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100 best sci-fi films of all time, according to critics

  • Pixabay
    1/ Pixabay

    100 best sci-fi films of all time, according to critics

    Of all major movie genres, sci-fi has perhaps the most passionate devotees—just look at the feverishly adoring fanbase of the “Star Wars” saga and Marvel Cinematic Universe. These admirers do more than frequent Comic-Con, engage in cosplay, and read throngs of backstory in comic strips and books: Legions of fanboys and fangirls also drive up user ratings as soon as the newest installment of a favorite franchise drops. This can lead to a somewhat skewed perspective in terms of whether or not these movies are actually worth watching.

    Enter the almighty film critic: a movie expert who, while not necessarily impervious to personal bias, is more likely to judge a film based on its own merits. To that end, a list of the best critically reviewed sci-fi films will be different from one compiled according to IMDb user ratings—even if certain titles are bound to overlap.

    With that in mind, Stacker presents the 100 best sci-fi films of all time (according to what the critics say). Each film was ranked by its Metacritic score. In the case of a ratings tie, the title with more critic ratings ranked higher. Excluded from consideration were any movies that have not yet been released to the public. Without further ado, here are the 100 best sci-fi films of all time, according to the critics.  

    RELATED: 100 best films of all time, according to critics

  • Warner Bros.
    2/ Warner Bros.

    #100. Inception

    Metascore: 74
    Year: 2010
    Director(s): Christopher Nolan

    Christopher Nolan goes layers-deep in this mind-bending thriller, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a thief skilled in the art of extraction. And what is extraction? Nothing more than the ability to enter someone’s dream world in order to change his or her opinion, or retrieve vital information. Meanwhile, the thief’s own subconscious secrets threaten to derail his latest assignment. Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Ellen Page, and Tom Hardy co-star.

  • Paramount Pictures
    3/ Paramount Pictures

    #99. Interstellar

    Metascore: 74
    Year: 2014
    Director(s): Christopher Nolan

    Another mystifying sci-fi epic from Christopher Nolan, “Interstellar” takes place in the not-too-distant future, where climate change pushes humanity to the brink of extinction. In a last-ditch effort for survival, a group of explorers searches for an inhabitable planet in the deepest corners of space. Playing one of the explorers is Matthew McConaughey, whose distant journey brings him closer to home than he ever could have anticipated. The film’s impressive cast also includes Timothée Chalamet, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine.

  • Walt Disney Pictures
    4/ Walt Disney Pictures

    #98. Thor: Ragnarok

    Metascore: 74
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Taika Waititi

    Injecting the traditional superhero format with a colorful palette and some lighthearted humor, “Thor: Ragnarok” opens with its titular hero being imprisoned on a faraway planet. After executing his escape, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) finds himself in a race against time to stop a powerful villainess (Cate Blanchett) from destroying his home of Asgard. The film scored big with critics and fans alike for its rejuvenated approach, raking in more than $850 million at the worldwide box office.

  • American Zoetrope
    5/ American Zoetrope

    #97. THX 1138

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 1971
    Director(s): George Lucas

    Years before he changed the game with “Star Wars,” George Lucas released this low-budget sci-fi thriller. Set in the 25th century—where humans are rigidly controlled by an oppressive regime—it follows a man and woman (Robert Duvall and Maggie McOmie) as they rebel against the state. Proving that the film holds a special place in Lucas’ heart, he would later name his audio/visual company THX—and also injected "1138" into a number of subsequent works.

  • Edge City
    6/ Edge City

    #96. Repo Man

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 1984
    Director(s): Alex Cox

    This 1984 cult classic stars Emilio Estevez as an angry punk rocker named Otto, who’s hired as a repo man and subsequently submerged in a world of constant zaniness. While fulfilling his newfound duties, he crosses paths with UFO conspiracy theorists, rival repo men, a deranged government scientist, and an otherworldly Chevy Malibu. Underpinning the comic narrative is a genuine punk ethos along with a range of anti-consumerist themes, which helps account for the movie’s lasting appeal.

  • Solofilm
    7/ Solofilm

    #95. Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 1978
    Director(s): Philip Kaufman

    This 1978 remake tells the timeless tale of an alien invasion occurring right under humanity’s collective nose. It all starts when people begin to notice that their friends and loved ones have become devoid of human emotion—as if possessed by a strange spell. Upon further investigation, it’s discovered that aliens are taking over human bodies at breakneck speed. Can the invasion be stopped before the whole world has been taken over?

  • Bandai Visual Company
    8/ Bandai Visual Company

    #94. Metropolis

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 2002
    Director(s): Rintaro

    "Metropolis" is loosely based on a manga series and on Fritz Lang’s silent-era classic. The Japanese film follows an AI-robot girl named Tima as she navigates the complex, multi-leveled world of a futuristic society. While critics weren’t necessarily floored by the storytelling, they heaped near-universal praise upon the film’s brilliant use of stunning animation.

  • Carolco Pictures
    9/ Carolco Pictures

    #93. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 1991
    Director(s): James Cameron

    The “Terminator” saga might have begun back in 1984, but it was this sequel seven years later that blew the lid off this franchise. Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on the role of a helpful cyborg who must protect a future resistance leader (Edward Furlong) and his mother (Linda Hamilton) from the deadly clutches of the T-1000 (Robert Patrick). The film features groundbreaking CGI effects, which still feel somewhat revolutionary even decades later.

  • StudioCanal
    10/ StudioCanal

    #92. Attack the Block

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 2011
    Director(s): Joe Cornish

    This British film pits inner-city London gang members against a horde of invading aliens in what is one part foul-mouthed comedy and one part sci-fi, with some poignant socioeconomic themes thrown in for good measure. "Attack the Block" comes from the producers of “Shaun of the Dead” and “The World’s End,” two films exploring similar conceptual terrains. A financial disappointment in its day, the film endures as an underrated masterpiece.

  • Kate Street Picture Company
    11/ Kate Street Picture Company

    #91. Okja

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Bong Joon-ho

    From the South Korean director of “Snowpiercer” and “The Host” comes an adventure film about the relationship between a young girl named Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun) and a mystical beast named Okja. After Okja gets abducted by a multinational conglomerate, the young girl embarks on a quest to save her friend. She crosses paths along the way with greedy capitalists and angry demonstrators, all of whom want to control Okja’s fate. Tilda Swinton also stars.

  • Twentieth Century Fox
    12/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #90. X-Men: Days of Future Past

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 2014
    Director(s): Bryan Singer

    The seventh installment in the “X-Men” franchise is also one of the best. Featuring members from both initial films as well as the “First Class” prequel, the movie opens in a future world that’s been devastated by powerful robots known as Sentinels. The only way to counteract the damage is to send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back in time, where he encounters younger versions of his peers and sets out to stop the Sentinel program from taking form. The all-star cast includes James McAvoy, Halle Berry, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and Peter Dinklage.

  • Marvel Studios
    13/ Marvel Studios

    #89. Captain America: Civil War

    Metascore: 75
    Year: 2016
    Director(s): Anthony Russo

    The next best thing to a full-blown “Avengers” movie is this Marvel flick that finds the world-famous superhero squad fighting from within. It all starts when the government proposes limiting the powers of superheroes—much to the chagrin of certain Avengers. Captain America and Iron Man end up in a brutal civil war that causes no shortage of peripheral damage. Meanwhile, a new outside enemy has emerged who is all too happy to exploit the rift.

  • Westdeutscher Rundfunk
    14/ Westdeutscher Rundfunk

    #88. World on a Wire

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 1973
    Director(s): Rainer Werner Fassbinder

    This acclaimed, two-part German mini-series (later released as a full-length film) is based on a novel and serves to be as prescient now as it ever was. "World on a Wire" takes place in the not-too-distant future, where a powerful computer can mimic reality to unblemished effect. Featured in the simulated world are “identity units” who don't realize they live inside a fake reality. When one of the identity units attempts to commit suicide, it kicks off a string of deadly interactions between the real world and the simulation. A 1999 film called “The Thirteenth Floor” was based on the same source material.

  • Abrakan Estudio
    15/ Abrakan Estudio

    #87. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Alberto Vázquez

    This Spanish film is much darker than your average animated fare. Three local children living on an island devastated by a nuclear meltdown are determined to find greener pastures. When they attempt to flee, they run into all sorts of nightmarish obstacles. A child junkie named Birdboy might hold the key to the island’s salvation—presuming he can overcome nightmares of his own.

  • Embassy Pictures
    16/ Embassy Pictures

    #86. Escape from New York

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 1981
    Director(s): John Carpenter

    Bolstered by its synthy score and gritty characters, this John Carpenter film imagines a world where New York City has been converted into a massive prison. After a political leader gets stuck behind the city walls, a no-nonsense rebel named Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is sent in to retrieve him. A lackluster sequel came out in 1996, and a remake of the original is reportedly in development.

  • Paramount Pictures
    17/ Paramount Pictures

    #85. Ghost in the Shell

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 1996
    Director(s): Mamoru Oshii

    Fans disappointed by the recent live-action version of “Ghost in the Shell” can take solace in this previous adaptation, which is considered a true landmark in animation history. In the film, a cyborg cop and her partner hunt down a mysterious hacker against a thoroughly futuristic backdrop. A digitally revised and graphically enhanced version called “Ghost in the Shell 2.0” was released in 2008.

  • Aurora
    18/ Aurora

    #84. The Secret of NIMH

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 1982
    Director(s): Don Bluth

    In this animated feature from Don Bluth, a widowed field mouse searches for the cure to her son’s terminal illness. That brings her to an underground colony of hyper-intelligent rats who were once participants in a secret government experiment. As it turns out, the field mouse’s deceased husband was part of the very same experiment, held at a research facility known as N.I.M.H.

  • Paramount Pictures
    19/ Paramount Pictures

    #83. 10 Cloverfield Lane

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 2016
    Director(s): Dan Trachtenberg

    Nothing is what it seems in this taut second installment of the popular “Cloverfield” thrillers franchise. In the film, a woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up after a car accident to find herself trapped in an underground bunker. The man (John Goodman) who’s keeping her there insists it’s for her own good, as there’s a widespread chemical attack going on above ground. But can she trust him?

  • Warner Bros.
    20/ Warner Bros.

    #82. Midnight Special

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 2016
    Director(s): Jeff Nichols

    Critics and audiences didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on this 2016 sci-fi film, although most agree it was an engaging affair with an unexpected ending (for better or worse, depending on who’s being asked). Culling from a variety of influences, the film tells the story of a boy with extraordinary powers, who goes on the run from a powerful government agency. Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, and Adam Driver star.

  • Color Force
    21/ Color Force

    #81. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 2013
    Director(s): Francis Lawrence

    Based on the wildly popular book series, this equally sensational film saga finds underprivileged citizens, who are being punished for an earlier uprising, engaged in a deadly battle for the amusement of the upper class. In the second installment, victors of the previous Hunger Games are drawn back into the arena to face new enemies and traps. Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen, who will ultimately take on Coriolanus Snow and his sadistic regime.

  • Warner Bros.
    22/ Warner Bros.

    #80. Wonder Woman

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Patty Jenkins

    One of 2017’s biggest hits, this comic book adaptation opens on the hidden island of Themyscira. There, powerful women train to become indestructible warriors. Among the island’s inhabitants is Diana (Gal Gadot), who ends up leaving her home behind to fight injustice out in the real world. Helping her along the way—and teaching her a few things about mankind—is a World War I fighter pilot named Steve Trevor (Chris Pine).

  • Marvel Studios
    23/ Marvel Studios

    #79. Guardians of the Galaxy

    Metascore: 76
    Year: 2014
    Director(s): James Gunn

    Awash with endless gags and classic tunes, this surprise hit from Marvel introduces audiences to Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), better known as Star-Lord. Years after being abducted from Earth, Star-Lord takes assumes the role of an intergalactic adventurer and chases down a mystical orb. Soon, he’s in the crosshairs of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), an all-powerful villain with plans for universal domination. It’s up to Star-Lord and a newfound crew of space criminals to save the day—but only after getting themselves into heaps of trouble, naturally. A very successful sequel followed in 2017.

  • MGM
    24/ MGM

    #78. Westworld

    Metascore: 77
    Year: 1973
    Director(s): Michael Crichton

    Long before the popular HBO series centering on an adult-themed amusement park inhabited by advanced robots, the "Westworld" concept began with this very PG-13 movie. After one of the cowboy robots malfunctions during a Wild West adventure, he attempts to hunt down and kill a pair of vacationers. The film was written and directed by acclaimed novelist Michael Crichton.

  • Rollins-Joffe Productions
    25/ Rollins-Joffe Productions

    #77. Sleeper

    Metascore: 77
    Year: 1973
    Director(s): Woody Allen

    Woody Allen isn’t exactly a name that’s synonymous with quality science fiction, but he did churn out this futuristic comedy. Offering a clever take on the story of “Rip Van Winkle,” the movie stars Allen himself as a nerdy store owner who dies during a routine operation, gets cryogenically frozen, and wakes up 200 years into the future. Allen’s character gets recruited by anti-government radicals but ends up wandering off on his own to explore this strange new world.

  • Kennedy Miller Productions
    26/ Kennedy Miller Productions

    #76. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

    Metascore: 77
    Year: 1982
    Director(s): George Miller

    Legions of “Mad Max” fans (and numerous critics) consider the second installment of the franchise to be the saga’s crowning achievement. It stars Mel Gibson as the titular character, a world-weary drifter who’s just trying to make his way in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Despite his steadfast independence, Max agrees to help a community protect its gasoline supply from manic barbarians. Epic battle sequences and outrageous violence ensues.

  • United Artists
    27/ United Artists

    #75. WarGames

    Metascore: 77
    Year: 1983
    Director(s): John Badham

    This iconic '80s thriller follows a young man named David (Matthew Broderick) who accidentally hacks into a top-secret government computer and starts playing what he thinks is a hyper-realistic simulation game. Little does he realize that his actions are having real outcomes inside a nuclear facility, and paving the way for a potential WWIII. As the clock winds down, David must outwit the computer itself if he wants to prevent a nuclear holocaust.

  • Les Films du Worso
    28/ Les Films du Worso

    #74. Evolution

    Metascore: 77
    Year: 2016
    Director(s): Lucile Hadžihalilović

    French writer/director Lucile Hadžihalilović sets this poetic fever dream in an unknown town that might exist in another reality altogether. Within the borders of this community, there are only women and young boys, including a boy named Nicolas. When he discovers a corpse in the ocean, Nicolas begins to openly question the world around him. Soon, he’s being carted off to a hospital-like building where he and other boys undergo a series of medical procedures. Dripping with gorgeous photography, the movie confronts its viewers with a range of unsettling enigmas.

  • Twentieth Century Fox
    29/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #73. Logan

    Metascore: 77
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): James Mangold

    In Hugh Jackman’s (reportedly) final turn as Wolverine, "Logan" opens with its hero in a state of perpetual weariness. As he tends to an ailing Professor X (Patrick Stewart), Logan constantly retreats to the bottle in order to ease his pains. Everything changes, however, with the arrival of a spry young mutant named Laura (Dafne Keen), who’s being pursued by a powerful corporation. Tasked with escorting Laura to the Canadian border, Logan whips out the razor-sharp claws for one last time.

  • Toho Pictures
    30/ Toho Pictures

    #72. Godzilla

    Metascore: 78
    Year: 2004
    Director(s): Ishirô Honda

    First released in 1954, Ishirô Honda’s “Godzilla” is where the epic saga began. In the film, American nuclear weapons testing creates a gigantic monster of dinosaur-like proportions that threatens to destroy anything in its path. The movie famously spawned a variety of sequels, spin-offs, reboots, remakes, shows, toys, and games. Meanwhile, Honda’s original classic didn’t reach American audiences in uncut form until 2004.

  • Jet Tone Films
    31/ Jet Tone Films

    #71. 2046

    Metascore: 78
    Year: 2005
    Director(s): Wong Kar-Wai

    This Hong Kong drama incorporates elements of sci-fi into an otherwise romantic premise with four separate, non-chronological story arcs. In one of the arcs, a fictional narrator takes viewers far into the future, where there exists a mystical train. To board the train is to visit a realm where time stands still, and where people can reconnect with lost loves. This movie is considered a spiritual successor to the director’s two previous works, “Days of Being Wild,” and “In the Mood for Love.”

  • Universal Pictures International
    32/ Universal Pictures International

    #70. Ex Machina

    Metascore: 78
    Year: 2015
    Director(s): Alex Garland

    In this gripping sci-fi thriller, a young programmer named Caleb is sent to a reclusive compound to partake in an experiment. It’s here that he meets the brilliant CEO (Oscar Isaac) of his company, and an AI-powered robot girl named Ava. As the experiment progresses, Caleb finds himself falling deeper and deeper under Ava’s spell. But is Ava just using Caleb as a means to escape?

  • Film4
    33/ Film4

    #69. Under the Skin

    Metascore: 78
    Year: 2014
    Director(s): Jonathan Glazer

    From talented auteur Jonathan Glazer comes this wildly unconventional work about a visiting alien (Scarlett Johansson) who lures various men to an untimely demise. However, as the alien spends more time on Earth, she begins to develop conflicting emotions about mankind. Alternating between moments of stark realism and hyper-stylization, the film eschews traditional storytelling in favor of a somewhat evasive narrative. Speaking of stark realism, a number of people who appeared in the film weren’t actors, but random men that Scarlett Johansson tried to pick up off the side of the road.

  • SLM Production Group
    34/ SLM Production Group

    #68. The Fly

    Metascore: 79
    Year: 1986
    Director(s): David Cronenberg

    By remaking a 1958 horror classic of the same name, David Cronenberg turned in one of his most iconic efforts. In the film, a brilliant scientist (Jeff Goldblum) crosses his own DNA with that of a fly and subsequently transforms into a grotesque hybrid. Playing the scientist’s love interest is actress Geena Davis, who married Goldblum in real life a year after the movie's release.

  • APJAC Productions
    35/ APJAC Productions

    #67. Planet of the Apes

    Metascore: 79
    Year: 1968
    Director(s): Franklin J. Schaffner

    “The Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling co-wrote the script for this sci-fi milestone, which ultimately spawned a range of sequels, reboots, and prequels. Starring Charlton Heston, it follows an astronaut crew as they land on a strange planet, where talking apes are the reigning species and humans are enslaved. The film’s end is one of the most celebrated reveals in cinematic history.

  • HandMade Films
    36/ HandMade Films

    #66. Time Bandits

    Metascore: 79
    Year: 1981
    Director(s): Terry Gilliam

    In this 1981 adventure comedy, a young boy and a band of time-traveling dwarves visit various locales in hopes of stealing treasure. Not only was the film directed by former “Monty Python” member Terry Gilliam, but it stars fellow alumni John Cleese and Michael Palin, the latter of whom co-wrote the script. Sean Connery and Shelley Duvall also star.

  • HIghline Pictures
    37/ HIghline Pictures

    #65. Jodorowsky's Dune

    Metascore: 79
    Year: 2014
    Director(s): Frank Pavich

    "Jodorowsky's Dune" is a must-see documentary for its fascinating chronicle of cult filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky’s failed attempt to adapt sci-fi novel “Dune” for the big screen. The film includes interviews with Jodorowsky himself, along with vivid storyboard illustrations. Meanwhile, David Lynch’s 1984 version of "Dune"—which did make it to completion—was a critical and commercial failure. Will Denis Villeneuve’s upcoming remake break the curse? Time will tell.

  • Paramount Pictures
    38/ Paramount Pictures

    #64. Iron Man

    Metascore: 79
    Year: 2008
    Director(s): Jon Favreau

    The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with an impressive bang by way of this 2008 classic, starring Robert Downey Jr. as weapons magnate Tony Stark. While being held captive inside an Afghan cave, Stark builds a tech-savvy suit of armor and soon blasts his way out. Along with Stark’s creation comes a newfound sense of purpose, and Iron Man is born. Marvel and Disney (by extension) have been raking in billions ever since.

  • Chernin Entertainment
    39/ Chernin Entertainment

    #63. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    Metascore: 79
    Year: 2014
    Director(s): Matt Reeves

    It’s man versus ape in this action movie from Matt Reeves, which is second in a line of popular prequels. The story opens with mankind struggling to survive in the wake of a global pandemic. In the nearby forest, meanwhile, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his clan of evolved apes discuss whether or not they should trust the humans. As the tensions mount, both sides inch closer to deadly battle.

  • DNA Films
    40/ DNA Films

    #62. Annihilation

    Metascore: 79
    Year: 2018
    Director(s): Alex Garland

    This thriller follows a biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman) whose husband (Oscar Isaac) suddenly goes missing. In order to find him, Lena and a small group of scientists enter a strange zone where laws of nature don’t apply. Once inside, they encounter the stuff of their worst nightmares. Critics heaped praise on the film, while audiences were less impressed with its uneven tone.

  • The Fyzz Facility Film One
    41/ The Fyzz Facility Film One

    #61. The Survivalist

    Metascore: 80
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Stephen Fingleton

    "The Survivalist" offers an uncompromising vision of humanity in a world where resources are slim and only the strongest survive. Deep in the woods, a solitary man abides by a strict routine in order to stay alive. However, his entire world is compromised by the arrival of two women—neither of whom he can trust.

  • Warner Bros.
    42/ Warner Bros.

    #60. A Clockwork Orange

    Metascore: 80
    Year: 1971
    Director(s): Stanley Kubrick

    Genius filmmaker Stanley Kubrick explores his darker side in this subversive work, based on a novel by Anthony Burgess. The film, set in future England, centers around Alex (Malcolm McDowell), a gang leader with an unquenchable thirst for sex, violence, and classical music. After he’s imprisoned for murder, Alex undergoes an experimental treatment and gets released back into society. When he encounters all the people he once wronged, the predator becomes the prey.

  • Dovemead Films
    43/ Dovemead Films

    #59. Superman

    Metascore: 80
    Year: 1978
    Director(s): Richard Donner

    Richard Donner’s classic comic book introduces Christopher Reeve as the man of steel. After growing up on a small farm, Superman’s alter ego, Clark Kent, lands a job as a big city newspaper reporter. Alternating between his respective roles as nerdy journalist and (almost) indestructible alien, Superman romances Lois Lane and squares off against Lex Luthor.

  • Twentieth Century Fox
    44/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #58. Minority Report

    Metascore: 80
    Year: 2002
    Director(s): Steven Spielberg

    This futuristic thriller, based on a short story by sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, stars Tom Cruise as Chief John Anderton, head of an elite “Pre-Crime” unit. With help from three clairvoyant humans known as Pre-Cogs, Anderton is able to stop crimes they occur. But what happens when the Pre-Cogs foresee a homicide committed by Anderton himself?

  • Zentropa Entertainments
    45/ Zentropa Entertainments

    #57. Melancholia

    Metascore: 80
    Year: 2011
    Director(s): Lars von Trier

    Controversial filmmaker Lars von Trier wrote and directed this harrowing sci-fi drama. In the film, a young woman (Kirsten Dunst) exhibits increasingly strange behavior on the day of her own wedding. Meanwhile, a giant blue planet is hurtling toward Earth and threatening to wipe out all of existence. Charlotte Gainsbourg and Kiefer Sutherland co-star.

  • Twentieth Century Fox
    46/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #56. The Martian

    Metascore: 80
    Year: 2015
    Director(s): Ridley Scott

    After a catastrophic dust storm, an astronaut (Matt Damon) gets stranded on Mars in this 2015 adventure film from Ridley Scott. As the astronaut’s crew plans his rescue, he must figure out ways to survive on an extremely hostile planet. The movie, based on a best-selling novel, earned more than $630 million at the global box office and took home a pair of Golden Globes, to boot.

  • Pixar Animation Studios
    47/ Pixar Animation Studios

    #55. Incredibles 2

    Metascore: 80
    Year: 2018
    Director(s): Brad Bird

    After a 14-year hiatus, the world’s favorite family of superheroes returned to the big screen in this animated hit from Pixar. This time around, it’s Elastigirl’s time to shine as she searches for the true identity of a villain known only as Screenslaver. As for Mr. Incredible, he struggles to keep pace with two superkids and one powerful baby while stuck with parent duty at home.

  • AM Associates
    48/ AM Associates

    #54. Battle Royale

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2012
    Director(s): Kinji Fukasaku

    A certifiable precursor to “The Hunger Games,” this Japanese film takes place in a dystopian future, where ninth-graders are pitted against one another in a fight to the death. It all goes down on a remote island—and with government approval. Originally released in 2000, the movie screened in American theaters starting late 2011, and early 2012.

  • British Lion Film Corporation
    49/ British Lion Film Corporation

    #53. The Man Who Fell to Earth

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 1976
    Director(s): Nicolas Roeg

    Starring the late, great David Bowie, this surrealist sci-fi drama finds a humanoid alien (Bowie) visiting Earth in search of water for his home planet. While building a spacecraft to return home, the alien gets distracted by lust, greed, and other human obstacles. Nearly 20 minutes of footage were edited out for the original theatrical run, but an uncut version has been subsequently released.

  • The Geffen Company
    50/ The Geffen Company

    #52. Little Shop of Horrors

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 1986
    Director(s): Frank Oz

    This musical comedy features irresistible songs, unforgettable characters, and a storyline that follows the unhealthy relationship between a nerdy florist (Rick Moranis) and a gigantic, man-eating plant. At first, the plant helps the florist in his pursuit of romance and success. But as the plant’s cravings grow, the florist’s life begins to spin out of control.

  • Madhouse
    51/ Madhouse

    #51. Paprika

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2007
    Director(s): Satoshi Kon

    In this heady anime thriller, scientists have developed a device that allows therapists to enter their subjects' subconscious worlds. When a thief steals the device and uses it to penetrate dreams, the line between fantasy and actuality begins to blur. It’s up to a young therapist named Paprika (voiced by Megumi Hayashibara) to stop the thief before reality itself becomes a literal nightmare.

  • erbp
    52/ erbp

    #50. Upstream Color

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2013
    Director(s): Shane Carruth

    Shane Carruth’s long-awaited follow-up to “Primer” centers on a woman named Kris (Amy Seimetz) who enters a temporary hypnotic state after ingesting a mystical parasite. While putting the pieces of her life back together, Kris forms a relationship with another victim, Jeff (Carruth). Unbeknownst to Kris and Jeff, their lives are still being affected by the mysterious parasite, leading to a complex interplay between illusion and reality.

  • TriStar Pictures
    53/ TriStar Pictures

    #49. District 9

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2009
    Director(s): Neill Blomkamp

    The debut feature from Neill Blomkamp is arguably the director’s finest achievement to date. Layering a sci-fi story atop a poignant socio-economic motif, the movie imagines a world where aliens have arrived in South Africa, only to be relegated to a militarized slum known as District 9. After a government agent is exposed to a deadly chemical, he seeks help from the aliens—and discovers they aren’t the enemy he once perceived them to be.

  • Universal Pictures
    54/ Universal Pictures

    #48. The World's End

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2013
    Director(s): Edgar Wright

    “The World’s End” is the final installment in Edgar Wright’s beloved Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy. In it we find five friends on a pub crawl of truly epic proportions, drinking themselves into a stupor as they hop from bar to bar. It's only a matter of time before they find themselves in the midst of an android invasion. Two overlapping goals come into focus: Finish the pub crawl, and save the world. Cornetto trilogy mainstays Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Martin Freeman star.

  • Cinereach
    55/ Cinereach

    #47. Sorry to Bother You

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2018
    Director(s): Boots Riley

    What begins as pointed satire becomes something far more outlandish in this comedy from writer/director Boots Riley. It all starts when an African-American man (Lakeith Stanfield) lands a job as a telemarketer, learning that the best way to move ahead is to adopt a “white person” voice. As a result, the man climbs the ladder all the way up to the top of his company, where a shocking revelation awaits. It only gets weirder from there. Armie Hammer co-stars.

  • Lava Bear Films
    56/ Lava Bear Films

    #46. Arrival

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2016
    Director(s): Denis Villeneuve

    Aliens have arrived on Earth in various floating vessels. The American military hopes to avoid a deadly conflict by hiring a linguistics expert (Amy Adams) to decipher the alien’s language. With the clock ticking down, the expert must decide whether or not the aliens come in peace. Villeneuve and his team purposefully created a new language system just for the film.

  • Alcon Entertainment
    57/ Alcon Entertainment

    #45. Blade Runner 2049

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Denis Villeneuve

    On the direct heels of “Arrival,” Denis Villeneuve turned in this “Blade Runner” sequel that takes place 30 years after the original. In the film, a young blade runner named K (Ryan Gosling) uncovers a long-buried secret that could alter the shape of society itself. Despite solid reviews from critics, the film was considered a financial disappointment.

  • Lucasfilm
    58/ Lucasfilm

    #44. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

    Metascore: 81
    Year: 2015
    Director(s): J.J. Abrams

    Director J.J. Abrams stuck closely to the original playbook when it came to resurrecting the “Star Wars” franchise. The result was this 2015 installment, in which a scavenger (Daisy Ridley), pilot (Oscar Isaac), and former stormtrooper (John Boyega) take on Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the First Order. Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill reprise their respective roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Luke Skywalker.

  • MGM
    59/ MGM

    #43. 2001: A Space Odyssey

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 1968
    Director(s): Stanley Kubrick

    One of the most influential sci-fi films of all time, Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” chronicles the evolution of mankind from primate to interstellar explorer to all-seeing star child. Most of the film takes place aboard a spaceship where a group of astronauts squares off against a rogue supercomputer. Spoiler alert: unbeknownst to the astronauts, alien overlords have been guiding humanity all along.

  • Permut Presentations
    60/ Permut Presentations

    #42. Face/Off

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 1997
    Director(s): John Woo

    This clever actioner finds a cop (John Travolta) and criminal (Nicolas Cage) reversing roles in the most literal of ways. Specifically, the cop undergoes surgery to take on the criminal’s appearance, and vice versa. It all sets the stage for a series of explosive showdowns—the kind of which only director John Woo can deliver.

  • Lucasfilm
    61/ Lucasfilm

    #41. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 1980
    Director(s): Irvin Kershner

    The second installment in the original “Star Wars” saga takes place three years after Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the Rebel Alliance have destroyed the Death Star. Naturally, Darth Vader and his evil superior, Emperor Palpatine, aren’t going down without a fight. Meanwhile, Luke hones his skills as a Jedi Knight under the tutelage of a wise old master named Yoda. The narrative culminates with what’s arguably the most famous reveal in movie history.

  • Passage Pictures
    62/ Passage Pictures

    #40. Marjorie Prime

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Michael Almereyda

    This sci-fi drama conceives of a world where deceased loved ones can be reanimated in holographic form. For an 86-year-old woman named Marjorie, that means coming face to face with an AI-powered projection of her dead husband as a young man. Together, the two explore Marjorie’s life and revisit a range of old memories. Critics loved the film; audiences were less convinced of its merits

  • Film4
    63/ Film4

    #39. The Lobster

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 2016
    Director(s): Yorgos Lanthimos

    Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos offers his own experimental take on relationships in this bizarre outing. Set in a dystopian future, the film sends a man (Colin Farrell) to a place known only as The Hotel. There, he has a limited amount of time to forge a romantic bond. Should the man fail, he’ll be transformed into an animal (or crustacean) of his choice, like so many others before him.

  • Paramount Pictures
    64/ Paramount Pictures

    #38. Star Trek

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 2009
    Director(s): J.J. Abrams

    J.J. Abrams brought the “Star Trek” film franchise back to life with this 2009 prequel. Starring Chris Pine as a young James T. Kirk, the film follows Kirk from his early days as a rebellious Starfleet Academy student to his role as captain of the USS Enterprise. Joining him for the adventure is young Spock (Zachary Quinto), young Scotty (Simon Pegg), young Uhura (Zoe Saldana), and other regulars. Together, they square off against a villain named Nero (Eric Bana), the same man who killed Kirk’s father.

  • Twentieth Century Fox
    65/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #37. War for the Planet of the Apes

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Matt Reeves

    This "Apes" installment centers on the deadly war between hyper-intelligent apes and a rogue military faction of humans. Leading the apes is Caesar (Andy Serkis), while the humans are led by a savage colonel played by Woody Harrelson. After the conflict gets tragically personal for Caesar, he unleashes the full wrath of his fury and paves the way for a violent showdown.

  • American Empirical Pictures
    66/ American Empirical Pictures

    #36. Isle of Dogs

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 2018
    Director(s): Wes Anderson

    Filmmaker Wes Anderson sets this quirky story in the fictional metropolis of Megasaki, Japan. When a deadly outbreak exiles all canines to Trash Island, a young boy ventures to the island in search of his missing dog. Lending their respective voices to the film are Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Greta Gerwig, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Harvey Keitel.

  • Platinum Dunes
    67/ Platinum Dunes

    #35. A Quiet Place

    Metascore: 82
    Year: 2018
    Director(s): John Krasinski

    This unexpected smash hit takes place in a world that’s been overrun by deadly aliens who use their advanced hearing abilities to track down and kill humans. In order to survive, a man (John Krasinski), his pregnant wife (played by his real-life spouse, Emily Blunt), and their children live in total silence on a remote farm. After the wife’s water breaks, she must give birth without making a sound, all while aliens close in on the property. A sequel is already in the works.

  • Brandywine Productions
    68/ Brandywine Productions

    #34. Alien

    Metascore: 83
    Year: 1979
    Director(s): Ridley Scott

    As the timeless poster art for this sci-horror movie attests, “in space, no one can hear you scream.” That’s bad news for the crew aboard spaceship Nostromo, who picks up a deadly alien lifeform from a distant moon. Ultimately, a heroine named Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) must use her wits and weaponry to eradicate the hostile threat. A slew of sequels and prequels followed.

  • Twentieth Century Fox
    69/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #33. Avatar

    Metascore: 83
    Year: 2009
    Director(s): James Cameron

    With four sequels in various states of development, there’s no wrong time to revisit this box-office-smashing sci-fi epic from James Cameron. In the film, a greedy corporation wants to mine the moon Pandora for a precious mineral and drive off the native Na'vi species. In order to do so, they give paraplegic Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) a Na'vi avatar and ask him to infiltrate the tribe. As Sully dives deeper into the Na'vi world, he begins to adopt their ways—and even falls in love with a female named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Groundbreaking 3D technology that took Cameron and company years to develop was instrumental to the movie’s impactful visual experience.

  • Columbia Pictures
    70/ Columbia Pictures

    #32. Spider-Man 2

    Metascore: 83
    Year: 2004
    Director(s): Sam Raimi

    Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy hit a high point with this heralded sequel, in which Peter Parker’s web-slinging alter-ego (Tobey Maguire) takes on a multi-tentacled mad scientist (Alfred Molina). Despite his triumphs as a crime fighter, however, Parker suffers numerous setbacks in his personal life. For starters, the girl of his dreams (Kirsten Dunst) is engaged to another man. Needless to say, it can be hard out there for an adolescent superhero.

  • Hemdale
    71/ Hemdale

    #31. The Terminator

    Metascore: 84
    Year: 1984
    Director(s): James Cameron

    What began as James Cameron’s fever dream became this iconic sci-fi thriller and eventual (highly lucrative) franchise. In the film, a cyborg (Arnold Schwarzenegger) travels back in time to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the mother of a future resistance leader. To combat the cyborg, future humans send back a man named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), paving the way for deadly battle—and head-scratching time-travel paradox.

  • Twentieth Century Fox
    72/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #30. Aliens

    Metascore: 84
    Year: 1986
    Director(s): James Cameron

    This acclaimed sequel takes place 57 years after the original. Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) wakes up from some much-needed hypersleep and soon enough, she and a crew of overzealous space marines are heading back to the same moon she visited decades ago. There, swaths of deadly xenomorphs lay in wait. Director James Cameron claims the film is an allegory for the Vietnam War, which might prompt some viewers to wonder whether the aliens are aggressors or victims.

  • Pierre Grise Productions
    73/ Pierre Grise Productions

    #29. Holy Motors

    Metascore: 84
    Year: 2012
    Director(s): Leos Carax

    This award-winning, dreamlike drama centers around a man named Mr. Oscar (Denis Lavant) who can assume various identities. As Mr. Oscar hops from one appointment to the next, he alternately becomes an old woman, a red-haired kidnapper, a father, and a Chinese gangster, among other roles. While the narrative remains somewhat elusive, most critics were enraptured by the film’s pervasive, imaginative style. Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue co-star.

  • Universal Pictures
    74/ Universal Pictures

    #28. Children of Men

    Metascore: 84
    Year: 2006
    Director(s): Alfonso Cuarón

    Based on a novel by P.D. James, this gripping thriller takes place in a future where humans are no longer able to reproduce. Amidst a backdrop of perennial chaos, a former activist (Clive Owen) escorts an important young woman to a sanctuary at sea. What makes the woman so important? She’s the first human being to get pregnant in years.

  • Snowpiercer
    75/ Snowpiercer

    #27. Snowpiercer

    Metascore: 84
    Year: 2014
    Director(s): Bong Joon-ho

    A disastrous climate experiment has killed virtually all life on the planet, forcing survivors to live aboard a constantly-moving train where humans are divided by an unjust hierarchy, with the lower class living in desperate squalor. A man named Curtis (Chris Evans) leads a revolt, encountering a host of surprises as he advances from room to room toward the upper-class cabins. Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton, and Octavia Spencer also star.

  • Endgame Entertainment
    76/ Endgame Entertainment

    #26. Looper

    Metascore: 84
    Year: 2012
    Director(s): Rian Johnson

    Before finding himself at the center of a “Star Wars” storm, “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson churned out this inventive sci-fi flick. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young hitman tasked with murdering mob targets sent back from the future. But when his own future self (Bruce Willis) appears before his very eyes, the hitman doesn’t fulfill his obligation—kicking off a string of dramatic events.

  • Warner Bros.
    77/ Warner Bros.

    #25. The Iron Giant

    Metascore: 85
    Year: 1999
    Director(s): Brad Bird

    Time has been kind to Brad Bird’s debut feature that had a disappointing run at the box office. Now a cult classic, the film chronicles the relationship between a young boy and a giant robot from outer space. The two evade capture from a government agent determined to destroy the robot at all costs. Not only does the film make for an entertaining visual ride, but it comes underscored by Bird’s own philosophical musings.

  • Chockstone Pictures
    78/ Chockstone Pictures

    #24. The Host

    Metascore: 85
    Year: 2007
    Director(s): Bong Joon-ho

    Years after an American pathologist dumps 200 bottles of formaldehyde down the drain, a mysterious creature appears in Seoul's Han River. So goes this environmental monster movie from South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho. When the creature abducts a young girl by the name of Hyun-seo, her family sets out to save her.

  • Walt Disney Pictures
    79/ Walt Disney Pictures

    #23. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi

    Metascore: 85
    Year: 2017
    Director(s): Rian Johnson

    Fans might still be divided over this “Star Wars” installment from Rian Johnson, but critics were far more united in their positive appraisal. In the film, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) begrudgingly helps Rey (Daisy Ridley) unlock the power of the force, while the Resistance and First Order engage in deadly battle. Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac’s respective characters also return to the fold.

  • Nibariki
    80/ Nibariki

    #22. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

    Metascore: 86
    Year: 1985
    Director(s): Hayao Miyazaki

    From legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki comes this environmental parable that takes place in a future world on the brink of extinction. As two warring parties threaten to take the planet past a point of no return, Princess Nausicaä struggles to keep the peace. On the heels of this film’s success, Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli, the company behind a number of cinema’s most enduring animated classics.

  • Dovemead Films
    81/ Dovemead Films

    #21. Superman II

    Metascore: 87
    Year: 1981
    Director(s): Richard Donner

    The man of steel (Christopher Reeve) takes on three powerful criminals from Krypton in this popular sequel. Production was a famously harrowing ordeal, during which the studio replaced director Richard Donner with Richard Lester, who reshot a number of scenes. In 2006, Richard Donner’s original cut was restored and released to considerable acclaim. 

  • Universal Pictures
    82/ Universal Pictures

    #20. Back to the Future

    Metascore: 87
    Year: 1985
    Director(s): Robert Zemeckis

    In this epoch-making adventure comedy, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) travels back in time and inadvertently becomes the object of his own mother’s affection. To preserve his future existence, Marty must play matchmaker between his teenage father (Crispin Glover) and mother (Lea Thompson), all while evading the wrath of a bully named Biff. Thankfully, he has a little help from zany scientist Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd).

  • Pandora Cinema
    83/ Pandora Cinema

    #19. Donnie Darko

    Metascore: 88
    Year: 2001
    Director(s): Richard Kelly

    Cult sensation “Donnie Darko” stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the title character and employs a truly mind-bending premise. After Donnie undergoes a near-death experience, he encounters a range of inexplicable phenomena. Meanwhile, a mysterious rabbit man counts down toward the end of the world. Viewers are still trying to figure this one out.

  • Embassy International Pictures
    84/ Embassy International Pictures

    #18. Brazil

    Metascore: 88
    Year: 1985
    Director(s): Terry Gilliam

    This Terry Gilliam classic takes place in a bureaucratic retro-future where a desk worker (Jonathan Pryce) dreams of escaping the daily grind. After being mistaken for a terrorist, the worker flees from government officials with the girl of his dreams by his side. Despite its indebtedness to George Orwell’s “1984,” this is a film that comes bursting with sheer originality. Robert De Niro co-stars.

  • Marvel Studios
    85/ Marvel Studios

    #17. Black Panther

    Metascore: 88
    Year: 2018
    Director(s): Ryan Coogler

    One of 2018’s biggest box office hits was likewise a smashing success among critics and audiences. Set in the fictional world of Wakanda, an African nation where a precious mineral powers a range of technological advancements, the film sees Prince T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) returning home to rule as king. T’Challa adopts the role of Black Panther and tries to prevent his country from plunging into war.

  • The Ladd Company
    86/ The Ladd Company

    #16. Blade Runner

    Metascore: 89
    Year: 1982
    Director(s): Ridley Scott

    Powered by epic scenery, a noirish atmosphere, and an unforgettable score, this 1982 sci-fi classic stars Harrison Ford as a blade runner named Rick Deckard. At the behest of his superiors, Deckard must track down and eliminate four rogue replicants, i.e. humanoid androids with limited lifespans. As his quest unfolds, Deckard is forced to confront a range of philosophical conundrums about what it means to be human. In 2007, director Ridley Scott released “Blade Runner: The Final Cut,” which many consider to be the ultimate version.

  • Bitter Films
    87/ Bitter Films

    #15. It's Such a Beautiful Day

    Metascore: 90
    Year: 2012
    Director(s): Don Hertzfeldt

    This experimental work from Don Hertzfeldt employs a myriad of visual effects while weaving a trilogy of animated short films into one unified whole. The film tells the story of Bill, who’s undergoing a mental breakdown and consequently experiencing all sorts of vivid hallucinations. As Bill’s journey unfolds, Hertzfeldt explores number of philosophical themes through an absurdist lens.

  • Twentieth Century Fox
    88/ Twentieth Century Fox

    #14. Solaris

    Metascore: 90
    Year: 1971
    Director(s): Andrei Tarkovsky

    Russian auteur Andrei Tarkovsky adapted the legendary sci-fi novel of the same name by Stanislaw Lem to delivers this psychological slow burn. It takes place on a distant planet where scientists are studying a mysterious, intelligent entity. After one of the scientists goes insane, a man is sent to replace him—only to lose his own grip on reality.

  • Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips Productions
    89/ Julia Phillips and Michael Phillips Productions

    #13. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    Metascore: 90
    Year: 1977
    Director(s): Steven Spielberg

    Leave it to Steven Spielberg to present the rare sci-fi movie where aliens legitimately come in peace. Depicting parallel storylines, the film follows an electric lineman (Richard Dreyfuss) as he experiences a range of paranormal phenomena and becomes obsessed with UFOs as a result. Meanwhile, legions of scientists try to figure out how to communicate with advancing extraterrestrials.

  • RKO Radio Pictures
    90/ RKO Radio Pictures

    #12. King Kong

    Metascore: 90
    Year: 1933
    Director(s): Ernest B. Schoedsack

    Long before the remakes and reboots, there was the original “King Kong,” in which a film crew crosses paths with a gigantic island ape. After the ape is captured and brought back to New York City, it unleashes all sorts of havoc upon the populace. Thanks to a variety of revolutionary special effects, the movie was a major success on all fronts, saving RKO Studios from the brink of bankruptcy.

  • Sever Studio
    91/ Sever Studio

    #11. Hard to Be a God

    Metascore: 90
    Year: 2015
    Director(s): Aleksei German

    This critically praised Russian sci-fi film sends a group of scientists to a distant planet, where a native civilization is undergoing its Medieval phase. Bound by a set of non-violent principles, the scientists try to help the locals without challenging society’s broader tenants. Ultimately, the scientists find themselves grappling with the ultimate question: What should one do if he or she has the power and knowledge of a god?

  • Lucasfilm
    92/ Lucasfilm

    #10. Star Wars

    Metascore: 90
    Year: 1977
    Director(s): George Lucas

    Cinema’s most enduring franchise began with this 1977 masterpiece, in which Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the Rebel Alliance take on Darth Vader (voiced by James Earl Jones) and the Evil Empire. Before Luke and company can take down the Death Star, they must rescue Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) from Vader’s evil clutches. Helping Luke along the way is Obi-Wan Kenobi (Alec Guinness), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), two robots, and a hairy Wookie named Chewbacca.

  • Annapurna Pictures
    93/ Annapurna Pictures

    #9. Her

    Metascore: 90
    Year: 2013
    Director(s): Spike Jonze

    Featuring a premise that gets more relevant by the day, this 2013 film centers on the romantic relationship between a lonely writer (Joaquin Phoenix) and his high-tech operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Despite their intense feelings for one another, invariable differences threaten to pull the two lovers apart. Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, and Rooney Mara co-star.

  • Warner Bros.
    94/ Warner Bros.

    #8. Mad Max: Fury Road

    Metascore: 90
    Year: 2015
    Director(s): George Miller

    The “Mad Max” saga culminated with this action-packed installment, starring Tom Hardy in the title role. After crossing paths with a vicious warlord, Max and a rebel named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) embark on an explosive adventure across a post-apocalyptic wasteland. According to one critic, the movie “vibrates with the energy of a veteran filmmaker working at the top of his game.”

  • Universal Pictures
    95/ Universal Pictures

    #7. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    Metascore: 91
    Year: 1982
    Director(s): Steven Spielberg

    This classic family film depicts the symbiotic relationship between a young boy and a visiting alien. Despite their unbreakable bond, the boy must figure out how to get the alien back to its home planet before it perishes here on Earth. Awash with uplifting music and a number of iconic scenes, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is both timeless and utterly nostalgic.

  • BBC
    96/ BBC

    #6. Threads

    Metascore: 92
    Year: 1984
    Director(s): Mick Jackson

    Examining the long-term effects of nuclear war, this British documentary-style drama takes place in a working-class city. Winner of numerous BAFTA Awards, the TV movie depicts various inhabitants of Sheffield, England, before and after a nuclear attack. When researching for the film, director Mick Jackson consulted with various scientists, including Carl Sagan.

  • 13 Productions
    97/ 13 Productions

    #5. Werckmeister Harmonies

    Metascore: 92
    Year: 2001
    Director(s): Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky

    Rife with tension and style, this haunting Hungarian drama sees a small town lose its collective mind during the arrival of a mysterious circus. The film is presented in black and white and unravels over the course of 39 shots that center around a catastrophic riot. Not only did critics adore the work, but the BBC placed it on a list of “The 21st Century’s 100 Greatest Films.”

  • Walter Wanger Productions
    98/ Walter Wanger Productions

    #4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    Metascore: 92
    Year: 1956
    Director(s): Don Siegel

    Despite its reputation as a political allegory, this gripping invasion movie was intended as a “thriller, pure and simple,” according to its creators. And not just any thriller, but one of the most iconic in the genre. In the film, a small-town doctor (Kevin McCarthy) fears that members of the local community are being replaced by alien intruders. As it turns out, the doctor is right.

  • FortyFour Studios
    99/ FortyFour Studios

    #3. WALL-E

    Metascore: 95
    Year: 2008
    Director(s): Andrew Stanton

    “WALL-E,” one of Pixar’s most topical efforts, takes place on an abandoned Earth that’s been overridden by mountains of garbage. At the heart of the film is the titular character, a lovable robot who wades through the endless piles of trash and pockets the occasional memento. Upon boarding a spaceship, the robot finds out what humanity’s been up to after all these years.

  • Warner Bros.
    100/ Warner Bros.

    #2. Gravity

    Metascore: 96
    Year: 2013
    Director(s): Alfonso Cuarón

    After their shuttle gets destroyed, a medical engineer (Sandra Bullock) and a veteran astronaut (George Clooney) struggle to survive in this blockbuster. To bring the story to life, director Alfonso Cuarón employed a range of groundbreaking effects—many of which required serious technological innovation behind the scenes. More than a box office smash and critical darling, this is among the few sci-fi films to win an Academy Award for Best Director.

  • UFA
    101/ UFA

    #1. Metropolis

    Metascore: 98
    Year: 1927
    Director(s): Fritz Lang

    This German masterwork from Fritz Lang isn’t just one of the most important sci-fi movies ever made, it’s also an absolute benchmark of the silent film era. Set in a future city where the wealthy live a carefree existence, the film follows a privileged man as he journeys underground. There, he discovers an entire working class society toiling to keep the machines running above the surface. With help from a beautiful woman and an eccentric inventor, the man sets out to make society fair to people from all walks of life.

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