Barack Obama Picks His 6 Favourite Science Fiction Movies

Over the last eight years, Barack Obama hasn’t had much time for movies, but that’s about to change when his second term as president concludes in January. In a recent interview with WIRED, he explored one specific aspect of his filmgoing diet: science fiction. As is typical of politicians, none of his picks are remotely obscure or surprising—in fact, they’re all safe, canon-friendly selections—but they do confirm that he knows quality crowd-pleasing sci-fi when he sees it. In addition to a pair of TV series (the original Star Trek, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage), Obama highlighted these six movies.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


If Obama attempted to deconstruct the ending of 2001, there’s a good chance he’d inadvertently trigger World War III. Instead, he chooses to make a simple virtue of the film’s elusive meaning, saying only that it “captures the grandeur and scale of the unknown.”

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)


As Donald Trump may soon learn, it’s not easy for a pessimist to get elected in this day and age. Known as the “yes we can” candidate, Obama has always foregrounded the trait he admires most in Close Encounters: “it is fundamentally optimistic.”

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)


Rather than wade into the intricate political intrigue of Star Wars, Obama focuses on the surface appeal of its special effects. In the end, he appreciates the film for roughly the same reason as everyone else: “it was fun.”

Blade Runner (1982)


Most Blade Runner fans can ramble all day about the film’s philosophical complexities, but Obama once again prefers to keep it short and sweet, praising the film for asking “what it means to be human.”

The Matrix (1999)


The philosophical underpinnings of The Matrix may be in opposition to some of Obama’s more controversial policies, but he respects the Wachowskis for asking “basic questions about our reality.” He also acknowledges the undeniable fact that it “looks very cool.”

The Martian (2015)


Obama is no stranger to elaborate problems that require—but don’t always get—co-operation from government officials. As the president sees it, The Martian is a triumph because its characters overcome their differences, showing “humans as problem solvers.”