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Science fiction is almost always a solid bet when it comes to box office success, but this year's best film's in the genre consisted of both blockbuster hits and award caliber entries as well. Overall, it was a great year for sci-fi fans as we got both great entries in popular franchises as well as several wonderful, and bizarre, original concepts.
Following on the success of last year's The Martian it appears that a genre that has often been overlooked by the people who decide awards might finally be giving science fiction a serious look and giving it the credit it deserves. Here are the five best science fiction films of 2016.
5. The Lobster
The Lobster barely qualifies as science fiction, but the film pretty much defies all convention and a film where single people get transformed into animals would need to qualify as sci-fi, even that isn't what the movie is ultimately about. The Lobster isn't going to be a movie for everybody, but it's the sort of movie you should expose yourself to if only to discover if it is or not. Colin Farrell plays as far against type as he ever has in this film that lambasts both a culture that insists that people find relationships, as well as those who are happy to be alone. If this is the future, we're not sure we want to be in it, but it's definitely worth a look... and deeper analysis.
4. Star Trek Beyond
J.J. Abrams' reboot of the Star Trek franchise has always been good as summer popcorn flicks, but the change in director appears to have been the thing that the series needed to really get off the ground. Justin Lin's Star Trek Beyond is by far the best of the newest entries. The movie was able to perfectly balance the various characters and give them all something to do. It had a new villain with an understandable motivation, and somehow it made a climactic battle involving Beastie Boys music fun and exciting rather than corny. It made us excited to see the next chapter, and sad that Anton Yelchin won't be there for it.
3. Midnight Special
It's difficult to say a lot about Midnight Special. This is mostly because the movie is designed to focus on questions rather than answers. The plot follows a young boy with seemingly unexplainable gifts. His father, played by Michael Shannon, whisks him away from the religious cult they've been part of so that the boy can fulfill whatever his apparent purpose is. The film is a stellar example of the "show, don't tell" adage of writing, as the audience must put together the pieces of the story themselves, with what few pieces they are given. In the end, what's important is the strong cast that includes Adam Driver and Joel Edgerton as the movie gets you invested in them, wherever the story may go.
2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Star Wars has always been tough to classify as sci-fi. Although it takes place with advanced technology in outer space, it also deals with forces that are essentially magic wielded by priests. However, Rogue One didn't deal with any of those issues and instead it just gave a solid war movie in a galaxy far, far away. We weren't sure what to expect from the first spinoff film in the franchise, but some believe we got one of the best Star Wars movies ever, and most would agree it's a solid film at the very least. It was a welcome return to the franchise roots, and it has us excited for new ideas for movies within the Star Wars universe that are yet to come.
In nearly every movie where aliens come to Earth, it's bad news. However, Arrival deals with a situation where we don't know what aliens coming to here even means, it's on humanity to not only figure out what the aliens want, but to figure out how to even ask the question. It's one of the smartest science fiction stories we've seen in a long time with a clever twist which makes the whole movie worth watching again. It's clearly the best science fiction movie of the year.