Scientific fiction (or sci-fi) is a film genre that uses speculative, hypothetical science-based depictions to show things that are not fully acknowledged by mainstream science, such as alien living forms, time travel, spaceships, sentient robots, interplanetary travel, or other technologies. It distinguishes itself from fantasy by relying significantly on scientific facts, ideas, and principles to support its locations, characters, themes, and narrative lines. Here today we are going to list 15 of the best science fiction movies of all time:
15. Men in Black (1997)
Agents Kay (Jones) and Jay (Smith) are members of a top-secret organization created to monitor extraterrestrial activities on Earth. The two MiB get caught up in a terrible plan hatched by an interstellar terrorist (Vincent D’Onofrio) who has landed on Earth to murder two diplomats from rival universes.
The success of the first film spawned two more successful sequels. A spin-off with the title of Men in Black: International was released in 2019 with mixed results.
14. Inception (2010)
In a summer full of remakes, reboots, and sequels, Inception stands out as the most unique film concept in years. It’s a near-perfect and very unique film that keeps you engrossed till the end.
It focuses on Cobb, a master con artist, who uses “inception” (a dream-sharing technology) to infiltrate people’s dreams and harvest their most valuable ideas and secrets while their minds are at their most susceptible. Cobb’s abilities have made him the face of corporate espionage and, as a result, a wanted man.
The film received massive box office success and critical acclaim. Its considered to be one of the finest works of director Christopher Nolan.
13. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a film that, like The Wizard of Oz, you can see as a child and as an adult, and it will not disappoint you. It presents an unconventional story of love and friendship. The film is set in and around a large suburban development in the United States where a depressed adolescent musters the courage to assist a friendly alien in escaping Earth and returning to his home planet.
The friendly extraterrestrial is discovered and befriended by a little kid called Elliott after becoming trapped on Earth. However, E.T. soon becomes ill, necessitating government involvement and putting Elliott and the extraterrestrials in a dangerous predicament.
The film became a massive hit at the time of its release and cemented the reputation of Steven Spielberg as a great director.
12. Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day is German filmmaker Roland Emmerich’s greatest picture to date. Strange occurrences appear all across the world in this epic adventure film. The sky becomes ablaze. Terror is sweeping the globe’s main cities. As these remarkable events unfold, it becomes obvious that an extraterrestrial force of enormous proportion has arrived. Its goal is to annihilate everything. The only group of individuals who can halt the devastation is an unusual collection of people who have been brought together by fate and unthinkable circumstances.
The film became an instant classic and became a huge hit at the box office. A disastrous sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, was released in 2016 that could not live up to the standard set by the first one.
11. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
It depicts the narrative of Roy Neary, a blue-collar laborer in Indiana whose life is turned upside down following an encounter with an unknown flying object (UFO). Spielberg wanted to do this film for a long time and finally negotiated a science-fiction picture contract with Columbia Pictures in late 1973.
Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) sees an unusual flying object and gets sunburned as a result of its brilliant lights. Roy refuses to accept a rational explanation for what he has seen and is willing to risk his life to learn the truth about UFOs. It’s a genuinely wonderful film, one that can easily be labeled a classic.
10. Predator (1987)
The US government hires Dutch (portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger), a commando, to secretly rescue a group of politicians stranded in Guatemala. But something goes very awry when Dutch and his crew, which includes weapons specialist Blain (Jesse Ventura) and CIA operative George (Carl Weathers), arrive in Central America. The team finds they are being pursued by a vicious creature with superhuman strength and the ability to blend into its environment after discovering a trail of dead victims.
Despite its meager budget, the film had an impressive run at the box office. It spawned several sequels and spin-offs and to date has earned over $0.44 billion.
9. Avatar (2009)
If there is a movie worth watching again in a cinema, it is undoubtedly Avatar. Directed by James Cameron; the film at the time of its release held the reputation of being the highest-grossing movie of all time. It was “the highest tech film in terms of its execution”. A lot of tech was invented to bring the world of Pandora to 3D cinemas worldwide in unprecedented detail.
A successful sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, was released in 2022 with three more planned sequels lined up for release in 2025, 2029, and 2031 respectively.
8. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
When the Earth is attacked by invincible aliens, no military force on the planet can defeat them. Maj. William Cage (Tom Cruise) is deployed on a suicide mission as an officer who has never experienced combat. Cage is killed in a split second and is put into a time loop, reliving the same terrible fight — and his death — again and again.
With each repetition, though, Cage’s combat abilities increase, putting him and a companion (Emily Blunt) closer to destroying the invaders.
The film was praised by audiences worldwide for its unique story, excellent CGI, and epic action sequences.
7. The Thing (1982)
A helicopter shooting at a sled dog disturbs a group of American research scientists at their base camp in rural Antarctica. When they first take the dog in, it attacks both humans and dogs in the camp, and they learn that the beast can take on the form of its victims. Before the deadly beast takes them out one by one, a clever helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and the camp doctor (Richard Dysart) lead the camp staff in a desperate, gruesome struggle against it.
The film features extremely graphic scenes and is considered a cult classic. It impressed both critics and the box office. A prequel with the same title featuring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as the lead protagonist was released in 2011 to mixed reviews.
6. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The shape-shifting T-1000 (Robert Patrick), a Terminator dispatched from the future to assassinate young John Connor (Edward Furlong), is the key to civilization’s success over a future robot uprising in this sequel set eleven years after The Terminator.
To protect the child, another Terminator, the upgraded T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger), has been dispatched. John establishes a unique bond with the T-800 as he and his mother (Linda Hamilton) flee with it.
The film became a massive worldwide hit and instantly put director James Cameron on the list of top directors of the time. It also helped propel the career of Arnold to new heights.
5. Back to the Future (1985)
Small-town California youngster Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is sent back into the 1950s when an experiment by his crazy scientist buddy Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) goes wrong in this 1980s sci-fi classic.
Marty sees youthful versions of his parents (Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson) while traveling through time in a modified DeLorean vehicle, and must ensure that they fall in love or he will cease to exist. Even more terrifying, Marty must travel back in time to save Doc Brown’s life.
Despite being made on a low budget of $19 million, the film created history at the box office and became a massive success. Its success resulted in two more sequels both of which were box office successes.
4. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)
To put down the uprising against the Galactic Empire, the Imperial Forces, led by ruthless Darth Vader (David Prowse), kidnap Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). The Millennium Falcon’s captains, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), team up with R2-D2 (Kenny Baker) and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) to save the lovely princess, aid the Rebel Alliance and restore order in the Galaxy.
This is the first Star Wars film and that’s what started it all. It became a massive hit and made Star Wars a cultural phenomenon. The franchise so far has earned over $10.3 worldwide.
3. The Matrix (1999)
Neo (portrayed by Keanu Reeves) believes Morpheus (portrayed by Laurence Fishburne), a wanted criminal regarded as the most dangerous man alive, can provide a solution to his question: “What is the Matrix?”
Trinity (portrayed by Carrie-Anne Moss), a gorgeous stranger, contacts Neo and brings him into the underworld, where he meets Morpheus and gets the answer to the question he has always been intrigued by. They are then pitted against a group of ruthlessly clever secret agents in a violent battle for their survival. It’s a reality that has the potential to cost no more than his life.
The film became an instant sensation due to its unique action sequences and spawned three more sequels. In total, this franchise has earned more than $3.5 billion to date.
2. Alien (1979)
Halfway through their trip home, the crew of the commercial spaceship Nostromo is woken from its cryo-sleep capsules to investigate a distress signal from an alien vessel in deep space. When the crew discovers a clutch of eggs aboard the alien ship, the fear begins. One of the crew members falls into a coma after a creature from within an egg jumps out and attaches itself to him.
The film had a massive impact on popular culture and spawned several sequels and spin-offs. So far the franchise has earned over $1.35 billion worldwide.
1. Jurassic Park (1993)
Researchers Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and mathematician Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) are among a select group invited to explore an island theme park populated by dinosaurs produced from primordial DNA in Steven Spielberg’s huge blockbuster. While the mastermind behind the park, millionaire John Hammond (Richard Attenborough), assures everyone that the facility has foolproof security, several dangerous animals escape and embark on the hunt resulting in uncontrollable chaos.
This film had a massive impact on Hollywood and audiences worldwide. It gave life to the long-dead dinosaurs and made them mainstream again. To date, this franchise has grossed more than $6 billion and still going strong.
- Robocop (1987)
- Blade Runner (1982)
- Starship Troopers (1997)
- Source Code (2011)
- Upgrade (2018)
What are the best science fiction movies of all time in your opinion? Share with us your thoughts in the comments!