Top 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

Movies of the sci-fi genre have remained popular and profitable over the decades. Every year we see a string of new sci-fi films and plenty of sequels building upon classic franchises.

To judge the merit of these new releases, it sometimes best to go back to the basics and compare them to the best films the genre has produced. So without further ado, here are the top 10 best sci-fi movies of all time.

Top 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time :

10The Thing (1982)

Best Sci-Fi Movies The Thing (1982)
The Thing (1982) movie still

John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982), one of the Best Sci-Fi Movies ever, is a remake of the 1951 film The Thing From Another World. But people often forget about that fact. That’s how good the film is. While the original is a good film, Carpenter’s remake, a masterclass in horror and sci-fi, just outshined it.

The Thing (1982) follows a group of scientists isolated in Antarctica terrorized by a mysterious thing that was unleashed in their bunker when they took in a dog that was shot outside.

9Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) movie still

The second installment in George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy, Empire Strikes Back (1980) continues where the first film left off. We see The Galactic Empire under the control of the series’ villain Darth Vader.

Some consider the film to be the testament of George Lucas’ skill as a director and world creator further proving that the first film’s success was no accident. By some standards, Empire Strikes Back is a better film than the original– a rare feat in the world of cinema.

8E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Drew Barrymore and Pat Welsh in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Aliens have long been relegated the villain role in sci-fi movies. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) showed us a good side to them and one of the best Science fiction movies of all time.

Directed by master filmmaker Steven Spielberg, the film tells the story of E.T. an alien who found his way into a family’s tool shed when he was accidentally left behind by his kin. If this were any other movie, the alien in the shed would have spelled destruction and chaos. But this isn’t just any other movie.

At its core, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) is a heartwarming story about friendship and family everyone at any time period would find endearing.

7Metropolis (1927)

Sci-fi movies of today owe much of the genre’s style and conventions from seminal and often forgotten films like Metropolis (1927).

The German expressionist silent film is one of the first movies to have envisioned and shown a futuristic world on film. For a silent-era film, its visuals and special effects were ahead of its time. We may even say that most of the best sci-fi movies on this list owe their existence to this film.

Unfortunately, the film has no existing complete copies today although viewers can find a restored version which has 95% of the original film.

6Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Best Sci-Fi Movies 02
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) movie still

Of the many excellent films Steven Spielberg has made, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) is no doubt his magnum opus.

Like most sci-fi movies, the film is curious about the question of whether humans are alone in this universe. But what makes the film different and sets it apart from others is that it’s not concerned about the answer to this question. It is concerned with the question itself.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) is a beautiful piece of best sci-fi that explores our species fascination with aliens and the extreme lengths we’d be willing to go to connect with other beings in the galaxy.

5The Matrix (1999)

Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
Keanu Reeves in The Matrix (1999)

When it was released in 1999, The Matrix impressed everybody with its use of bullet time cameras and the combination of martial arts with cyberpunk aesthetics. The Wachowski brothers successfully made something that nobody has been before at the time.

Add a bit of an interesting premise and a healthy dose of existential philosophical discussion about the real nature of reality, and we have a film so popular its fans are still coming up with new theories about the film’s characters and universe almost 20 years after its release.

4Blade Runner (1982)

Sci-Fi Movies
Harrison Ford in Blade Runner (1982)

Ridley Scott’s neo-noir sci-fi film still confuses and intrigues viewers more than 30 years after its release. A sequel, Blade Runner 2049, was even released in 2017.

But what is it about the original film that made it endure over the years? Well, for starters, over seven unique cuts of the film have been released over the years after the original film was shown. This fact alone gives fans a lot of material to speculate on making them think even decades after its release.

3Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

best science fiction movies
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) movie still

Whether Empire Strikes Back is the better movie than the original Star Wars film (later called Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope), is a debate fans have been arguing about since time immemorial.

But although Empire Strikes Back is arguably an excellent film and one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, we got to give the higher spot to the original film that launched the massive franchise and changed the way audiences perceive the sci-fi genre and elevated it to high art status.

2Alien (1979)

Best Sci-Fi Movies Alien (1979)
Alien (1979) movie still

Set several centuries into the distant future, Alien follows the story of a crew on a mining vessel who become hosts to some terrifying bloodthirsty aliens whose goal seems to be to eliminate all of them.

Some may say that Alien (1979) is a fresh take on the slasher movie genre that became popular in the 1970s mix with elements from sci-fi movies. But instead of scaring us with a superhuman killer, director Ridley Scott introduces us to something scarier.

Watch as Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, outsmart and outwit the alien monster that boarded her crew’s craft in this dark film set in space.

12001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) movie still

Adapted from an Arthur C. Clarke short story, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is one of Stanley Kubrick’s greatest work and the sci-fi genre’s best film ever.

The film tackles the subjects of existence, technology, artificial intelligence and human evolution through a voyage to Jupiter manned by a sentient computer. It is acclaimed for its excellent cinematography, ingenious use of special effects and accurate portrayal of space travel.

Didn’t you see your favorite sci-fi films on the list? Check out our other top 10 movie list to see if your bets made it into the lists.