We must make two observations must be made about the top 10 best sci-fi movies of all time. First, Hollywood filmmakers just don’t do it like their predecessors used to do it – make sci-fi movies that keep their audiences engaged with their compelling storyline, riveted by their believable production sets, and enchanted by their character development. All of the movies on this list were made before the 21st century!
Second, these sci-fi movies still make us want to believe that there are other beings, other worlds, and even other universes out there. Many sci-fi movies nowadays focus too much on an Earth-centered doomsday scenarios filled with man-made machines of destruction (i.e., robots and war machines). Let’s read about the 10 best sci-fi movies of all time…
10 – Planet of the Apes (1968, Franklin J. Schaffner)
Not even the 2001 remake and 2011 reboot can take away the star that was the original Planet of the Apes. Widely regarded as a classic film, it tells the story an astronaut crew crash-landing on a strange planet where apes have human-like intelligence including speech as the dominant species living in a horse-and-spear society while the humans are the subjugated species.
9 – The Terminator (1984, James Cameron)
We cannot imagine any other actor filling in the big shoes, not to mention the sunglasses and leather jacket, of Arnold Schwarzenegger as The Terminator. The movie tells the story of a cyborg assassin as he tries to kill Sarah Connor but he is killed himself by a hydraulic press – or so it seemed. The film makes it to the top 10 best sci-fi movies of all time for many reasons – thrilling action scenes, rapid pacing leaving little room for boredom, and its engaging storyline, among others. That, and Schwarzenegger is at his best here.
8 – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982, Nicholas Meyer)
Star Trek is a fixture in any list of the best sci-fi movies and for good reasons, too. The movie is a masterful combination of drama, science fiction and action, all the great things that make the Star Trek franchise such a beloved series even today. Think genetic engineering, mind control, cryogenics, consciousness planting, and terraform in a single movie and the inner geek in everybody comes out.
7 – Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Irvin Kershner)
A space opera in epic proportions – these words aptly describes Empire Strikes Back, one of the most audacious yet most profitable independent film productions ever made with its $33 million budget; it grossed over $538 million worldwide. The story picks up where New Hope ended with Darth Vader in pursuit of Luke Sky walker, thus, the brooding vibe coupled with the action scenes in ice planets and sky cities.
6 – Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977, Steven Spielberg)
Unlike most sci-fi films, Steven Spielberg’s aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind are peaceful beings instead of the warmongering monsters that movies before and after it have depicted. This is one of the top 10 best sci-fi movies of all time not for its fast-paced action scenes and awe-inspiring space shots but for its riveting storytelling and its use of surreal symbols including the potatoes, sculpture, and music.
5 – Metropolis (1927, Fritz Lang)
The first full-length feature in the sci-fi genre, Metropolis was actually a silent film but it is in its silence that it conveys a whole gamut of notions and emotions to its audience! The film is set in a futuristic urban dystopia where its two protagonists, Freder and Maria, struggle to overcome their differences based on the classiest nature of their society.
4 – Aliens (1986, James Cameron)
James Cameron’s follow-up to Ridley Scott’s original was better – many will even say the best – thus proving that Hollywood still has its balls. Where Scott’s movie was a monster movie, Cameron’s film was an all-out war against aliens. Think of the film this way: You have your worst nightmare just a few feet away from where you are standing but like any kick-ass hero, you run toward it with guns blazing instead of away from it with your tail behind your back. And that is why it makes the top 10 best sci-fi movies of all time!
3 – Gattaca (1997, Andrew Niccol)
Then and now, Gattaca will resonate with the audience because of its disturbing premise – a future society where liberal eugenics rules virtually every decision. Every individual is categorized into a “valid”, one conceived with the best hereditary traits from their parents, and an “invalid”, one conceived via traditional means. The “valids” enjoy the most privileges in life such as the best jobs while the “invalids” are relegated to second citizen status including menial jobs. Are we heading in this direction? Perhaps, perhaps not.
2 – Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott)
Like all great filmmakers before him, Ridley Scott directs movies that make a mark on both the individual and the industry and Blade Runner is one such movie. It tells the story of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a burnt-out Blade Runner who agrees to take on the mission of hunting down defiant robots known as “replicants”. This is the movie that changed the paradigm of the sci-fi genre after Metropolis established it and, thus, deserves its place in the top 10 best sci-fi movies of all time.
1 – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968, Stanley Kubrick)
The works of Stanley Kubrick will always be on any list of the top films in history and 2001: A Space Odyssey stands out in more ways than one. The film has themes that resonate with moviegoers today – human evolution, artificial intelligence, science and technology, and extra-terrestrial life – while also being revolutionary then and now for its use of sound instead of dialogue, ambiguous imagery instead of ambitious production design, and scientific accuracy instead of science fiction. These are the reasons why 2001 is on the top of the top 10 best sci-fi movies of all time!
Author: Michael Hyatt – Passionate Blogger and Writer