Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity heralds the return of the glorious space porn movie. The swoon-worthy visuals make you feel as though you're actually in space, on a unique adventure. But there's a proud tradition of breathtaking space movies. Here are the 10 most lovely space films, before Gravity.
Note: these are in no particular order.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Arguably one of the most gorgeous films ever created, Stanley Kubrick's game-changing, ahead-of-their-time visuals generated a real sense of wonder and awe. There is nothing like this film, it basically reaches out, grasps the audiences face and screams, "Behold the beauty of the beyond! We may be insignificant specks in the grand design of this world, but we're still able to touch the beauty of our galaxy.
2. Europa Report
The attention to detail and exceptional amount of research that went into the space thriller Europa Report is visible right there on the screen. As the small, privately-funded space crew makes its way to Jupiter's Moon, the importance of knowledge and discovery is highlighted at every turn. Perhaps the most satisfying moment is when the lander descends onto Europa, showing the cracked face of a new world.
3. The Black Hole
Created with the use of insanely intricate miniatures slowly moving across a painted sky, Black Hole was an exceptional bit of FX work for Disney at the time. Not being able to afford ILM, they made everything from scratch, taking the unprecedented step of enlisting the aid of computers. The Black Hole itself is still a gorgeous bit of swirling space porn, and nothing will top the majesty of the USS Cygnus.
4. WALL- E
The playful side of space! The little trash compactor with a heart of gold does what many of these films couldn't: give the audience a first row seat on the side of a spaceship as it broke free of a browned, wrecked Earth and into the enchanting blue skies of space.
Danny Boyle took advantage of Sunshine's proximity to the sun and bathed his starry world in light. Take away the astounding score and acting, and you still have gorgeous space porn that can stand on its own.
6. Star Wars (All of Them)
Look, we're just going to put all of the Star Wars movies here. Even the prequels. From start to finish the one thing all these movies have in common was a love affair with space. And even though Lucas had the smarts to create a lived-in universe he still made the skies glimmer. Each asteroid, space ship — heck even the faster-than-light travel took advantage of the majesty of space.
7. Apollo 13
Ron Howard's gorgeous tribute to NASA and the crew of Apollo 13 also helped instill a healthy fear of the insane dangers of space travel. The gorgeous shots of our Moon and home planet quickly made way for the fear of the unknown in the big black. The 1970s spaceship became a cold tomb for the men aboard Apollo 13, with stunning window dressing. And eventually, the final destination became an ominous headstone as the ship shivered in its shadow.
A scientifically inaccurate thriller that puts the entire fate of the world in the hands of oil drillers? Yes. However what Michael Bay manages to do with this film is create a feeling of genuine "hell yeah!" You know it's ridiculous, but you'd totally sign up for the suicide mission blowing up an asteroid in space because Holy Hell, it's gorgeous in that sky. Pair the epic shots of the oncoming asteroid with rotating cameras, trumpet calls, sepia tones and lots and lots of one liners and let's GO TO SPACE, MOTHERFUCKER!
9. Mission to Mars
What a beautiful (albeit totally convoluted) movie. The Brian De Palma-directed journey to the Red Planet is heavy on the breathtaking shots of space. But before it becomes an alien kumbaya-fest, the viewer gets to experience plenty of gorgeous space gut punches in the introduction. Really gorgeous.
10. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
And finally, our space helmets are tipped to the very lovely Star Trek TMP — you may not be our favorite Star Trek film, but you are certainly the most visually striking.