21 Films Neil deGrasse Tyson Loves (Or Really Hates)

Voting Rules
Films on which Tyson has voiced strong opinions, ranked from the worst science in Hollywood, to the best.

You’ve heard of America’s sweetheart and America’s pastime. Neil deGrasse Tyson is America’s astrophysicist. We love him not only because he is able to explain the most complicated matters of science in terms that the layman can easily understand, but he does so in a way that he is not speaking down to us. Tyson comes as our friend. He's just our pal who loves that we have an interest in science, and is anxious to share his vast knowledge.

So, it makes perfect sense that our buddy would analyze the science behind our favorite films. However, Tyson not only explains matters like zero-G and proper constellation configuration, he calls out the movies that get the science wrong. When it comes to science versus Hollywood, Tyson often serves as judge, jury, and executioner.

The hype surrounding Tyson’s disdain for the disregard of good science in movies reached a fever pitch back in October 2013, when the astrophysicist took to Twitter in a series of tweets that pointed out the several scientific errors in the Academy Award-winning film Gravity. The hilarious tweets went viral, and Alfonso Cuarón cringed.

But here’s the thing, Tyson loves the movies, especially big-budget science fiction films. He explains his passion for cinema, “I want science fiction films to stretch the talent and imagination of visual effects experts. And the film above all else should create a vision of the future we either know that we don’t want, or know that we do.”

Additionally, just because a movie gets some of the science wrong, it doesn’t mean that Tyson hates it. In fact, he likes Gravity, and he sort of regrets all the negative attention surrounding his tweets. However, every man has his limits, and Neil deGrasse Tyson will not stand for a film that makes no effort in getting the science correct.

This list ranks the films that the Cosmos host has commented on from a scientific standpoint. We start with the most egregious offenders, the movies that seemingly ignored science altogether, films like The Black Hole and Armageddon. Then, we work our way down the rankings to the films that Tyson not only loves, but appreciates because they actually get all (or most of) the science correct. 

Let us know if we missed any movies that you've heard Tyson speak about. Enjoy the list, there are some surprises on here. In fact, you won't believe which superhero movie Tyson calls his favorite!

  • The Black Hole
    Video: YouTube

    The Film: The Oscar nominated 1979 film took place in the year 2130. A ship from Earth finds a lost ship on the edge of a black hole. 

    The Issue: It seems that the film, which did not have a science advisor on set, got more science wrong than it did right.

    In His Own Words: TMZ asked Tyson what he thought was the most scientifically inaccurate film ever made. The astrophysicist did not hesitate when he declared that The Black Hole was an embarrassment. He raged (see the above clip for yourself), "They not only got none of the physics right about falling into a black hole, had they gotten it right it would have been a vastly more interesting movie."

    Source: TMZ

    Available On:


  • The Film: Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck team up with Michael Bay to try to save the planet from mammoth asteroid headed towards Earth. 

    The Issue: Tyson actually enjoys Armageddon on a strictly entertaining level, even if he contends that the science is completely off. 

    In His Own Words: Go ahead and have fun watching Armageddon. Tyson does, even if he thinks that film is an embarrassment from a scientific point of view. "I thought Armageddon was thoroughly entertaining, though it’s probably the most scientifically offensive film ever made. The script is hilarious, it has some tender and heroic moments, the actors put on some great performances, it’s a nice ensemble. That one has the limit of those two extremes, for me. If I’m channel-surfing and I hit Armageddon, yeah, I’m gonna stop and watch it."

  • The Film: Christopher Nolan explores his science fiction side with 2014's nearly three-hour epic Interstellar. The movie takes place in the not too distant future on the planet earth. Due to extreme climate conditions, there is a dire dearth of food, and the human race is facing extinction. A group of explorers is called upon to travel through a wormhole in search of a planet that is fit for human survival.

    The Issue: Tyson took to Twitter with a series of tweets that pointed out the several scientific problems with Nolan's film. He especially had issues with the black holes, worm holes, and the relativity of time.

    In His Own Words: In an interview with NPR's David Greene, Tyson expands upon his tweets regarding the bad science of Interstellar:

    On wormholes: "A wormhole ... is a science fiction writer's favorite way to get from one place to another because you get to bypass the speed limit imposed by the speed of light: 186,000 miles per second. And that's really fast for anything we would normally encounter in everyday life, but if you want to cross the galaxy, you would be long dead before you got there."

    On relativity: "You can run the equations of general relativity and, when you run those equations, what you learn is that if you are in the presence of a strong gravity, you will have noticeable effects on how slow your time ticks, relative to anybody else who is looking at you from the outside."

    Available On:


  • The Film: Alfonso Cuarón's 2013 Academy Award-winning 3D blockbuster grossed over $700 million worldwide. The story follows a medical engineer (Sandra Bullock, who won an Oscar for her performance) and an astronaut (George Clooney) who struggle to survive out in space after their shuttle is destroyed during a routine mission.

    The Issue: Tyson repeatedly took to Twitter to bash the film's bad science in a series of tweets that he labelled "Mysteries of Gravity." His tweets went viral and suddenly everyone got in on the fun of Hollywood versus science. Tyson questioned everything from why Bullock's hair didn't float from her head during the zero-G scenes, to the placement of the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope, and even why a medical doctor was servicing a Hubble Space Telescope in the first place. Tyson also argued that a better name for the film would have been Angular Momentum.

    In His Own Words: Tyson has buried the hatchet with Cuarón, who he admits was not too happy with the criticism. However, the astrophysicist is excited that his viral tweets encouraged people to get fired up about science. "It kept people talking about the movie for many weeks, beyond the time when the principals did their talk-show circuit. It was being debated in the blogosphere, and the astronauts got in the debate, and so I think he was just charmed at the end that so many people were paying attention to the movie."

    It's important to note that even with all of the film's scientific inaccuracies, Tyson really enjoyed Gravity. He explained, "To earn the right to be criticized on a scientific level is a high compliment indeed. So when I saw a headline proclaim...'is riddled with errors,' I came to regret not first tweeting the hundred things the movie got right."

    Source: The Dissolve

    Available On:


  • The Film: The classic battle of good versus evil. Star Wars was the first (okay, technically the fourth) in the series of films created by George Lucas. The 1977 sci-fi classic featuring Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker forever changed the way we watch science fiction.

    The Issues: There are quite a number of issues for Tyson. For example, sound travels in a vacuum in the Star Wars movies. But, we're not supposed to hear things like ships traveling in space. Also, Han Solo uses the term parsecs in terms of speed, however when correctly used, the term refers to distance.  

    In His Own Words: Tyson likes Star Wars and admits that its filmmakers can pretty much do whatever they want. However, he does call Star Wars "fantasy land." In fact, Tyson doesn't see the Lucas films as scientific whatsoever, "I watch Star Wars and I'm not even checking out what they get right or wrong."

    Source: The Dissolve
  • The Film: In 1997, director James Cameron broke the hearts of millions of movie fans (especially teenage girls), with his three-hour epic weepie Titanic. Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) experienced a love story for the ages, it just happened to be set around a historical disaster. 

    The Issue: Jack has drowned in the frozen waters of the Atlantic. Rose, still in the water after watching the love of her life die right in front of her, looks up to the starlit sky. 

    In His Own Words: James Cameron is a known perfectionist. However, Tyson points out that the night sky in April for the part of the world where the Titanic sank, would not be filled with the constellations that Cameron put in the original theatrical version of the film. He explains, "There she is looking up. There is only one sky she should have been looking at … and it was the wrong sky! Worse than that, it was not only the wrong sky; the left-half of the sky was a mirror reflection of the right-half of the sky!"
     Never fear, Cameron did choose the proper stars for the film's re-released cut.
     Source: The DissolveDiscovery

    Available On: