There are plenty of factors that make a good movie — great characters, plotline, and cinematography. You’ll often hear people say that a particular movie was ahead of its time. It explored an idea that wasn’t prevalent at the time that it came out, or it perfectly predicted a concept or event in the future. These movies don’t have to be science fiction (although they often are) and are a testament to the art of filmmaking.
If you’re looking for some truly mind-boggling incredible movies, we’ve put together a list of the best movies that were ahead of their time. These movies aren’t crowd-pleasers, and not everyone can appreciate the nuances of their forward-thinking. But for a film connoisseur, these seven movies are a real delight.
Minority Report (2002)
Minority Report is a dystopian movie, but it’s eerily similar to present day. The movie is set in the future where criminals are caught and imprisoned/reformed even before they commit the crime, bringing up plenty of moral ambiguities. It rings especially true with cancel culture today, with internet drama having real-life consequences in justice and legal settings.
Minority Report was also incredible in the way it imagined the future, back in 2002 with a lot of predictions coming into play. It’s difficult to imagine that the movie came out in 2002. It reminds us a lot of Altered Carbon and looks a lot like a movie that could have come out this year.
Surveillance, totalitarian governments, we’re not so far away from Minority Report’s predictions!
Gattaca is not that well-known of a movie but remains to be one of the favorites of science fiction. Gattaca is set in a futuristic world where eugenics play an important role in the furthering of the human race. Humans create genetically superior offspring who then receive a better standard of life. Genetics merge into destiny in this thrilling film so ahead of its time.
Gattaca thought of so many concepts that were completely foreign back in 1997. Genetic tracing through skin cells, fingerprints and other DNA technologies have indeed developed far more in the past decade and Gattaca brought this revolutionary concept to an audience that hadn’t thought of it earlier.
It’s so relevant that you’d expect Gattaca to be a Black Mirror episode released a few months ago.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
This 1968 film is a classic of science fiction and predicted so much of our current reality that it blows my mind! You’ll actually find technology that resembles tablets and even video calling in the film. We didn’t have all of those in 2001, but 10 years later, we’ve sort of caught on… haven’t we?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is nothing short of a masterpiece. This brilliant film is both science fiction and romantic comedy, as it follows a reversed love story of two people who try to erase their memory of each other, and fall in love again. As if the concept wasn’t complicated enough, the pace of this indie film is loopy and mind-boggling. It’s a huge rollercoaster ride experience for the viewer and was years ahead of its time when it was released back in 2004.
To this day, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is viewed as a genre-setter and trailblazer. There are many films today that feel very reminiscent of the confusing pace and story weaving that Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind debuted.
You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Sure, people don’t really fall in love over email anymore (we have social media that’s taken center-stage) but You’ve Got Mail hinted at an entire universe of online dating trends way before the internet really took off.
It’s one of the cutest classic rom-coms, but the ideas that it touches upon were so ahead of its time. Not really knowing someone’s identity when you talk to them on the internet? Wondering if the real-life version of someone or their internet version is the truest reflection of self? Cat-fishing?
You’ve Got Mail released back in 1998 (That’s an incredible 22 years ago) was able to hint at all of these complicated concepts that we’re dealing with right now. Predicting what the coming generations will struggle within their love lives 22 years before it happens? If that’s not a movie ahead of its time, we don’t know what it is!
Everyone’s seen Matrix. If you haven’t you’ve missed out on a global experience. The Matrix has been a cult classic and has seamlessly integrated with so many of our life experiences that it’s almost problematic to call it fiction at this point. With the internet blurring our entire perception of reality, realizing how much of our lives we devote to a power that doesn’t serve us — there’s a reason why Matrix references are almost religious at this point. Blue pill or red pill? A glitch in the Matrix? The entire trilogy is a surreal experience that is a wake-up call for anyone born in the last 30 years.
How could the series have been so predictive and self-aware? We can’t answer that question, but we will tell you that we think it should be on school and college curriculums.
One of the highest-grossing films of all time, Avatar remains to be a favorite amongst many. It’s still my favorite film — and it’s difficult to imagine that the film is more than a decade old. Even though we’ve been kept on tenterhooks for the Avatar sequels, it’s eye-opening to look at the parallels between the Avatar film and real-life ecological concerns. “We killed our Mother” Jake Sully says, referring to a dead Earth in the movie. Saving the planet has been a concern for a long time, but Avatar explored real connection to nature in a way that no other movie could.
Harmony with nature and forsaking civilization for tribal life? Sounds like a documentary from the 70s, but Avatar manages to explore these themes in a fast-paced and action-filled approach. It’s a film like no other. (Until, of course, Avatar 2 comes out next year!)
Here’s our list of the top 7 movies that were ahead of their time. Think we missed out on a great one? Let us know in the comments below!