The Best and Worst Science Movies

By Staff

In a perfect world, film buffs and science geeks would live together in sublime harmony. Thanks to the November issue of Discover(article not available online), it seems we’re making significant progress on that front as physics professor Sidney Perkowitz pins down the best and worst science-themed films of all time. Both popular (Contact, 1997, and A Beautiful Mind, 2001) and artsy-sounding (Metropolis, 1927) titles crack the top five. Perkowitz’s favorites, which he dubs “Golden Eagles,” are lauded for thoughtful, scientifically accurate storylines–though he does concede, in his discussion of Contact, that “not many actual scientists would bet their careers on the slim chance of finding advanced aliens.”

In the “Golden Turkey” department, I’m happy to see The Core (2003) take its rightful place as the most odious. This film, which I found too unbearable to finish on an international flight some years ago, sends a group of scientists drilling a dangerous path to the earth’s core; Perkowitz notes that it “manages to impart record-setting amounts of scientific misinformation about basic physics (like elementary magnetism, electricity, and heat) in a mere 134 minutes.” He’s also not a fan of The 6th Day (2000), a Schwarzenegger action vehicle with a plot “so far off-base that you just can’t suspend enough disbelief.” —Danielle Maestretti

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