December 16, 2009
The last decade has been a pretty good one for science in the movies (though there are exceptions, as we’ll see tomorrow). Here are 10 movies we enjoyed:
- A Beautiful Mind (2001): This is the nearly-true story of John Nash, the mathematician who won a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his work in game theory but later struggled with paranoid schizophrenia. The film won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004): Jim Carrey erases Kate Winslet from his brain. It may seem like crazy science fiction, but scientists know how to do it in mice, and this week New York University researchers claimed that they have figured out how to rewrite fear memories.
- Primer (2004): This $7,000 film about time travel was praised for its attempt to portray scientific discovery—even if it’s outlandish and impossible—in a realistic and down-to-earth manner.
- March of the Penguins (2005): We can forgive the anthropomorphization of Antarctic emperor penguins in this French documentary because not only was the movie beautiful and charming, but it also got thousands of people, especially children, interested in nature. The film won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Documentary.
- An Inconvenient Truth (2006): The documentary about Al Gore’s slideshow woke up the United States to the issue of climate change. (And before the skeptics start arguing with us: Gore got most of the science right.) The movie won an Academy Award, Gore got a Nobel Prize and it looks like the country might be on its way finally to tackling the problem.
- Flock of Dodos (2006): Marine biologist-turned-filmaker Randy Olson explores the evolution-intelligent design debate, smacking down the proponents of creationism and intelligent design and chiding scientists for losing the message war.
- Idiocracy (2006): Two modern-day people have their bodies put into stasis by the military—which forgets about the experiment—and wake up 500 years in the future to find the human race has devolved. It’s crass comedy but one of the best examples of human evolution to be portrayed in a movie.
- Encounters at the End of the World (2007): This was acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog’s answer to March of the Penguins. While there are penguins in the movie, there are also volcanologists and physicists, maintenance workers at science stations and stunning footage of the Antarctic underwater.
- WALL-E (2008): The sweet love story of the only robot left cleaning up the Earth after humans have fled takes on the themes of environmentalism, technology and even human evolution. The film won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.
- Star Trek (2009): There’s this one lovely moment at the beginning of the movie where there is silence in space, a rarity in science fiction films. So the movie makers got much of the rest of the science wrong. Who cares? We really like the reinvented Star Trek universe, especially the new Spock.
What was your favorite science-y movie of the 2000s? Tell us in the comments below.
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