Updated: Nov 11, 2019
Nominee #10 - Contact (1997)
Scientist Ellie Arroway devoted to proving alien existence finds radio evidence from extra - terrestrial intelligence willing to make contact.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writers: James V. Hart (screenplay by), Michael Goldenberg (screenplay by)
Stars: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Contact (1997) is based on the 1985 novel by celebrated and much-loved astronomer and author, Carl Sagan.
Jodie Foster stars as scientist, Dr. Eleanor Arroway, who does what only few will do - listen over the course of years to radio signals from space, with the hope that somewhere in that static will be evidence of alien life. When she does pick up a signal from a star that is 25 light years away that repeats a prime number sequence, the project is overrun by government and security officials, not to mention intense media scrutiny as the world follows the story in awe.
Data decoded from the signal suggests that the aliens have sent through schematics for an advanced transportation system for a single person. When Arroway is eventually selected to make this first ever trip, she encounters aliens in one of her favourite childhood landscapes and with an alien taking the form of her deceased father. For these advanced beings, it was important that the first contact with humans was made as easy and seamless as possible.
When she does return to earth, mission control finds only noise on her recording device and dismisses her recount of what happened.
Something is out there and it baffles everybody – scientist, politician, believer and viewer.
The cast includes Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, Tom Skerritt, William Fichtner, John Hurt, Angela Bassett, Rob Lowe, Jake Busey and David Morse. Then U.S. President, Bill Clinton also makes an appearance (with found footage from one of his addresses ingeniously used to appear as if linked to the momentous confirmation of alien life in the movie). A number of real life TV anchors in the movie also make the onscreen media coverage of the story credible.
In the end, Contact is not so much about technically impressive visual effects or any action-packed tension build-up. It is really about Arroway – committed to using science to uncover the truth about this world and beyond – pitted against the believers who are not sure that everything can (or must) be apprehended. Something is out there and it baffles everybody – scientist, politician, believer and viewer.