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Top 12 Movies in History That Were Ahead of Their Time

by
February 14, 2007

In honor of the upcoming movie 300, which is poised to show you another example of a movie vastly ahead of its time, FS.net has put together a list of the top 12 movies in history that were ahead of their time. It's no mistake that most of these are big budget action and/or science fiction films, and that's because those are the kind that take a step above and beyond with visual effects and more. But of course there are some classics that also have to be mentioned as groundbreakers in their respective genres.

These movies are judged as being ahead of their time primarily because of their technical and visual effects achievements. Most of these became the staple for referencing great visual effects after they came out. It's not necessarily that their subject matter or content was not accepted until years later (like Napoleon Dynamite).

I'm sure there were a couple I missed (it was tough not putting Blade Runner) that can still be recognized. I invite any readers who would like to voice their opinion to do so in the comments below, but I'll stand firmly by these 12 as the greatest examples of movies ahead of their time when they were released.

There are LOTS of great additions and suggestions for other movies that were ahead of their time in the comments. I know I forgot some, but read the comments below for all of the great suggestions - like Blade Runner and The Wizard of Oz!

Psycho (1960)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Psycho

This film set the standard for every horror thriller to come after 1960. It defined the genre and has since become an unforgettable horror classic. It shocked people with its chocolate blood and still scares the living daylights out of many today.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick
2001: A Space Odyssey

You can't forget that 2001 was even before Star Wars. After Metropolis it was one of the biggest science fiction films up until Star Wars. I still wonder even now how the heck they achieved weightlessness and those incredible set pieces all back in the late 60's.

Jaws (1975)

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Jaws

A giant mechanical shark and one of the first films to really become a blockbuster in Hollywood history. Although when you think about this nowadays, it's not that amazing, but back in 1975, you'd be so scared that you wouldn't even go swimming. That's the power of a good movie that's so ahead of its time it becomes real to everyone who watches it.

Star Wars (1977)

Directed by George Lucas
Star Wars

No one ever imagined anything like that was capable back in 1977. I'm sure everyone has seen the many making of featurettes showing their use of miniatures and other incredible gimmicks. I mean, this was 1977, and the technical achievements they pulled off are even amazing today. It's frickin' Star Wars!

Tron (1982)

Directed by Steven Lisberger
Tron

It's been constantly referred to as the first CGI film that set the standards for all future CGI to come. For 1982 what they were able to do and the funky 80's graphical backgrounds were an incredible visual achievement. If you're a geek by any means this movie is a staple in your collection guaranteed.

WarGames (1983)

Directed by John Badham
WarGames

The first "hacker" movie of sorts that even played with a global thermonuclear war back in the early 80's. A geek classic even today that fits into the "ahead of its time" category via unconventional methods, as there really are no major visual effects.

Terminator 2 (1991)

Directed by James Cameron
Terminator 2

Timeless visual effects that stand up to even today's visual effects and CGI. For being able to not only make a completely smooth shape-shifting metallic robot (that kicks some serious ass) as well as having everyone believe Arnold really was the Terminator, they did a hell of job of setting the visual effects standards for many years to come.

Jurassic Park (1993)

Directed by Steven Spielberg
Jurassic Park

Who would've thought you could've created dinosaurs that looked that lifelike back in 1993. Even using the animatronics system that they did, this was a far step ahead of anything at the time. Then the stories surrounding how horrifically real the dinosaurs were fueled its popularity even more. And the best part is that they look better in this movie than any more recent CGI creations.

The Fifth Element (1997)

Directed by Luc Besson
The Fifth Element

Sure many may argue against this (calling it cheap) but I'll stand by my belief that it's very futuristic visual effects were seamless and much more advanced than anything otherwise seen in any other movie in 1997 (except Starship Troopers). Nothing has ever topped that taxi cab chase sequence throughout the future city - it looked flawless then and looks flawless now.

Starship Troopers (1997)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven
Starship Troopers

Like Terminator 2, the "bugs" in this movie are even better looking than plenty of current day films. Ten years later and the visual effects in Starship Troopers are still some of the best around in comparison. 1997 was a great year for a very few films that had outstanding visual effects that have rivaled every film thereafter.

Office Space (1999)

Directed by Mike Judge
Office Space

A tough one to argue, it's the fact that this bombed completely and didn't hit mainstream to far after its theatrical release that makes this way ahead of its time. It shows that the acceptance of a film can come after its planned theatrical release and earn a place in movie history by being comically ahead of its time when it first came out.

The Matrix (1999)

Directed by The Wachowski Brothers
The Matrix

Groundbreaking and revolutionary. I don't think I need to mention how much this film changed the cinematic world after its release - as everyone knows that story by heart. I'm sure this one will still be referred to as visually better than most films even years down the road, too.

The Baker's Dozen Special Unforgettable Addition:

Metropolis (1927)

Directed by Fritz Lang
Metropolis

This film has become the reference for nearly every science fiction film ever made. Despite being silent and set to music, you can pick up and watch this movie at any time and still be amazed by it. Metropolis was many, many years ahead of its time, and coincidentally is set many, many years ahead of its time.

Outlook on the Future

What films will be referred to as ahead of their time years down the road? An outlook on some of the few that I believe we'll all be talking about in 2010+ that were ahead of their time when they came out fairly recently.

Monsters, Inc. (2001), Sin City (2005), A Scanner Darkly (2006), The Fountain (2006), Children of Men (2006), 300 (2007)

300

(Yes, I've seen 300 and I'm already putting it here. Be ready to be blown away on March 9th.)

Leave a comment below with any more suggestions or ideas you have on movies that should be recognized as ahead of their time (past or present).

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  • Michael Mayo
    I've seen it too. Amazing film. Bit grainy though. All the hi-def people are going to be wondering what the hell's wrong with their players when it comes out on HD and Blu-Ray...
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    You're talking about 300 right? Yea, it was a bit grainy, but that adds more to the overall feel and setting of the Greek era!
  • Alain J. Loubeau
    C'mon dude! Blade Runner! Alien! The Wild Bunch! Citizen Kane! Goodfellas! All undeniable classics, all trailblazers that still loom large today. Consider those four movies alone as The Beatles -- The Rolling Stones -- Black Sabbath -- Led Zeppelin -- Jimi Hendrix Experience. Those five bands cast huge shadows in which no band today can ever escape from. It's the same thing with the movies I listed. Starship Troopers(which I liked)? Office Space(pretty funny)? The Fifth Element? WarGames? Give me a friggin' break! If you wanted to be a little adventurous you should've included Blue Velvet and Scarface in which Quentin Tarantino has repeatedly stolen from ad nauseum. You need your cinema art spoonfed to you. Although I am glad you mentioned Tron, it is indeed a milestone.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Alain, it was much less about art films and which of those paved the way and more about visual effects and technical achievement.
  • Not Happening
    First off - there's 13 listed. Tron, Wargames, and Office Space beat out Blade Runner (among others)? Heck, if you're going to list those, why not list the movie that created the hated PG13 label: Clash of the Titans. It showed a boob OMFG!!!! It just couldn't be PG!!!! Alain, try Caligula, the first movie rated X for violence.
  • sartre
    What about the Lord of the Rings trilogy with the striking Gollum special effects? Not to mention the wonderful use of camera movement in relation to set models and other eye-catching features.
  • Pat
    Dare I say Road Warrior? George Miller made it over 20 years ago, and still stands as the benchmark for action sequences.
  • Stan
    Seven. Blade Runner. The Thing.
  • Enlightenment
    I agree that everything on the list are good. Very tough to narrow down to such a small number. - Blazing Saddles. Not top 10 but a unique excellent parody of the Western film genre and satire about racism. - Blade Runner. Amazing such an artistic dark film was created in 1982. A major inspiration for sci fi films afterward. - Citizen Kane. Ground breaking for 1941 in use of camera angles, deep focus, lighting, shadows. I love Office Space, but really don't think it should be on the top 10.
  • http://www.efinke.com/ Christopher Finke
    Jaws wasn't just one of the first blockbusters, it *was* the first blockbuster. The word "blockbuster" came from the fact that people lined up around the block to see Jaws.
  • http://thesomewhatmanlynerd.wordpress.com CajoleJuice
    "Alain, it was much less about art films and which of those paved the way and more about visual effects and technical achievement." Then why is Office Space included? I love the movie and all, but come on. Just because it became a cult classic years after it's release doesn't mean it belongs on this list. It's just way too out of place here.
  • Mark Rawson
    You didn't mention Bladerunner or Alien because...
  • http://www.firstshowing.net FS Dave
    I have to say that Citizen Kane belongs at the top of this list. The reason that it's considered to be the greatest movie of all time by many people really has absolutely nothing to do with the story of the film, but the technical achievements. Everything that Orson Welles did in that film (which Enlightenment already discussed briefly) established methods in how to shoot a movie that are still in use today. I do believe that you are taking this glorious gem home with you after we record the show this weekend. You WILL revise your list after seeing it.
  • James
    Great list. Must disagree with T2. This was no way ahead of its time. It was more like Hollywood saying, "this is what we can do now". All the pieces were already in place then, it's just that T2 was the fist to piece them all together to make big bang for you buck stuff. PS T1 is actually a better film.
  • jj
    How can you include The Fifth Element but not Bladerunner?
  • Phil
    Office Space is a funny movie that was poorly marketed. Hardly revolutionary, ahead of its time, or even uncommon. Yes, Jaws (one of my top 5 movies) sold a lot of tickets and paved the way (for the worse) on how movies were advertised. It wasn't the first blockbuster - Gone With The Wind in 1939 sold more tickets than Titanic did in 1997.
  • Nino_fs
    I like the list. I would make a few changes based on visuals. I don't think Office Space should be in there not based on visuals. And I might take out Starship Troopers. The Bugs did look very good until they were dead in the daylight, then it became obvious they were plastic. I just feel it didn't really take a step ahead of Jurassic Park. Also some people might want to notice that the films are chronological not ranked 1-12. I am very happy to see that Lord of the Rings was not included as it often is in almost every list created. The effects in those movies are good but they are not groundbreaking. The CG is realatively basic, well done but basic. There are 3 hard things to do in CG Water, Fire, Hair and if you watch Lord of the Rings there is very little of any of those. MY Vote for Great CG goes to Chronicles of Narnia for the fur on the animals which was creepy realistic. And on the list I think the No 1 ground breaking film was Terminator 2. If I watch that movie today I still sit and think how did they do that?
  • Dustin
    In the same mold as Office Space, I believe The Cable Guy was ahead of its time. It got mediocre reviews when it came out, but a second viewing nowadays reveals a very funny movie that paved the way for many subsequent comedic hits.
  • http://www.atomicdeathray.com David Bryant
    Oh, for Pete's sake. Blade Runner not only set the visual style for the future we're currently living in, it solved many of the most difficult problems in special effects. Can you think of any movie made since 1982 with cheap-looking rain footage superimposed over nighttime shots? No? That's because one of the special effects artists on Blade Runner noticed during a break in filming that at night rain is only visible under light sources, and everywhere else looks like fog. They matted in some raindrops to scale under the streetlights and shot the miniatures in a fog room. Viola! Realistic rain. Remember how every spacecraft in the films of the 1970s had round lights and portholes? That's because they used fiber optics to light the models. On Blade Runner they cast entire buildings in clear acrylic, coated them in paint, illuminated them from below and scraped off tiny sections with snapped-off X-Acto blades. Rectangular windows. Miniature realistic-looking blimps? They used latex in a frame and filled it with plaster of paris so it bulged convincingly. Blade Runner was one of the most groundbreaking films of all time. The fact that the 1982 Oscar for best special effects went to ET is a sad commentary on how sentimental and out-of-touch the Academy was at that time. (ET had little or no new special effects work, just incremental advances over existing techniques. Besides, the climax of the film had an unbelievably sloppy process shot. Yes, I'm bitter.) By the way, The Matrix wouldn't have even been made if it weren't for Blade Runner and the man who wrote the novel it's based on, Philip K. Dick.
  • KING
    Whole heartily agree about Office Space, and I did see it in the theater
  • Scott Slagsvol
    I dont think you can call office space ahead of its time for what you claim it to be. Mike judge films are pretty notorious for being highly under-budgeted and under-marketed. The reason office space flopped in theaters was because of lack of funding and advertising. However, i do believe it was ahead of its time, content wise. Now seeing shows like 30 rock, and the office, you can see office humor is a big thing now, but not in 1999.
  • Masterofoneinchpunch
    I think the main problem with the article is that it is titled "Top 12 Movies in History That Were Ahead of Their Time" yet you later state "These movies are judged as being ahead of their time primarily because of their technical and visual effects achievements." This information would have better been stated in the title and then you go against this (though you admitted such) with such picks as Office Space and Jaws. If you were to go by the definition of your title you should have spent more effort in mentioning movies that have had cultural, political and philosophical impact (the lack of non-American films other than Metropolis is a fault too). But if we were to argue about these traits then my following reply would be much larger so I will argue on technical merit. Citizen Kane should be there (enough responses have argued why). I am flabbergasted on the omission of King Kong. Here is a film that was so influential on special effects and pacing that its significance is still felt today (this is a critical fav of Ray Harryhausen and Dennis Muren of Star Wars and Jurassic Park fame who was also a fan of Harryhausen). Battle of Algiers should be though of because of its use of mock documentary footage that has been a fav or Oliver Stone (if this article was on the merits of political impact than this definitely would rank a top twelve). The politically incorrect Birth of a Nation should receive merit for its technical accomplishments (though it should still be chided for its ignorance). Of course it is easier to not mention it at all but that would be wrong in a list of technically important films. More could be said but I think this is a start.
  • richard
    Citizen Kane most notably missing.
  • Mister Hand
    Regardless of TRON's technical achievements, the movie mostly sucked, and the fact that it resides on this list and BLADE RUNNER does not leads me to believe that you must be insane. As far as "not being accepted in its time," and dazzling with visual and technical achievement--if these are your main criteria (as they appear to be, judging by comments accompanying your choices), then BLADE RUNNER fits the bill better than anything else listed. Without BLADE RUNNER, there would be no FIFTH ELEMENT, that's for damn sure.
  • John
    May I mention that BladeRunner is supposed to be on this list? It was ahead of its time.
  • IratePosterNumber1
    I don't get this list at all. Maybe you should re-read your premise ... "Movies that were ahead of their time technically and visually". You include "Office Space" because it bombed at the box office and subsequently became a cult hit. Where are the technical and visual achievements? Guess what -- so "Blade Runner" was also a box office failure that became a huge cult hit, and it had infinitely more going for it than "Office Space" does in the "ahead of their time" department. Also, there's the cluster of 4 movies whose only reason for being on the list is CG ... "T2", "Jurassic Park", "Starship Troopers", and "5th Element". The last two don't belong there. Good looking CG? Sure, but so what? Why not include "The Lord Of The Rings"? The large CG battle sequences and Gollum alone (and the technologies behind them) have done more to advance CG in movies than either "Starship" or "5th Element". Good looking? Sure, but hardly "Ahead of their time". They were OF their time -- the fledgling use of CG as a main component of moviemaking. I won't even comment on "Wargames".... How can you say this: "These movies are judged as being ahead of their time primarily because of their technical and visual effects achievements." and then say this: "A geek classic even today that fits into the "ahead of its time" category via unconventional methods, as there really are no major visual effects."? Another poster mentioned "Citizen Kane". I know the concept of "Citizen Kane" as one of the greatest movies ever is beaten into the ground but it really is an amazing film given the the fact that it was made in 1941, but it truly was ahead of its time technically and visually ... moreso than any other movie in your list. Having said all of that, the thing about lists like this is that they are extremely subjective and can have a lot to do with personal tastes as well as the quantity of films a person has been exposed to. You need to watch more movies.
  • Ivan Minic
    Brilliant list except for the Jaws and Office Space..
  • Petros
    Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Comedy way ahead of its time!
  • Elias
    I would have to agree, the fifth element and office space I don't think belong there. Blade runner should be on the list. If you are talking about cult classics and cultural phenomenon then what about fight club? there should be more of a definition of what they films are judged by. But I do agree with most of the list there are some amazing movies up there.
  • Stuart
    "You're talking about 300 right? Yea, it was a bit grainy, but that adds more to the overall feel and setting of the Greek era!" Right, because the movie cameras they had in the Greek era were lower quality? Or maybe everything just looked different because the atmosphere was different? When I saw the 300 trailer, my first thought was "Oh, dramatic!", but then I thought, "wait, that doesn't make any sense".
  • Newfoo
    What about the original King Kong (1933)? For the time I bet it was pretty amazing to see a claymation Kong wrestle a T-Rex.
  • Robb
    I'm showing my age, here, but back in the early days of the out-of-print Omni magazine, they had a feature on movies using computer-generated imagery before TRON was developed. The movie Demon Seed was mentioned, the first home-security gone awry movie. The one scene they mentioned is the "conception scene," a sort of computer-induced dream. It's reminiscent of the Stargate sequence in 2001, but computer-generated. Other contenders that I can think of: 1) Forrest Gump, for the nearly flawless integration of new footage with archived footage 2) What Lies Beneath (another Zameckis film) for the first really good use of zooms and pans through solid objects. The best one was the one that dropped thru a solid floor and looked up thru the now-tansparent floor for the action. 3) Bound (Wachowski Bros.). Prior to The Matrix, most of the graphic-novel-style techniques were introduced here, right down to the apartment walls forming frame borders.
  • Frostbite
    There is absolutley NO WAY that Office Space should be on this list. I loved the movie, but based on your criteria it should be ranked somewhere around 4837. Psycho? Great film Wargames? Groundbreaking Story. Fifth Element? Nothing new. Your self described list is all time ground breaking speacial effects! None of these make the grade. Firstly, Metropolis should be at the top of this list....or Nosferatu...or something by Buster Keaton. Imagine seeing these in the 1920s!! Set design, camera angles, lighting, repeat exposures...the lists of first here go on and on. Citizen Kane should also be on this list for the above mentioned uses of camera angles and lighting. Absolutely groundbreaking use of the camera. Orson Wells cut holes in the floor to shoot from a lower angle and make his subjects apear larger. Some sort of stop motion film should have been included. Clash of the Titans has been mentioned, but I think something like King Kong is more appropriate. Look into the work of Ray Harryhausen. Although T2 is important, two films laid the groundwork for it. Firstly The Abyss and its liquid character effects and secondly Flight of the Navigator and the first ever use of environmental mapping. With Jurrasic Park and Starship Troopers, you're doubling up. Same techniques and Jurrasic Park was FAR better. Not to mention Starship Troopers was an absolutely horrible piece of story telling. Matrix should flat out be on this list solely for the invention of "Bullet Time". Its gotten to be old hat, but man did that ingenious technique come out of left field. How on Earth you missed LOTR I will never know. The use of Massive for the animated crowds broke the mold and has been copied on every epic film since. Gollum was good too, but it could be argued that the horrible Star Wars EP 1 broke ground on CGI characters first. Lastly, A Scanner Darkly was cool but check your history one more time. Waking Life laid the ground work for it. Sin City follows in a similar path.
  • BSHack85
    Equilibrium..... where is it... it was way better then The Matrix and it came out the same time.
  • Newfoo
    What about the original King Kong (1933)? For the time I bet it was pretty amazing to see a claymation Kong wrestle a T-Rex. Also, Children of Men. CoM paid attention to so many details that the whole movie draws you in making you feel like you're standing right there in the action. I loved how there wasn't any narration that told you the back story, but how you had to pay attention to the details around the actors. Action sequences with bombs going off made a ringing noise simulating what it would sound like if you were there. Not to mention the action sequences with long takes with no breaks in the action. I love Office Space but you're basing this list of movies on "visual effects and technical achievements" where I'd say Office Space had none.
  • 29 FTW
    "Yes, Jaws (one of my top 5 movies) sold a lot of tickets and paved the way (for the worse) on how movies were advertised. It wasn't the first blockbuster - Gone With The Wind in 1939 sold more tickets than Titanic did in 1997." He meant that the phrase "Blockbuster" was coined from the movie Jaws not that it was the *first* blockbuster. No real complaints on the list. ;) Maybe add Blade Runner and Alien and it'd be perfect.
  • IratePosterNumer273
    I agree this list isn't very well thought out or researched. Many of these movies came out within the same 5-6 years. "Jurassic Park", "T2", "Starship Troopers" all share the same use of technology. And yeah, the exclusion of "Blade Runner" in favor of something like "Wargames" is just weird.
  • Adam
    BLADE RUNNER
  • Shane
    Finally, a Top XX list that makes sense. I can't agree with 100% of it, but this is a pretty good list.
  • Dan Derkson
    This list is sooooo stereotypical of all mainstream, widely known films. How does that really define a list of movies ahead of their time? I guess you can throw Star Wars in that list, but where's Planet of the Apes, Logan's Run or Westworld, movies that we're truly scifi classics for scifi was popular. Or the grandaddy of them all Things to Come, the definition of "ahead of its time" is in the frickin' title. To me this really sounds like a list of cool movies I remembered liking when I was 13, than truly movies ahead of their time, with the exception of Psycho.
  • adam
    K.I.D.S. enough said.
  • http://www.factivism.com Daniel
    Any list that leaves out Blade Runner, Brazil and Pulp Fiction aint worth a spit.
  • Graham
    Children of Men is way ahead of its time. You wrote this yesterday and you have it under the upcoming section, yet you've already seen 300? Are you from the future and working your way back? Children of Men is emotionally disturbing. I couldn't speak after the movie because what I saw in it was awesome, in the original sense of the word. The visual effects, the characters, the music, the scenes, the messages, the raw and uncompromising view into the horrors of war (The scenes in Children of Men can be readily seen in Iraq today; such horrors are going on today, and have been for years now). I read a synopsis of the book, and I think I will like the movie more. Cuaron's take on it is simply breathtaking, raw, and so hard. This movie is ahead of its time in the sense that it shows the utter lack of human dignity that people show one another. When the world collapses, there will be no more dignity. The most disturbing imagery in the movie was when Jasper got shot after Euthanizing his wife. It's a gut-ripping scene, but it's exactly what happens every day in this world where there is murder. The movie is also ahead of its time for revealing how a government, an antiquated social system even today, will try to come to terms with what happens in the post-apocalyptic world. In my opinion, Children of Men should be at #1 on your list because it is so brutally honest that it disturbs me to watch it, and the disturbing part is that everything in the movie has happened in real life, it happens every day, and it could very well spread across the entire world one day. If anyone reading this hasn't seen CoM (and you are still reading), go see it, and think about it, and remind yourself that the events in the movie are pretty much a mirror of what's going on in Iraq today. The last and best part of CoM: it slaps you in the face when it reveals its point about the preciousness of life. It's the 1914 WW1 Truce put into film. The war stops. For about two minutes. It's an amazing scene, and the meaningful way it drives home the point about how precious life is, is what makes it and CoM, one of the best films of all time. As an aside - you should also include Network among the list. Everything in Network has happened today except a media-sanctioned murder on life TV.
  • jerk
    umm, i dont think office space is the first to: "show[s] that the acceptance of a film can come after its planned theatrical release and earn a place in movie history by being comically ahead of its time when it first came out." this has been happening since movies were invented. your list is pretty lame. oh and, btw, the first real "hacker" movie was tron. it came out a year before 'war games'. you claim the list is about movies ahead of their time in terms of visual effects and tech. achievement. if you want to see movies that were truly ahead of their time in this respect, look at: Le Reve d'un astronome by Georges Melies.
  • Xanthin
    Clockwork Orange
  • summer
    wtf blade runner! dude!
  • TEcunX
    the intention of this article was NOT TO INCLUDE Blade Runner,and then wait for the reactions. The abscence of it is felt even stronger than its necessary prescence.
  • Gian
    You gotta change the title so that you don't confuse people... "Top 12 Movies in History That Were VISUALLY Ahead of Their Time."
  • Gian
    I'm gonna edit my last comment, because you also said this: "These movies are judged as being ahead of their time primarily because of their technical and visual effects achievements. Most of these became the staple for referencing great visual effects after they came out. It's not necessarily that their subject matter or content was not accepted until years later (like Napoleon Dynamite)." How can you say that, then include Office Space in the list, for being "comically ahead of its time"??? Very off list... I don't get it.
  • Mike
    Bah, the movie most ahead of its time is The Wizard of Oz. It's like 70 years old and still plays every year on tv. Astounding special effects for its time.
  • Zack
    Where's Citizen Kane?
  • Neil
    What about Toy Story. That movie was amazing when it first came out and is still today.
  • modeamz
    Blade Runner: where it at? It inspired The Fifth Element and The Matrix on your list, and countless other films. It is consistently mimicked in Sci-Fi and anime works every year... why no respect?
  • reggy
    I agree with one of your outlook for the future, "Childern of Men". I think the creators did a fantastic job. Very realistic protrayal of what the social,political, economic & scientific atmosphere we can expect to see in the near future based on current trends.
  • http://www.panel2panel.com glych
    Citizen Kane was WAY ahead of it's time. It was one of the first films to shoot on location, in real locals, to show ceilings, use natural lighting, and it's the first film to use a flashback. It bombed in theaters as well and it wasn't until years later that people began to appreciate it for it's brilliance. -glych
  • Nobody
    The Thing deserves to be here
  • modeams
    Children of Men I forgot about this movie... the best sci fi movie since blade runner (and perhaps Dark City). Please support this movie and go out and see it in its' big screen splendor.
  • Jackle
    I'm glad starship troopers is on this list. Although if you look at some scenes where they are fighting the bugs the actors are imagining they are a LOT taller than they are animated but an excellent film to watch and the effects used are fantastic. Although if you think starship troopers 2 was good you need to be taken outside and shot (just figuratively I'm not getting carried away here). I love the fifth element I think the cast was great the setting and timing was all great. just noticed the Children of men comment. Yeah it was a nice film and I enjoyed watching it but honestly. I knew how the film was going to end about half way through and I think you will agree with me that they played the "loved character dies" card way too much.
  • Felicia Rogers
    This list is not complete. It's not complete because you didn't add DARK CITY (which also came out in 1997). Nice Try Though.
  • Jeff T.
    The Big Lebowski. Enough said.
  • dave
    blade runner blade runner blade runner. apocalypse now.
  • Threlly
    Errr, films are made in other countries you know !!!! A Matter Of Life And Death Battleship Potemkin Manon des Source etc etc But anyhow, Blade Runner you silly man.
  • titanic panic
    no blade runner? then this list is a failure. you have room for starship troopers, but not blade runner. and then the audacity of mentioning the fifth element without realizing that the movie was a visual rip-off of blade runner adds insult to injury
  • http://pitbullsyndicate.blogspot.com Tyler D
    Nice list but a few changes are in order. Replace Starship Troopers with Blade Runner. And Tron with Blade Runner...
  • http://digibruce.blogspot.com Bruce LeSourd
    You did explain why you picked the movies you did, but it would be more interesting to distinguish between "ground-breaking, innovative, popular and important" and "ahead of its time". Tron was ahead of its time. Star Wars was not. Blade Runner was ahead of its time - it arguably spawned its own literary genre, and a successful Cyberpunkish movie wasn't made until The Matrix, 17 years later. Most of the movies on this list were huge commercial successes - they were obviously not ahead of their time, by the standard definition of the term. That said, what about a truly ahead-of-its time film, like Abel Gance's Napoleon (1927)? This movie had: - MTV-style editing - long multi-narrative sections displayed in split screen, proto-Cinemascope, tryptich "Polyvision" - colorization - never-released early color experiments - rumored 3D footage - epic 330 minute running time (2000 restoration), planned to be part 1 of 6 (LOTR anyone?) Napoleon and Metropolis - also released in 1927 - make the other films on this list seem pretty laughable. Hell, for the purposes of this list, Napoleon makes Citizen Kane look like Speed 2.
  • Elanor
    The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park were CGI. They realized very quicky the budget for making all of the dinos animatronics would have been prohibitive and they hired on Industrial Light and Magic, I believe. It was the first time they used completely CGI characters in a film of that sort, also, I believe.
  • Pat BAteman
    Pathetic list. What about "American Psycho", Fight Club, Godfather, Equilibrium, Any Given Sunday, Full Metal Jacket? Star Wars and Tron. What a Crap
  • Henry
    No film of the last 30 years has predicted the future better than "Brazil" -- rent it and see --
  • Mark Kelly
    The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) could be re-released today and still be considered ahead of its time.
  • NZ Ben
    3 movies that I believe are missing, that were "visually Ahead of their Time" were: David Lynch's Eraserhead, Darren Aronofsky's PI, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's City of lost children. Mile stone films that with unique styles that Hollywood would later leach.
  • zac
    WAKING LIFE before a scanner darkly.
  • Robert
    Man, you don't know nothin about film history. Do they pay you for this? "The Fith Element" was a straight copy of the images and story of the Incal comic book (they sued). "Star Wars" was a straight copy of the (first) "Dune" storyboard (they sued). "The Matrix" was a straight copy of "Tetsuo the iron man" and "Ghost in the Shell" anime (the directors say it) This list sounds like a post 90's film geek obsesion, i bet you "Clerks" was on the first draft of your list. "Office Space" in the same list of "Psycho" and "Metropolis"?, the list doesn't make any sense. This list is about films ahead of their times?, so Where is "Citizen Kane"?, Is more about visual efects and tech achievments? so Where is "Dark Star"? there's a lot of OBVIOUS choices that will fit any of your list themes, i'm sorry to say this but you are not qualified to talk about film. And if you change your title to "My Favorite Films That Where Ahead Of Their Time" many will argue that "The Matrix" looks so outdated today, i personally think it looks ridiculous and stupid, i mean, Gap and that Sting video did those spin camera efects years before The Matrix and the Jaws shark looks really fake today. If you wanna be a film critic watch more films man.
  • Chris
    This was a lame list. I almost expected to see Independence day in his list. It's good to see others leaving comments are more enlightened. I think Alex needs to do his homework!
  • chudez
    no one is ever going to agree 100% whenever a "top greatest" list comes out but, uhmm, what about ... 1. aliens (way better than starship troopers -- the movie, not the book -- imho)? 2. lord of the rings (revolutionary effects, marathon production schedule)? 3. toy story (cgi animated films, for young and old) 4. final fantasy (incredible cgi realism... look at her hair!)? 5. sin city (comic book feel in a feature length film)? 6. blair witch project (in a lot of ways, just a gimmick, but it worked)? 7. ghost in a shell (main stream anime) 8. mall rats (or pick any other indie produced phenomenon)? 9. the abyss (which will always have a place in my heart)? 10. king kong (the original, but i have no objections to jackson's remake)? 11. die hard (brought on screen violence to a new level)? 12. aladdin (or beauty and the beast, whichever film disney finally admitted to using computers)?
  • Gonz Gonzilla
    Um... where is Alien or Aliens in the top "visual" films of "their" time? Have to agree with all the Blade Runner people. And also to add Brasil, Planet of The Apes, Pi, Night of the Living Dead, Wild Bunch, Godzilla, Pulp Fiction, and ... Clerks which show fanboys can make a quality dick and fart flick in black and white. and then there's Howard The Duck, thats a whole different story there
  • http://www.uberlounge.com DanMac
    while i do love the coen bothers (the big lebowski) it doesnt belong on this list. blade runner and road warrior should def replace starship troopers and office space(although i love it). i do like the fifth element though, people dont recognize how great it is. Gladiator could use at least a mention
  • Mike
    Sounds like and ad for 300 to me.
  • Brice
    Would have liked to see the movie Brazil on that list. I don't think I have to explain why either.
  • Steven
    Does no one remember the stained glass knight from Young Sherlock Holmes???
  • Rolo Tomasi
    I hate to break it you guys but, if the list is based on "technical and visual effects achievements". Then "The Last Starfighter" "was the first, yes the first to do all the special affects on a computer. The Cray supercomputer generated all of the shots of space, the ships, etc..." quote taken from Fast-rewind.com Lord Kril: Damage report! Kodan Officer: Guidance system out. Auxiliary steering out. Lord Kril: Divert! Divert! Kodan Officer: She won't answer the helm! We're locked into the moon's gravitational pull. What do we do? [sound of Lord Kril's eyepiece swinging over left eye] Lord Kril: We die.
  • trans
    Fools! WIZARD OF OZ rules!
  • http://www.serverminds.com boethius
    I'm a huge Blade Runner fan so I'm very biased but I cannot believe it's not here. Yes, it's a perfect pitch comedy (well, almost, the third act drags a bit), but "Office Space" over BR? Puh-lease. The opening shot of Los Angeles 2019 is one of the most breathtaking in film history and a sign of a revolutionary visual style that few filmmakers have matched. To not have any of Kurosawa on here seems criminal as does no Tarantino, either Res Dogs or Pulp Fiction. I can still remember how shocking the pure raw violence of Res Dogs--not gratuitous and crass like horror films, but real, visceral--was to me the first time I saw it as well as the extremely rare verbosity of the characters. Such are the pitfalls of picking only 12 "ahead of their time" I guess. Most here are quite worthy. Was it only me or did everyone here want to be the character Jeff Bridges played in Tron--i.e., the cool guy who not only got the chicks but friggin owned AND lived above a friggin awesome arcade. Talk about a wet dream for a 12 year old.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    I think I've seen Blade Runner on here more than any other suggestion. I present this question: was Blade Runner really "ahead of its time" (for 1982). Sure it had one of the greatest stories in sci-fi history and some incredible camera work, acting, production design, etc., but was any of that something you can look back on and say it really was something that no other film during that time did or was groundbreaking or visually amazing? I don't disagree that the movie was one of the best ever made, but I don't think I'd completely call it "ahead of its time." - Alex
  • Clem
    I think this is a pretty good list. I hadn't seen all of the ones on the list, but made a point of watching a few ALL DAY TODAY!!! (So much for work). Considering when they came out-yes, they were pretty groundbreaking. It's cool to see how far the industry has come. Can't wait to see what movies will be like 20-30 years from now.
  • Brian Schumacher
    To address comment #86. Was Blade Runner really ahead of its time? The answer is most emphatically yes! The unsung hero of of Blade Runner is not Ridley Scott, nor Vangelis or the set decorators, it was Syd Mead. He was the futurist hired by Scott to imagine what the a future megalopolis called San Angeles might look like in 2019. In short, he was wrong. The future he envisioned came much sooner than he expected and much of what you see in Blade Runner is what you see today in Southern California and in many metropolises across the world. IS the rest rest of it that far off? Ahead of its time? Yes, it just came sooner than we thought.
  • jbelkin
    Pretty good list but BLADE RUNNER trumps FIFTH ELEMENT in both the standards of special effects - the first big budgeted scifi to say the future would be a dirty grimy place along with the clean (other smaller budgeted films on a much smaller scale told smaller stories but BR was the first biggie) plus it's message made sense while 5th Element tried to take a French film ideal about love as the strongest element of all time and overlaying an over the top movie while borrowing elements from Diva, Total Recall and Starwars ... amusing utimately like the claiming the 5th elements rules all - a bit too fey - and beyond the storytelling of whathisname.
  • http://www.picli.com fsdi
    I cant believe you missed Back To The Future
  • http://www.moneyscience.org Jacob
    I seem to recall that the technology in T2 had first been used in 'The Abyss', also directed by James Cameron.
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  • steve rothwell
    Nice selection, can't add as my collection only runs to 600 but yeah baby these work it!
  • voodmania
    Just accept it, Blade Runner BELONGS to a list like this.
  • Phil W
    How folks could forget "Forbidden Planet" as being WAY ahead of its time is beyond me. Possibly because it does not show on cable TV. Off the list should come Fifth Element, nothing new and Office Space, incongruous. T2 off as well, as stated the liquid morph had been done previously in Abyss. I like T2 but it was not ahead of its time. Starship Troopers pioneered nothing. Off. What a horrible film, except of course for the shower scene. Bugs looked phoney to me. Add Forbidden Planet as the sina-qua-non and add Alien which had Ridley Scott's visuals and pioneered the space-horror and female kick ass genres.
  • etnlIcarus
    This needs more Donny Darko and less Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers
  • Nod
    Dudes! What about Blue Lagoon? It was my first er...um...ah...never mind.
  • Dave E
    What about "The Last Starfighter" for first real CGI film? Dave E
  • Omar
    This article is beyond pointless. It should be re-titled "Movies that Look Really Cool, by Alex". Movies that have big budgets and cool effects are not ahead of their time. They fit right into their time and place. None of the movies listed contain any controversial material which would later gain acceptance. By definition, therefore, they cannot be called ahead of their time. I was expecting to read an interesting article about the role of movies in advancing social norms and ways of thinking, and instead I got a college student's list of favorite movies. Oh well. By the way...Office Space? That movie was a funnly little piece of forgettable garbage. Nobody outside the young adult male demographic cares about it.
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  • Len S
    Forbidden Planet, for sure.
  • Peter N.
    "Wizard of Oz" for special effects, "A Hard Day's Night" for paving the way for music videos, and "The Great Dictator" for exposing Hitler as a monster. "Dictator" was in the planning stages well before WW II began, started filming one week after it started, and was released well before the U.S. was involved.
  • Kikki
    Some of these I would agree with: Tron, definitely. It had the first computer enhanced effects in any feature-length film. I've seen it recently and it still looks good (the plot kind of sucks, but that's another matter). Psycho, yes, 2001, definitely. Jaws and Metropolis. I would also include Blade Runner. In addition, Clockwork Orange, which had the first depiction of gratuitous violence on screen. And Last Tango in Paris; this was the first major release with graphic sex. Perhaps the Seven Samurai; the story that made Clint Eastwood. I would also include Animal House, the first youth comedy (I don't think the Gidget movies count as comedy). And I would include Bullitt, whose car chase scene has set the standard for all chase scenes that have been done since.
  • http://www.atomicdeathray.com David Bryant
    @Kikki: "A Clockwork Orange" is an amazing film, but there were a number of prior movies depicting gratuitous violence, although I don't think any of them were what you could call mainstream. One of the most interesting was "The Sadist" (IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057465/) from 1963. The film takes place in real time and is the story of three schoolteachers on a trip through the desert who get brutalized by a vicious sociopath and his amoral girlfriend. It's an incredibly nasty and effective little movie, made even creepier by the fact that it's based on a real killing spree of the time. The psycho is played by Arch Hall, Jr., who was terrible in everything else he ever did ("Eegah", for example), but for some reason does a great job here. I'd be shocked if it's not one of Quentin Tarantino's favorites.
  • http://greeninkpen.blogspot.com Green Ink
    Couldn't agree more about Sin City, I've been saying that to everyone that hasn't seen it. Can't wait to see 300, I know it's going to be in that league. Thing is, when Children of Men catches up with its time there won't be anyone around to see it.
  • JJ
    Most of the films on this were "OF" their time as opposed to "AHEAD" of their time. As has been mentioned, movies that were "AHEAD" of their time by definition should not be too successful up initial release. As has been mentioned, the perfect example is "BLADE RUNNER", which bombed and as the years passed by became a sci-fi classic. The only movies on this list that were ahead of their time are "OFFICE SPACE" and probably "PYSCHO". PSYCHO was popular upon initial release, but in a sense it created this genre in which now we basically get a new riff on Psycho every other week in theaters. As popular as Pycho was, it was only the beginning of Pyscho movies. Anyway, the original Terminator (not the seque) is another ahead of it's time movie that comes to mind.
  • Louis Kuhelj
    I think we missed a movie that should have been included in the list...but of course there are many to choose from...it is The Forbidden Planet(1957)...I think that was the year. I think that was absolutely ahead of its time.
  • http://www.freetube.us.tc Joost
    Quite interesting, I'd agree with all movies. Maybe not Office Space (my favourite movie), it doesn't really do anything amazingly new - but it's hilarious.
  • The One X
    Many of you have been saying Lord of the Rings should be mentioned somewhere, well maybe I'll sound crazy to you guys but Pirates of the Caribbean should be on that list before Lord of the Rings, just for one scene. When Barbosa walked into the moonlight and seemlessly transitioned from a real person to a skeleton is a heck of a lot better then the only scene they did it in LotR with legolas jumping onto the horse. Lord of the Rings wasn't ahead of its time in CGI, it was on par with the best but not ahead of its time.
  • curious
    5th Element but not blade runner? surely.. there's something amiss?
  • flatline
    I won't parrot blade runner, it's been said more than enough. Wargames completely didn't belong on the list. It is, in essence, a period piece, painfully dated to the exact moment in time it was made because of Soviet/American nuclear tensions and the technology involved. Aliens did nothing new, but set a high water mark for visual effects like BR did. Aliens *looks* real even today. Even then I'm not sure if it was "ahead of it's time". Tron isn't as revolutionary as the Pixar system developed by lucasarts that later turned into it's own division. I have a better choice than The Matrix by the way. It is a decent film, but bullet time had been done to death with the "slice of life" technology, only using video cameras instead of still cameras to create motion. Fight Club is a film worthy of this list. To this day there are some scenes that are CG that you can not tell. Some CG shots have so much detail in them that you literally have to hit pause and forward one frame at a time to see all of it, because it goes by so fast (the underground tour of bomb van to bomb van in particular). It's an odd film in that it's not sci-fi, but it used visual effects in ways that hadn't been used since or even nearly as effectively. Psycho is on the list for the wrong reason. The shower scene is an example of how editing creates all of the tension needed without having to ever show anything. It was ahead of it's time due to editing, not due to it being the forerunner of horror films (it's not). 2001 deserves to be on the list for it's technical achievement and it's prescience as to space travel and the demands of it. Each space shot was actually filmed 3 times, using a different primary color filter each time, and then edited together in post to create painfully *bright* and contrasted scenes, which are ironically nearly 100% accurate to real life. Other films I more or less agree with, save for office space. Being a sleeper hit doesn't make it ahead of it's time. Again, it's painfully dated to the 90's cubical sub-culture, and is itself riding on the coat tails of things like Dilbert.
  • Jimpqfly
    "Seven. Blade Runner. The Thing." Couldn't agree more dude, instead of War Games, Office Space, and Jurassic Park... (the subject of Jurassic Park was interesting, but special effects?...) About Alien, it's my favorite movie, I'd sure replace the Fifth Element by it (ok Besson's got money, but it's all he's got : the story sucks, as usual : it is still boring to watch). And it's 1979, man ...
  • Alias D
    Wizard of Oz!! The things they did in that movie I still can't do at my home now! I think it should have made the cut. I don't even like the movie but it is still way ahead of its time.
  • http://www.ihcra.com ihcra
    Mad Max (1979) and Zardoz (1974) for setting the standards for post apocalyptic dystopian future
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  • STFU Already
    Good god STFU already. If you don't like his list make your own. God damn movie nerds. Lord of the Rings sucked. Fight club sucked. blade runner sucked. 5th element sucked. GET OVER IT.
  • chase
    interesting list. but what about ALIEN? i'd say that one changed the face of suspense/horror. what about ALIENS? that one kicks more ass now than just about any movie today. that final battle with the Queen? i DARE you to find something in today's films that looks that real, without using CG. LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING, with Gollum...that broke new ground, as far as a CG character that wasn't a jokey comic-relief kinda character. He was photorealistic, and his performance was Oscar-worthy, IMHO. what about FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN? the first all-CG movie with photo-realistic humans, not cartoony people? and if you're gonna list TRON, what about that SHERLOCK HOLMES movie, where it was the first CG effect, with the stained glass window guy swordfighting that other guy? and if you're going to do Office Space, i'd have to say that MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL ultimately will hold up better. oh, and THE ABYSS (also a james cameron film) did the blobby morph thing before T2. that's the film and effect that created the program Photoshop!! looking ahead: James Cameron's AVATAR!!
  • mkesse
    Not mentioning BLADE RUNNER is like not mentioning the Bible in religion class. Office Space, Fifth Element, T-2, Starship Troopers? These movies accomplished something individual, but nowhere near THE WARRIORS, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, BLADE RUNNER, BLACK RAIN, ROBOCOP came before T-2, DOCTOR STRANGELOVE, CITIZEN KANE, ROGER RABBIT, BATMAN!!!, E.T., CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE 3RD KIND, CITY OF GOD, DAS BOOT, ENEMY OF THE STATE, ROSEMARY'S BABY, FRANTIC, MAGNOLIA, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF A SPOTLESS MIND, MAD MAX, NOWHERE, ADVENTURES OF BARREN MUNCHENHAUSEN, ROMEO & JULIET, THE HUDSUCKER PROXY, THE CROW-- just to mention a few....
  • Publius Jackson
    Let's see, 5th Element sucked, T2 was not groundbreaking, Starship Troopers is questionable (spider-bugs were cool, but not groundbreaking), and so is War Games (oh, neat, a kid hacker). You left out Blade Runner (this is inexcusable based on sophisticated plot alone - what does it mean to be human in a world immersed in technology and cultural decay), Dune (transnational conglomerates and patriarchical nation-states warring over limited resources - reminds me of some current event that I can't remember off hand), Hesse's Steppenwolf (issues of personal alienation and psychic integrity in a schizophrenic industrialized world). That is just the tip of the iceburg. Your list is bush league and dominated by corporate kool-aid.
  • Publius Jackson
    You also missed the original, black and white version (1943) of The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchhausen (made in Germany during the Nazi era and ordered by Joseph Goebbels, but pretty worthwhile nonetheless).
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  • foraneagle2
    fantasia?
  • etta
    If you really want to talk about visual effects that were ahead of their time, you need to mention Darby O'Gill and the Little People. It did all that LOTR did with forced perspective back in 1959. If you have access to the DVD, you should watch the featurette on how they did the special effects. The scene where Darby goes into the Throne Room was done using mirrors in a very new and imaginative way.
  • Dennis
    Does anyone remember a film by Ken Russell called Crimes of Passion? I still remember the stunning visuals in that movie. Also, what about German films like Nosferatu or those amazing films commissioned by the Nazis?
  • Leah
    I'm going to have to 2nd Westworld. It was one of the first movies to ever use CGI and it's still a great movie today. Definitely ahead of it's time. But then, it was made by Michael Crichton so, it makes sense that it was ahead of it's time. All of his books are too.
  • bob
    Most of these films were perfectly 'of' their time. 2001....revolution...stat wars....disco in space
  • Ryan
    BLADE RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! BLADE RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! BLADE RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! BLADEBLADE RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! BLADE RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! BLADE RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! BLADE RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! Remove Fifth Element and put BLADE RUNNER!!!!!!!!!! Fifth Element stole from BLADE RUNNER but besides that. in 1982 BLADE RUNNERcreated a future world that would come to depict a future world in movies, for years to come. Flying cars in a gritty lite up futuristic city. Back to the Future II, Judge Dredd, Fifth Element. Countless movies copied this. Yet you haven't included it??? Oh and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND!!!???
  • Ryan
    First, I don't think that a movie seeming "of its time" is a negative. However, when I think of a movie which can be said to have been "ahead of its time", I think of a movie which was not only groundbreaking in its time, but which still would have seemed "contemporary" at least a decade after it was actually made. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968) is to me a prime example, because that movie was groundbreaking in 1968, and it seems to me like it could have been made as recently as 1982 or 1983, without seeming dated. For me, some of the other movies on this list either don't have that characteristic, or not enough time has passed to tell whether those movies will have this characteristic. For example, "Psycho" fits the bill as a groundbreaking movie, but it seems like a movie made no later than the early-to-mid-1960s. Similarly, "WarGames", although groundbreaking in its computer hacking storyline, will always seem like a movie made in 1983. Even "Star Wars" wasn't all that much ahead of its time. As extremely groundbreaking as it was in its visual effects, it still seems like the most awesome fantasy/sci-fi movie of the late 1970s, mostly because of hairstyles, and some dialogue. And that's not a criticism, just an observation. One thing clear about this list is that its emphasis is on movies with groundbreaking visual effects. However, I'm curious to know if anyone can think of more movies for this list which were groundbreaking in areas other than visual effects.
  • Ryan
    No your little comment about Blade Runner doesn't change anything. It's unexcusable not to have Blade Runner. Coruscant, the city from the Star Wars prequels. Yep Blade Runner!!! Fifth Element was flawless? The Taxi Cab chase looks catoony!!!
  • Ryan
    Comment 131 is mine, but 130 and 132 are not mine. The other two somehow popped up with my name attached right after I submitted 131.
  • Ryan
    Hey look! 1982! http://img406.imageshack.us/img406/6879/bladerunnerjt6.jpg LOOK MAH! NO CGI! Yet it blows away many movie from today. You really screwed up by adding Fifth Element. It's a CGI infested forgotten flick today. More memorable for Chris Tucker screaming on screen than anything else. I'm starting a peition you changed Fifth Element to Blade Runner. I'll see you in court!
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  • Ryan
    You could also mention Snow White (First full length animated movie) & Toy Story(First full length animated CG movie) About TRON, not only was it one of the first movies to use computer graphics extensivly. (Although some of it is Disney Animation and Matt paintings to be fair) It's one of the first movies to use Virtual Sets! Yeah before Lucas invested his SW prequels with Virtual Sets. TRON was already doing it. Alien, first movie to show space as a place where you work and grounded in reality and not 4 guys in astronaut costumes landing on Mars. Also featured Alien attacking a ship in space, rather than fighting an alien monster on a planet. This formula is still being copied today. Close Encounter of the Third Kind, blew us away in 1977 with its visual effects. Just as much as Star Wars that year. Mortal Kombat, first movie to use Techno music for fight scenes. A trend that would be copied by Blade, Matrix and a slew of other movies for years to come. Ok just kidding. It shouldn't be on the list, but it is a fact.
  • Ryan131/133/137
    Comments 131, 133, and 137 are mine. The others by "Ryan" are not.
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  • Ryan
    No but it just so happens that the special effects in these movies influenced the look of many movies to come. Star Wars without question though is the most influental movie of all time. It started everything we have today. The mega blockbuster. they started counting weekend movie grosses. marketting toys and tie-ins with fast food joints. people started camping out in front of theaters for a movie release. modern special effects. We're still feeling the effects of Star Wars today. The list goes on.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Ryan (#140) - that's the exact point in why I chose the 13 I did. I thought that at least those that I chose fell into that category and had that happen to them, and there are of course plenty others that do too - like Blade Runner and The Wizard of Oz to name just a few.
  • Ryan
    What? Oh it's you. You! Don't talk to me Alex. I'm still upset with you. Please, tell us again why Fifth Element was ahead of its time? How many movies did it influence again? Oh yeah...none! It had CGI. DONE BEFORE - Check! It had flying cars in a futuristic city. DONE BEFORE - Check! Funny black guy for comic effect. DONE BEFORE - Check! So tell me Mr. Billington. What is so groundbreaking about this film? What wowed the world about it in 97? By your definition as to why you put it on your now feeble list. You might as well add Independence Day while you're at it. Good grief Alex. What is wrong with you man?
  • http://focus.blip.tv David Kowarsky
    I looked at the title of this list and expected to see Blade Runner first or last. That movie defines ahead of it's time. It predicted basically what Times Square would look like many years in the future, and other people have already commented on the very specifically pioneering effects. So, I'm on board with the "WTF NO BLADE RUNNER?!" crowd, because sometimes angry mobs are right.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Ryan, I'll only admit that I think Blade Runner should be added (which is certainly possible), not exactly that it should replace Fifth Element. No need to go all crazy! For 1997, I thought Fifth Element was ahead of its time in the same way that Starship Troopers was as well - visually. Sure Titanic was good, sure Men in Black was good, but those two are closer to being fit visually for that year, whereas Fifth Element was a minor step forward. The entire futuristic city and taxi chase scene alone are something I can still watch today, and importantly, feel that a film could try and replicate it yet not achieve as good of a look visually. You can't compare Fifth Element or Blade Runner because they're so far apart. I do think Blade Runner should be added here and I could certainly do so. This isn't the end all list, this is one interpretation. It's supposed to make you think, make you consider examples recently and examples in history of films that were ahead of their time (and attribute more respect to them). It's meant to build even more respect for Blade Runner and every other movie mentioned because of how much it was mentioned in the comments. Just because it's not one of these 13 doesn't mean it is still certainly vastly ahead of its time.
  • Masterofoneinchpunch
    (I also wrote post 24) I was thinking just how important Fritz Lang's M was in influence of police procedurals and criminal characterization (as well as stereotyping Lorre for most of his career). I can see your argument against Blade Runner if ultimately your premise was on a multitude of influence instead of just technical (still unsure of your thesis). From a technical standpoint I would also jump on the bandwagon that Blade Runner belongs (though this has been stated to death on this thread and ultimately all lists are opinion). I would also like to hear your opinion on mentioning Children of Men over Gillo Pontecorvo's Battle of Algiers? I'm not sure why you ignore King Kong which completely fits in your topic. I find this even harder to ignore since it's reign of influence and techniques lasted 50 plus years until CGI took over.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    To 145: Either way, I do agree that Blade Runner is certainly a movie ahead of its time. I can easily change this list to 14 movies or 10 movies or 20 movies, but I'm not going to edit it anymore. So, yes it belongs on their, but I'm not updating... As for Battle of Algiers? I've never heard of it... Unfortunately I can't make say on it, but Children of Men came out end of last year, it's a modern day 2006 film and yet its cinematography and technical side are very far ahead of even today's time. But we won't recognize that for years. I can't compare a current movie to a 1966 movie, especially when I haven't seen it. King Kong if probably another one that should be on here, but I really started with 2001 because that was when the advent of CGI and visual effects really started to take off.
  • Masterofoneinchpunch
    I can understand not editing it (though always be careful with the title :-D). It is good to get opinions out (as long as they are civil). Criterion release for Battle of Algiers: http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=249
  • Ryan
    First of all. You can't put a movie on this list based on a flying taxicab chase through a futuristic city. That's all you ever say, I'm glad it gave you a special feeling in 97. How old are you anyway? Sheesh. That concept or rather look, comes from Blade Runner. Fifth Element is nothing special. It's just a movie copying what others had done before it. Mostly Blade Runner. While we're at it, I don't know if I'd put Starship Troopers either. Also, come to think of it. I may change my mind on stating Star Wars is the most influental movie of all time. It might have to go to King Kong 1933. Think about it. Speilberg, Lucas, Peter Jackson. I mean countless directors were inspired by King Kong. If it wasn't for King Kong. Who knows.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Thanks again for the comments Ryan - and you're right, there are a lot that should also be on here. I didn't say this list is the end-all list, and I didn't say that any of them on here are counted as the most influential, because that may just be King Kong. It's just a list that is meant to create discussion and thoughts. And keep up the good work on your IGN blog, I enjoy reading it.
  • Mike
    An OK list, but as heaps of people agree, it's missing Bladerunner... a very revolutionary film! Office Space - No way! It's hardly an achievement, and although one of my favorites, by no means anything special. The Fifth Element - Bad film. Sci-Fi mixed with comedy and a lot of really bad acting. Hardly revolutionary or ahead of it's time, considering other earlier films had better/on-par special effects. Starship Troopers - Horrible. There wasn't anything special about the effects in this film. On top of that it lacked depth and acting. More like a b-grade film. War Games - No comment... but hardly deserving of a listing.
  • http://www.therecshow.com Ray
    Okay, this list is FANBOY city. I just wrote about it at http://therecshow.com/2007/02/22/ahead-of-their-time/ Where the hell is Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, Wizard of Oz, Blade Runner, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Nosferatu, The Kid, The General, Birth of a Nation, Battleship Potemkin, Dr. Strangelove, Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, or Pulp Fiction?? Hell, I would put Mommie Dearest on there before I'd put half of the shit on that list.
  • Mary
    Isn't it great how this list has really caused us all to THINK about what Alex suggested?? I think this is a great debate! Thanks, Alex, for generating such a great list. I can't wait to check out some of these and see what I think!
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  • Bill
    OK, The Fifth Element is being trashed mercilessly here, so I'm going to stick up for the underdog. Yeah, the story is not the greatest, and the imaginings of the future, with flying cars and such had been done before. I am involved in the making of DVD discs, so I know a little about video quality. If you watch a standard DVD of The Fifth Element on a HDTV, then compare the visual quality to any new movie filmed with HD cameras to be released on HD-DVD or Blu-Ray the visual quality is quite similar. And this, I think was one of the criteria for making the list. I don't recall seeing any movies filmed before, and few since, that look as good visually, either in the theater or in my home. Oh...Blade Runner...instead of Office Space...don't want to be completely different...
  • Will
    The horror genre really isnt represented anywhere here. Black Christmas (lets pretend the remake never happened) predates Halloween by nearly four years and is, best I can tell, the first in the contemporary "teen slasher" genre. Not successful or popular but it's clear that Carpenter took much inspiration from it's framework. So if you agree that Halloween is the first NOTABLY SUCCESSFUL slasher film (Psycho is a psychological thriller y'all, the genre in which Hitchcock worked almost exclusively) and Black Christmas predates it's style then (TAH-DAH!) -- "ahead of its time." Strengthening its place as a film first -- it beat When a Stranger Calls to the "telephone as instrument of evil/murder accessory" device --and FAR MORE AFFECTIVELY I might add. AND incidentally, if anyone can think of a film that used POV shots of the villain/killers/antagonist, I'd like to know what it is. It's also the first time John Saxon played a gritty cop AND it's CANADIAN! Heh. Speaking of Psycho -- though it's camera work and use of sex and blood were revolutionary, lets not forget that it was beautifully and successfully lensed in B&W, in 1960, well after most major motion pictures were filmed in color. Also -- Peeping Tom was also released in 1960, more explicitly links blood and death and was widely banned. As a result Psycho stole its thunder, though PT is faaar more disturbing, and is agruably an inferior (thought great AND important) film. Also, I think Nosferatu was the first true "horror" film, and if not -- the first to send audiences into shock and terror. I may be wrong though. For those who dismiss Jaws as relevant to this list, IT IS MOST CERTAINLY the reason "summer movies" is even a term. AND it changed the way movies were seasonally marketed forever. Did ALIEN have the first memorable advertising tag-line -- In space no one can hear you scream--? I could be wrong about that one but it just occured to me. I agree that this list lacks a general sense of film history -- but IS certainly interesting and worth considering.
  • Will
    Re: Peeping Tom above: I meant it links SEX and death. Whoops.
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  • somebody
    Whats about Shaolin Soccer or better yet Kung Fu Hustle? Oh yeah, and Blade Runner.
  • http://www.coders2020.com Coders2020
    I haven't seen few of them so difficult to comment but really, office space ??? Also instead of T2 I will put T1 ..and what about Blade Runner ? Metropolis surely deserves to be at top though
  • charleigh
    hey hey i love jaws it well good
  • http://blogs.ign.com/Orionsaint Ryan
    This is silly already. There's no comparison. Blade Runner was way ahead of it's time. It stood out in 82. There was nothing else like it at the time. Fifth Element saw what others did and copied it. That does not make it ahead of it's time. Blade Runner deserves to be there more than most of the films on that list. It really is ridiculous that it's not on the list. That's like having a top ten greatest films of all time list and not having Citizen Kane, Godfather or Gone with the Wind. What were you thinking?
  • Keld
    Okay, first thing first. I didn't see anything wrong with this whole discussion, UNTIL I saw someone say that 300 was based off of rotoscoping. Wrong. Movies like A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life have been all shot with real actors, then animation is created with that footage, in a time consuming and costly process. 300 is a prime example of a digital backlot, in which almost the entire movie is shot with a green screen. The originating films for this were probably either Casshern (which is a great film, too bad my Japanese is rusty) or Immortal, probably one of the most underrated comic book movies ever. Okay, had to get that out. Now, okay, everyone has an opinion, we can see that. But we do realize that films do different things for different people? I saw LoTR, got bored about half-way through the second one, and absolutely love the books. That's just me. Point is, doesn't matter. Oh, and to the fatty out there that said Equilibrium came out before The Matrix, go wiki it or something. Equilibrium came out in 2002. The Matrix in 1999 or something. In before Bell-Air.
  • Joe Soap
    Keld, that 'animation created with that footage, in a time consuming and costly process' IS Rotoscoping! Check the official "Waking Life" website for more info.
  • Gigabutt
    I cant belive the movie "Donnie Darko" isint here. One of the most thought provoking movies I have ever seen.
  • uhmmmm
    ...these are the top 12 movies of HIS opinion(or so it appears to be?). why don't you guys jus go and make your own list? ....then agn....wth is Office Space doing up there 0.o
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  • Lauren
    Uhh....... even though i may be young (a middle schooler) look go to YOUTube.com search for a trbute to the ultimate movies, and Titanic and JAWS are on there. Did ya think about Titanic? For a 3-hour and 17 minute movie, include it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Lauren
    Here's a tip: Put Titanic here, it'll serve u well. Who else agrees?
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  • Jess
    Although there are plenty of movies missing / that don't belong on the list, the biggest one I'd like to see changed is The Matrix to Dark City. Dark City came out right before The Matrix, and the sets were shared on both movies alongside the visual production. Its got most of the same effects, and at the same time some of the most amazing cinematography and best original soundtrack (That fits in with the way the movie is going) ever.
  • Abhi
    The List has more of a visual effect entertainers..........I guess the Title has to be changed to "The Top 12 Best Visual effect entertainers"
  • Kathy
    Tron was way ahead of its time...I absolutely LOVE The Fifth Element...somewhere in the future my soul was born into another life cycle that is in a taxi with Bruce. LOL
  • http://www.brokenprojector.com Gautam Valluri
    Great post. I would probably add Minority Report and i, Robot to the list but then again I guess they weren't too original
  • currently in a love-hate relationship with CG
    I always thought the remake of romeo+juliet was beautifully shot, baz luherman uses color like no other. here's a guess at two that arent even out yet, Sweeny Todd and Repo: the Genetic Opera. Im thinking these are going to open us up to a whole new genere of musical horror flicks. (new to the mainstream public anyway) Musicals are an old concept but thats something i would of never even dreamed of. Also, a reply to some earlier posts on why jurassic park is amazing. The use of animatronics was beyond amazing, still way scarier than any CG ive seen. Curious if anyone agrees with me on this , I think that animatronics/puppets are far better and more realistic than CG at times. Look at jurassic park, the original star wars, jaws, the tv show dinosaurs, hell! i cant imagine what the dark crystal would be if you did it in CG, awful probably. (hundreds more examples, sorry that i am having a forgetful moment.) Ill take good old fashioned hand made FX over computer graphics anyday. it just makes the movie more real to me, that the explosion actualy happened, or the huge T-rex is actually out there somewhere. p.s so i dont anger anyone, i do acknowlegde that CG takes is own share of talented people. (allthough id like to see them jam a dozen people into a big green rubber mass and create a real live jabba the hut. I mean, what if they messed with starwars? maybe they would just take the easy way out and paste in a CG jabba.....oh wait......I think that happend allready.)
  • Krys
    Another one I don't think anyone mention (sorry if its a repeat- too many posts to run through) is Brokeback Mountain. It's still a movie that is culturally not accepted by many people because it takes a previously thought of "manly" stereotype" and incorporates the idea of homosexuality. Definately a breaking point.
  • BILLY
    number 13 on the list...... ....BLADERUNNER!
  • Balcony Fool
    Um, you keep defending this list by saying it's not the end all, be all list, but you've titled it "The TOP 12 MOVIES IN HISTORY That Were Ahead of Their Time." So, um... you *are* actually saying that. Hardly needs to be said at this point (nearly a year later), but, yeah, "Blade Runner" should be there. No question. "Office Space" doesn't belong, and neither does friggin' "Starship Troopers."
  • Aaron
    Office Space? More ahead of it's time than Blade Runner, or the Wizard of Oz? OMG! You should make a top 100 movies ahead of their time and put Office Space as an honorable mention! Not to forget you don't at all mention: King Kong (1933) Lord of the Rings (2001) Jason and the Argonauts (1968) Bonnie and Clyde (1967) Brokeback Mountain (2005) The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) Citizen Kane (1941) 8 ½ (1963) Alien (1979) Well, at least you covered the basics. It's great to see " A Space Odyssey" on there. I think that movie is the most ahead of it's time.
  • Freddie
    I am so looking forward to "The Day The Earth Stood Stiil". It is one of my top 3 ALL TIME. 2001, A Space Odyssey" will always be #1. #2 and I can't believe it didn't make your list was Alien. Talk about putting fear into people and the special effects were grond breaking. The scence with the alien popping out of the stomach alone should but it on your list. HR Giegor's designs were so dark and evil they MADE the movie. Contact (1997) would also be on my list.
  • amo
    to put 300 spartans is beyond stupidity. whats ahead of its time there? its greek mythology and a worst version Ive seen!!
  • LESLIE
    I think that you should pu The Wizard of Oz on here. It was by far the best movie ever made. You have to be a complete and total idiot not to include it.
  • J T
    Animated films are distinctly missing: steamboat willie -- first major animation film 2d (i think) toy story - first film to take 3d cgi films mainstream polar express -- first to tkae 3d cgi towards photo-realism and use motion capture
  • Alice Radio
    i prefer to some old time movies with war and politics. people did not have advanced tech then so sci-fic movies basically had rough quality but anyway we should appreciate film-makers' effort of pursuit for movies industry.
  • A.Doomooot
    How's about Kazan's Baby Doll? Godard's Contempt? Altman's Nashville? Hmmm?
  • mark vincent k
    A list of this kind is subjective and totally based on opinion, so I have to give kudos in that sense. Your arguments on why those that made the list are strong and I also respect the list with that end result. I would, however add: 1. "Freaks" - a film from the 30's that showed all humans are not alike. 2. "Myra Breckenridge" - the 60's film ahead of it's time with a theme of LGBT existence in society. 3. "Midnight Cowboy" - 1969 Best Picture winner showing hookers can be male too. 4. "Boys in the Band" - 1971 classic with all gay characters that achieved critical/revenue success. 5. "Harold and Maude" - 1970's Ruth Gordon cult classic that showed love can surpass age gaps. 6. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" - 70's gem that started widespread belief in the paranormal. 7. "Schindler's List" - a Spielberg classic that finally shut Holocaust deniers up (for the most part). 8. "Requiem for a Dream" - 2001 gem that showed the cross-cultural/economic drug abuse reality. 9. "Transamerica" - Feliticy Huffman helped shed light on the struggles of the transgendered. 10. "Doubt" - Streep/Hoffman/Adams/Davis film that focused on bad decisions made with haste/hate.
  • alex
    First post - Long time reader. It's funny that OP was in '07. Decent list, but like everyone else says you're missing Blade Runner. And, IMO Gattaca, 12 Monkeys, Pulp Fiction and most recently Avatar. ;)
  • http://vestisrbija.wordpress.com/ vesti srbija
    number 13 on the list.

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