I maintain that the best decade for science-fiction cinema—which began in earnest in the 1960s (2001)—was the 1980s (its highest achievement being Blade Runner). Next was the 1970s (Solaris), and third, the 1990s (Gattaca). The aughts, the first decade of the future, were oddly enough a weak time for science-fiction cinema. None of the four standout films—District 9, Avatar, Sleep Dealer, and Children of Men—truly broke with the continuum of their moment and became self-contained worlds like Blade Runner or Gattaca.
True, Sleep Dealer and Children of Men came close, but each ultimately missed the sphere of greatness for different reasons. In the case of Sleep Dealer, it has a brilliant concept but needed a much bigger budget to better protect its special effects from the erosion of time. As for Children of Men, it had the budget to completely seal and protect its visuals, but its concept has lots of bothersome holes. As a consequence, when watching Sleep Dealer, you enjoy the concept (the future of neoliberal economics and labor in Mexico), and when watching Children of Men, you have to ignore much of the concept (in the future, humans are on the verge of extinction because of some condition that has sterilized all women—but there is hope in one African woman) and enjoy the excellent details, special effects, wardrobe, cinematography, and art direction.
Also, as the most popular philosopher in the world, Slavoj iek, pointed out, you have to pay attention to the film's background, to things that are happening in the distance, in the sky, down a street, or passing a window in a room. Children of Men always keeps the eyes (but not the mind) busy. SIFF Cinema Uptown, Wed Dec 19 at 9 pm.