Science Fiction Films

Top Ten Chart - 2021

Concatenation's annual calculation looking at the British Isles (and Malta), 52 weekly film (movie) box office charts across 2021 that accounts for only fantastic films (SF and fantasy).

Remember, this is the UK public's cinema theatre box office we are talking about, and not fantastic film buffs' views. Consequently below this top ten we have included at the end a few other worthies well worth checking out as well as (in some years) some warnings-to-avoid. Also note that this chart compilation calculation did not include DVD sales or spin-off product earnings, and our chart is also subject to weekly vagaries. (In some weeks most of the entries do not gross much but at other times (for example public holidays) overall box office takings are higher.) This means that the chart reflects on-going cinema attendance throughout the year and it is not a strict annual list of the year's high box office earners. Notwithstanding such small-print caveats, standby with the pop corn, here we go...


1. No Time To Die


A personalised assassination weapon becomes a weapon of mass destruction in this, Craig Daniels' last outing as James Bond. The film follows directly on from Spectre (which also did well in the 2015/6 chart). J Bond has left active service. His peace is short-lived when Felix Leiter, an old friend from the CIA, turns up asking for help, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with the dangerous new technology.  Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga.  Trailer here.

2. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings


Shang-Chi, the master of weaponry-based Kung Fu, is forced to confront his past after being drawn into the Ten Rings organization. Director: Destin Daniel Cretton.  Trailer here.

3. Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City


Set in 1998, this origin story explores the secrets of the mysterious Spencer Mansion and the ill-fated Raccoon City as our protagonists try to whistle blow the Umbrella Corporation and stop the contagion from spread.  Well, we all know how that worked out…  Director and written by Johannes Roberts. Stars: Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell and Hannah John-Kamen.  Trailer here.

4. Black Widow


Based on the Marvel comic character. Natasha Romanoff confronts the darker parts of her ledger when a dangerous conspiracy with ties to her past arises. Director: Cate Shortland. Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh and David Harbour.  (It came out in the US at the end of the previous year but only on general release in the British Isles this year.)  Trailer here.

5. Ghostbusters: Afterlife


This came out sufficiently close to the year's and did sufficiently well that a three or four more weeks in the charts would have boosted it up to number '3' or '2'. This sequel truly harks back to the original film, so much so that it is worth revisiting the original before watching this. It was obviously made for parents to take their kids to see: the parents getting memories of the original while the kids get off on this child-centred offering.  Trailer here.

6. Eternals


The saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations. Eternals is based on the Marvel Comics race of the same name. In 5000 BC, ten superpowered Eternals—Ajak, Sersi, Ikaris, Kingo, Sprite, Phastos, Makkari, Druig, Gilgamesh, and Thena—are sent by the Celestial Arishem to Earth on their starship, the Domo, to exterminate the invasive Deviants. The last of the Deviants are killed in 1521, and the group's opinions differ over their continued responsibilities and their relationship with humankind. Over the next five hundred years, they mostly live apart from each other, awaiting Arishem's return. In the present day, Sersi and Sprite live together in London. They are attacked by the Deviant Kro, with Ikaris arriving and chasing the creature away. Realising the Deviants have returned, they travel to South Dakota to reunite with their leader, Ajak, only to find that she had been killed by Kro. Director: Chloé Zhao.  Trailer here.

7. A Quiet Place Part II


This is not a bad sequel to the 2018 SF horror of an invasion of blind aliens that hunt by sound. This sequel actually came out 2020 but its general release was interrupted by CoVID lockdown but did well in 2021, hence its presence in this year's chart. The original film was short-listed for the 2019 Hugo Award 'Best Dramatic Presentation' category.  Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realise the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats lurking beyond the sand path. Director: John Krasinski. Stars: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Cillian Murphy.  Trailer here.

8. The Suicide Squad


Not to be confused with the 2016 film. Supervillains Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker and a collection of unhinged criminals at Belle Reve prison join the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese. Directed and written by James Gunn.  Trailer here.

9. Dune


The latest adaptation of Frank Herbert's science fiction novel about the son of a noble family entrusted with the protection of the most valuable asset and most vital element in the galaxy: spice, the drug that enables the space guild to warp space, hence make interstellar travel possible. This is actually part one and it is not a bad adaptation other than being on the long side with lengthy panoramic scenes. Director: Denis (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) Villeneuve. Stars: Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson and Zendaya.  Trailer here.

10. Candyman


A sequel to the horror Candyman (1992) that returns to the now-gentrified Chicago neighbourhood where the legend began.  Based on the short story 'The Forbidden' by Clive Barker. Directed by Nia DaCosta.  Trailer here.


And the worthies that slipped through the net...

Once again Hollywood dominates chart, the below is where you may find some worthy watching should you want to hire a DVD for the evening.

The Matrix Resurrections (R)
This came out so close to the year's end that even if it was at the top of the weekly chart from debuting to the year's end it could not have accrued enough points to appear on the annual top ten. Nonetheless, during this time it performed well in the weekly box office chart. It follows The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.  It sees Neo who is living a ordinary life in San Francisco, where his therapist prescribes him blue pills. However, Morpheus offers him the red pill and reopens his mind to the world of the Matrix…  It has to be said that this has had mixed reviews...  Director: Lana Wachowski.  Stars: Keanu Reeves, Christina Ricci and Jessica Henwick.  Trailer here.

Spiderman: No Way Home (18)
As with The Matrix Resurrections this came out so close to the year's end that even if it was at the top of the weekly chart to the year's end it could not have accrued enough points to appear on the annual top ten. Nonetheless, during this time it performed well in the weekly box office chart. (Stop press: See next year's chart.) With Spider-Man's identity now revealed, Peter asks Doctor Strange for help. When a spell goes wrong, dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.  Director: Jon Watts.  Stars: Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Holland.  Trailer here.


And then there were…

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes (12)
To kick off the 'And then there were'.... other worthies, we have an art-house SF offering from Japan. Yes, it's low budget and yes, it is a standard SF trope, but we think a fun exploration. This actually came out in Japan but did the international Fantastic Film Fest circuit (mainly on-line fests last CoVID year (2021)). To date (Jan 2022) it has not had a cinematic release in the West, so you may need to seek out the DVD from Third Window Films.  A café owner discovers that the TV in his cafe suddenly shows images from the future, but only two minutes into the future.  Trailer here.

Boss Level (15)
Roy Pulver has died 144 times and counting, stuck in a time loop having to relive the same day over and over again. The special forces agent must unlock the mystery behind his untimely demise…  This is standard time loop fare, and (as the protagonist does in the film) we have seen it all before, but the action scenes do hit the spot.  Director: Joe Carnahan.  Stars: Annabelle Wallis, Mel Gibson and Frank Grillo.  Trailer here.

Finch (12)
On a post-apocalyptic Earth following a massive Solar flare that destroyed the ozone layer, Finch is a survivor. He finds a dog and also builds a robot for companionship. They decide to head for the mountains, aware that there may be other survivors, possibly with hostile intent…  This offering somewhat visits territory Tom Hanks explored in his non-genre film Castaway.  Heart-warming, if a little sugary.  Director: Miguel Sapochnik.  Stars: Tom Hanks.  Trailer here.

Last and First Men (12)
This actually did the Fantastic Film Fest circuit back in 2020 and an internet release. It also had a limited TV premiere in some European countries in 2021. It is based on the Olaf Stapledon classic SF novel.  Trailer here.

The Old Guard (15)
This actually came out in 2020 on Netflix, but as last year's chart was deferred due to SARS-CoV-2 / COVD-19 pandemic, across the globe cinemas closed with films postponed, so we list it now here. (Besides, by now it may be beginning to appear elsewhere.)  Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, a covert team of immortal mercenaries is suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered. Andromache "Andy" of Scythia, Booker, Joe, and Nicky are centuries-old warriors with unexplained regenerative healing abilities who use their vast experience to work as mercenaries, taking missions that help people. Breaking their rule of never working for the same employers twice, they accept a job from former CIA operative James Copley to rescue a group of kidnapped girls in South Sudan. During the mission, which proves to be a ruse, they are ambushed and killed. After quickly recovering and killing their attackers, they realize that Copley set them up and remotely filmed their regeneration...  This is primarily an action flick: the problems of immortality (renewing identity in an ever-increasing identiy secure/reliant society, keeping a losing friendships/memories, continual culture shock, acrued knowledge across the centuries, destiny, etc., are not explored as they might.  However it is based on The Old Guard graphic novel written by Greg Rucka.  For what it is worth it won the 2021 Hugo Award 'Best dramatic presentation' category (though, bless them, Hugo voters aren't exactly known for their cinematic literacy as exemplified by many SF Worldcon film programme streams (2010 being the notable exception the past two decades)).  Nonetheless, perfectly fine for a night in.  Trailer here.

Oxygen (15)
Liz wakes in a cryogenic chamber with no recollection of how she got there. As she's running out of oxygen, she must rebuild her memory to find a way out of her nightmare.  Director Alexandre Aja.  Writer Christie LeBlanc Stars: Mélanie Laurent, the voice of Mathieu Amalric and Malik Zidi.  Trailer here.

Reminiscence (12A)
This comes from the creators of the Westworld TV series.  Set in a future globally-warmed world with a risen sea flooding coastal cities, Nick Bannister is a private investigator of the mind. He navigates the alluring world of the past when his life is changed by new client Mae. A simple case becomes an obsession after she disappears and he fights to learn the truth about her.  Directed and written by Lisa Joy.  Stars: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson and Thandiwe Newton.  Trailer here.

Voyagers (12A)
A crew of astronauts on a multi-generational mission descend into paranoia and madness, not knowing what is real or not.  Director: Neil (Limitless) Burger. Stars: Colin Farrell, Tye Sheridan & Lily-Rose Depp.  Trailer here.


As noted above, last year's chart was deferred due to SARS-CoV-2 / COVD-19 pandemic, across the globe cinemas closed with films postponed. Nonetheless, the SF² Concatenation team's informal best films of the year for 2020 were alphabetically:-
          Color Out of Space (Trailer here)
          The Invisible Man (Trailer here)
          The Platform (Trailer here)
          Possessor (Trailer here)
          Save Yourselves! (Trailer here)
          Tenet (Trailer here)
          The Vast of Night (Trailer here)
          Wonder Woman 1984 (Trailer here)
          Vivarium (Trailer here)



See also our selection of best films of 2021 (January - December) as opposed to the year UK box office chart above. This personal selection is in our Spring 2022 news.

For forthcoming SF film premieres then see the Concat' Science Fiction diary.

For forthcoming SF film news then see our seasonal Science Fiction news page and its film section.

If you really are into Science Fiction (as opposed to casually passing through this site) then check out this site's What's new page for our full list of recent postings of news, reviews, diary articles and loads of other stuff.



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