The Future is Now: 20 “Futuristic” Films Set in the Present Day

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The late Ray Bradbury was a science fiction giant responsible for countless prescient novels (like Fahrenheit 451) and short stories. “I wasn’t trying to predict the future,” Bradbury told the Wall Street Journal in a 2003 interview, “I was trying to prevent it.” However, if you read Bradbury’s work (or other interviews), you’ll find that he wasn’t a Luddite opposed to technological progress or a nostalgist seeking simpler times. His fiction — like most science fiction — grapples with man’s inability to deal with our advancements.

Countless screenwriters and directors have taken a page out of Bradbury’s book. The cinematic science fiction canon is deep and ever-growing. Some films imagine the ramifications of technological or scientific progress, others wrestle with corporate or governmental power run amok. Just as many films exist in apocalyptic worlds based on the disastrous ecological futures outlined by contemporary climate scientists. Each speculative film illustrates our present problems as much as they examine how future scenarios could exacerbate those issues.

Many older films are set in years that have since passed, yet their vision far outpaced our progress and even the most dated among them offer insight into our futuristic present. Here are 20 films that imagined and investigated future worlds set in what is now our present day.