Pretty much everyone is in agreement that movies make for a jolly good time. We get to sit back, ingest carbohydrates in the form of popcorn (and sugars in the form of Twizzler sticks and extra-large Cokes), and turn our brains off while our senses are massaged by stunning visuals, tingly sounds and classic stories. A film, even a bad film, is a real treat, because we get to do nothing at all, which is always absolutely fantastic. Additionally, the carbs and sugars we ingest during our temporary vegetation state is stored as an excess of fat in the body, which upon repeat film-viewings can build into valuable body fat that will keep us warm in the winter.
Some films go the extra mile, whether intentionally or not. Once in a while a film does more than give us a good excuse to rest our buttocks. Sometimes, they hint in strangely specific ways at future events that they could not have possibly been aware of. Coincidences happen, everyone knows that. But some things are so darn on the nose, it leads us to question whether out-of-film time travel is involved. Or aliens. Yes, it’s definitely aliens. Anyway, read on, and we’ll let you be the judge.
15. Quantum Leap – Super Bowl XXX
Quantum Leap is a sci-fi TV series that originally aired from March 1989 through May 1993 on NBC. Conceptualized by Donald P. Bellisario and starring Scott Bakula in the main role of Dr. Sam Beckett, the show centers on a physicists journey through spacetime as he inhabits the places of other people in history in order to correct major mistakes we’ve made along the way. Featuring equal parts science fiction, humor, social commentary and drama, the show is a cult staple in the libraries of sci-fi fanboys everywhere.
The series is notable outside of its following mostly due to the bizarre accuracy with which it predicted a portion of Super Bowl XXX. Six years before the game, in the 1990 Quantum Leap episode “All Americans”, one character says, “I’ve been watching Super Bowl XXX. Ooo, Sam, the Steelers are down by 3. You wouldn’t believe…” Not only would the Steelers actually be playing in Super Bowl XXX (against the Giants), but they actually trailed by 3 points twice in the game. Coincidence? Could be, but still — holy moly.
14. Star Trek – Moon Landing
The original Star Trek series debuted in 1966 and had a three season run on NBC. The classic show followed the adventures of Captain James T. Kirk and his crew of the starship Enterprise as they flew across the Milky Way galaxy. Despite suffering from low ratings during the time it aired, the original Star Trek became a major hit in broadcast syndication throughout the 1970’s, making it a serious cult phenomenon and allowing it to branch out into a franchise consisting of several books, feature films, games, toys and other TV series.
Star Trek is known for predicting several future technologies, such as flip phones and touch-screen computers. Notably, however (and creepily), one episode successfully predicted the year and day of the week that the Apollo 11 would launch for the Moon. In a 1967 episode entitled “Tomorrow is Yesterday,” there was a line stating that a manned mission to the Moon was set to launch on a Wednesday. This was information that helped the crew confirm that they were actually in the year 1969. The actual Moon landing did indeed take place in the year 1969, and on a Wednesday.
13. The Simpsons – The Shape Of The Universe
An American cultural classic, The Simpsons is a cartoon created by Matt Groening and debuted in 1989 for the Fox Broadcasting Company. Set in the fictional town of Springfield and centered around the antics of the Simpson family, the show lampoons several aspects of the human condition including society, television and American culture.
The Simpsons has been highlighted for making several predictions, from future phones having video capabilities, to the 9/11 terrorist bombings. Of particular note, however, is how Homer knew the shape of our universe as a whole before our best real world physicists could figure it out. In the episode in question, Stephen Hawking says to Homer, “Your idea of a doughnut-shaped universe intrigues me, I may have to steal it.” A whole 13 years later, NASA announced that they are “99.6 percent certain” that the universe is round and flat, much like a doughnut. This is informally known as the “doughnut theory of the universe.”
12. Scrubs – Osama Bin Laden’s Hiding Spot
Scrubs is a medical comedy-drama created by Bill Lawrence which aired on NBC (and later ABC), which had a nine-year run from 2001 to 2010. The show focuses on employees at the fictional Sacred Heart teaching hospital, with most of the show’s progression centering on Dr. John “J.D.” Dorian, played by Zach Braff.
The show’s clever dialogue, airy story structure and unique character concepts are what set it apart from the other TV shows that aired at the time. Of particular note here is the character of Janitor, a mysterious man who torments J.D. throughout the show. Adding to his enigmatic aura, in a 2006 episode Janitor said to J.D. completely out of the blue, “In my opinion, we should be looking for Bin Laden in Pakistan.” The U.S. army eventually ended up finding Bin Laden hiding in a house in Pakistan. Definitely a weirdly accurate prediction, and it makes the character of the Janitor all the more difficult for us to pin down.
11. 2001: A Space Odyssey – Tablet Computing, Space Tourism and Siri
A sci-fi of epic proportions, 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick, was released in 1968. Written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, the screenplay was inspired in part by Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”, and the film was followed by a concurrent novel written by Clarke. Starring Keir Dullea as Dr. David Bowman, the film (mostly set on a spaceship run by the sentient computer Hal) tracks a voyage to Jupiter after a black monolith with mysterious properties is discovered. Dealing with several themes such as evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, existentialism and extra terrestrial life, the film is widely considered to be a work of true genius years ahead of its time.
Aside from being artistically rich, the film also showed incredible foresight in its portrayal of future technologies. Aside from portraying tablet computing that would only come to fruition in the real world four decades after its release, the film is noted for featuring space tourism of the kind that Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic made a reality only recently. Of course, the film also showed an early concept of Siri in the Hal 9000 computer. Let’s hope Siri never takes the same twisted route that Hal took in the film.
10. The Terminator – Military Drones
The Terminator is an American sci-fi action-thriller film released in 1984 and written and directed by James Cameron. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the titular role, the film follows a robotic assassin sent back in time from 2029 to 2984 to kill Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton), whose son will grow up to become a central figure in the war against the machines in a post-apocalyptic future. The film was a success in every regard, launching both Cameron and Schwarzenegger’s careers and spawning a film franchise, comic book and television series, novels and video games.
Aside from being a cultural success in every sense of the word, The Terminator showed great foresight when it came to the future of military technology. The cybernetic organisms used as a mean of warfare portrayed in the film come shockingly close to our modern day reality, particularly the Hunter-Killers, which compare quite closely to the military drones governments use today.
9. The Truman Show – Reality TV
Released in 1998, The Truman Show is an American satirical comedy-drama film starring Jim Carrey and directed by Peter Weir. Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a man who was raised inside an elaborate TV set as big and intricate as an entire town. Every second of Truman’s life is being broadcasted to the outside world; everything around him is a prop, and everyone he knows are actors who revolve their lives around keeping the subterfuge going. When he realizes his entire life was a fabricated lie, Truman decides to escape.
The Truman Show was strangely accurate in predicting an important aspect of reality TV — that is, people’s obsession with it. It didn’t go as far as foreshadowing Jersey Shore, or Keeping Up With The Kardashians, but it did portray an audience that spends a large portion of their awake life following the “real” events of people on a TV screen.
8. Jetsons: The Movie – Robot Vacuum Cleaners
Based on the original cartoon series The Jetsons, Jetsons: The Movie is a 1990 animated comedy-drama musical science fiction film released by Universal Pictures and produced by Hanna-Barbera. The film focuses on George Jetson’s promotion that relocates the Jetson family to a far corner of space. Everyone in the family but George seems to be enjoying the move, and inevitably, shenanigans ensure. The film unexpectedly and tragically served as the finale to the TV series, since both star voice-actors George O’Hanlon (George Jetson) and Mel Blanc (Jetson’s boss, Mr. Spacely) died during production. The film was dedicated to both their memories.
On a lighter note, though many technologies featured in The Jetsons (such as flying cars or entire meals rendered into a single pill) have not yet come to fruition, robot vacuum cleaners of the type featured in the film are now in thousands of homes all over the world.
7. Super Mario Bros. – The Destruction Of The World Trade Center
Released in 1993, and directed by Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel, Super Mario Bros. is a sci-fi adventure fantasy comedy film loosely based on the video game series of the same name. Starring Bob Hoskins as Mario, John Leguizamo as Luigi and Dennis Hopper as President Koopa, the film follows the Mario brothers as they dive into a parallel universe run by the evil King Koopa. The film was panned by critics and is considered a laughing stock by fans of the video games, but has since become a cult classic, spawning its own fan-made website, comic series and even a Blu-ray release.
Despite being essentially void of artistic merit, the film was strangely accurate in foreshadowing 9/11. Towards the end of the film, when the real world and mushroom kingdom dimensions collide, the twin towers are shown dissolving one after another. A truly haunting portion from an otherwise totally laughable movie.
6. You’ve Got Mail – Internet Dating
You’ve Got Mail is a romantic comedy classic released in 1998 and directed by Nora Ephron. The film features Tom Hanks as Joe “NY152” Fox and Meg Ryan as Kathleen “Shopgirl” Kelly. The two actors previously starred together in Joe Versus the Volcano and Sleepless in Seattle. You’ve Got Mail centers on the blooming relationship between two business rivals who are unaware that they are building an online romance together.
Aside from being a well-received follow-up to the prior classic Hanks-Ryan rom-com Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail prophecised certain aspects of online dating well before the phenomenon became a well-established form of courting. In the film, the two characters get to know and fall in love with each other online, through text, via e-mail, without ever having met. These days, social applications like Tinder and PlentyOfFish are the go-to platforms for building textual romance, but the seeds of this phenomenon were planted years ago by e-mail.
5. Game of Death – Death Of Brandon Lee
Game of Death is a 1972 martial arts film produced in Hong Kong and written, produced and directed by Bruce Lee. Lee stars in the film as Billy Lo, a famous Hong Kong movie actor, who fakes his death in order to locate and seek revenge on the people who are trying to take his life. Tragically, the film was Lee’s final attempt, as he passed away from apparent cerebral issues (officially diagnosed as “death by misadventure”) during the film’s production.
Amid all the tragedy and bizarreness in the film (which would include real-life shots of Bruce Lee’s open-casket funeral, as well as two Chinese actors who filled in certain shots for Lee in lieu of his death), there was a fateful scene that mirrored another real life tragedy. In the film, Lee plays an actor that is shooting a movie. In one particular sequence, a prop gun is mistakenly loaded with a real bullet, and when the gun goes off, it shoots Lee’s character, killing him. The same exact thing happened in real life 20 years later, when Brandon Lee died during the filming of The Crow. So, Bruce Lee effectively called his own son’s death several years before it happened.
4. Poltergeist – The Date Of Its Star’s Death
Poltergeist is a 1982 horror/supernatural film written and produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by Tobe Hooper. The first and most iconic film of a renowned franchise, Poltergeist revolves around a suburban family living in California whose house is haunted by evil ghosts that take the family’s young daughter away from them. Originally meant to be directed by Steven Spielberg (a clause in the contract he signed to make E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial prevented him from doing so), the film nevertheless received widespread commercial success and critical acclaim, and is considered today to be a classic in horror cinema.
Aside from the praise that the film spawned, it was strangely prophetic in hinting one of its character’s deaths. In one of the scenes set in the boy’s room, there is a poster that says “1988 Super Bowl XXII.” It’s strange that the film would reference a football game that would take place six years after the film’s release, when future-play or time travel served no purpose to the film’s plot. Strangely, six years later, on the very same day of that Super Bowl game, the film’s star Heather O’Rourke fell violently ill, and would pass away before she could get to the hospital the next day.
3. The Matrix – 9/11
Released in 1999, written and directed by The Wachowskis, and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving, The Matrix is a classic of sci-fi and action cinema. The film portrays a dystopian future wherein reality as a whole is entirely simulated by futuristic machines who have enslaved the human race and use their energy as a power source. Neo (played by Reeves) learns the truth of the world, and is drawn into a war against the machines alongside other humans who were freed from the illusion. A visual and philosophical feast, the film is considered by many to be a shining example of the highest calibre of cinema.
During an interrogation scene in which Neo is being questioned by Agent Smith (played by Weaving), we are shown an image of a photocopy of Neo’s passport. If we freeze the frame and look closely, we can say that the expiration fate of the passport is September 11, 2001. Definitely a coincidence, but definitely a strange one.
2. Total Recall – Self-Driving Cars
Total Recall is an American sci-fi action film released in 1990 and directed by Paul Verhoeven. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, and is loosely based on the story “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” written by Philip K. Dick. The film is set in 2084, and its plot revolves around a labor worker named Douglas Quaid (played by Schwarzenegger) who is experiencing recurring dreams about a mysterious woman on Mars. The film was a great box office success, and has earned a place among sci-fi cinematic classics.
The film showcases multiple futuristic technologies that we aren’t even close to inventing yet, but one of them is actually fairly within reach. There is a scene that depicts a car being driven by a humanoid robot, with no human sitting on the driver’s seat. If we subtract the strange-looking robot and replace it with automated, invisible technology, the film comes fairly close to prophesizing the self-driving cars that are set to fill the streets within the next few years.
1. Network – Several Media Platforms
Released in 1976, Network is an American dark satire directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Paddy Chayefsky. The film focuses on a fabricated television network called UBS, which is struggling with very low ratings. Starring icons of the time like William Holden, Faye Dunaway and Peter Finch, the film was lauded, winning four Academy Awards for acting and screenwriting. It received one of the highest film honours in 2000 when it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.
What would become apparent many years after its release is that the film was not only artistically sound throughout, it also contained a tremendous amount of foresight. Network successfully predicted (or, maybe, planted the seeds of) several media platforms such as the rise of tabloid TV, reality TV, YouTube, and media mega-mergers. Once in a while there comes a film whose creators have an eye on civilization’s horizon. Network is just that.