IMDb ranks “2001:A Space Odyssey” as No. 21 best picture of all time, and second-highest science fiction (“Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” is No. 20). The movie it lost to for Best Picture at the 1969.
Mike Moffitt writes: Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the original release of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a seminal film in motion picture history and one that has awed — and confused — thousands over the years.
“2001” is often credited with paving the way for science-fiction films that took a realistic approach to depicting the future. A few decent sci-fi dramas were made before Kubrick’s space exploration story — “Forbidden Planet” and “The Incredible Shrinking Man” come to mind — but most were strictly B-movie pulp with low production values. After “2001” came “Silent Running,” “Star Wars”, “Alien” and “Aliens”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “E.T”, “The Fly” (1986) and other well-received films of the genre.
Kubrick hired NASA engineers and consultants to make the sets for “2001” as authentic as possible. He even asked astrophysicist/author Carl Sagan for help in depicting extraterrestrial life. (Sagan recommended suggesting the alien life form rather than showing it explicitly.)
Initially the movie was neither a box office nor critical success. Reviews were mixed, with the New Yorker’s highly regarded Pauline Kael among Kubrick’s biggest detractors.