The biggest problem turned out to be, of course, how to separate what's "science-fiction" from what's, well, everything else. The easiest approach turned out to be exclusion. The genre doesn't have a precise, agreed-upon definition, as far as I know, but I decided to go with the strictest one that seemed reasonable. Mostly, this meant: no superhero flicks (sorry Mr. Raimi), no fantasy (with apologies to Peter Jackson), and nothing that seemed to lean closer to horror (eliminating the 28 franchise, the likes of The Host and, heartbreakingly, The Mist). That left a list of films that I am comfortable calling "sci-fi."
Unlike some of my cleverer co-bloggers, I decided to go with a more conventional "top 10" for this exercise, though I also offer some bonus categories at the bottom of the post. The digital revolution obviously made the aughts a banner decade for the genre, though the extent to which the big f/x extravaganzas wound up missing from my list surprised even me. I'm glad Jim Cameron got to spend a few hundred million dollars and a half decade developing the fireworks that made Avatar a technological landmark. But -- and this is to take nothing away from Cameron's achievement -- who really needs all that stuff?