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Movies That Were Eerily Ahead Of Their Time

April 9, 2020 13.6k votes 2.7k voters 183.4k views12 items

List RulesVote up the movies that became eerily topical years after they came out.

There are so many reasons why a movie can flop or feel "off." For some, like these films that predicted the future, the overall topic or theme of the movie was too novel at the time. However, these films now feel eerily ahead of their time. Some predict technological advances, while others have uncanny similarities to real-life events that happened years after the film was released

  • In 2011, Steven Soderbergh painted a bleak picture of a world brought to its knees by an unknown virus with his film Contagion. Inspired by the 2003 SARS outbreak as well as persistent fears of a deadly "bird flu" just around the corner, the carefully researched film begins with five strangers in a Hong Kong hotel, including American Beth Emhoff (Gwenyth Paltrow), who contracts a novel virus and unwittingly spreads it.

    The chaos, the dangerous spread of misinformation (especially from aggrieved blogger Alan Krumwiede, played by Jude Law), the mandated quarantines, and the shortages of medical resources might feel all too real to those living through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

    • Actors: Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard
    • Released: 2011
    • Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
    Ahead of its time?

    More Contagion 

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  • In 1995, when The Net was released, chat rooms were just starting to break into the mainstream. Computer systems analyst Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) is no stranger to the web, but she fails to anticipate having her identity stolen. Most folks who used chat rooms did so anonymously at the time, and the thought of someone being able to take your identity via the web was something only technophiles discussed.

    It wasn't until 1998 that authorities realized how serious and prevalent online identity theft had become. The US Congress passed the Identity Theft Assumption Deterrence Act, which finally made every form of identity theft a federal offense.

    • Actors: Sandra Bullock, Jeremy Northam, Tony Perez, Ken Howard, Diane Baker
    • Released: 1995
    • Directed by: Irwin Winkler
    Ahead of its time?

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  • Not many people concerned themselves with data privacy back in 2002 when Minority Report hit theaters. The sci-fi thriller raises big questions, like fate versus free will, but it also is eerily spot-on with how personal data would be used both commercially and by authorities.

    In the world of Minority Report, targeted holographic ads pop up in front of you, facial recognition technology makes it impossible to stay hidden, and the authorities use data - along with psychic humans called Precogs - to track suspected lawbreakers. Now, people encounter targeted advertising as they scroll through their social media feeds, and police forces use data to detain people - with ambiguous consequences.

    • Actors: Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow, Paul Wesley
    • Released: 2002
    • Directed by: Steven Spielberg
    Ahead of its time?

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  • No matter your interest or hobby, you can find a reality show to match. Roughly 130 reality shows premiered in the first two months of 2020, and since reality programming is so cheap to produce, we're unlikely to see a shortage anytime soon. In 1998, The Truman Show was released, a film that chronicles the life of Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey), the unwitting star of a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year reality show. 

    A year later, CBS greenlit two shows that would forever change the primetime landscape: a remake of a British series called Big Brother and the Swedish show Expedition Robinson - which CBS rebranded as Survivor.

    • Actors: Jim Carrey, Paul Giamatti, Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Natascha McElhone
    • Released: 1998
    • Directed by: Peter Weir
    Ahead of its time?

    More The Truman Show 

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