and a defining film of the Space Age. Required viewing for 20th Century cultural literacy. Rent it.

3) The Right Stuff (1983) Sweeping epic of the Space Race and the first Apollo missions. Stellar cast and larger-than-life characterizations. An exciting ride.

2) Contact (1997) Entertaining, thought-provoking, and inspiring. A terrific story with a cosmic perspective, from the novel by the late great astronomer and astronomy popularizer Carl Sagan. Passionate, intelligent performance by Jodie Foster. It's got heart, it's got soul, it's got brains. OK, it’s got some silly Hollywood science too, like radio astronomers ‘listening’ with headphones. But I love that it was partially filmed at the Very Large Array in my home state of New Mexico.

1) Local Hero (1983) A quirky but unforgettable little film by Scottish director Bill Forsyth, with pitch-perfect performances by Peter Riegert and the late great Burt Lancaster. Terrific supporting cast, bonny Scottish locales, evocative score by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, wry humor, and the magic of the aurora borealis. Astronomy wins in the end, and that alone is worth the price of admission.