Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies

Top 10 Sci-Fi Movies

Ranking the best science-fiction movies of all time is more difficult than you might think...

Top 10 lists are something of an obsession of mine so it seems odd that I’ve never done a sci-fi list before. Less than 15 minutes in and I realised why. It’s damn hard! In the end, the only way I was able to do it was to bend the rules (like any good sci-fi movie invariably does) and allow myself to have a series of movies appear under one title. So for example, ‘Alien’ on my list represents Alien, Aliens & Prometheus. I know, I know. And I don’t care. Here’s the list.



I re-watched this movie very recently and for 90% of the time I was just in awe of the fact that the movie was actually made in 1968. (The other 10% of the time I was trying to cope with the weird ape scenes). But seriously, it’s crazy how good this film looks, even by today’s standards. The movie’s pace is deliciously slow at times allowing you to take the time to savour every scene.



It’s one of those movies that the more I watch it, the more I enjoy it. Beautiful cinematography, an intricately crafted story, some dazzling special effects, the genius direction of Christopher Nolan and my favourite present-day actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Satisfyingly complex and with an ending that sparks furious conversation, Inception really hits the mark.  



Sci-fi isn’t always stylish or cool, but The Matrix is both and then some. Visually stunning, action packed and with some really slick dialogue, The Matrix focuses on computers and hacking and then throws the audience on a rollercoaster ride. The first film is truly stand-out sci-fi and whilst the trilogy can get pretty complicated at times, it all just kind of adds to the appeal. 



The story in Contact completely captivates me; the notion of being alive when humans make first contact with extra-terrestrials is… mind blowing. Remarkably, Contact somehow plays it out in a very “plausible” manner (rather than aliens invading, spaceships and lasers). Jodie Foster is a fantastic actress, and I find myself willing her character to succeed right from the start. A truly great sci-fi movie.



The war against machines. No matter how many times I watch the first two Terminator movies, the fear of the chase is always so intense. The time travel, the theme music and all those glorious one liners. Brilliant. The focus of survival really works in this series and even though there’s been some bumps along the way, the Terminator genre continues to fascinate me.



For me, Star Trek is at its absolute best on the small screen. But it’s undeniably good on the big screen too. There are some brilliant movies in the series, in particular The Undiscovered Country, First Contact and the unforgettable Wrath of Khan. And the latest trilogy of movies that JJ Abram & Co. have delivered have been exceptional, in particular 2016’s Beyond. Space adventure at its finest, and some great sci-fi storytelling with wonderful characters.



What an absolutely brilliant movie this is.  Maths and science has never been so exciting! It feels so real at times, it’s got that tear-jerker feel of Apollo 13 and yet simultaneously I don’t think I have ever laughed so much at a sci-fi film. It all just works so well and the writers should really take a bow. With Ridley Scott at the helm, Matt Damon in the lead and a great support cast, this is a genuine 10/10 belter of a movie.



A modern day Space Odyssey that I don’t think will be surpassed for some time. For me, it’s the purest sci-fi of any movie on this list. It’s one of the most thought provoking movies I’ve ever watched (of any genre) and is a visual spectacle that demands I buy a 4K television one day. Christopher Nolan delivered arguably the finest superhero movie of all time and he’s somehow managed to deliver a 10/10 sci-fi stunner with Interstellar.



The scariest of all sci-fi for me, Alien has set a standard that is not easily surpassed. For me, it would probably come #1 in a ‘Thriller’ top 10, it’s just that good. The first movie is still my favourite, the second was a simply brilliant sequel and Prometheus I am a MASSIVE fan of. Ridley Scott’s 1979 original is a masterpiece, it hasn’t aged, the music is haunting and even as I type this I want to go and watch it again right now.   



Well it had to be. Put simply I’ve been obsessed with Star Wars since about 1983 and that obsession somehow seems to grow stronger with each passing day. A New Hope is my #1 movie of all time. The Force Awakens is my most memorable cinematic experience ever. Empire Strikes Back is unbelievably brilliant. And Return of the Jedi (the first I saw at the cinema in 1983) will forever hold a place in my heart. Classic action, amazing characters, unforgettable dialogue, glorious music and the most wonderful story of good vs evil.  

Final Thoughts

Where’s Close Encounters? What about E.T. & Bladerunner? A Top 10 is tougher than it looks. And upon re-reading my list, it’s apparent to me that my choices are actually pretty mainstream. I’m fine with that. I considered movies such as Moon (2009), Cube (1997) and whilst I appreciate movies such as Metropolis (1927), the truth is they just don’t make my list. Also, I just don’t watch those movies that often, whereas the movies on my list are on some sort of unspoken playlist in terms of how frequently I watch them. I stand by my list. What would make yours? 


Author: Paul Knauer - follow me on Twitter @ObiWanKnauer

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