Who doesn't love a good science fiction movie? This age-old genre has been experiencing a resurgence in recent years. Here's our countdown of the 25 best sci-fi movies of all time, covering "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and everything in between.
25. 'Moon' (2009)
Director Duncan Jones wowed sci-fi fans everywhere with his 2009 directorial debut, featuring Sam Rockwell as a lonely man running a remote lunar outpost. Rockwell is practically putting on a one-man show here, proving that great sci-fi movies can do a lot with very little.
24. 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' (1951)
A lot of old-school sci-fi movies struggle to hold up to modern eyes, whether because of dated special effects or just dated storytelling in general. But "The Day the Earth Stood Still" more than stands the test of time. It remains one of the definitive takes on humanity's first encounter with extraterrestrial life.
23. 'Metropolis' (1927)
"Metropolis" may well be the first truly great science fiction movie ever made. It's certainly among the most influential. Fritz Lang created an engrossing vision of a dystopian world where a robot becomes the key to uniting humanity's upper and lower classes.
22. 'Contact' (1997)
While there's nothing wrong with mindless blockbusters like "Independence Day," "Contact" was a necessary reminder that Hollywood could still deliver cerebral sci-fi movies in the '90s. This is an alien movie with a lot on its mind, including the clash between science and religion and humanity finally encounters intelligent life in the universe.
21. 'Gravity' (2013)
You'll be hard-pressed to find a more gripping tale of survival than "Gravity," which stars Sandra Bullock as an astronaut who somehow has to make the impossible trip back to Earth after her space station is destroyed. It's a testament to her performance and Alfonso Cuaron's directing that so many moviegoers were convinced the movie was actually shot in orbit.
20. 'The Road Warrior' (1982)
The second Mad Max feature is, pound-for-pound, one of the best action/car chase movies in the history of ever. It's also a "holy-sh**", unnerving post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale that is rightly the stuff of legend among film geeks.
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.
18. 'The Matrix' (1999)
Until "The Matrix," cyberpunk was a sub-genre that only seemed to work in novels and anime. But with this film's revolutionary combination of digital warfare, superhuman martial arts and heady philosophy, suddenly the game was changed.
On Amazon Prime and Hulu Alien invasion movies don't all have to be about carnage and spectacle. In the case of "Arrival," the emphasis is on bridging the seemingly impossible language barrier between humanity and their new alien neighbors. It's a smartly crafted movie about the need for communication and the perception of time.
16. 'Minority Report' (2002)
"Minority Report" remains one of the best attempts at adapting the work of legendary writer Philip K. Dick to the big screen. It offers an all too real look at the future of law enforcement, as precognition makes it impossible for criminals to be arrested before they actually commit crimes. Rarely has Tom Cruise given us a more likable lead hero. This is arguably Spielberg's most underrated blockbuster.
'Children of Men' (2006)
On Amazon Prime Alfonso Cuaron has so far given us two absolute science fiction masterpieces. This 2006 drama presents a bleak look at society in a time when infertility is the new norm and a war breaks out when it's discovered that a new baby has finally been born.
14. 'Blade Runner 2049' (2017)
This belated follow-up to 1982's "Blade Runner" was a long time coming, but the wait was well worth it. Picking up several decades after the first, this sequel follows Ryan Gosling's Agent K as he unravels a mystery that promises to reshape the fragile existence between humanity and androids. Sci-fi movies don't get more gorgeous or atmospheric than this.
13. 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (1991)
The first two "Terminator" movies are critical pillars of the sci-fi genre, but it's really "Terminator 2" that stand as the high-water mark for this franchise. Great action, compelling characters and a heartfelt story about humanity struggling to change its fate make for an incredible sci-fi experience.
12. 'Planet of the Apes' (1968)
As great as it's been to see the "Planet of the Apes" franchise catch its second wind in recent years, there's still no topping the original. It delivers just the right blend of camp and social commentary, with Charlton Heston delivering his most iconic performance as an astronaut stranded in a world where ape-kind reigns supreme.
11. 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (2015)
The post-apocalyptic action movie is an important staple of the sci-fi genre, and it's hard to find anything that can top the most recent "Mad Max" movie. In addition to featuring some of the most effectively staged action scenes in recent memory, "Fury Road" offers a compelling look at a world fallen into ruin and madness.
10. 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' (1977)
Few directors have found as much success (critically or commercially) in the sci-fi genre as Steven Spielberg. With "Close Encounters," Spielberg gave us the definitive UFO movie. It's one that has lost none of tis charm or sense of wonder over the past 40 years.
9. 'Back to the Future' (1985)
Time travel can be a tricky subject, as it creates all sorts of rules and restrictions that need to be followed. "Back to the Future" showed us that time travel can just be a fun gateway to a great story. Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly is the hero we all needed back in the '80s, one who just wanted to play a little rock music, get back to the present and avoid making out with his mom in the process.
8. 'Aliens' (1986)
There's only one truly great follow-up to the original 'Alien.' "Aliens" succeeds by not trying to mimic in its predecessor. Claustrophobic, creeping horror is replaced by epic action as a group of space marines take on the most deadly threat in the universe.
7. 'E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial' (1982)
"E.T." remains Steven Spielberg's crowning achievement in the sci-fi realm. It contains pure movie-making magic, making us fully believe in the unlikely friendship between a young boy and an ugly, rubbery puppet.
6. 'Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan' (1982)
'The Wrath of Khan" remains the greatest "Star Trek" movie of them all. It abandoend the capy excess of the first theatrical spinoff i nfavor of a much darker, more tense look at the rivalry between Captain Kirk and Khan Noonien Singh. It also happens to be one of the most quotable sci-fi movies ever made.
5. 'Alien' (1979)
"Alien" works for many of the same reasons "Jaws" does. It's a suspenseful horror movie where the monster is mostly an unseen, lurking presence. It delivers nonstop, claustrophobic terror along with some truly striking visual designs. It's the kind of sci-fi movie that forever sears itself into your brain.
4. 'Blade Runner' (1982)
No other sci-fi movie has painted such a compelling yet frightening portrait of humanity's near future. "Blade Runner" shows us a world falling into decay, one where an overpopulated city toils beneath a never-ending fountain of rain and an endless sea of neon-drenched advertisements. Other than the life-like robots, this movie pretty much nailed life in the 21st Century.
3. 'Star Wars' (1977)
"Star Wars" fans will always debate over which movie is the best in the series, but for our money, you can't really top the original. George Lucas crafted the ultimate hero's journey with this movie, creating an iconic, motley cast of heroes and droids and pitting them against an evil Empire with the fate of the galaxy at stake. Watching "Star Wars" is like injecting joy and adventure straight into your veins.
2. 'The Empire Strikes Back' (1980)
"The Empire Strikes Back" is pretty much the perfect sequel. It retains everything fans love about the original "Star Wars," but shakes up the formula with bigger set-pieces, new worlds to explore and a darker tone that puts Luke Skywalker and friends on the defensive.
1. '2001: A Space Odyssey' (1968)
When you pair a legendary director like Stanley Kubrick with an equally legendary sci-fi writer like Arthur C. Clarke, the result can only be the greatest sci-fi movie of all time. 2001 truly revolutionized the genre, giving us special effects that hold up amazingly well and a thought-provoking look at humanity venturing into space and confronting its own worst impulses. It's the standard by which all other sci-fi movies are judged, and rightfully so.