Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar had become one of the most sweeping space epics of the 2010s. The film depicted an uncertain future for Earth where the planet is dying and hope seems to be dwindling. Matthew McConaughey plays a farmer who was once an astronaut but now struggles to feed his family during a time of great famine and hard times. He is later tasked with saving humanity as a collective of scientists attempt a space mission to seek a new home to colonize and save the human race. As with many Nolan films, Interstellar was a grand spectacle of visiting trippy planets and venturing on a dangerous mission where anything could go wrong. Emotions run high as McConaughey and his crew question everything they’re doing when all seems to be lost. As with the best of space operas, the greater questioning of our own existence is called into question. While Nolan hasn’t exactly returned to this type of genre, the good news is that there’s plenty of other stellar space movies out there to consider. Here are 10 films similar to Interstellar.
2001: A Space Odyssey
Regarded as one of the greatest cinema masterpieces of science fiction, Stanley’s Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey depicts a future where mankind has taken to the stars. A crew of astronauts may not be ready for what they find out there in the galaxy of unknown wonders. Their missions are further complicated when their ship’s computer, HAL 9000, begins acting strangely and making decisions that could be fatal for everybody on board. Based on the short story by Arthur C. Clarke, A Space Odyssey is notable for featuring some of the most trippy visual effects of defying gravity and traveling through space, in addition to iconic choices in operatic orchestral music. The bookending scenes of the mysterious monolith and the baby in space have become etched into cinema history, offering up an ambiguous questioning of our evolution in the grand scheme of things. 2001 left such a mark on the movie world that it would eventually receive the sequel of 2010: The Year We Make Contact in 1984.
James Gray directs this somber yet intensely powerful combo of sci-fi adventure and psychological drama. Brad Pitt plays Roy McBride, an emotion-free major of the U.S. Space Command. His father (Tommy Lee Jones) had made a trip into deep space seeking life but never returned. When Earth starts experiencing shockwaves from somewhere in space, the military believes Roy’s dad may be the one causing such chaos. Roy then sets out on a mission to confront his father and save humanity while also questioning his own life where denying his emotions has made him ill-prepared for the lies he uncovers. Gray’s film depicts a believable future that is rusty, cold, and riddled with corruption amid the chilling contemplation of how alone we may be in our universe.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men), Gravity is a thrilling adventure of one astronaut trying to survive amid the dangers of space. Doctor Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is on her first space mission while making upgrades to the Hubble telescope. But when Russian forces accidentally shoot down a satellite, Stone finds herself flung through the darkness of space when encountering a storm of debris. With few resources and time running out, Stone needs to find a way back to Earth quickly before her oxygen runs out and the space stations crumble. Nominated for the Academy Award of Best Picture, the film is a fast-paced and nail-biting experience as Bullock struggles to survive in such a dangerous environment where one wrong move could send her floating to her death. The film additionally stars George Clooney.
Based on the best-selling hard sci-fi novel by Andy Weir, The Martian takes place in the not-too-distant future where mankind has begun to establish settlements on Mars. A team of astronauts on the planet find themselves caught up in a dust storm and need to evacuate their base to make a safe exit into space. All of them make it out except for Mark Watney (Matt Damon), left behind with the remaining resources of the mission quarters and food. With help not coming for some time, Mark finds various ways to keep himself alive and ward of boredom as scientists on Earth scramble to find a way to bring Mark back home. Directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner), this engrossing sci-fi story additionally features the talents of Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Based on the novel by Carl Sagan, Contact portrays a world where aliens have just started to make contact with Earth. Their alien contact, however, comes in the form of blueprints to build a machine, deciphered by the accomplished Doctor Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster). Getting that machine built, however, is another story as Ellie finds herself battling the strict orders of National Security Advisor Kitz (James Woods) and the outrage of religious fanatics. Ellie may end up being the one to first make contact with the aliens but she’s not prepared for who or what lies on the other line of that communication. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future), the film additionally stars Matthew McConaughey, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt, and Angela Bassett.
Director Ridley Scott returned to the world of his alien franchise with the mysterious prequel to the origins of the dangerous xenomorphs. Scientists discover that a far-off planet may hold the answers to the origins of life in the universe, relating to the strange vessel previously found in 1979’s Alien. The wealthy Weyland Corporation funds an expedition to find the truth behind these strange crafters of life known as the Engineers. But they may not be prepared for what they discover when encountering the grotesque nature of the aliens that infest the human body, eventually taking the form of the familiar alien monsters. Prometheus is loaded with the questioning of how life is formed in the universe while also boasting an ensemble cast that includes Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, and Charlize Theron.
Based on a true story as well as the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen, First Man follows the personal life of Neil Armstrong as he prepares for the first space flight to the moon. His preparations for such a mission are made all the more emotionally nerve-wracking when dealing with a death in the family and growing distant from his wife. The mission will not be an easy one as the dangers of such a flight become all too apparent when tests go wrong and modules explode. This thrilling and somber trip to the stars was directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, La La Land) and features the talents of Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll, Christopher Abbott, and Ciarán Hinds.
The future for humanity is looking bleak when the sun seems to be dying. The last hope for Earth to survive is for a team of scientists to venture towards the sun and reignite the star. But the mission doesn’t go smoothly and results in deadly accidents for the crew aboard. The scientists soon find themselves trying to make the tough call of deciding how precious their lives are to give up for the sake of the Earth to go on living. Directed by Danny Boyle (28 Days Later) and written by Alex Garland (Ex Machina), this thrilling space adventure features an ensemble cast that includes Cillian Murphy, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong, and Michelle Yeoh.
Based on the novel of the same name by Stanisław Lem, Solaris is a deeply contemplative picture about human nature when confined to be the dark depths of space. The film centers around the planet of Solaris where a space station orbits around the mysterious world. The station faces issues with the crew having emotional breakdowns while working in such a lonely and claustrophobic location. Traveling to the station is psychologist Kris Kelvin to assess the situation but he may not be ready for the mental experience that awaits him when he investigates further. Solaris became such a revered film that it would later be remade as a Hollywood film in 2002 starring George Clooney.
Space Battleship Yamato (2010)
Based on the classic animated saga by Leiji Matsumoto and Yoshinobu Nishizaki, Space Battleship Yamato takes place in a future where the Earth has decayed and humanity lives underground. The only hope for humanity is if a brave crew can make a journey across the galaxy to an alien planet that will give them a device that could save the Earth. They will venture to the stars in the Yamato, a battleship modernized for space combat. But the clock is ticking as the planet’s time is running out and evil alien armadas seek out to destroy the Yamato before the mission can be completed. The live-action film is based on the iconic animated series of the same name, aka Starblazers, which also crossed over with other such sci-fi adventures as Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999.