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Top 10 Astronaut Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Craig Butler. These flicks give new meaning to the phrase "out of this world." Whether it’s the story of some aging astronauts sent into space to fix technology the young guns don’t understand, a man making the ultimate sacrifice to save the world, a man stuck living with a bunch of apes, or a group of space travellers trying desperately to get back home, there’s just something about movies that take place in space that intrigues us. In honor of the release of "Gravity" starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock on October 4th, 2013, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 astronaut movies.
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Top 10 Astronaut Movies


These flicks give new meaning to “out of this world.” Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 astronaut movies.

#10 – “Space Cowboys” (2000)

Space travel is a young man’s game – or it was until “Space Cowboys.” As the only ones with knowledge of the old-school technology, four retired astronauts are tapped to head into space, where they make life-or-death choices to survive. Going from retirees to action heroes, the stars prove that they may have more than a few years between them, but outer space heroics are ageless.

#9 – “Armageddon” (1998)

Michael Bay’s “Armageddon” was the biggest worldwide hit of 1998. And how could it miss? It has a gigantic asteroid threatening to extinguish life on Earth, razor-sharp direction and editing, and a cast that plays the melodrama for all its worth. With Bruce Willis in prime action-hero mode leading his astronaut crew to save the day, it’s a non-stop thrill ride.

#8 – “Contact” (1997)

1997’s “Contact” engages your brain while plugging into your sense of wonder and awe. Jodie Foster shines as the scientist-turned-interplanetary traveler who initiates contact with another world. While it has plenty of tension and excitement, what one remembers most about “Contact” is its sense of endless possibility. Its subtle, haunting beauty stays with you long after the final frame.

#7 – “Sunshine” (2007)

The sun’s light is going out, and eight astronauts must revive it by planting a nuclear weapon at its core. Hey, nobody said it’d be easy. Director Danny Boyle creates a tense psychological journey that combines a sense of desperation with an undercurrent of melancholy. “Sunshine” loses steam in its last half hour, but its assets, including the sacrifices made by these heroic astronauts, make up for the lapse.

#6 – “Moon” (2009)

David Bowie sang of an astronaut in his song “Space Oddity;” his son, director Duncan Jones, examined one in the mysterious, disturbing and poignant “Moon.” Sam Rockwell plays a man on a lonely three-year mission on the Moon; his only company is a computer named GERTY, voiced by Kevin Spacey. What happens when he discovers he’s not actually alone? Adroitly directed, beautifully shot and featuring a stunning central performance, “Moon” is a one of a kind film.

#5 – “Planet of the Apes” (1968)

What can you say about a film that inspired sequels, reboots, comics and a TV show? “Planet of the Apes”’ astronauts from the future land on a world where apes rule and humans drool. Rod Serling’s screenplay touches on many social issues, but its messages never get in the way of action and adventure. The only thing more unforgettable than Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter’s adorable chimpanzees? Charlton Heston’s marvelously overwrought discovery that he hasn’t traveled so far from home after all.

#4 – “Marooned” (1969)

The plot to this Academy Award-winning astronaut flick eerily foreshadowed the drama that accompanied the Apollo 13 mission a year later; and it’s hindsight that makes the tense, quietly absorbing drama of the three astronauts trapped in space undeniably gripping. With a stellar cast that includes Gregory Peck, Richard Crenna, and Gene Hackman, “Marooned” outlines the danger, tough decisions and courage associated with the space program.

#3 – “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968)

Arguably the most influential sci-fi film ever, “2001” deserves its reputation as “the ultimate trip.” The story follows an astronaut as he overcomes the evil but strangely human computer HAL to experience the journey of a lifetime – or, perhaps, several lifetimes. Stanley Kubrick’s landmark film is a stunning combination of extraordinary visual effects, masterful direction, exquisite cinematography and an intriguing screenplay. Its meaning may be obscure, but its impact is undeniable.

#2 – “The Right Stuff” (1983)

Philip Kaufman’s Oscar-winning “The Right Stuff” explores the real life challenges of the Mercury astronauts, as well as the test pilots that paved the way for the later space missions. We watch as the astronauts go from being little more than manipulated window dressing to full-fledged heroes. “The Right Stuff” demonstrates the bravery, resourcefulness and dedication needed to make history.

#1 – “Apollo 13” (1995)

Houston may’ve had a problem, but Ron Howard and his top-drawer cast had no trouble bringing this real-life story of a troubled NASA mission to the big screen. Viewers stay on the edges of their seats, even though a history lesson tells us these three astronauts made it home in their crippled ship thanks to quick thinking by the teams on the ground and in space.

Do you agree with our list? Which astronaut movies have you over the moon? For more top 10s about your favorite flicks, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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