Top 10 Films: The Best Sci-Fi Movies Ever Made

Like any top ten list of movies, a list devoted entirely to science fiction is going to cause arguments, which is exactly what this top ten movies list is intended to do. I invite all manner of argument in the comments section below. How many of these films are in your personal top ten list when it comes to science fiction? Did I miss a movie that absolutely, positively has to be in any list of the top ten science fiction films? This top ten list is a combination of my personal favorites and some degree of objective acknowledgement regarding the success and popularity of certain movies. The great thing about film is that it makes debate about things such as top ten movies lists so much fun. Enjoy.

The Empire Strike Back
The Empire Strike Back

10. Wall-E

Year of Release: 2008

Director: Andrew Stanton

Great line:

Ship's Computer: [advertising bodysuits] Try blue, it's the new red!

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: I love Pixar. They're like the Stanley Kubrick of animation. Everything they do is gold. Now, perhaps "Wall-E" doesn't immediately come to mind when considering great science fiction films, but it should. Aside from the fact the movie is pitch perfect, it also presents a compelling vision of the future. The Earth is decimated and the humans who left it are lazy, fat pigs. It's a vision that also serves as commentary on our current culture. Not only that, but my wife suggested I use it in my "Best Romantic Comedy" article. "Wall-E" definitely has something for everyone and is a tribute to Pixar's fantastic storytelling ability.

9. Dark City

Year of Release: 1998

Director: Alex Proyas

Great line:

Dr. Schrieber: Will a man, given the history of a killer, continue in that vein? Or are we, in fact, more than the sum of our memories?

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: I was an admirer of director Alex Proyas after "The Crow" and this film ably followed that one. In addition to a pre-24 Kiefer Sutherland, this film features Proyas's incredible sense of style. Obviously, "The Matrix" owes something to "Dark City" (though perhaps the former was actually in production already?) as do other films like "The Truman Show". The mystery of "Dark City" is intriguing and the world created with the "strangers" and how they manipulate time is a mainstay of science fiction. Like "The Crow", Proyas's sense of style comes through in this film strongly and makes it one of the better science fiction films in recent memory.

8. The Terminator

Year of Release:1984

Director: James Cameron

Great line:

The Terminator: I'll be back

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: I could be sucked into an argument about which film is better: "The Terminator" or "Terminator 2", but when such an argument seems possible, I like to go with the original. Sure, this film probably seems positively antiquated today, but its vision of a future taken over by machines was chilling. And I'm always a sucker for anything involving time travel. And when you get right down to it, Schwarzenegger was better as a villain than as a hero.

7. Blade Runner

Year of Release: 1982

Director: Ridley Scott

Great line:

Deckard: You're reading a magazine. You come across a full-page nude photo of a girl.
Rachael: Is this testing whether I'm a replicant or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: I think when it comes to great science fiction, there are "Star Wars" people and then there are "Blade Runner" people. I suppose it's the difference between a world where everything seems black and white and a world where things are shades of gray. "Blade Runner" definitely has lots of gray shades. It asks us to consider the nature of our humanity and does so with a whole bunch of style. It's probably the film I remember the least well of all the films on this list, but the one that I think requires me to go back and watch more than any of the others.

6. The Matrix

Year of Release: 1999

Director: Lana and Andy Wachowski

Great line:

Morpheus: What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this.
[holds up a Duracell battery]

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: It's tempting to eliminate "The Matrix" from any top ten lists because of its sequels (the first one I thought was pretty good while the second one was a jumbled mess), but I prefer to harken back to those days when I was sitting in the theater and saw "The Matrix" trailer for the first time. Blown away. I just remember being so amped for this film and then getting to see something that really delivered. When I want to show off my home theater system, I still put in "The Matrix" and skip to the scene where they enter the building to save Morpheus.

5. Star Wars

Year of Release: 1977

Director: George Lucas

Great line:

Han Solo: I don't what we're gonna do now. Even if I could take off, I could never get past the tractor beam.
Obi-Wan: Leave that to me.
Han Solo: Damn fool, I knew you were going to say that.
Obi-Wan: Who's the more foolish? The fool, or the fool who follows him?

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: Even amongst "Star Wars" fans, there's division between them about which movie in the series is the best. While I would normally lean toward the first one in most series, I'm in that camp that thinks that "The Empire Strikes Back" is the better movie. I suppose that's an insult to George Lucas since he neither wrote nor directed "Empire". However, I'm not super-emphatic about it. You can't watch "Empire" without watching "Star Wars". And while there are definitely some cringe-worthy moments, "Star Wars" is the work of a visionary, even if that visionary feels like he should constantly change his original work.

4. Brazil

Year of Release: 1985

Director: Terry Gilliam

Great line:

Sam Lowry: I assure you, Mrs. Buttle, the Ministry is very scrupulous about following up and eradicating any error. If you have any complaints which you'd like to make, I'd be more than happy to send you the appropriate forms.

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: I'll tell a bit of a story here. "Brazil" is the favorite film of a good friend of mine. Terry Gilliam was at the Telluride Film Festival one year as were my friend and I. I walked up to Gilliam as he was coming out of a theater and pulled the "I know who's your biggest fan" stunt on him, asking him to meet my friend for a visit. He agreed, and although I didn't believe he'd show, I told my friend. Well, Gilliam showed on time and sat with my friend for 40 minutes or so just chatting away. It was a great moment and I have the picture to prove it. Interesting side note: Although the picture I have is of me, Giliam, and my friend, Salman Rushdie tried to get into the picture, but we wouldn't let him, which I kind of regret now. Rushdie is an incredibly funny, gracious man, incidentally, as is Gilliam.

3. Alien

Year of Release: 1979

Director: Ridley Scott

Great line:


Lambert: You admire it.
Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor... unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.
Parker: Look, I am... I've heard enough of this, and I'm asking you to pull the plug.
Ash: [Ripley goes to disconnect Ash, who interrupts] Last word.
Ripley: What?
Ash: I can't lie to you about your chances, but... you have my sympathies.

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: And yet again, is this the best film or is "Aliens"? Do both belong on a top ten list of science fiction films? Although this makes two Ridley Scott films, I'm going with "Alien". Although "Alien" might be perceived as a little slow by modern standards, it's a better screenplay than its sequel. Don't get me wrong, "Aliens" is a great movie and would certainly make my top 20, but the original "Alien" has a build up and sense of dread that develops. We kind of know what's going to happen in "Aliens". There's something about experience certain movies for the first time that's impossible to replicate. "Alien" is one of those.

2. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Year of Release: 1968

Director: Stanley Kubrick

Great line:

HAL: The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: There's a lot to be said for proclaiming "2001" the best science fiction film of all-time, but I guess I'm a product of our blockbuster culture and am partial to a film that was both a box-office success as well as critically acclaimed. Not that "2001" wasn't successful, but it's a cerebral film very far ahead of its time. Made at a time when human beings were still coming to grips with technology, it definitely warns against losing our humanity to machines. A gorgeous, groundbreaking film. I guess what I'm saying is that I appreciate "2001" immensely, but I'm not putting it at number one because it's just slightly outside my frame of reference. I understand the fear of technology, but didn't quite live it.

1. The Empire Strikes Back

Year of Release: 1980

Director: Irvin Kirshner

Great line:

Princess Leia: I love you.
Han Solo: I know.

Why it's a top 10 science fiction film: Again, are you a "Star Wars" person or an "Empire Strikes Back" person? Being that this is the bridge film connecting the first and last films, to say it's the best of the three is quite something. I probably should know why Lucas chose to turn over the writing and directing duties to somebody else, but I don't. I guess he picked the right people. The line I quoted above is considered one of the all-time best ad-libs as something else was written entirely and Harrison Ford apparently thought his character would say something like he did. If you actually saw these films when they were in the theater, then you distinctly remember that incredible sense of dread at the end of the film and the frustration of having to wait a year or more to find out Han's fate.

Blade Runner
Blade Runner

What is the best science fiction movie?

  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • Alien
  • Brazil
  • Star Wars
  • The Matrix
  • Blade Runner
  • The Terminator
  • Dark City
  • Wall-E
See results without voting

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Comments 9 comments

JamieHGarrett profile image

JamieHGarrett 2 years ago from North Carolina

Great list. In my opinion, 2001: A Space Odyssey is not just one of the best sci-fi films ever, its one of the best films of all time. It is in a class by itself.


theframjak profile image

theframjak 4 years ago from East Coast

Great list. 2001 is my favorite because it is the one sci-fi film that really captures the mystery of the universe and that there is so much out there we don't really understand.


crankalicious profile image

crankalicious 4 years ago from Colorado Author

Thanks so much for reading.


Angela Biggs profile image

Angela Biggs 4 years ago from United Kingdom

I am watch all of them. I will drill down the web and see each of them. I love science fiction movies and great to find this list. My favourites are "The day the earth stood still", "Time machine", "Spy kids", "Men In Black" etc. etc. I am a freaky fan. Thanks once again. And I love all your other blogs too but I choose this one to comment :)


bagsofwater profile image

bagsofwater 4 years ago from USA

really like the movies on this list, though i know everyone seems to put star wars: ESB ahead of the star wars: ANH, and i say that without ANH, you would never have ESB so ANH should be numero uno


KBEvolve profile image

KBEvolve 5 years ago from United States

Good list, and three of them I haven't seen yet.


Deltachord profile image

Deltachord 5 years ago from United States

I saw Wall-E, Blade Runner, Star Wars, and A Space Odyssey, and liked those. I started watching The Matrix and couldn't get into it.


AnkushKohli profile image

AnkushKohli 5 years ago from India

Amazing list bro. Matrix is my favorite one.


vinner profile image

vinner 5 years ago from India

Very good listing man.

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