My brother and I were talking the other day about our personal lists of the top 10 Sci-Fi movies of all time. I had to really stop and think about it. There are so many good choices! But only a few movies really changed the way I feel about the world around more, or created new worlds in my mind that built lasting memories.
My Pics for the Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
So without further ado! I’ve listed them in reverse order starting at #10 and counting down to my #1 pick for the top 10 Sci-Fi movie of all time!
10) A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
When I first watched A.I. Artificial Intelligence back in 2001 (watch it online here), I didn’t originally hold in such high regard. There were some really wild parts of this ride that just seemed too far fetched. But as I’ve grown much older I’ve began to realize what Spielberg was trying to represent. A world where technology is everywhere in our lives and is inescapable. And unless the apocalypse actually comes along, that’s the world we’re headed for.
“Please make me a real boy?” – David
The main character of course is an entirely different dilemma. Can an artificial life form actually be as real and alive as a human? Can it have a soul? While the film never really answers that outright, but it takes you on a roller coaster adventure of ups and downs on the journey that let’s the viewer decide for themselves.
There’s of course a great Star Trek: The Next Generation episode that covers similar ground called The Measure of a Man.
9) Ex Machina (2014)
So you might already be catching on that many in my picks for the top 10 Sci-Fi movies of all time will indeed include robots. I do love a good robot movie!
It’s odd for me to pick a recent movie in any of my top 10 lists. But this movie really struck a cord with me. In a similar though still different way than A.I. did. Ex Machina (watch it online here) is another peek into what it is like for a robot to become fully self-aware. However, the plot twists in this one have more to do with the human who’s been selected to be the “Turing tester” for the Robot (known as Ava in the film). It turns out the robot Ava is far more self-aware and smart than anyone could imagine.
“What will happen to me if I fail your test?” – Ava
I don’t believe in any deities, and therefore don’t really believe in the concept of a soul. At least as we would think of one in the religious sense. So movies like this that force us to open our minds and ways of thinking are always a pleasure to watch for me.
8) The Planet of the Apes (1968)
Oh this movie. The original 1968 Planet of the Apes (watch it online here) is such a classic. Interestingly enough many people either love this movie or absolutely hate it. I am one of the ones who loves it!
“Get your stinking paws off of me, you damn dirty ape!” – Dodge Landon
Seriously. I love it. When astronaut George Taylor speaks for the first time and the monkeys lose their sh*t, it’s one of the most classic moments in all of Sci-Fi. But Planet of the Apes isn’t just classic, it’s also thought provoking. Humans as we know them will continue to evolve, as well as every species on this planet. There is no telling what we will be like in another 100,000 years. Humans could easily go extinct and the apes could continue to evolve. It’s actually plausible. We’re just one terrible virus (one far more deadly than SARS-Cov2) away from a reality like this.
The other thing I like about Planet of the Apes is that it highlights the political and religious problems with the world. These apes were far more interested in protecting their establishment then they were about embracing their own reality. Something humans are struggling with in a profound way here today!
7) Men in Black (1997)
Next up on my list of the top 10 Sci-Fi movies of all time might just surprise you! Men in Black (watch it online here) is honestly more of a comedy than a Sci-Fi and I think that’s one of the reasons I like it so much.
Let’s be honest. The science in this movie is terrible. If you’re looking for thought provoking, or a movie that closely aligns with scientific theory then this movie is definitely not for you! However, if you’re looking for some great comedy in a science fiction would then this movie is it. In fact, it’s almost more fantasy than Sci-Fi to be honest.
“So, big bad bug got a bit of a soft spot, huh?” – Agent J
That being said about the movie, it also highlights a huge disconnect between a large portion of the world and their own governments. Many people are certain that our governments know and harbor aliens and keep it a secret from us. If you’re one of those, then this movie is right up your alley!
6) Serenity (2005)
The movie Serenity (watch it online here) is also fairly modern on my list being made in 2005. Serenity is the follow up movie to close out the series Firefly. In my honest opinion, this is one of the biggest missed opportunities of Hollywood. First by cancelling Firefly, and then by at least not continuing this movie franchise.
Serenity has what Star Wars had. It’s was dirty. It was real. It was a space western. And it had Summer Glau. The perfect actress for the role of River Tam. She’s quirky, her movements are almost robotic (hence why she was perfect for the role of Terminator named Cameron in the Sarah Connor Chronicles).
“I aim to misbehave…” – Captain Mal
For me Serenity (and Firefly) are dive into what a future may hold when and if big government fails us. A deep look into a future of the 1800s only happening in space. If you’ve not seen this series and this movie, you should definitely add it to your watch list.
5) Alien (1979)
Now Alien (watch it online here) is another movie that can fall into multiple categories. At its heart its definitely a Sci-Fi, but it also fits firmly in the horror genre. This means many people will avoid it like the plague, even if it is one of the top 10 Sci-Fi movies of all time!
“We will and then we will blow it the fuck out into space!” – Ripley
Alien manages to creep you out in ways that only a science fiction movie can do. Aliens who use humans as hosts, much like a wasp laying eggs inside caterpillars. Eventually these alien baby’s (called Chestbursters) will literally burst from your chest and scurry off along the floor looking for its mother. This of course kills the host human during the process. It’s incredibly creepy, but the odds of something like this lurking around are universe are greater than zero. Even more scary.
4) The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix has you Neo! Honestly, it was hard to only rank The Matrix (watch it online here) at #4. This movie was thought provoking on a whole new level when it came out. The idea that humans aren’t living in the real world, but rather connected to a computer simulation and being fed the liquefied remains of dead humans is amazing. All for the sole purpose of turning humans into generators powering the machines in the real world.
“Throughout human history, we have been dependent on machines to survive. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.” – Morpheus
Now if you want to break the science down there are ton of holes in this movie. No doubt. It’s highly unlikely that we’d make a good battery. There are also so many things that just don’t work. Why would people get fat in the Matrix (or the real world) if they’re being fed intravenously? Why does dying in the Matrix kill you in the real world? None of that stuff makes great sense.
However, what does is the idea that the world we live in is a simulation. We’re already starting to experience virtual and augmented reality that will surprise you. It’s not hard to imagine how those technologies will change in the future to become indistinguishable from the real world. It could happen. Maybe it already has.
3) The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
What can I say about the Empire Strikes Back (watch it online here)? I almost ranked this movie at the #1 spot. I had to really think about it for a while. I chose to leave it at #3 because of the fact it was a sequel, and without the original for it to stand on top of, without the lore and history to back it, it just wouldn’t be #1 material.
However, The Empire Strikes Back is simply a classic in every other way. The story is good. The characters are super enjoyable. The story is mostly believable. And the timing is fast enough paced and keeps you interested.
“Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
It also brought in some awesome robots. The AT-AT all terrain armored transport. While some consider these vehicles and not robots, they are indeed awesome none-the-less and made for an action packed adventure on the snowy planet of Hoth right out of the gate.
2) Terminator 2 (1991)
If you’ve been following along you know that I completely busted The Empire Strikes Back down to #3 because it was a sequel. Well, the same logic mostly applies here, only in reverse.
Terminator 2 (watch it online here) eclipses the original Terminator in every single way. The special effects were literally unbelievable at the time this movie was released and ushered in a whole new era of CGI based movies (and not always for the better).
“Listen to me very carefully.” – The Terminator
In addition to breaking new grounds in CGI, Terminator 2 also did something very unusual. It reversed the roles of the bad guy! It made Arnold Schwarzenegger’s evil Terminator T-800 the good guy. The protector. Something that took a lot of courage on the part of the writers and producers. And it works incredibly well!
The onscreen performances by the actors was also quite good. Something Arnold has failed at in recent attempts to continue this franchise.
1) Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars: A New Hope (watch it online here) was probably the first science fiction movie that I had ever seen in a theater as a child. It morphed my childhood in a way nothing else has ever done since. I was hooked. I had all of the toys, action figures, vinyl records, and everything I could get my hands on! In fact, I loved Star Wars so much that I am even building my own full-size R2-D2 replica today!
Star Wars was a space western! It’s about being cowboys in space. Everything is grungy and dirty, except for in the sterile environment of The Empire.
“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” – Darth Vader
If you didn’t know, Star Wars was predicted by the critics to be a huge flop. No one expected it to be good. No one expected it to break ground. And when it did it changed everything.
What are Your Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time?
So what are your picks for the top 10 Sci-Fi movies of all time? Do we align? What movies would you pick that I didn’t? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
I most definitely concur with your top 3! The rest are good though.
In no particular order, here are my top 10 Sci Fi flicks:
1. Blade Runner
2. The Matrix
3. Star Wars
4. The Martian
5. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
6. Back To The Future
7. Terminator 2
8. Colossus: The Forbin Project
9. War Games
10. 2001: A Space Odyssey
Andy is right. No top ten list is legit without Blade Runner.
Forbidden Planet, The Day the Earth Stood Still (the original, not the crap remake), 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner
Perhaps you are too young to have seen them.
I’ve seen them, I just don’t like them.