Science fiction is a genre that has dominated cinema for nearly a century, yet it continues to evolve even today. Science fiction films can transport viewers to a completely different world or feature a variant of us.
The science fiction genre has produced some very entertaining but thoughtful and intellectually stimulating films. And here we are with the list of the best of them. Read on to discover the 15 best science fiction movies of all time.
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Year of publication: 1969
Launch: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
A good list of science fiction films cannot fail to mention 2001: A Space Odyssey, probably the largest offering of the genre. Legendary director Stanley Kubrick co-wrote and directed 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although it was released half a century ago, the film’s groundbreaking visual effects also stand out in today’s digital age.
2001: A Space Odyssey also received praise for its unconventional and imaginative storytelling. The film centers on a group of astronauts and their AI supercomputer, HAL, as they embark on a journey to Jupiter to investigate an alien monolith.
Due to the meager dialogue and slow paced, 2001: A Space Odyssey may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you follow it to the end, the film is sure to be a rewarding experience.
2. Blade Runner
Year of publication: 1982
Launch: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is considered another pioneer in terms of visual effects and unconventional storytelling. The film is set in a dystopian future where synthetic humans called “replicants” are designed by a shady company to work on space colonies.
When a group of these replicants escape to Earth, a Los Angeles police officer, Rick Deckard, is tasked with hunting them down. Blade Runner was initially panned by critics due to its complex themes and slow pace, but over time it has become one of the greatest science fiction films ever.
As a side note, be sure to check out 2017’s Blade Runner 2049 sequel as well.
Year of publication: 1979
Launch: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Ian Holm
Three years before delivering Blade Runner, Ridley Scott terrified viewers with Alien. The film is set in the distant future where the crew of a space cargo ship responds to a distress signal from another spaceship on a nearby moon.
But to their dismay, the small crew find themselves battling an extremely aggressive alien creature, bent on killing them or, worse, farming them. Being a horror movie, Alien is not for the faint of heart, mind you.
Alien has since spawned a successful franchise consisting of numerous sequels, spinoffs, comics and video games.
4. Planet of the Apes
Year of publication: 1968
Launch: Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans
As the name suggests, Planet of the Apes is about an entire planet ruled by monkeys. In the film, the crew of a human astronaut find themselves abandoned on a strange planet where apes are the dominant species while humans are dumb and animal-like.
There’s a big twist towards the end of the movie that you may or may not have already guessed, but nonetheless, Planet of the Apes is a must for any sci-fi lover. You can also check out its many sequels and a prequel trilogy that came out recently.
5. Star Wars: a new hope
Year of publication: 1977
Launch: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher
Star Wars: A New Hope is an epic space opera film written and directed by visionary George Lucas. Star Wars is widely considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. Filled with action, heart, humor, strange beings and worlds, Star Wars is a super fun journey from start to finish.
Star Wars: A New Hope is slightly lacking in the science fiction accuracy department, but the film’s vastness and ambition transport you to a galaxy far away.
Year of publication: 2014
Launch: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain
Interstellar is a modern science fiction classic directed by Christopher Nolan, whom many consider to be Stanley Kubrick’s successor. Interstellar takes place in the near future, where climate change has caused food shortages.
NASA recruits a former pilot, Cooper, to abandon his family and lead a dangerous mission to find a new home for humanity. Space travel, time travel, wormholes, black holes, new worlds, Interstellar has it all, you name it.
Interstellar received the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and was also praised for its authenticity.
7. The eternal sun of the immaculate mind
Year of publication: 2004
Launch: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a romantic sci-fi film, which is a combination you don’t see often. So far, we’ve only seen dangers and horror in science fiction.
However, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is not only a typical romantic film, it also features themes of desire, existentialism and destiny. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind follows Joel (Jim Carrey), who decides to wipe his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) from his mind after discovering that she too has done the same.
But as they say, nothing can separate true lovers for long. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind can get a little complex at times, so be sure to pay attention.
Year of publication: 1979
Launch: Alexander Kaidanovsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Nikolai Grinko
Stalker is a Russian science fiction art film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. The film follows a mysterious figure known as the “stalker”, who, along with a writer and a scientist, leads an expedition to a mythical place called “The Room”, which is said to satisfy anyone’s wishes.
Stalker is a deeply thoughtful and philosophical film, but a must for all science fiction fans.
Year of publication: 2008
Launch: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin
Animation and science fiction have always gone hand in hand and Wall-E is perhaps the best film of the genre. Directed by Andrew Stanton, WALL-E revolves around a solitary garbage collection robot on an uninhabitable Earth in the year 2085.
WALL-E embarks on an adventure across the galaxy when it receives a visit from another EVE robot. Wall-E also incorporates themes of consumerism, corporatocracy, sedentary lifestyles and human environmental impact.
Year of publication: 2016
Launch: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Arrival is a recent sci-fi thriller that is much more grounded in size but still quite shocking. Arrival follows a linguist and physicist who are summoned by the United States Army to take down the intentions of an alien race that has landed on Earth.
With time running out and global tensions rising, scientists need to figure out what aliens want before a war breaks out. Like all good sci-fi movies, Arrival is also made up of several jaw-dropping twists, so watch to the end.
Year of publication: 1999
Launch: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving
The Matrix is a pop culture phenomenon that took the world by storm upon its release. The film poses a big question: what if our world was just a simulation and we were all programs?
The Matrix follows a hacker Neo (Reeves), who is recruited to end the tyranny of artificial intelligence “machines” that will control humans in the future.
While the Matrix is packed with science fiction themes, it is, in essence, an action movie. The directors, the Wachowskis, were inspired by Japanese manga and martial arts movies during the making of The Matrix. And it’s clearly evident in its highly stylized action sequences, slow motion shooting and gunfights as well.
12. ET The extraterrestrial
Year of publication: 1982
Launch: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
The Star Wars record as the highest-grossing film ever was broken by Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece ET The Extra-Terrestrial. The film follows a lonely boy, Elliott, who befriends an alien left behind on Earth.
Elliott and his friend must find a way to send ET home before the government catches him. ET is a well-being sci-fi movie that’s bound to tear your heartstrings.
13. Former Machine
Year of publication: 2014
Launch: Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson
Ex Machina is a contemporary independent science fiction film that became a classic soon after its release. Set in the near future, Ex Machina follows a computer programmer hired by a billionaire to determine if his humanoid robot possesses the ability to be sentient.
Ex Machina continues to play with the minds of the audience with its many twists until a jaw-dropping finish that is sure to leave you flabbergasted. Ex Machina won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, becoming one of the lowest budget winners in the category.
14. Jurassic park
Year of publication: 1993
Launch: Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum, Laura Dern
Enough with space and robots, now it’s time for some prehistoric science fiction. Imagine a world with dinosaurs as theme park attractions. Because that’s what you’ll witness in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 classic Jurassic Park.
In the film, under the direction of a visionary billionaire, scientists extract dinosaur DNA from preserved prehistoric mosquitoes and combine it with reptiles to clone dinosaurs. Jurassic Park opens, but all hell breaks loose when a T. Rex goes on the loose.
Jurassic Park featured groundbreaking practical and animatronic effects that still amaze viewers. That’s why Jurassic Park is a must for all science fiction fans.
Year of publication: 2004
Launch: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan
We finally come to the end of our list with Primer. If you thought you were smart, try looking at Primer. It’s an indie psychological thriller made on a meager budget of just $ 7,000.
Primer incorporates an experimental texture and an extremely confusing texture structure. Viewers resorted to mapping charts and diagrams to fully understand the film, but to no avail.
Primer is arguably the most accurate time travel movie and anyone interested in science fiction should definitely check it out.
That’s it, readers, the 15 best science fiction movies of all time. We showcased the absolute best of the genre and also from different time periods and sub-genres, be it horror, romance or animation. Don’t forget to give them a watch. And feel free to comment if we missed some of your favorites.
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