Space movie 1992 – SpaceNews asked readers to weigh in on the must-see realistic space movies for anyone serious about space in honor of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Grab some popcorn and get ready for the countdown.
Space movie 1992
When a dozen of the most mysterious monoliths since 2001: A Space Odyssey land around the world, the military recruits linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to contact the seven-limbed “heptapods” and figure out what they want. Arrival has been described as a “language lesson masquerading as a blockbuster” and a “movie about aliens for people who don’t like movies about aliens.” It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and has a 94 percent fresh rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.
10. October Sky
Sputnik was either a harbinger of Soviet doom or a pointless science experiment, depending on who you asked in a small West Virginia coal-mining town. The first artificial satellite gave Homer Hickam Jr. and his friends hope that they could do more with their lives than hold shovels. Hickam and his band of misfit friends inspired a dying town to look upward to space instead of down at their dwindling coal reserves by scavenging railroads for rocket parts, launching DIY rockets on sometimes terrifying trajectories, and striking up a pen-pal relationship with legendary rocket scientist Wernher von Braun.
October Sky, based on the true story of how Hickam got a job at NASA, is regarded as much for its depiction of Homer’s rise to fame in space as it is for the difficult but far from the monolithic relationship he has with his intractable coal-miner father. October Sky, which was nominated for the American Film Institute’s top 100 list of the most inspiring American films released prior to 2005, is still a favorite among space enthusiasts.
The Kessler Syndrome is given the Hollywood treatment in this low-Earth-orbit thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as Hubble repair astronauts stranded in space after a Russian anti-satellite missile test triggers a thrilling but unrealistically quick sequence of orbital debris strikes that cripple the duo’s space shuttle and turn LEO into a 20-car pileup.
Despite its occasionally shaky physics and technical gaffes, Gravity manages to nail enough details to become a SpaceNews reader favorite. It was also well-received by critics, which explains why this visually stunning drama about isolation, fear, and survival won seven Academy Awards, the most of any film that year.
Astronomers have been searching the skies for radio signals from alien civilizations for decades. What happens if they come across something? Contact stars Jodie Foster as Ellie Arroway, a radio astronomer who has been compelled to look for signals from alien worlds since childhood, despite warnings from others that she is squandering a promising scientific career.
When her search for an extraterrestrial signal yields results, she finds herself embroiled in decidedly terrestrial debates about deciphering the message and using it to contact whoever or whatever sent it from the star Vega. Arroway is based on real-life SETI astronomer Jill Tarter, and the film is based on a novel by Carl Sagan.
7. Hidden Figures
This retelling of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson’s work at NASA highlights their crucial contribution as mathematicians in getting John Glenn to space and back in one piece, as the title suggests. While overcoming segregation and sexism in the early 1960s, these three African American women and many of their colleagues calculated trajectories and other critical numbers for the Mercury program. The mathematicians gained belated notoriety through the Oscar-nominated film, despite not being as well-known as the astronauts they assisted in reaching orbit.
NASA, whose headquarters are now located on Hidden Figures Way and whose software validation facility in West Virginia is named after Katherine Johnson, is one of its biggest supporters.
6. First Man
In this 2018 biographical drama based on James R. Hansen’s book “First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong,” Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong. Armstrong is followed from a 1961 test flight of the X-15 spaceplane to the end of the Apollo 11 mission in this film, which won an Academy Award for best visual effects.
First Man depicts Armstrong’s grief after the deaths of his two-year-old daughter Karen and close friends Elliot See and Ed White while focusing on his spaceflight career. First Man also looks at the impact of the early space program’s inherent danger on astronauts, their wives, and their families.
Matthew McConaughey plays an astronaut turned farmer recruited to find a new home planet for a dwindling population struggling to survive global crop failures and bizarre dust storms in Christopher Nolan’s (Inception, The Dark Knight) mind-bending dystopian thriller. In this not-too-distant future, where humanity has beaten its spaceships into plowshares, NASA has gone underground, and children are taught the Apollo moon landings were faked, nothing is quite as it seems. This sci-fi epic won an Oscar for its stunning visual effects, which were praised by the notoriously nitpicky Neil de Grasse Tyson for depicting wormhole travel, black holes, and relativity in a scientifically sound manner.
4. The Right Stuff
The exploits of Chuck Yeager and other test pilots flying rocket-powered planes over the California desert in relative obscurity are contrasted with the national celebrity of the Project Mercury astronauts in this 1983 historical drama based on Tom Wolfe’s book of the same name. The Right Stuff depicts the Mercury Seven’s arduous medical and physical tests in order to qualify for spaceflight, as well as the dangers they faced in the early space program.
Some Mercury Seven astronauts criticized the film for historical inaccuracy, but film critics praised it because they couldn’t figure out why it didn’t do well at the box office. The Right Stuff received eight Academy Award nominations, including best picture. It was nominated for four Academy Awards, including sound, original score, sound-effects editing, and film editing.
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey is an epic if enigmatic, saga that took director Stanley Kubrick years to complete. A Space Odyssey follows humanity from its beginnings in Africa to the birth of a “Starchild” at the end. It’s best known for its time in the near future when it featured rotating space stations visited by Pan Am space shuttles, a moon base, and a Jupiter mission — as well as a mysterious black monolith and a murderous computer.
(Kubrick wanted the monolith to be clear, but the resulting Plexiglass design had a greenish tint, according to Michael Benson’s recent book Space Odyssey.) Kubrick chose black for the monolith after a designer suggested it.) Despite the fact that some aspects of the film have become dated, such as the Pan Am shuttles, it remains a cinematic masterpiece more than a half-century after its release.
2. The Martian
It would be a bad day on Earth, let alone Mars, to wake up separated from everyone you know and forced to plant potatoes in your own feces to survive. In The Martian, NASA astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is forced to leave his team of scientists behind on the Red Planet due to a massive dust storm.
Watney decides to “science the sh*t” out of his situation, literally and figuratively, to survive in an abandoned outpost until rescue, based on Andy Weir’s bestselling book of the same name. The Martian was nominated for seven Academy Awards and was named one of the top ten films of 2015 by the American Film Institute for its gripping storytelling and commitment to getting its scientific details (mostly) right.
1. Apollo 13
“We have a problem, Houston.” That wasn’t exactly what Jim Lovell said after an explosion rocked his Apollo 13 spacecraft en route to the moon in 1970 (“Houston, we’ve had a problem,” he actually said), but that version, as uttered by Lovell (Tom Hanks) in the film, became an instant hit that has stuck with the public to this day. (Similarly, the phrase “Failure is not an option” was coined for the film and is still popular today, though flight director Gene Kranz liked it so much that he used it as the title of his autobiography several years later.)
With the help and ingenuity of the Mission Control team led by Kranz, Lovell, Fred Haise (Bill Paxton), and Jack Swigert (Kevin Bacon) fight to return their crippled spacecraft to Earth (Ed Harris, who also played John Glenn in The Right Stuff.) The gripping drama demonstrated that, while Apollo 11 may have achieved its goal of landing humans on the moon, the Apollo 13 rescue may have been NASA’s finest hour, as Kranz says in the film.
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