The Sins of the Fleshapoids (1965): What happens after the fantastic becomes normal? Society has become inured to the magic of such incredible developments as computers and cell phones. Why wouldn’t the same happen to telekinesis or aliens or, in the case of this underground classic, robot servants? From Mike Kuchar—along with George, one half of campy no-budget legends the Kuchar Brothers—comes his vision of one million years into the future (!!), in which humans lounge about in what look like tacky basements, eating Clark bars and relying entirely on mechanized butlers, who look suspiciously like humans coated in gray makeup.
THX-1138 (1971): A plot eventually develops in George Lucas’ atypically arty feature debut. There’s even a motorcycle chase! But the first half captures the drone of a future whose denizens have been narcotized by technology, drearily going about their days while doped up on pills. At least the populace in Brave New World got to have parties and crazy sex.
Last Night (1998): Back when evangelist Harold Camper predicted May 20 as doomsday, hungry journos dug up Don McKellar’s low-key drama, which calmly depicts a small group of Canadians—including director David Cronenberg, whose early, no-budget sci-fis Stereo and Crimes of the Future could also go on this list—trying to figure out how to spend the earth’s final day of existence.
Code 46 (2003): A filmmaker of quantity but not always quality, Michael Winterbottom (late of The Trip ) took a reliably experimental approach to a near-future in which people’s lives are ruled by biotechnology, focusing almost entirely on two star-crossed lovers (Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton). Alas, this is the kind of movie that closes with a montage set to Coldplay.
Monsters (2010): Deadly but nonbelligerent aliens have arrived on earth long before Gareth Edwards’ indie begins, meaning they play second fiddle to a boilerplate fumbling romance. It’s the subtlest film you’ve ever seen about tentacled beasties that have left half of Mexico quarantined.
Another Earth (2011): A parallel earth appears within our orbit, but you know what’s really fascinating? A rote grief saga. Sorry, potentially rich sci-fi premise.
2014 Films: The Year’s Most Likely