Science fiction movies are among the most successful of all times and regularly break box office records upon release. And yet none have ever won the Academy Award for Best Director, despite them being made by some of the greatest directors ever.
Here are the 5 best…
5. Roland Emmerich
Few people will probably think of this guy as one of the world’s greatest directors but for sheer spectacle and science fiction thrills, Roland Emmerich knows his stuff. His movies may command big budgets but you know when you’re sitting in the cinema, it’s all going to be up there on the big screen.
And almost all of Emmerich’s movies, both good and bad, have been science fiction. His first hit was 1992′s Universal Soldier but it was Stargate in 1994 that was his big breakthrough, becoming so popular that four spin-off series were made from 1997 to 2011. And then came the mighty Independence Day in 1996 which shattered box office records and was the biggest movie of the year.
Following a misstep with Godzilla (still a big hit but not great), there came the blockbusters The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 which cemented Emmerich as the director of choice for ending the world.
Emmerich’s movies may not win awards or critical acclaim but they’re audience favourites and the director is returning to science fiction again soon with Singularity.
4. George Lucas
The director of Star Wars is only at number four? The creator of the most popular science fiction movie franchise of all time?
Well, yes. George Lucas has possibly done more for science fiction than any other filmmaker ever but few would consider him a great director, especially after the Star Wars prequels.
But Lucas deserves his place here for bringing science fiction movies to the masses and inspiring a generation.
3. Ridley Scott
In 1979, two years after Star Wars made science fiction the hottest ticket in town, Ridley Scott made us realise that in space no one can hear you scream.
Alien remains today the best science fiction horror movie ever and features probably the most recognisable big screen creature of all time. And then Ridley followed this up three years later with the iconic Blade Runner with Harrison Ford – one of the most intelligent science fiction movies ever shown in cinemas.
Is the legendary director about to do it all again with this year’s Prometheus?
2. Steven Spielberg
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, ET the Extra Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report, War of the Worlds.
Steven Spielberg’s pedigree as a science fiction director can’t be argued. ET was once the biggest movie ever and was then beaten by Jurassic Park which wowed audiences with its visual effects.
It may have been Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan that won Spielberg Academy Awards for Best Director but it’s movies like these which have blazed trails across the box office.
As a producer, too, Spielberg is a major force in science fiction movies with Back to the Future, Deep Impact, Men in Black, Transformers and others. On TV, his producer credits include Taken, Falling Skies and Terra Nova.
And the director is returning to science fiction next year with Robopocalypse.
1. James Cameron
When Arnold Schwarzenegger said the immortal line “I’ll be back!” in 1984′s The Terminator, it applied just as much to director James Cameron as it did to the actor.
The Terminator was Cameron’s first big screen science fiction movie and remains one of the iconic ever. And then the director followed it up two years later with something impossible – a sequel to Alien that was just as good as the original.
1989′s The Abyss may not have been a box office smash but it remains an incredible SF movie and then there was Terminator 2: Judgment Day. It improved on the original in almost every way and had the best special effects ever seen at the time.
Cameron became king of the world with Titanic but then managed to go even further with Avatar, not only revolutionising 3D movie making but breaking box office records with almost $2.8 billion around the world.
And with two more Avatar movies still to come, James Cameron will probably be the king of SF for a long time.