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

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

#100. Inception
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.

#99. Interstellar
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.

#98. Thor: Ragnarok
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.

#97. THX 1138
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.

#96. Repo Man
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.

#95. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
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?

#94. Metropolis
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.

#93. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
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.

#92. Attack the Block
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.

#91. Okja
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.

#90. X-Men: Days of Future Past
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.

#89. Captain America: Civil War
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.

#88. World on a Wire
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.

#87. Birdboy: The Forgotten Children
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.

#86. Escape from New York
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.

#85. Ghost in the Shell
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.

#84. The Secret of NIMH
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.

#83. 10 Cloverfield Lane
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?

#82. Midnight Special
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.

#81. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
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.

#80. Wonder Woman
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).

#79. Guardians of the Galaxy
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.

#78. Westworld
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.

#77. Sleeper
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.

#76. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
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.

#75. WarGames
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.

#74. Evolution
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.

#73. Logan
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.

#72. Godzilla
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.

#71. 2046
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.”

#70. Ex Machina
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?

#69. Under the Skin
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.

#68. The Fly
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.

#67. Planet of the Apes
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.

#66. Time Bandits
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.

#65. Jodorowsky's Dune
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.

#64. Iron Man
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.

#63. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
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.

#62. Annihilation
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.

#61. The Survivalist
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.

#60. A Clockwork Orange
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.

#59. Superman
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.

#58. Minority Report
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?

#57. Melancholia
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.

#56. The Martian
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.

#55. Incredibles 2
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.

#54. Battle Royale
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.

#53. The Man Who Fell to Earth
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.

#52. Little Shop of Horrors
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.

#51. Paprika
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.

#50. Upstream Color
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.

#49. District 9
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.

#48. The World's End
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.

#47. Sorry to Bother You
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.

#46. Arrival
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.

#45. Blade Runner 2049
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.

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

#43. 2001: A Space Odyssey
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.

#42. Face/Off
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.

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

#40. Marjorie Prime
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

#39. The Lobster
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.

#38. Star Trek
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.

#37. War for the Planet of the Apes
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.

#36. Isle of Dogs
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.

#35. A Quiet Place
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.

#34. Alien
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.

#33. Avatar
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.

#32. Spider-Man 2
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.

#31. The Terminator
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.

#30. Aliens
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.

#29. Holy Motors
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.

#28. Children of Men
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.

#27. 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.

#26. Looper
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.

#25. The Iron Giant
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.

#24. The Host
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.

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

#22. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
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.

#21. Superman II
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. 

#20. Back to the Future
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).

#19. Donnie Darko
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.

#18. Brazil
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.

#17. Black Panther
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.

#16. Blade Runner
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.

#15. It's Such a Beautiful Day
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.

#14. Solaris
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.

#13. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
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.

#12. King Kong
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.

#11. Hard to Be a God
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?

#10. Star Wars
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.

#9. Her
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.

#8. Mad Max: Fury Road
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.”

#7. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
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.

#6. Threads
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.

#5. Werckmeister Harmonies
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.”

#4. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
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.

#3. WALL-E
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.

#2. Gravity
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.

#1. Metropolis
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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