The Best Science-Fiction Movies of 2019 (So Far) – Thrillist

Science fiction is a genre dedicated to taking risks and breaking new ground, and with filmmaking technology more advanced than it’s been in the history of moviemaking, sci-fi films are getting bigger and more impressive every year. Now, that doesn’t always mean the films are good, but crazier tech does mean that directors and production designers can pretty much get as buck-wild as they want. We saw some truly mind-blowing stuff in 2018, from Annihilation to The Endless to Tom Hardy’s Venom, and it’ll take some doing for 2019 to reach those heights. The good news is it’s only March, and we’re already off to an insanely great start.

Check out the best movies of 2019 and the best sci-fi films of 2018.

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Carol Danvers has arrived. | Marvel Studios

Release date: March 8
Directors: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck
Cast: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Annette Bening, Reggie the cat
Why it’s great: Dunno if you’ve heard, but Captain Marvel is the very first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie led by a female superhero. Finally! Sandwiched in between two universe-altering Avengers movies (we’re sweating just thinking about Endgame), Captain Marvel has the unenviable task of introducing a key player a little more than a month away from the conclusion of the series’ biggest and most traumatic arc, and making us fall in love with her. And boy, does it succeed. Brie Larson is a sharp, aspirational female protagonist who’s as compassionate for others as she is ready to punch them with her laser fists if they stand in her way. Thanos had better watch out.
Where to watch it: In theaters

happy death day 2u
The correct way to discuss parallel universe theory. | Universal

Release date: February 13
Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Jessica Rothe, Suraj Sharma, Israel Broussard
Why it’s great: The danger with explain-y sequels to movies that wrapped up quite nicely without too much explanation is that the sequel, just by existing in the first place, will sour all the meaningful messages you got in the first movie by trying too hard to expand the universe. The great thing about Happy Death Day 2U, the sequel to 2017’s surprisingly good Groundhog Day-inspired Happy Death Day, is that it offers just enough new explanation for what’s going on without erasing all the good stuff from the first movie. Time travel becomes parallel universes, and yet the central message — our hero must learn to accept the life she’s living instead of searching for a better one — still contains the soul of the original.
Where to watch it: In theaters

alita battle angel
TFW you wake up with new fingers. | 20th Century Fox

Release date: February 14
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali
Why it’s great: We’ve seen a lot of really, really bad live-action anime adaptations in the past few years, so to watch one that embraces the full scope of its source material while getting as weird and fun as it wants to be is such a joy. Alita: Battle Angel was originally a James Cameron joint more than 10 years ago before he got distracted by Avatar, but the sheer scope of the movie’s stunning visuals prove that it was worth the wait. The phrase “hunter warrior” is said a ton of times. There are robot dogs. It’s perfect.
Where to watch it: In theaters

escape room
It gets way more diabolical than this. | Original Film

Release date: January 4
Director: Adam Robitel
Cast: Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil), Jogan Miller, Jay Ellis
Why it’s great: Escape Room was the first pleasant surprise of the year, a fun, tight thriller based on the party game craze that’s sweeping the nation. But this time, instead of a fun knight or hacker or pirate theme, the stakes are real: If you die in the escape room, you die in real life. There is a broader and more intricate plot going on here, but, truthfully, it’s the rooms themselves that really stand out, from a snowy cabin on an ice river of death to an upside-down billiards bar.
Where to watch it: Rent on Amazon, YouTube, etc.

glass movie
Our heroes trying to figure out the Shyamalan twists. | Universal

Release date: January 18
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Bruce Willis, James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Paulson
Why it’s great: Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Shyamalan’s latest is quite possibly his most ambitious film since his own lowkey superhero origin story Unbreakable. Bringing Bruce Willis’ David Dunn for a much-teased showdown with James McAvoy’s The Beast from secret Unbreakable sequel Split was a crazy idea on paper, and it’s even crazier to watch unfold onscreen. The main thing to know about this movie (and about Shyamalan’s opinion of superhero movies in general): It’s never the sound and color and fight scenes and laser light shows that matter; it’s what superheroes mean to a world who so desperately needs them.
Where to watch it: In theaters

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Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.

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