The Five Most Underrated Sci-Fi Masterpieces (Act II)

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UPDATE (Jan. 10): The final list has just been announced! Go here to see which films made the cut.

Oh the agony.

Our quest to isolate, consolidate and appreciate the 5 most underrated sci-fi masterpieces has taken more than a few twists and turns. What is true sci-fi? What counts as underrated? What qualifies as a masterpiece. Talk about a bewildering debate. (See the complete debate here)

And then there’s this complicating factor: The film that would be near the top of my list as the most underrated accomplishment just took the top slot in my “top sci-fi films of the decade” list. So there’s no way I’m going to take one of my five measly slots to reiterate something from my decade list.

The plot thickens, my friends. It’s like I’m watching Primer all over again.

Reviewing all available materials and conferring with my sci-fi spiritual guides, I’ve somehow managed to compile a final list of 20 nominees. Twenty epics that never were; twenty visionary filmmakers who never received the satisfaction of knowing that audiences cherished their work. Review this list of 20, and chime in with your thoughts: Which of these are best? What titles have I overlooked? What picks would infuriate you? Your comments will indeed be factored into my final decision.

Think of this as the Oscar nominations, if the Oscars didn’t suck. We are now entering the interim period, before the awards are announced, and you must cast your vote.

So we’ll leave this post up through the holidays and three weeks from today, January 6, we will announce the final verdict. Techland’s Five Underrated Sci-Fi Masterpieces – a far more challenging process than I ever imagined.

Nominees (listed alphabetically):

Altered States


Andromeda Strain

Dark Star

Dark City

The Day the Earth Caught Fire


The Fountain


The Hidden

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy



Silent Running


Solaris (1972)

Solaris (2002)



Time Bandits


I know, I know, this is a hard one, but let’s work together in a bid for consensus! Let’s prove we’re better than our elected representatives.