The 250 Best Science Fiction Movies of All Timeby johanstiel | created - 7 months ago | updated - 2 weeks ago | Public
A list of the science fiction movies I appreciate the most. Obscure or polarizing features get the same attention as cinema classics, and tones are mixed, with upbeat movies sharing space with those that have a darker tone. Similarly, there's an equal representation of stories that are mainly emotionally engaging and those more intellectually stimulating.
Here are my guidelines, which you can skip, unless you feel I have some explaining to do....
Those ranked from 1-100, I've rated 10 or 9 (I believe in generosity!). My rating of most of the other movies here tends to be 8, though around 50 entries at the bottom have a lower rating, though none lower than 6. Also, only 1-100 are carefully arranged according to how highly I hold them. After that, titles appear in a rough ranking order.
The list contains no animated or non-English movies, as I've seen too few of those to give them a fair inclusion. Nor does it include comedies or titles which arguably belong to other genres, such as fantasy, horror or superhero movies. To give prominence to diversity, the list only includes the best installment of each franchise, representing the series as a whole, and to give more room to original ideas, only unique remakes and reboot films qualify.
American Film Institute (AFI) defines science fiction as “a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation.” I'd add that it covers hypothetical yet scientifically possible events that humanity so far hasn’t experienced (see Gravity), or technology used in ways that yet hasn't happened (see The Martian). The definition requires that a scientific explanation is given within the frame of the story. Hence, stories dealing with magic or other supernatural elements can be ruled out.
This is just what I love, not a reflection of the general opinion of critics or the current popular consensus. What we take away from a story is individual and subjective, and so movies move us all differently, which is why no one's list will be identical to anyone else's. Also, what we value highest won't stay the same as we change. I hope you'll enjoy this version!
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1. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
PG | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle station, while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the mysterious Darth Vader.
Votes: 1,142,104 | Gross: $322.74M
2. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
R | 120 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search for her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.
Votes: 800,025 | Gross: $154.06M
3. Blade Runner (1982)
R | 117 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Votes: 641,647 | Gross: $32.87M
6. Upstream Color (2013)
Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.
Votes: 28,999 | Gross: $0.44M
7. Alien (1979)
R | 117 min | Horror, Sci-Fi
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.
Votes: 729,902 | Gross: $78.90M
8. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
R | 137 min | Action, Sci-Fi
A cyborg, identical to the one who failed to kill Sarah Connor, must now protect her teenage son, John Connor, from a more advanced and powerful cyborg.
Votes: 927,259 | Gross: $204.84M
10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi
After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the Lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer H.A.L. 9000.
Votes: 555,174 | Gross: $56.95M
11. Children of Men (2006)
R | 109 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.
Votes: 435,486 | Gross: $35.55M
12. Inception (2010)
PG-13 | 148 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a C.E.O.
Votes: 1,882,900 | Gross: $292.58M
13. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
PG | 138 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
Roy Neary, an electric lineman, watches how his quiet and ordinary daily life turns upside down after a close encounter with a UFO.
Votes: 170,484 | Gross: $132.09M
14. The Abyss (1989)
PG-13 | 145 min | Adventure, Drama, Mystery
A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.
Votes: 153,579 | Gross: $54.46M
15. Avatar (2009)
PG-13 | 162 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.
Votes: 1,062,284 | Gross: $760.51M
16. Waterworld (1995)
PG-13 | 135 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
In a future where the polar ice-caps have melted and Earth is almost entirely submerged, a mutated mariner fights starvation and outlaw "smokers," and reluctantly helps a woman and a young girl try to find dry land.
Votes: 169,693 | Gross: $88.25M
17. Forbidden Planet (1956)
G | 98 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.
Votes: 42,065 | Gross: $3.00M
18. Planet of the Apes (1968)
G | 112 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi
An astronaut crew crash-lands on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved.
Votes: 157,728 | Gross: $33.40M
19. A Quiet Place (2018)
PG-13 | 90 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
In a post-apocalyptic world, a family is forced to live in silence while hiding from monsters with ultra-sensitive hearing.
Votes: 327,732 | Gross: $188.02M
20. Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
PG-13 | 122 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A deactivated cyborg is revived, but cannot remember anything of her past life and goes on a quest to find out who she is.
Votes: 165,670 | Gross: $85.71M
21. The Fifth Element (1997)
PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
In the colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr. Zorg at bay.
Votes: 409,562 | Gross: $63.54M
22. Cloud Atlas (2012)
R | 172 min | Action, Drama, Mystery
An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.
Votes: 330,164 | Gross: $27.11M
23. Dark City (1998)
R | 100 min | Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
A man struggles with memories of his past, which includes a wife he cannot remember, and a nightmarish world without a sun.
Votes: 179,281 | Gross: $14.38M
24. Sound of My Voice (2011)
R | 85 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Two documentary filmmakers attempt to penetrate a cult who worships a woman who claims to be from the future.
Votes: 19,677 | Gross: $0.41M
25. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
R | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich community escape a horde of bandits.
Votes: 157,011 | Gross: $12.47M
26. Interstellar (2014)
PG-13 | 169 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi
A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.
Votes: 1,338,836 | Gross: $188.02M
27. The Matrix (1999)
R | 136 min | Action, Sci-Fi
A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.
Votes: 1,545,872 | Gross: $171.48M
28. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
PG-13 | 140 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.
Votes: 207,997 | Gross: $146.88M
29. The Fountain (2006)
PG-13 | 97 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance
As a modern-day scientist, Tommy is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi.
Votes: 218,521 | Gross: $10.14M
30. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
R | 108 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.
Votes: 840,818 | Gross: $34.40M
31. Jurassic Park (1993)
PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
A pragmatic Paleontologist visiting an almost complete theme park is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to run loose.
Votes: 799,023 | Gross: $402.45M
33. The Prestige (2006)
PG-13 | 130 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
After a tragic accident, two stage magicians engage in a battle to create the ultimate illusion while sacrificing everything they have to outwit each other.
Votes: 1,089,527 | Gross: $53.09M
34. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)
R | 164 min | Action, Drama, Mystery
A young blade runner's discovery of a long-buried secret leads him to track down former blade runner Rick Deckard, who's been missing for thirty years.
Votes: 395,581 | Gross: $92.05M
36. Predestination (I) (2014)
R | 97 min | Action, Drama, Mystery
For his final assignment, a top temporal agent must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time. The chase turns into a unique, surprising and mind-bending exploration of love, fate, identity and time travel taboos.
Votes: 230,386 | Gross: $0.07M
37. Coherence (2013)
Not Rated | 89 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi
Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.
Votes: 92,751 | Gross: $0.07M
38. Her (2013)
R | 126 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
In a near future, a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.
Votes: 482,491 | Gross: $25.57M
40. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
R | 136 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi
In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.
41. Snowpiercer (2013)
R | 126 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
In a future where a failed climate-change experiment has killed all life except for the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, a new class system emerges.
Votes: 248,647 | Gross: $4.56M
42. Arrival (II) (2016)
PG-13 | 116 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A linguist works with the military to communicate with alien lifeforms after twelve mysterious spacecraft appear around the world.
Votes: 532,742 | Gross: $100.55M
43. 28 Days Later... (2002)
R | 113 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Four weeks after a mysterious, incurable virus spreads throughout the UK, a handful of survivors try to find sanctuary.
Votes: 350,922 | Gross: $45.06M
44. The Fits (2015)
Not Rated | 72 min | Drama, Music
While training at the gym 11-year-old tomboy Toni becomes entranced with a dance troupe. As she struggles to fit in she finds herself caught up in danger as the group begins to suffer from fainting spells and other violent fits.
Votes: 4,107 | Gross: $0.17M
45. Annihilation (2018)
R | 115 min | Adventure, Drama, Horror
A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition into a mysterious zone where the laws of nature don't apply.
Votes: 241,569 | Gross: $32.73M
46. THX 1138 (1971)
R | 86 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
In the twenty-fifth century, a time when people have designations instead of names, a man, THX 1138, and a woman, LUH 3417, rebel against their rigidly controlled society.
Votes: 45,225 | Gross: $2.44M
47. Ex Machina (2014)
R | 108 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi
A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a highly advanced humanoid A.I.
Votes: 434,299 | Gross: $25.44M