The Curator

William Shatner’s Favorite Outer Space Movies

In honor of his album of space-themed song covers, Seeking Major Tom, out Oct. 11, the great William Shatner—otherwise known as Captain Kirk or “Rocket Man”—gives us his 10 favorite movies set in outer space.

Everett Collection (4), Getty Images

E.T. (1982)

One of the most profound science fiction films because it dealt with childhood fantasy and the possibility that reality is only a glimpse into a child’s mind. And you have to be a child to enjoy it.

Star Wars: Episodes IV – VI (1977-1983)

Probably the best of the science fiction films of its time. Technology has improved tremendously since then. What we now take as great cinematic effects had their start with George Lucas’s Industrial Light & Magic. But remember, the prequel used ILM’s power to make Jar Jar Binks perhaps the most annoying character ever.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Again a brilliant movie taking a hold of the myth that lurks around us all the time. Are there strange entities observing us and interfering with us? And there are. And I shall name one of them. And his name is Governor Perry.

Spaceballs (1987)

Not bold gravy. I hate spoofs which lack the creativity of the original. It had the scent of Chinese food two days later.

Alien (1979)

It was one of the most frightening movies ever made. The director knew exactly how to mount the tension and surprise us with those delirious effects. But the best special effect of all was Sigourney Weaver in her tank top.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

Star Trek captured it all. At the time effects were primitive and so were the effects on Star Trek—but the basics of a good story are character, plot, and good development and that at its best was Star Trek. Star Trek fathered everything. And what a wonderful, handsome, dynamic leading man who played the captain. What was his name?

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Space Odyssey was a work of genius. With a computer that goes bad and the mystery of the monolith and the indescribable ending that nobody could understand. What a great movie to see again and again. And again, and again, and again because of that ending. Can anyone explain it please?

Apollo 13 (1995)

As for realism, and although not pure science fiction in the strictest definition, the adventure was so unbelievable that Apollo 13 is right there with great science fiction movies. Now that the space program has ended, it is also a relic.

Avatar (2009)

It is the sum total of all the science fiction movies that have come before. It’s a triumph of intention and technique. I can feel the 3D effect upon my skin. Goosebumps baby, goosebumps.

Contact (1997)

Contact took as its subject matter the anticipation by most people of a moment in time when the mystery of “Are we alone?” is solved. Now that we realize we are not alone, that some bacterial sludge is our planetary neighbor, it doesn’t give me any solace.