Winning streak: Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972), Mirror (1975), Stalker (1979), Nostalghia (1983), The Sacrifice (1986)

Did you see Prometheus last month, expect to watch wall-to-wall action, and leave dumbfounded by the film's far-reaching ideas? If so, you better steer clear of the late Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's cult classic science fiction films, because, simple put, the intelligence on display in Tarkovsky's works makes the clunky concepts in Ridley Scott's enjoyable yet flawed Alien prequel seem amateur hour.

Known for injecting metaphysics into his altogether contemplative and delicately slow-paced character studies, Tarkovsky made cinema for patient viewers who don thinking-caps. Particularly when he delved into sci-fi, which he did for the disorienting, beautiful head-trips Solaris and Stalker. However, his oddest flick, The Mirror, doesn't belong to any specific genre, abandoning all convention to formulate a mental examination of its central character through a montage of loosely related scenes, newsreel footage, and narration.

Sixteen years after his death, Tarkovsky still hasn't received the full-blown respect and widespread acclaim he deserves, and, frankly, his reputation may never expand beyond film school lectures. It'd be delusional to think that a major studio big-wig ever telling one of his pay-for-hire directors, "Give us a sci-fi picture like one of that Russian guy's.... You know, the one who made Solaris." There's not a chance in hell that they'd know his name if they did actually say that.