Hollywood loves science fiction. And so do audiences, especially those films aimed at the "17-and-up" crowd. Here are the best R-rated sci-fi films ever made.
27. 'Attack the Block' (2011)
The movie that helped John Boyega become a star is a perfect midnight flick, about furry, mouth-glowing alien beasties terrorizing low-income housing dwellers in London. It's pretty great.
26. 'Donnie Darko' (2001)
Plane crashes, time travel and one creepy bunny suit. On paper, there's no way those elements seem like they're going to mix well together and form a cult-favorite hit. Leave it to writer-director Richard Kelly, and an impressive Jake Gyllenhaal, to make it work.
25. 'They Live' (1988)
If you haven't seen John Carpenter's subversive take on alien invasion (and gaslighting at large), then you're doing life wrong. More timely now than upon initial release, it is impossible not to watch this slow-burn of a movie and not have a good time by the end credits.
24. 'Akira' (1987) / 'District 9' (2009) - Tie
The anime classic that became a staple of college dorm viewing parties is essential viewing for fans of both the genre and good movies in general. And as first features go, attention must be paid to Neill Blomkamp's "District 9" -- a racial allegory that uses cool special effects and even cooler weaponry to tell a story about a man who finds his humanity as he turns into something incredibly alien.
23. 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' (2004)
Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, this 2004 dramedy asks how far you would go to erase the memories of true love when that love ends. The answers are poignant, a bit trippy, and painfully honest at times.
22. 'Moon' (2009)
Clones on the moon? Clones on the moon. Sam Rockwell gives a Top five career-best performance in Duncan Jones' first (and best) film.
21. 'Looper' (2012)
Bruce Willis' second time travel movie on this list is a big fan-favorite. In the future, time travel is cheap and outlawed -- used mostly by assassins. Willis ends up in his past self's (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) crosshairs and then things get really complicated. Think "kid with special powers"-level complicated.
20. '12 Monkeys' (1996)
Terry Gilliam's dreary and heady time travel thriller earned Brad Pitt an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actor, as well as high praise from fans and critics. Time traveler Cole (Bruce Willis) must stop a plague that has infected his past and his future, but in doing so he discovers the consequences of breaking what was to fix what can be.
19. 'Her' (2013)
Writer-director Spike Jonze uses effective world-building to create a very near future where love is literally an OS, and romance is reduced to computer coding. When that OS (voiced by ScarJo) supersedes its programming, a very honest, very heartbreaking relationship occurs -- with Joaquin Phoenix delivering a compelling performance has the guy who fell for his machine.
18. 'Annihilation' (2017)
Writer-director Alex Garland's ambitious and polarizing follow-up to "Ex Machina" is a psychedelic, thematically-absorbing adaptation of the novel of the same time -- but it's more of a spiritual/tonal adaptation, more concerned with delivering the same "make-your-brain-hurt-in-a-good-wau" feeling that you got when reading the book. Area X is home to The Shimmer -- think an alien prism that intensifies and refracts all DNA to the point of making its own living creations. Every shot here is as if Garland is shooting through the oily surface of a soapy bubble, exploring what would happen if Earth got a cancer on its surface from unknown origin while juxtaposing the complicated beauty of destruction and creation being one and the same. Not enough people will see this in theaters, and it's too damn original of a film to just be dumped on Netflix. No movie in 2018 so far has delivered so many unique and original ideas and visuals. If you do anything, seek it out for that alone.
17. 'Ex Machina' (2015)
Novelist and screenwriter Alex Garland ("28 Days Later") tackled an inventive, "Twilight Zone-y" story about A.I. for his directorial debut. The end product is one of the most inspired and chilling works of the genre in the last decade. One of the year's best films, by far.
16. 'Total Recall' (1990)
Best to do what the rest of the world did and ignore the remake. One of Arnuld's best movies, "Total Recall" is a crazy entertaining mindfu!@, a thriller full of iconic set pieces that put our hero on a shuttle to Mars and in the middle of a revolution. ("Give da peeple, air!")
15. 'Predator' / 'RoboCop' (1987) -- Tie
1987 was a great year for movie fans. Armed with a grenade launcher and muddy camouflage, Arnold took on an alien hunter in this action movie classic from John "Die Hard" McTiernan. And director Paul Verhoeven gave us the very R-rated future of law enforcement, all put through one hell of a satirical lens. Thank you, '87. Ya done good.
19. 'Brazil' (1985)
Post-Monty Python, director Terry Gilliam has built quite a reputation for crafting quirky, daring sci-fi movies. None stand out more than this under-appreciated 1985 classic, which stars Jonathan Pryce as a struggling cubicle drone in a bizarre, Orwellian future.
13. 'The Fly' (1986)
"Be afraid. Be very afraid." Watching vintage Jeff Goldblum get teleported and gene-spliced with a fly is as chilling and scary now as it was almost 30 years ago. Easily one of David Cronenberg's Top Five films.
12. 'A Clockwork Orange' (1971)
Stanley Kubrick's disturbing and darkly comic dystopian film is arguably more powerful (and prevalent) now than it was more than 40 years ago. Malcolm McDowell's career-making turn as the crazy-but-not-stupid Alex is still perfect.
11. 'Blade Runner 2049' (2017)
Insanely overlooked by audiences, just like its predecessor, this 35-years-in-the-making sequel is thematically superior to the first landmark film -- in addition to being a more emotionally-driven story about identity and the cost of finding out what it takes to be who you really are.
10. 'Children of Men' (2006)
Insanely well made and vastly underrated, "Children of Men" is a movie that only gets better with repeat viewings. In a future void of newborns, and thus the hope they bring, it's up to a cynical Clive Owen to ensure that the first baby born in years get to The Human Project. Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity") shows off his talent for inventive one-takes here, while also grounding all the spectacle upon very real and very emotional stakes.
9. 'The Road Warrior' (1981)
Before "Fury Road" came along, this was director George Miller's best trip to the post-apocalyptic wasteland. It's still a great action movie, with its instant-classic finale car chase and pure commitment to creating a gritty world built on gas, bullets and blood.
8. 'The Terminator' (1984)
James Cameron's direction and script are, fittingly, are as efficient as the titular killing machine. This gritty, surprisingly emotional, time travel pic is all-timer and standard-bearer of the genre.
7. 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (1991)
While the first film has the tighter pacing and screenplay, "T2" is an iconic, action-packed benchmark that builds upon the first film's foundation to deliver the best sequel the franchise has ever produced. (Sorry not sorry, "Genisys"). It also paved the way for CG to change how movies are made.
6. 'The Matrix' (1999)
"There is no spoon." If you need convinced why this movie earns its top five status, then just go ahead and keep taking your steady diet of red pills.
5. 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (2015)
One of the year's best films features an instantly iconic villain (Immortan Joe) and an instantly iconic heroine (Furiosa), sharing the screen with the already-iconic Mad Max, in George Miller's wildly inventive and surprisingly emotional chase movie that's so much more than an adrenaline rush. It's the type of movie that, in ten years time, people will come to better appreciate and say "you know, this should be ranked way higher."
4. 'The Thing' (1982)
Summer of 1982 gave us three great entries into the genre: "Wrath of Khan," "Blade Runner" and this John Carpenter classic. This loose remake of the 1951 original combines now-vintage stop-motion and make-up effects with a terrifying "Ten Little Indians"-like plot as a living, murder-fueled Xerox machine from space wreaks havoc on Kurt Russell's team trapped in an Arctic research station.
3. 'Blade Runner' (1982)
Ridley Scott's visually and thematically-rich film more than holds up 33 years after its release. No matter which cut of the film you watch, it's impossible not to get lost in the landmark special effects and the compelling, slow-burn story of Harrison Ford's Deckard, a killer charged with "retiring" android Replicants that ultimately prove more human than the man gunning them down.
2. 'Aliens' (1986)
Ellen Ripley takes on the Alien Queen in this sci-fi classic from writer-director James Cameron, who goes the pure action-horror route with this sequel to Ridley Scott's "Alien." Like the "Terminator" films, "Aliens" also sets a very high bar for the genre.
1. 'Alien' (1979)
On the surface, it's a haunted house/monster movie set in space. But leave it to director Ridley Scott to ground all the scares on very real, blue collar characters -- creating an iconic heroine (Ripley) in the process. "Alien" didn't set out to create a franchise full of xenomorphs and facehuggers; it just wanted to tell a good story well. It succeeded, and did so much more -- setting the bar by which all others in the genre are still compared to.