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Top 50 Science Fiction Movies - RANKED: Part 1

Updated: 5 hours ago


Top 50 Science Fiction Movies - PART 2, PART 3, PART 4, PART 5

It is said to be one of, if not the very first, science fiction films ever created. The themes on display of this thirteen minute adventure film, made in 1902, are elements of sci-fi still utilized in modern cinema today. Georges Méliès is writer and director, inspired by Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. One of the first science fiction films ever and it’s inspired by some of the most well known sci-fi writers in all of human history. It doesn’t get much more sci-fi than this. Astronomers on a mission to the moon. The bullet ship in the eye of the moon. Even if you’ve never heard of this movie, you’ve likely seen imagery from it. 

Metropolis is the first feature-length film in its genre. At first it was heavily criticized for being “naive” and “silly.” It was said to have a communist message also greatly condemned. Its original runtime of 153 minutes was also not originally welcomed either. It is now widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential films ever made. It is considered to be one of the best films to come out of the silent film era as well. According to Roger Ebert, “Metropolis is one of the great achievements of the silent era, a work so audacious in its vision and so angry in its message that it is, if anything, more powerful today than when it was made.” 

48. Moon

Some of the best sci-fi movies are highly cerebral. They examine the internal torment or wonder of the human experience often in the setting of futuristic environments. A dystopian L.A. or a lonely journey into the cosmos or isolation on Earth’s moon. Sam Bell is an energy harvester on the moon and he’s completely on his own. With no direct human interaction, his only companion is GERTY, a computer designed to assist Sam in his day-to-day life. In the final two weeks of his contract things begin to go awry starting with his sanity. His discovery of what’s truly taking place is shocking and completely disheartening for Sam. The integrity of the films lies entirely on the shoulders of Sam Rockwell’s ability to believe everything his character is going through and he absolutely knocks this one out of the park. It’s also the directorial debut of Duncan Jones, proving his ability to create in-depth, meaningful sci-fi stories still firmly in the realm of the normal human experience. 

47. Her

Her, at times, can feel a bit too prophetic. The combination of modern technology and romantic dating is something we already experience today. Her, unfortunately, seems to take the next logical step and while the original intent was to create an artificially intelligent and independent assistant, people, like Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore, find the allure of a sentient voice to be all too tempting. Naturally(?) he begins a romantic courtship with a sultry-voiced A.I. named Samantha, delicately brought to life by Scarlett Johansson. The most amazing aspect of Her is the realism of a relationship between man and computer program. It’s absurd at its surface but ultimately becomes a tragically gorgeous tale of beauty in the eye of the beholder. You root for them even though, as they each discover themselves, nothing about this is expected or normal. It’s arthouse at times, hipster infused and perhaps a bit pretentious at times. None of this however takes away from the power of its message and the believability of something so artificial.


I placed this on my list of the best action movies of all-time but its sci-fi elements absolutely earn it a spot on this list as well. It features an iconic villain, a cunning, space trophy hunter. Its only known purpose is to hunt challenging other world predators for sport. It is a clash of modern human weaponry and alien tech including literal camouflage. The advanced tech of the predator makes man’s weapons feel archaic which makes Dutch’s utilization of the jungle surrounding him as a defense against the predator all the more poetic. The beauty of Predator is when all their tools and weapons are stripped from them leaving only the prowess of two warriors facing off against one another in an extreme deathmatch. Man v alien. Warrior v warrior. May the best predator win.  

Over-the-top in just about every way, Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element is one of Bruce Willis’ best. Despite its silliness, it’s also undeniably creative and brazen. The costumes, the settings, the characters are all so unique and hilariously amazing. Gary Oldman’s Zorg is classic megalomaniac villainous and Chris Tucker’s Ruby Rhod is so absurd but within the confines of Besson’s world building, Rhod fits in and actually brings with him a welcomed addition of comedy that only Tucker could deliver. Willis plays the classic hero as he aids Milla Jovovich’s Leeloo in her destiny as the world’s final hope of destroying an ancient evil heading for Earth’s atmosphere. It’s big, silly, fun, ingenious, action packed and iconic. If The Fifth Element doesn’t put a smile on your face, something is very wrong… with you.

Men in Black, like many on this list, gave us pop culture references that will last until the end of time. The unmistakable suit and tie of the nameless agent. The neuralyzer. The tiny gun with a massive kick. Sugar Water. Vincent D’Onofrio’s unhinged Edgar. But of course none of it would matter if the chemistry between Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones wasn’t so substantial. They are perfect together. They embody the uninitiated rookie and the jaded veteran buddy cop duo to perfection. Each delivering very different performances from one another, it’s their differences that make them coming together even funnier and all the more memorable. It’s the beauty of finding common ground for the greater good that allows them to be such an effective team. While I would argue the second and third movies are solid entries, the original is the best of them.  

43. Planet of the Apes (RISE, DAWN, WAR)

As much as I admire the original Planet of the Apes, its influence is undeniable, it’s the modern trilogy about Caesar’s rise that really drew me into this franchise. Director Rupert Wyatt did a great job creating this new interpretation. Rise is a pivotal part of Caesar’s journey but it’s Matt Reeves’ turn in the director’s chair for Dawn and War that elevates this new trio of stories into one of the best trilogies ever made. The Rise of intelligent apes, the Dawn of a new age between mankind and Simians, and the War to decide the fates of each species. Caesar himself goes from normal ape to respected leader of his kind and eventual mythical legend to guide the future of apes for centuries to come. It is a poignant sci-fi journey that starts in the world of man and blurs into a reality from the perspective of both species and ends within the legacy of apes finding their place in the world. Its brilliance lies in knowing its best stories lie with the apes and slowly evolving into a story where we are the intruders and naturally getting us to root for the future of the apes. Even if it means our extinction. Also, Andy Serkis as Caesar deserved a Best Actor nomination at least once as well as a nomination for visual effects.    

42. Wall-E

Few in the animated feature world deliver material that is just as much for the adults in the room as it is their children, quite like Pixar. At its best, Pixar is a culmination of insanely talented storytellers combining efforts with immensely talented animators and computer engineers to to create nuanced, complex and ageless stories of human existence, fantastical adventures of mythical origins and damning theories of what may come if human beings stay on our current path. Wall-E, at its most simple understanding, is about a lonely waste-collecting robot who embarks on a journey to find connection and purpose beyond its own programming. The deeper meanings are about the turmoils of human advancement and what we will become if life continues the way it is. And we could all be saved by one little insignificant trash robot. Get ready to cry over an animated robot.

This story takes the mystery of space and our very own oceans and combines them into one epically told adventure. It has normal, blue-collar workers encountering the extraordinary much in the same way Ridley Scott’s Alien does. It takes all the familiar space adventure tropes and sinks them in the greatest depths of Earth’s oceans where mystery and discovery await anyone brave enough to go where no one has before. It has action, with delirious Navy SEALs, otherworldly entities, petroleum engineers, dangerous pressure levels and explores themes of love, salvation, exploration and finding common ground with those of different orientations. It showcases computer effects ahead of its time and through its storytelling and visual effects allows us to imagine a world of uninhibited discovery of our own world and beyond. It possesses a kind of cinematic purity that doesn’t really exist anymore, making it a classic. 


So that's Part 1. Thoughts? Hatred? Let me know! If you like my list, my name is Chase. If you hate it, my name is Jimmy Palmquist.


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