The science fiction genre is one of the most popular in any medium. What makes it so engaging is the fact that it typically walks hand in hand with other popular genres. Science fiction movies have something for lovers of all genres. Countless films fall under the science fiction umbrella. These films vary greatly in quality, but the best of them typically become fan favorites. Today, we look at ten of the absolute best science fiction movies of all time.
10. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977)
Two years after Steven Spielberg made himself a household name with Jaws, he proved he was more than a one-hit-wonder with Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This science-fiction movie is much closer in tone to the whimsical nature Spielberg has become known for, and to many, this is one of his best films. Close Encounters follows Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) as he sets out to prove that he encountered a UFO. This film is a slow burner, but the ending is one of the most fantastical in all of cinema. Similar to Jaws, the main focus of the film, aliens, in this case, aren’t shown throughout a good chunk of the movie. This adds to the suspense and curiosity this movie so expertly showcases.
9. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Five years after Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Spielberg once again brought life forms from beyond Earth to the big screen. E.T. follows a young boy who finds and befriends an alien creature that was mistakingly left behind when his fellow aliens left the planet. Young Elliot isn’t the only one who knows of E.T’s existence and, along with his siblings, must protect him and get him home. This movie is filled with heart, humor, and imagination. From its release in 1982, E.T. has captured the hearts of anyone who views it. Along with being known as one of the best science fiction movies, E.T. also has a slight infamous legacy, as the video game adaptation is widely known as one of the worst video games of all time.
8. The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
Science-fiction films from the earlier days of Hollywood often mirrored real-life threats and fears. Such is the case with The Day the Earth Stood Still, which was a message of warning to the Cold War-era world. A spacecraft lands in Washington DC and stuns the entire planet. The spaceship contains two lifeforms, a human-like being names Klaatu and his intimidating robot Gort. Klaatu made the trip to Earth to simply warn them that the ways of humans will soon be their downfall. This commentary seems to become more and more relevant as time goes on, further cementing it as one of the best science fiction films. Joined by a single mother and her son, Klaatu desperately attempts to get his point across before it is too late.
7. Godzilla (1954)
While today Godzilla is seen as a simple monster who fights other giant monsters while destroying cities, his first film is much more dark and somber. Godzilla simply sees the titular creature destroying anything in his path with no motive. What makes this first film so upsetting is what inspired it. Godzilla reflects the fears and heartache the Japanese people felt after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which took place just nine years prior. Godzilla was the physical manifestation of nuclear fear. The first movie is very different in tone from the series that would follow and is one of the best and most horrific science fiction movies.
6. The Fly (1958)
It isn’t often that a remake overshadows the original, but that is the case with The Fly. As great as the remake is, the original is just as deserving of praise. The 1958 science-fiction movie follows a scientist who suffers a devastating lab accident. He invents a teleportation system involving two pods. While testing it, he gets his DNA mixed with that of a fly. Now, his head and one of his hands resemble that of a fly. His wife and child must find the original fly before he fully loses his mind. Vincent Price is featured in the film in one of his best roles. Like so many great science-fiction flicks, The Fly is a cautionary tale about modeling with nature.
5. The Fly (1986)
As stated before, the remake of The Fly overshadows its successor, and it is easy to see why. The film once again sees a scientist have his DNA mixed with a fly. However, this time, his entire body slowly takes the form of a giant fly. This film stands out because of the grotesque special features that fully show the scientist’s brutal transformation throughout the film. Jeff Goldblum plays the titular fly, and he must figure out a cure before becoming a mindless monster. The special effects here are on par with John Carpenter’s The Thing and are not for the faint of heart.
4. Alien (1979)
Franchises such as Star Trek and Star Wars showed audiences how wonderful space was throughout the ’60s and ’70s. Films like Alien showed them how afraid they should truly be of the things lurking in the stars. This horrific science fiction movie sees the crew of a spaceship hunted down by a deadly creature they unknowingly bring on board. Unlike the sequel, a legendary film in its own right, this film is straight horror. There is only one creature present, and it is hunting down the crew one by one. Sigourney Weaver stars as the iconic Ellen Ripley and proves that no one can hear you scream in space.
3. Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner is one of those films that may seem slow at first but picks up very quickly. Known by many as one of the best science fiction tales, the film follows Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Deckard’s job is to hunt down Replicants, which he is all too happy to do. Things go south when his latest mission sees him fall in love with one and uncover the truth behind the world he felt he knew. The movie is a futuristic film noir with a stellar cast. The film was criticized upon release but gained a cult following that led to a sequel.
2. Back To The Future (1985)
Time travel in movies is nothing new. One film, however, changed the way audiences see this science-fiction trope forever. Back to the Future sees Marty McFly trapped in 1955 after he mistakingly time travels in an escape attempt. After unintentionally winning the affection of his teenage mother, Marty must see to it his parents fall in love and make it back to his own time. Saying this movie is simply one of the best science-fiction movies would be an understatement. This is one of the best movies of all time. If movie fans haven’t seen this trilogy yet, they owe it to themselves to seek it out.
1. Star Wars (1977)
In 1977, film history was made. The first Star Wars movie, simply titled Star Wars in 1977, is one of the most legendary things ever to hit the silver screen. There is little to say about this movie and do it justice. The franchise it spawned is still in full force today, and it doesn’t seem like it will slow down anytime soon. George Lucas set out to make a movie reminiscent of the serials he loved as a child. He succeeded in a way that he could have never dreamed. Everybody who hasn’t lived under a rock in the past 45 years has heard the name Star Wars. Many debate whether Star Wars is science fiction or not, but most believe it is. The film has stood the test of time and even managed to avoid many genre tropes.