The Best Science Fiction Movies of All Time

Science fiction is a genre of fiction. It imagines new worlds, futuristic technologies, and space exploration.

The genre is very popular because it lets people explore what is not possible or imaginable in the present times. Science fiction stories usually deal with social, political, and economic issues. A lot of them also focus on different dimensions of human society like class conflicts, racial discrimination, and gender inequalities.

Top 10 Most Influential 20th Century Science Fiction Movies

The following list of the top 10 most influential 20th-century science fiction movies is a compilation of iconic and pivotal films to the genre.

The list is in no particular order.

  • Blade Runner (1982) is a cyberpunk neo-noir science fiction film, set in 2019 Los Angeles. A blade runner (a police operative who hunts and kills rogue androids), Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), has been called out of retirement to track down four escaped Nexus-6 models. The film is based on Phillip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, and the title refers to the genetically engineered and organic robots of the future.

  • Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) — The release of the franchise’s first movie in 1977 was a big moment for cinema in general. As the first film of its kind, it revolutionized special effects and paved the way for future sci-fi films.

    When Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope came out in theaters, it became an instant success.

    This iconic cinema milestone has been spoofed by Saturday Night Live, parodied on Sesame Street, and endlessly analyzed by fans across the globe. It can be argued that no other movie has so thoroughly captured our imagination, not just during its original release but even 40 years later

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is an American science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was based on Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel”. A novel also co-written by the two, along with Michael Barr, was published at the same time. The film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer HAL after the discovery of a mysterious black monolith affecting human evolution. It deals with themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and space exploration. The film emphasizes the great aspects of humanity and our desire to explore and discover new things while still managing to inspire fear through its depiction of space exploration as inherently dangerous. It is widely considered one of the greatest sci-fi masterpieces of all times.

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) — Directed by Steven Spielberg, the movie was groundbreaking at the time of its release because it was one of the first mainstream films to explore themes of contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence and what might happen if humans were ever confronted by aliens. John Williams won his second Academy Award for his work on this film.

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind won both the Academy Award for Best Film Editing (Paul Hirsch) and Best Sound Mixing (William S. Smith).

  • Aliens (1986) follows a group of space Marines as they battle an invading force of Xenomorphs in a lonely, remote place. It has been praised for its action sequences and pacing, which have been as influential as those from the original Alien (1979).

  • Total Recall (1990) is an American science fiction thriller film directed by Paul Verhoeven. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who is having trouble recollecting his memories due to the intervention of an unknown person resulting in memory gaps. The film’s central character has the same name as the protagonist in Philip K. Dick’s 1966 novel “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale”, which was later retitled “Total Recall” for releases in the United States and elsewhere, but it shares no other similarities with the novel or its film adaptations other than similar themes of identity and false memories.

  • Escape from New York (1981) is an American post-apocalyptic science fiction film. The film was directed by John Carpenter and stars Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, a dark, anti-hero type character.

    The story follows an elite commando (Snake) who has been sentenced to search the crime-ridden and heavily bombed New York City for the President of the United States.

    This movie is about Snake’s mission to find and rescue the president of the United States, which has been kidnapped by a group of prisoners who call themselves “the refugees.”

  • Planet of the Apes (1968) — Planet of the Apes is a series of five American science fiction-adventure films from 20th Century Fox. The original film was released on October 29, 1968 and the fifth installment, titled “War for the Planet of the Apes,” was released on July 14, 2017.

  • Metropolis (1927) is a silent film by German director Fritz Lang is considered to be one of the most influential movies of all time. It was way ahead of its time, predicting many aspects that are present in our lives today.

  • Solaris (1972) Soviet film based on the 1961 novel with the same name. The film was directed by Andrei Tarkovsky and scripted by the author of the original novel, Stanislaw Lem. It depicts a psychologist’s attempt to understand an alien society in order to save his love interest. It is one of the non-Hollywood sci-fi masterpieces of the world and wraps up the list of the most influential films pretty well.

Top 10 Recent Science Fiction Films Worth Seeing in the Cinema

Here are some really good science fiction films that you may not have seen yet.

1) “Arrival” 2016 — The movie Arrival is considered to be an example of a really good science fiction film. It has everything that makes for a great sci-fi movie. The alien invasion plot, the mysterious setting, the complicated human emotions, and best of all – it’s got Amy Adams in it.

This movie is about aliens who have visited Earth and is based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, who is a science fiction writer.

The movie was written by Eric Heisserer and it stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker and many others.

The film’s director was Denis Villeneuve.

The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 69th Golden Globe Awards on January 10th, 2017.

2) “Annihilation” (2018)

The movie is an American science fiction thriller film that was written and directed by Alex Garland, and stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny.

The movie takes place in a near future where a group of scientists is on a mission to create a powerful weapon in a remote location. They find themselves in danger following an encounter with what they believe to be alien life. The story follows the four scientists as they try to escape from this remote research environment while being hunted down by an unknown enemy.

The movie starts off with the team of four female scientists who are on a mission to create “the most powerful weapon ever made” in the world. The story progresses when they come across something that they believe is alien life

3) “Blade Runner 2049”

Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the original Blade Runner, which was released on October 6th, 1982.

The sequel is set in a future where bioengineered humans called “replicants” serve as slaves to humans. The plot centers on one such replicant named K, who manages to escape from an off-world colony and return to Earth in order to find out more about his past.

4) “Ex Machina”

Ex Machina is a 2015 science fiction film that tells the story of a programmer who creates a realistic female robot in the likeness of a certain woman, and then proceeds to fall in love with her.

The movie revolves around Caleb Smith, an AI programmer for one of the world’s largest tech companies. In his spare time he develops artificial intelligence software, mostly so he can chat with an AI companion. He believes that his life couldn’t get any better until one day he discovers true artificial intelligence through Ava, a female-looking robot designed by Nathan Bateman – another AI genius.

5) “District 9”

District 9 is a 2009 science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp. The movie takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa in the near future where aliens have landed on Earth as refugees and live in a slum called District 9.

The aliens, known as “Prawns” or “Bennies”, live segregated from the population and are treated as second-class citizens.

6) “Elysium”

Elysium is an award-winning, sci-fi thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence and Matt Damon.

The film is set in the future where the world has become so overpopulated that it’s impossible for everyone to live comfortably. The overcrowding led to a decline in living standards, poverty, and crime. It was also revealed that some people are genetically engineered with special abilities like telepathy or teleportation.

That’s where the movie gets interesting. A lot of people resent those who are genetically engineered, which leads to some really tense scenes between them and their opponents.

7) “Looper” (2012)

The sci-fi time travel flick follows the story of Joe, a mob hit man who is sent back in time to kill his future self. However, their meeting turns into an unexpected twist as they both fall in love with the same woman.

Looper is a movie that people love because it is an entertaining film that also has philosophical notions behind it. It makes you question what will happen if you kill your own future self? Will you have more knowledge about your future?

8) “The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos)”

This movie was very well received by critics and it won many awards.

The film is based on a novel written by Eduardo Sacheri. The movie has never been nominated for an Academy Award, but it has won many other prizes, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

9) “Upstream Color”

Upstream Color is a 2013 American science fiction comedy-drama film written and directed by Shane Carruth.

The film follows two intersecting love triangles involving a man and a woman, against the backdrop of a larger mystery involving brainwashing. The film explores themes of love, identity, and connection.