Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

100 best sci-fi movies of all time

1/
Stefano Buttafoco // Shutterstock

100 best sci-fi movies of all time

The recent explosion of comic book movies over the past decade has brought the sci-fi genre into the mainstream. However, answering the question of what's the best sci-fi movie of all time is no easy task. Is it the classic monster films that captured the imaginations of audiences and created the genre or the new-age space and technology thrillers? Whichever direction you lean, we can all agree that sci-fi is a diverse category— superhero, alien invasion, dystopian, science-gone-wrong, and zombie films all have their place in history. The world of sci-fi is as varied as it is inventive, with directors constantly pushing the boundaries of filmmaking. 

So to help answer the question, we at Stacker decided to rate the top 100 sci-fi movies of all time. Aggregating user and critic reviews from three sources - IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, and Metacritic - we built a "Stacker Score" index to rank every sci-fi movie over the last century. To make sure the film was sufficiently popular, we only ranked movies that were scored on at least two of the three aforementioned sites and had a minimum of 5,000 user ratings on IMDb.

So which 100 sci-fi films made the list? Read on to see where the all-time classics landed, how Marvel’s latest batch of epics fared, and learn a little trivia about your favorite films and directors, including Steven Spielberg.

2/
Lucasfilm // Wikicommons

#100: Rogue One

Released: 2016

Stacker Score: 77.00
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: 65
Tomatometer: 85%

The latest installation in the Star Wars series and the second film to be released since Disney acquired the franchise, “Rogue One” kicks off our list at 100. Considered an “anthology film,” it stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, and the ever-versatile Alan Tudyk. The film acts as a prequel to the original “Star Wars” trilogy, as the story follows a group of resistance fighters determined to steal the plans for the Empire’s Death Star. The movie was massively successful, taking in over $155 million its first weekend at the box office and grossing more than a billion dollars worldwide.

3/
Harvest Filmworks

#99: Pi

Released: 1998

Stacker Score: 77.25
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Metascore: 72
Tomatometer: 87%

The first feature film from director Darren Aronofsky follows a brilliant mathematician searching for a number that will unlock the key to life on earth. The movie, which was called “Startlingly good cinema” by BBC’s Martyn Glanville, stars Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, and Ben Shenkman. The film, which won Aronofsky the Directing Award at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival, would be the first in a series of bizarre and daring features from the director.

4/
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#98: Men in Black

Released: 1997

Stacker Score: 77.25
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Metascore: 71
Tomatometer: 92%

One of Will Smith’s iconic roles (and that’s saying a lot) partners him with Tommy Lee Jones as a special agent responsible for monitoring alien activity on Earth. It’s hilarious throughout, a perfect ‘90s film that blends humor, star power, and advanced (for the time) special effects. The franchise has released two additional films, but neither could measure up to the high bar set by the first film.

5/
Twentieth Century Fo

#97: Deadpool

Released: 2016

Stacker Score: 77.25
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 65
Tomatometer: 84%

“Deadpool” was a sorely needed shot in the arm for fans of the comic book movie genre. Playing the sardonic mercenary, Ryan Reynolds displays quick wits as he violently smashes his way through the movie, breaking the fourth wall along the way. During opening weekend, the movie grossed $46 million, which at the time was a record for an R rated film. The movie also starred Morena Baccarin and T.J. Miller alongside Reynolds, helping to set up his punchlines and punches.

6/
Empire Pictures

#96: Re-Animator

Released: 1985

Stacker Score: 77.50
IMDb Rating: 7.2
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 94%

Starting with an H.P. Lovecraft story is always a good idea. Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, and Barbara Crampton star in a story laden with Frankenstein themes, in which a curious college student experiments with the reanimation of dead tissue. Despite the relatively small budget, the cult film was well received by critics with Robert Ebert stating “I walked out somewhat surprised and reinvigorated (if not re-animated) by a movie that had the audience emitting taxi whistles and wild goat cries.”

7/
Kate Street Picture Company

#95: Okja

Released: 2017

Stacker Score: 77.50
IMDb Rating: 7.4
Metascore: 76
Tomatometer: 86%

This film from director Joon-ho Bong follows the story of Mija (An Seo Hyun) and her giant animal companion named Okja. When the Mirando Corporation captures Okja, Mija sets out on a mission to rescue her huge friend. Tilda Swinton and Paul Dano also star in this heartwarming adventure, which manages to mix in commentary on capitalism, environmentalism, and even the Occupy Wall Street movement.

8/
Paramount Pictures

#94: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Released: 2016

Stacker Score: 77.50
IMDb Rating: 7.2
Metascore: 76
Tomatometer: 90%

A woman wakes up in a bunker with two strange men, who tell her that the outside world has been poisoned by an alien attack. John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher, Jr. star in Dan Trachtenberg’s first feature-length film. Produced by J.J. Abrams, it stays true to his style by maintaining an aura of mystery from the get-go. It won numerous lesser awards in the sci-fi and horror genres, including Best Actress for Winstead and Best Supporting Actor for Goodman from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films.

9/
Marvel Studios

#93: Doctor Strange

Released: 2016

Stacker Score: 77.75
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Metascore: 72
Tomatometer: 89%

Proving that just about every living actor is willing to get in on the superhero craze, Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular Dr. Stephen Strange of Marvel fame. The film, which also features Chiwetel Ejiofor and Rachel McAdams, follows the good doctor as he embarks on a bizarre journey between our world and what lies beyond. The film raked it in at the box office, grossing in $677.7 million worldwide.

10/
Touchstone Pictures

#92: The Prestige

Released: 2006

Stacker Score: 77.75
IMDb Rating: 8.5
Metascore: 66
Tomatometer: 75%

The fact that “The Prestige” ranks at #92 just proves how many amazing sci-fi movies are out there. While some viewers and critics ultimately disagree on whether the film fulfills on its promise, it’s a wildly entertaining battle of minds between two feuding magicians, portrayed by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. Featuring performances from the inimitable Michael Caine and the late David Bowie (as Nikola Tesla), this movie brings magic into your living room.

11/
Film4

#91: The Lobster

Released: 2016

Stacker Score: 78.00
IMDb Rating: 7.1
Metascore: 82
Tomatometer: 88%

Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, and Jessica Barden star in this dystopian tale of forced coupling where unmarried people are given a sinister ultimatum: find a mate during a 45 day stay at a strange hotel or be transformed into an animal. Greek writer-director Yorgos Lanthimos and his partner Efthymis Filippou received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay, which could be the start of a long run of success for Lanthimos, who won that same award at Cannes this year for his latest film, “The Killer of a Sacred Deer”.

12/
DNA Films

#90: 28 Days Later...

Released: 2003

Stacker Score: 78.00
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: 73
Tomatometer: 87%

From versatile and talented director Danny Boyle, “28 Days Later…” is a tale of horror, survival, and humanity’s brutality. The story follows one man who wakes up in a hospital to discover that London is inhabited not by people, but a diseased undead. The film stars the perfectly cast Cillian Murphy alongside Naomie Harris and Christopher Eccleston. Despite a budget of just $8 million, the movie grossed $82.7 million worldwide.

13/
Paramount Pictures

#89: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Released: 1982

Stacker Score: 78.25
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: 71
Tomatometer: 88%

Typically considered the best of the original arc of “Star Trek” films, “Wrath of Kahn” stars William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley. Gene Roddenberry was removed from a central role in the film because producers attributed the previous “Star Trek” films’ lack of success to his shortcomings. Despite that, the movie seemed to please hardcore and casual fans alike. In it, Admiral Kirk (Shatner) must thwart his longtime adversary Khan (Ricardo Montalban) who seeks to use the Genesis Device as a destructive weapon.

14/
Liberty Films UK

#88: Moon

Released: 2009

Stacker Score: 78.50
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: 67
Tomatometer: 89%

Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, and Dominique McElligott star in director Duncan Jones’s feature debut about an astronaut struggling with his isolation as he lives a lonely existence harvesting a key resource on the moon. “This mesmerizing mind-bender sneaks up and hits you hard,” wrote Peter Travers of Rolling Stone.

15/
Paramount Pictures

#87: Star Trek: Into Darkness

Released: 2013

Stacker Score: 78.50
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Metascore: 72
Tomatometer: 86%

Nobody makes a space adventure quite like J.J. Abrams, but he sure doesn’t do it cheaply. Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Zoe Saldana star in this film that required a $190 million budget. In it, Captain Kirk (Pine) leads his crew on a dangerous manhunt to track down and capture a deadly prisoner sent from a future dimension. 

16/
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer British Studios

#86: Village of the Damned

Released: 1960

Stacker Score: 78.75
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 96%

A tale of strange mystery depicts the goings-on in a sleepy English village. One day, everyone falls into a deep sleep for several hours, and several months later, every woman in the town is pregnant with what turns out to be very strange, fast-growing children. The movie stars George Sanders, Barbara Shelley, and Michael Gwynn. A little-known fact: all of the damned babies are played by the same actress, Kim Clarke Champniss, who would grow up to be one of Canada’s most recognizable MuchMusic veejays.

17/
Universal Pictures

#85: Serenity

Released: 2005

Stacker Score: 78.75
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: 74
Tomatometer: 83%

The sequel to the beloved TV show “Firefly,” “Serenity” is also from director Joss Whedon and stars Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. “Firefly” ranked fifth on TV Guide’s 2013 list of TV shows that were canceled too soon, so “Serenity” was a small silver lining for diehards. In the film, the crew of the ship Serenity is on the run from a deadly assassin, and someone on board the ship is in possession of a terrible secret.

18/
Summit Entertainment

#84: Source Code

Released: 2011

Stacker Score: 78.75
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Metascore: 74
Tomatometer: 91%

This technological thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, and Vera Farmiga. In it, Army Captain Colter Stevens (Gyllenhaal) is part of an experimental practice that inserts one person’s consciousness into the body of another. He is tasked with preventing a bombing on a train, which he only has eight minutes to prevent. This is the second Duncan Jones-directed movie on our list.

19/
Lionsgate

#83: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Released: 2013

Stacker Score: 78.75
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Metascore: 76
Tomatometer: 89%

The second movie in the “Hunger Games” trilogy sees Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) on a victory tour after their win at the 74th Hunger Games. Director Francis Lawrence took the reins of the series starting with this film, which was the 14th highest grossing domestic movie ever at $424.7 million ($865 million total). Liam Hemsworth also stars, but the most delightful characters are played by a talented group of veteran actors: Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

20/
Marvel Entertainment

#82: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Released: 2014

Stacker Score: 78.75
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Metascore: 70
Tomatometer: 89%

The third of what will be many movies on our list from the DC and Marvel cinematic universes, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” stars Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson. In the film, Steve Rogers A.K.A. Captain America awakes from suspended animation to discover a changed world, one in which he battles a brand new foe. The visuals are stunning, earning the movie a nomination for Best Achievement in Visual Effects from the Academy.

21/
Universal International Pictures

#81: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Released: 1948

Stacker Score: 79.00
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 88%

One of the oldest films in our top 100 was instrumental in revitalizing the moviemaking career of spoof-maestros Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. The two comics star as freight handlers who find themselves caught in a monstrous conflict featuring classic characters like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Wolf-Man. The Library of Congress chose this film to be preserved in the National Film Registry, as it fit the criteria of being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

22/
Paramount Pictures

#80: First Contact

Released: 1996

Stacker Score: 79.00
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: 71
Tomatometer: 93%

It’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard versus the evil Borg in this film from director Jonathan Frakes who got his start at the helm for eight episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” beginning in 1990. Picard, portrayed by the delightful Patrick Stewart, must thwart the Borg in their attempt to travel back in time and rewrite history. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Makeup, which is no surprise given the intricacy of Borg’s appearance.

 

23/
Solofilm

#79: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Released: 1978

Stacker Score: 79.25
IMDb Rating: 7.4
Metascore: 75
Tomatometer: 94%

Considered one of the best remakes of all time, this reinterpretation of the original 1956 classic stars Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams, and Jeff Goldblum. This iteration of the story takes place in San Francisco, where Matthew Bennell (Sutherland) becomes aware of a sinister alien plot to replace all humans with extraterrestrials. The film absolutely cleaned up with the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, winning two Saturn Awards (Best Director, Best Sound), and earning nominations for six more.

24/
Columbia Pictures

#78: Spider-Man: Homecoming

Released: 2017

Stacker Score: 79.25
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: 73
Tomatometer: 92%

The latest reboot of Spider-Man was generally well-received by audiences and critics, though it did have the reputation of sprinkling in “fan service” to please viewers. It stars Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, and Robert Downey, Jr. with more appearances from big names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Marisa Tomei, and Donald Glover. In this installment, Spider-Man returns from his adventures with the Avengers, only to find that there’s a new villain in town, Vulture.

25/
Columbia Pictures

#77: Zombieland

Released: 2009

Stacker Score: 79.25
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: 73
Tomatometer: 90%

It’s always fun when sci-fi movies don’t take themselves too seriously, and “Zombieland”, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Woody Harrelson, does just that. Eisenberg plays the somewhat dorky Columbus, who teams up with the shotgun-packing Tallahassee (Harrelson) and sisters Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) as the four attempt to make their way across zombie-infested America. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle liked the film, writing “If you like zombie movies, you will like this one. If you don't like zombie movies, you will tolerate this one.”

26/
Paramount Pictures

#76: Interstellar

Released: 2014

Stacker Score: 79.25
IMDb Rating: 8.6
Metascore: 74
Tomatometer: 71%

Featuring mind-blowing visual effects, which earned the film an Oscar, and a stunning soundtrack from maestro Hans Zimmer, who got an Oscar nomination, “Interstellar” achieves the sort of grandiosity one would expect from a Christopher Nolan film set in space. The film, which is ranked #32 on IMDb’s list of top-rated movies, stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain. It tells the story of a daring group of astronauts who must travel through a wormhole to uncover humanity’s last hope for survival.

27/
Mayfair Entertainment International

#75: Richard III

Released: 1995

Stacker Score: 79.75
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 94%

Director Richard Loncraine brought this classic Shakespearean play to the big screen and set it in 1930s Great Britain. In the film, civil war erupts between the House of York led by Richard III and the House of Lancaster — and the conflict plays out in all its bloody glory. The film stars Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, and Christopher Bowen. Legend has it that McKellen missed the Best Actor Oscar nomination by a mere two votes.

28/
Warner Bros.

#74: Them!

Released: 1954

Stacker Score: 79.75
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 100%

James Whitmore, Edmund Gwenn, and Joan Weldon star in director Gordon Douglas’s film about atomic tests creating huge, flesh-eating ants that threaten to overrun the United States. It must have terrified audiences at the time, evidenced by what venerated film critic Armond White wrote of the film’s monsters in the New York Times: “They are enough to make a man welcome the picnic-spoiling variety and give the atomic age back to the Warner Brothers.”

29/
Warner Bros. Animation

#73: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Released: 1993

Stacker Score: 79.75
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 82%

It was only a matter of time before a Batman movie showed up, in this case of the animated variety. In the film, a new vigilante has burst onto the scene, killing mob bosses left and right, and Batman must prove he’s not the one behind the killings. Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, and Hart Bochner are the voices behind the starring characters. Despite a languid box office showing due to a botched release, the film has taken on new life as a cult favorite.

30/
Madhouse

#72: Paprika

Released: 2006

Stacker Score: 79.75
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: 81
Tomatometer: 84%

Based on the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui, “Paprika” tells the tale of a young therapist out to put an end to the madness produced when a machine that allows therapists to enter their patients’ dreams is stolen. The film, which was nominated for Best Feature at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, stars Megumi Hayashibara, Tôru Emori, and Katsunosuke Hori.

31/
FortyFour Studios

#71: Big Hero 6

Released: 2014

Stacker Score: 79.75
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Metascore: 74
Tomatometer: 89%

2015’s Best Animated Feature Film stars the voices of Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, and Jamie Chung. The movie follows a band of friends and one inflatable robot who transform into a group of heroes called “Big Hero 6” to save their city. Based on a Marvel property but veering toward Disney cuteness, the film drew praise for featuring a multicultural group of leads “in which even women can be badass cool,” according to Jana Monji of RogerEbert.com.

32/
Warner Bros.

#70: Edge of Tomorrow

Released: 2014

Stacker Score: 79.75
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: 71
Tomatometer: 90%

It’s Tom Cruise kicking alien butt (and vice versa) in a wild and violent sci-fi ride. You had me at hello. Cruise stars as Cage, a soldier who gets thrown into a time loop where he must relive the same day, fighting aliens the entire time and struggling to find a way to win. Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton star alongside Cruise in this film from director Doug Liman. Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers was a fan, praising Cruise’s snarky delivery and “an exuberantly clever script.”

33/
SLM Production Group

#69: The Fly

Released: 1986

Stacker Score: 80.00
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Metascore: 79
Tomatometer: 91%

David Cronenberg is one of the originators of the body horror genre, and has created some very influential movies in his career, including the terrifying “Videodrome.” “The Fly”, which he co-wrote and directed, came out three years later and stars Jeff Goldblum, Geena Davis, and John Getz. Goldblum plays a brilliant yet misguided scientist, whose experiment goes terribly wrong, resulting in some horrible mutations. This film is the origin of the classically quotable line: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

34/
Touchstone Pictures

#68: Face/Off

Released: 1997

Stacker Score: 80.00
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Metascore: 82
Tomatometer: 92%

John Travolta and Nicolas Cage go head to head (or is it face to face?) in this shocking sci-fi crime thriller from director John Woo. Travolta plays FBI agent Sean Archer, who undergoes a revolutionary medical procedure that transplants the face of his archenemy, terrorist Castor Troy, onto his own face, in order to thwart Troy’s plan. 

 

35/
Warner Bros.

#67: Wonder Woman

Released: 2017

Stacker Score: 80.00
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: 76
Tomatometer: 92%

It’s the Gal Gadot show in this summer blockbuster that lived up to the hype. “Wonder Woman,” from director Patty Jenkins, had the biggest domestic opening weekend ever for a female director, grossing $103.3 million. In the film, Diana ventures forth from her island of Themyscira to discover her true powers by taking up arms in World War I.

36/
Paramount Pictures

#66: Island of Lost Souls

Released: 1933

Stacker Score: 80.25
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 96%

Charles Laughton, Bela Lugosi, and Richard Arlen star in this film of science run amok, in which Dr. Moreau rules over an island of human-animal hybrids, doing whatever he wishes. It’s based on the H.G. Wells story, “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”

37/
Joel Productions

#65: Seconds

Released: 1966

Stacker Score: 80.25
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 90%

Banker Arthur Hamilton fakes his own death in order to start fresh, returning to the world as a new man. Rock Hudson, Frank Campanella, and John Randolph star in this movie from director John Frankenheimer. It was nominated for Best Black and White Cinematography by the Academy.

38/
Chernin Entertainment

#64: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Released: 2014

Stacker Score: 80.25
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: 79
Tomatometer: 90%

Following 2011’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” the sequel portrays a world where the ultra-intelligent Caesar leads a nation of highly evolved apes but is threatened by a group of humans fighting for their own survival. Motion-capture acting expert Andy Serkis plays Caesar, and Gary Oldman and Keri Russell star alongside him. Matt Reeves directed this film as well as the 2017 sequel, “War for the Planet of the Apes.”

39/
Ealing Studios

#63: The Man in the White Suit

Released: 1951

Stacker Score: 80.50
IMDb Rating: 7.4
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 100%

Many of the early sci-fi films involve scientists inventing world-changing devices or products, which is exactly what happens in this film. Chemist Sidney Stratton invents the perfect fabric — one that never stains or wears — which causes the powers that be in the garment industry to try to suppress his creation. Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, and Cecil Parker star in this film rendition of the play by Roger MacDougall.

40/
Universal International Pictures

#62: The Incredible Shrinking Man

Released: 1957

Stacker Score: 80.50
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 91%

What do you do when a combination of radiation and insecticide cause you to shrink to the size of Stuart Little? That’s the question that director Jack Arnold’s 1957 film tries to answer. The film, which won the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, stars Grant Williams, Randy Stuart, and April Kent.

41/
Universal Pictures

#61: Twelve Monkeys

Released: 1995

Stacker Score: 80.50
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 74
Tomatometer: 88%

Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, and Brad Pitt star in this futuristic sci-fi thriller. Willis plays James Cole, a convict who is sent back in time to discover the origins of a deadly virus that wiped out most of the human population. It was inspired by the 1962 French film, “La Jetée.” Pitt was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work as Jeffrey Goines.

42/
Toei Animation

#60: Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem

Released: 2003

Stacker Score: 80.75
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 86%

This might be the only movie to be categorized as an “animated adventure fantasy science fiction musical film.” Whew, that’s a mouthful. It branches out from the second studio album by Daft Punk, “Discovery," and uses Daft Punk’s music and zero dialogue to tell the tale of the kidnapping and rescue of an interstellar pop band. Its direction was a team effort, bringing together Daisuke Nishio, Hirotoshi Rissen, Kazuhisa Takenouchi, and Leiji Matsumoto to create this dazzling, wild ride.

43/
Jack Rollins & Charles H. Joffe Productions

#59: Sleeper

Released: 1973

Stacker Score: 80.75
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Metascore: 77
Tomatometer: 100%

The Woody Allen-directed “Sleeper” is a definite outlier on this list. Allen brings his typical bumbling aesthetic to the role of Miles Monroe, a clarinet player who is cryogenically frozen and transported to the future in order to help bring down an oppressive government. Diane Keaton (who else?) and John Beck star alongside Allen.

44/
Marvel Studios

#58: Captain America: Civil War

Released: 2016

Stacker Score: 80.75
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: 75
Tomatometer: 90%

Few films cost more to make than “Captain America: Civil War,” but its $250 million production budget was justified when it raked in $1.15 billion at the worldwide box office. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Scarlett Johansson star in this Marvel blockbuster, which failed to impress the Village Voice’s Bilge Ebiri, who explains that superhero movies have one job: “to manage the brand, not screw anything up too royally, and keep us hooked for the next installment.” Despite that sentiment, Marvel fans flocked to theaters and loved seeing familiar characters suit up for another ride.

45/
Universal Pictures

#57: Jurassic Park

Released: 1993

Stacker Score: 80.75
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Metascore: 68
Tomatometer: 93%

One of the classic sci-fi films of its era, “Jurassic Park” takes the science-gone-wrong theme to the nth degree. John Hammond (Richard Attenborough in his first role since 1979) is a wealthy mogul who has created an island full of living dinosaurs. Everything is under control until an employee's sinister plot leads to a power breakdown and unleashes the pre-historic beasts. Based on the Michael Crichton novel, the film stars Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum. It generated so much interest in dinosaurs that “the study of paleontology has had a record increase in students,” according to IMDb.

46/
Twentieth Century Fox

#56: Avatar

Released: 2009

Stacker Score: 80.75
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Metascore: 83
Tomatometer: 84%

James Cameron’s epic reimagination of futuristic imperialism brought home Oscars for Cinematography, Visual Effects, and Art Direction. A paraplegic Marine is dispatched to the moon Pandora, and soon finds himself in the midst of a conflict between a beautiful alien race and a greedy corporation in search of precious resources. The film stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver.

47/
Marvel Studios

#55: The Avengers

Released: 2012

Stacker Score: 80.75
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Metascore: 69
Tomatometer: 92%

The sixth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe wrapped up what is known as “Phase One: Avengers Assembled.” Marvel began introducing characters Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America, and then brought them all together in “The Avengers.” Joss Whedon directed this ambitious film in which Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson lead an ensemble cast. The first MCU film to earn a billion dollars, “Avengers” set the stage for the deluge of Marvel films that followed.

48/
Paramount Pictures

#54: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Released: 1931

Stacker Score: 81.00
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 93%

One of the original films in the sci-fi genre, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” stars Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, and Rose Hobart. Following the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, it tells the tale of a scientist who manages to chemically separate out the good and evil sides of himself. Apparently legendary actor John Barrymore was offered the lead role but turned it down.

49/
Aurora

#53: The Secret of NIMH

Released: 1982

Stacker Score: 81.00
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: null
Tomatometer: 96%

This animated tale centering on a family of mice stars Elizabeth Hartman, Derek Jacobi, and Dom DeLuise. Mrs. Brisby, a mother field mouse, must ally with a group of rats to save her son who has fallen ill. The film was based on the children’s book “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.”

50/
Universal Pictures

#52: Ex Machina

Released: 2015

Stacker Score: 81.00
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: 78
Tomatometer: 92%

From writer-director Alex Garland comes the story of a young programmer interacting with a beautiful robot who is in possession of true artificial intelligence. The film stars  Alicia Vikander, Domhnall Gleeson, and Oscar Isaac. Amazingly, Garland made his directorial debut with this riveting film that explores the intersection of technology and humanity. 

51/
Dovemead Films

#51: Superman

Released: 1978

Stacker Score: 81.25
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Metascore: 86
Tomatometer: 93%

One of the original wildly successful superhero movies, “Superman” helped define an entire genre. Along with “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Superman” helped reignite interest in the sci-fi genre leading into the 1980s. The film starred Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder, and Gene Hackman and was directed by the prolific Richard Donner.

52/
Twentieth Century Fox

#50: Minority Report

Released: 2002

Stacker Score: 81.25
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: 80
Tomatometer: 91%

Starring Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, and Samantha Morton, “Minority Report” tells the tale of a future where people can be arrested before they commit crimes, and one officer who finds himself accused of murder by the prescient “Pre-Cogs.” From director Steven Spielberg, the film was based on the short story by sci-fi godfather Philip K. Dick.

53/
Endgame Entertainment

#49: Looper

Released: 2012

Stacker Score: 81.25
IMDb Rating: 7.4
Metascore: 84
Tomatometer: 93%

“Lacing tremendously exciting action with touching gravity, Looper hits you like a shot in the heart.” That’s what Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers had to say about this Rian Johnson-directed movie. The film mixes time travel and mob justice, and the hitman protagonist Joe finds himself in a sticky situation — he must assassinate his future self. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt.

54/
Twentieth Century Fox

#48: X-Men: Days of Future Past

Released: 2014

Stacker Score: 81.25
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 74
Tomatometer: 91%

The seventh movie in the “X-Men series” stars Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Hugh Jackman. Ranking among the biggest budgeted films of all time, this well-received installment cost $200 million to make, though it earned $747.9 million at the box office. In the movie, the X-Men send Wolverine (Jackman) back to the past to change history and avert doom for both mutants and humans.

55/
Kennedy Miller Productions

#47: The Road Warrior

Released: 1981

Stacker Score: 81.50
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: 76
Tomatometer: 98%

The second “Mad Max” film returns Mel Gibson in the titular role. This time he is out to protect a small community from a violent band of criminals intent on taking their gasoline. Director George Miller returned to direct this sequel, which also starred Bruce Spence and Michael Preston.

56/
Chernin Entertainment

#46: War for the Planet of the Apes

Released: 2017

Stacker Score: 81.75
IMDb Rating: 7.6
Metascore: 82
Tomatometer: 93%

Super-ape Caesar is back, leading his ravaged community of primates against a murderous human Colonel intent on exterminating Caesar’s kind. Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, and Steve Zahn star in this film which won Visual Effects of the Year at the Hollywood Film Awards.

57/
Parklane Pictures Inc.

#45: Kiss Me Deadly

Released: 1955

Stacker Score: 82.00
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 97%

Private investigator Mike Hammer meets a mysterious woman named Christina Bailey on the run from killers. When things get fishy, Hammer has no choice but to dig deeper. Ralph Meeker, Albert Dekker, and Paul Stewart star in the film adaption of Mickey Spillane’s novel of the same name. Cloris Leachman made her first appearance in a theatrical film in “Kiss Me Deadly.”

58/
Twentieth Century Fox

#44: The Day the Earth Stood Still

Released: 1951

Stacker Score: 82.00
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 94%

Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, and Hugh Marlowe star in this film from longtime sci-fi director Robert Wise. An alien named Klaatu lands on Earth to warn the humans about a race of robot-enforcers who will destroy humanity if provoked. George Lucas named two “Star Wars” trilogy alien bounty hunters Klaatu and Barada Nikto as an homage to the film.

59/
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#43: Forbidden Planet

Released: 1956

Stacker Score: 82.25
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 98%

98% on Rotten Tomatoes is no joke, and this film has earned love from audiences since its release more than 60 years ago. From director Fred M. Wilcox, “Forbidden Planet” was the first big-budget sci-fi movie, something that’s commonplace today. Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, and a very young Leslie Nielsen star in this film based on a story by Irving Block.

60/
APJAC Productions

#42: Planet of the Apes

Released: 1968

Stacker Score: 82.25
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 79
Tomatometer: 90%

The original “Apes” movie has one of the most iconic final scenes of any film in history, a big reveal that totally changes the meaning of everything the viewer has seen thus far. It stars Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, and Kim Hunter. Roger Ebert called it “quickly paced, completely entertaining” and even in 2017 that analysis holds.

61/
Marvel Studios

#41: Guardians of the Galaxy

Released: 2014

Stacker Score: 82.25
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Metascore: 76
Tomatometer: 91%

Despite being just one of a cascade of comic book movies, “Guardians” took the film world by storm. It’s trademark humor, winks to the audience, and all-time great soundtrack set it apart from other Marvel films that tended to get a little too serious. Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper (voicing Rocket) lead the way, though smaller parts by Michael Rooker as the whistling gang leader, John C. Reilly as a bumbling space officer, and Glenn Close as leader “Nova Prime” steal the show. The soundtrack album, which appears as a mixtape possessed by Peter Quill (Pratt) got to #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200.

62/
Marvel Entertainment

#40: Thor: Ragnarok

Released: 2017

Stacker Score: 82.50
IMDb Rating: 8.2
Metascore: 73
Tomatometer: 93%

Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, and Cate Blanchett star in another massive Marvel undertaking, directed by Taika Waititi. In the film, Thor must escape imprisonment and race back to Asgard in order to prevent its destruction, known as Ragnarok. The movie has only been in theaters since November 3, 2017, and has already grossed $793.5 million worldwide (as of 11/29).

63/
Nibariki

#39: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Released: 1985

Stacker Score: 82.50
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 87%

Another rare appearance by an animated film on our list, this fantasy-adventure tells the tale of a princess who tries to prevent two warring countries from destroying each other and the planet. It stars Sumi Shimamoto, Mahito Tsujimura, Hisako Kyôda and was directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

64/
Universal Pictures

#38: The Invisible Man

Released: 1933

Stacker Score: 82.75
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 100%

Invisibility begets insanity in this classic sci-fi masterpiece from director James Whale. Another formative film based on an H.G. Wells novel, “The Invisible Man” fits in a pantheon of early sci-fi classics like “Dracula,” “Frankenstein”. “The Wolf Man,” and others. It stars Claude Rains, Gloria Stuart, and William Harrigan.

65/
TriStar Pictures

#37: District 9

Released: 2009

Stacker Score: 82.75
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 81
Tomatometer: 90%

Many sci-fi movies contain some larger commentary on society, and “District 9” is a shining example of that. Notably set in South Africa, the land of Apartheid, the film depicts an alien race living in a shantytown, who are visited by a government agent who becomes very involved in their lives. The film stars Sharlto Copley, David James, and Jason Cope, and has kicked off a very successful run of films for director Neill Blomkamp.

66/
Paramount Pictures

#36: Iron Man

Released: 2008

Stacker Score: 82.75
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: 79
Tomatometer: 94%

The opening salvo in Marvel’s construction of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Iron Man” held broad appeal for hardcore sci-fi fans and casual viewers alike. The BBC’s Paul Arendt sung the film’s praises, making an important point: “Iron Man understands that being a superhero is supposed to be fun.” That’s a central piece to the movie, as Robert Downey, Jr. sizzles on screen, charming and wowing with action sequences that leave audiences breathless. Gwyneth Paltrow and Terrence Howard also star in the film that has launched a universe of films quite unlike any other.

67/
Walter Wanger Productions

#35: Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Released: 1956

Stacker Score: 83.00
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 98%

The original “Body Snatchers” film stars Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, and Larry Gates. Unlike the sequel, this version is set in a small town, where Dr. Miles J. Bennell becomes aware that aliens are slowly replacing the townsfolk with unfeeling duplicates. The film is essential to understanding sci-fi history, and merits a rewatch per both fans and critics.

68/
Aardman Animations

#34: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Released: 2005

Stacker Score: 83.00
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Metascore: 87
Tomatometer: 95%

Wallace & Gromit return to film in this beloved animated film starring Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, and Ralph Fiennes. In the movie, the duo run a humane pest-control business, but are put to the test when a giant veggie-munching beast starts laying waste to the town’s produce. Directors Steve Box and Nick Park hoisted the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of the Year.

69/
Twentieth Century Fox

#33: The Martian

Released: 2015

Stacker Score: 83.00
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 80
Tomatometer: 92%

Based on the novel by Andy Weir, “The Martian” depicts an astronaut marooned on Mars, who must use his wits to find a way off the red planet. It stars Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, and Kristen Wiig, and was directed by sci-fi legend Ridley Scott. The film was nominated for seven Oscars, though it didn’t win any.

70/
Universal Pictures

#32: Children of Men

Released: 2006

Stacker Score: 83.50
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: 84
Tomatometer: 92%
              

In a world where almost no fertile women remain, a man agrees to help transport one of the last remaining pregnant women through a dangerous journey. The film stars Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, though it’s Michael Caine’s performance as the philosophical, pot-smoking Jasper that is the most memorable. The movie was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Achievement in Cinematography. 

71/
Donners' Company

#31: Logan

Released: 2017

Stacker Score: 83.50
IMDb Rating: 8.2
Metascore: 77
Tomatometer: 93%

Wolverine is back in this latest installment in the “X-Men” series. Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen star in the film, which depicts an exhausted Logan (Jackman) caring for Professor X (Stewart). Logan is introduced to a young mutant with tremendous powers, and he must aid her against dark forces who seek to subvert their power. It’s rare that a Marvel film has a budget that’s less than $100 million (which seems crazy), but this one did, against a $616.8 million worldwide box office.

72/
Warner Bros.

#30: The Matrix

Released: 1999

Stacker Score: 83.50
IMDb Rating: 8.7
Metascore: 73
Tomatometer: 87%

Winner of four Oscars and the 18th rated film on IMDb’s list of top rated movies, “The Matrix” is in the upper stratosphere of sci-fi films. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, and Carrie-Anne Moss star in this tale about technology, perception vs. reality, and the power of the mind. Neo (Reeves) is a bored computer programmer who is brought into a crew of hackers fighting a race of machines who control the world, and nearly the entire human race. Hugo Weaving is unforgettable as the ever-multiplying Agent Smith, a heartless and deadly foe. The action sequences in the film, specifically the use of slow-motion, redefined the levels that action movies could attain.

73/
RKO Radio Pictures

#29: King Kong

Released: 1933

Stacker Score: 83.75
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 98%

From the original generation of sci-fi comes “King Kong”, a film starring Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot. It tells the story of a giant ape who becomes obsessed with a blonde movie star on an island shoot, and is brought back to New York. It has set the scene for multiple remakes, and the story has as much cultural penetration as almost any movie in history.

74/
Lava Bear Films

#28: Arrival

Released: 2016

Stacker Score: 83.75
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 81
Tomatometer: 94%

Alien invasion is one of the primary themes of sci-fi movies, and “Arrival” uses that premise to great effect. The film, which won the Oscar for Sound Editing, stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. Adams plays a linguist tasked with interpreting the intentions of alien visitors to earth. Manohla Dargis of the New York Times calls “Arrival” an “adventure about a woman who, in staring into the void, leaps into life and finds herself.”

75/
Warner Bros.

#27: A Clockwork Orange

Released: 1971

Stacker Score: 83.75
IMDb Rating: 8.3
Metascore: 78
Tomatometer: 91%

This film is the story of a violent youth in futuristic Great Britain imprisoned for rape and murder who volunteers for an experimental aversion therapy program. Adapted from the Anthony Burgess novel, this twisted tale from the mind of Stanley Kubrick has gripped audiences for decades. It was unavailable for public viewing in the UK from 1973 to 2000. Along with “Midnight Cowboy” this is the only other film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards after being released with an X rating.

76/
Paramount Pictures

#26: Star Trek

Released: 2009

Stacker Score: 84.00
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 82
Tomatometer: 94%

J.J. Abrams took up the mantle of the “Star Trek” franchise with this 2009 release starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Simon Pegg. While not universally loved by critics, audiences latched onto this production. A young James T. Kirk (Pine) must set out to prove his father’s legacy and assume his rightful place in the Starfleet. The movie won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Makeup. 

77/
Pandora Cinema

#25: Donnie Darko

Released: 2001

Stacker Score: 84.00
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Metascore: 88
Tomatometer: 86%

Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, and Mary McDonnell star in this film from director Richard Kelly. Critics find fault with “Donnie Darko” for being unable to tie up a fascinating story in the last few scenes, but audiences connect with Gyllenhaal’s sensitive performance as a troubled teenager who is driven to a series of strange actions by a man in a bunny suit only he can see.

78/
Lucasfilm

#24: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Released: 2015

Stacker Score: 84.00
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Metascore: 81
Tomatometer: 93%

The “Star Wars” franchise burst back onto the scene under new ownership in Disney with “The Force Awakens.” Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac star in Episode VII, which was well-liked by audiences. Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com called it “the film that J.J. Abrams was put on Earth to make.” Adam Driver portrays a petulant, angsty villain in Kylo Ren, setting the stage for future face-offs with heroine Rey (Ridley). Anticipation is at an all-time high for Episode VIII, “The Last Jedi,” which will be Abrams’ follow to “The Force Awakens,” hitting theaters in mid-December.

79/
Warner Bros.

#23: Inception

Released: 2010

Stacker Score: 84.00
IMDb Rating: 8.8
Metascore: 74
Tomatometer: 86%

Possibly Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date (and that’s really saying something), “Inception” seems to be one of those films that viewers either love or hate. There’s no question it’s stunning to look at and hear, as evidenced by its four visual and sound-related Oscar wins. But it has an extremely complex plot structure, which follows a team of thieves who inhabit others’ dreams to steal secrets, tasked with doing the opposite and implanting an idea in the brain of a CEO. It’s believed that Christopher Nolan spent ten years writing the screenplay for the film, and it’s impossible not to notice that attention to detail when viewing it. 

80/
Universal Pictures

#22: Bride of Frankenstein

Released: 1935

Stacker Score: 84.25
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 100%

Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, and Colin Clive star in one of sci-fi’s all-timers, “Bride of Frankenstein.” Dr. Frankenstein wants to stop performing evil experiments but another mad scientist named Dr. Pretorius kidnaps his wife and convinces Frankenstein to build a mate for his monster. Roger Ebert gave it four stars and called it “satirical, exciting, funny, and an influential masterpiece of art direction.”

81/
Universal Pictures

#21: Frankenstein

Released: 1931

Stacker Score: 84.25
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: N/A
Tomatometer: 100%

Henry Frankenstein wants to make the dead walk, and he succeeds in creating a living creature from the body parts of corpses he digs up. Like 1935’s “Bride of Frankenstein,” this film also stars Boris Karloff and Colin Clive, along with Mae Clarke as the lovely Elizabeth. Director James Whale truly made his mark on sci-fi history, and it all started with “Frankenstein.”

82/
16:14 Entertainment

#20: Blade Runner 2049

Released: 2017

Stacker Score: 84.25
IMDb Rating: 8.4
Metascore: 81
Tomatometer: 88%

A full 35 years after the original “Blade Runner” comes this sequel from director Denis Villeneuve, starring Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, and Ana de Armas. Young LAPD officer K (Gosling), a newly minted blade runner, must find the former blade runner Rick Deckard (Ford). It’s being hailed as a victory by critics, with RogerEbert.com’s Brian Tallerico saying of Villeneueve’s tall task for following the original, “He’s in no way seeking to improve or replace — the films now work together, enriching each other instead of mimicking.”

83/
Carolco Pictures

#19: Terminator 2

Released: 1991

Stacker Score: 84.50
IMDb Rating: 8.5
Metascore: 75
Tomatometer: 93%

“Same Make. Same Model. New Mission.” That was the tagline for this 1991 sequel to the original “Terminator.” Young John Connor is now a healthy boy, but the T-1000 Terminator is being sent back through time to kill him before he can grow up and lead the human resistance. Arnold Schwarzenegger is back as the Terminator (but of course) and is joined by co-stars Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong. James Cameron truly outdid himself with this movie.

84/
Columbia Pictures Corporation

#18: Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Released: 1977

Stacker Score: 85.00
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Metascore: 90
Tomatometer: 96%

Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, and Teri Garr star in Steven Spielberg’s first widely distributed sci-fi film (he did release “Firelight” in 1964, but it was made on a $500 budget and only released in a local theater). It blew away audiences on its way to the Oscar for Cinematography, and along with “Star Wars” and “Superman” helped create a desire for sci-fi that exploded in the ‘80s. Almar Haflidason of the BBC had this to say in his glowing review: “‘Close Encounters’ is saturated with imagery that fascinates, terrifies, and utterly consumes the viewer with the desire to discover the secret that's eating away at the on-screen characters.”

85/
Warner Bros.

#17: The Iron Giant

Released: 1999

Stacker Score: 85.25
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 85
Tomatometer: 96%

Hogarth Hughes is a young boy who befriends a large robot from outer space, who he must defend from the sinister designs of a government agent. Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick Jr., and Jennifer Aniston star in this film from animation expert Brad Bird. Vin Diesel provides the perfectly gravelly voice for the Iron Giant, which was an honor for Diesel given that Peter Cullen, Sean Connery, Frank Welker, and James Earl Jones were also considered for the role.

86/
Ladd Company

#16: Blade Runner

Released: 1982

Stacker Score: 85.75
IMDb Rating: 8.2
Metascore: 89
Tomatometer: 90%

Harrison Ford is Rick Deckard, an ex-cop and Blade Runner who is summoned to hunt down four androids who committed a grisly crime. The film’s screenplay is based on the novel by Philip K. Dick, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, though reportedly, director Ridley Scott never read the book. Apparently, the initial cut of the film ran more than four hours long, necessitating a team of editors being brought in. It’s one of the formative films of the sci-fi boom of the 1980s, and was followed up by 2017’s “Blade Runner: 2049.”

87/
Hemdale

#15: The Terminator

Released: 1984

Stacker Score: 85.75
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 83
Tomatometer: 100%

A cyborg travels back in time to assassinate a young waitress, while a single human soldier also travels back to protect her. Who will prevail? That’s the central question of James Cameron’s action sci-fi masterpiece. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, and Michael Biehn star in the film that the BBC’s George Perry called “a landmark in the advancement of special effects” and “one of the most effective science fiction films of recent decades.”

88/
Annapurna Pictures

#14: Her

Released: 2013

Stacker Score: 86.00
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 90
Tomatometer: 94%

Joaquin Phoenix stars as Theodore, a lonely writer who falls in love with his artificially intelligent operating system. Scarlett Johansson voiced the operating system, known as Samantha, and Amy Adams also stars. It was directed by Spike Jonze, who has specialized in directing music videos and video shorts over his career, but had previously made forays into feature films like “Adaptation” and “Where The Wild Things Are.” The movie won Jonze the Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay, and was nominated for four others, including Best Picture.

89/
Embassy International Pictures

#13: Brazil

Released: 1985

Stacker Score: 86.50
IMDb Rating: 8.0
Metascore: 88
Tomatometer: 98%

Director Terry Gilliam has two powerhouse sci-fi films on our list in “Brazil” and “Twelve Monkeys.” This time, he takes us to a futuristic society where an unhappy bureaucrat inadvertently changes a clerical error, which leads to him being targeted by the state for a series of crimes. The movie stars Jonathan Pryce, Kim Greist, and Robert De Niro. It was nominated for two Oscars, but went through a rough period of conflict where the studio and Gilliam fought about the film’s release.

90/
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)

#12: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Released: 1968

Stacker Score: 86.50
IMDb Rating: 8.3
Metascore: 86
Tomatometer: 94%

Perhaps the most well-known and important sci-fi movie ever, “2001” is a stunning achievement. Stanley Kubrick co-wrote and directed this beloved film. In his review, Roger Ebert describes how much Kubrick achieved with simple, subtle shots. As he puts it: “Alone among science-fiction movies, ‘2001’ is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe.” And he’s right. Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, and William Sylvester star, but it’s super-intelligent computer HAL 9000, voiced by Douglas Rain, that is the most memorable character. HAL 9000 is on board a ship headed to the moon to investigate something below the lunar surface, with Dr. Dave Bowman (Dullea) on board. It won the Oscar for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects.

91/
Paramount Pictures

#11: The Truman Show

Released: 1998

Stacker Score: 86.50
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Metascore: 90
Tomatometer: 94%

Truman Burbank is living in a TV show — his home is a set, his friends are actors. One day, he realizes the truth. Jim Carrey, Ed Harris, and Laura Linney star in this film from Peter Weir, known additionally for “Dead Poets Society” and the underrated “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” “The Truman Show” is much closer to our reality than most sci-fi films, and it has only become more relevant with the way that media has evolved. It generated three Golden Globes — Carry for Best Actor, Harris for Best Supporting Actor, and Burkhard von Dallwitz and Philip Glass for Best Original Score — and was nominated for three Oscars.

92/
Universal Pictures

#10: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Released: 1982

Stacker Score: 86.75
IMDb Rating: 7.9
Metascore: 91
Tomatometer: 98%

It’s only right that Spielberg has a movie in the top 10 of our list. The four-time Oscar winner is a beautifully-shot film, which focuses on the experience of three young children connecting with a friendly alien named E.T. The film is shot primarily from the children’s point of view, and doesn’t even show an adult face besides Elliott’s mother’s (Dee Wallace) until the last 30 minutes of the film, per IMDb. It stars Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Peter Coyote. Amazingly, Spielberg wrote most of the script during breaks while filming “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

93/
Warner Bros.

#9: Gravity

Released: 2013

Stacker Score: 87.00
IMDb Rating: 7.8
Metascore: 96
Tomatometer: 96%

One of the most intense movies of all time creates a visceral experience of outer space for the viewer. It was directed by Alfonso Cuarón of “Y Tu Mamá También,” whose first sci-fi film “Children of Men” made our list at #32. “Gravity” won a staggering seven Oscars including Best Director (and was nominated for three more). Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, and Ed Harris star in an elemental story: two astronauts alone in space find themselves tethered to each other and literally nothing else. Every frame of the movie is magic, starting with the first one, a continuous 12 1/2 minute shot of Earth from space and Dr. Stone (Bullock) detaching herself. Along with “2001,” this is as good as it gets for space exploration movies.

94/
Focus Features

#8: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Released: 2004

Stacker Score: 87.00
IMDb Rating: 8.3
Metascore: 89
Tomatometer: 93%

A boyfriend and girlfriend each get a procedure to erase the other from their memory, but then they start to wonder what they’re losing. The film stars Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, and Tom Wilkinson. Though reviewers disagree on whether the film has enough emotion to get the viewer to fully buy in to the couple, the two leads’ performances draw rave reviewers across the board.

95/
Warner Bros.

#7: Mad Max: Fury Road

Released: 2015

Stacker Score: 87.25
IMDb Rating: 8.1
Metascore: 90
Tomatometer: 97%

Thirty-four years after he made “Road Warrior,” director George Miller returned to kick “Mad Max” into an insane new gear, elevating the dusty, punk rock Australian wasteland with 21st century effects and cameras that makes it feel like one is flying through the screen. It’s a gorgeous movie, dripping with the oranges and browns of the Outback, that takes place at breakneck speed. Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads a group of prisoners and a silent drifter (Tom Hardy) on a drive across the desert ahead of a brutal tyrant, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). The film won six Oscars (though none of the major ones) and set a new standard for post apocalyptic films in the 2010s.

96/
Brandywine Productions

#6: Alien

Released: 1979

Stacker Score: 87.50
IMDb Rating: 8.5
Metascore: 83
Tomatometer: 97%

Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, and John Hurt star in Ridley Scott’s second film, a futuristic space horror story. The crew of commercial spaceship Nostromo follow a distress call to a distant moon, but what they find there is going to be stressing to them alone. It’s a terrifying film that went on to spawn three sequels over the course of several decades. It won the Visual Effects Oscar, as well as a BAFTA and a Saturn. 

97/
Lucasfilm

#5: Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

Released: 1980

Stacker Score: 87.75
IMDb Rating: 8.8
Metascore: 81
Tomatometer: 94%

The second “Star Wars” film tells the story of Luke Skywalker training with the Jedi master Yoda after a face-off with Imperial forces on the ice planet Hoth. It stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher reprising their roles from the first film. “Empire Strikes Back” was a formidable sequel to the first film, carrying the series forward, and also allowing George Lucas to establish himself as financially independent from Hollywood. A little-known fact — this is the first film to have a 5.1 surround sound mix, setting a new standard.

98/
Twentieth Century Fox

#4: Aliens

Released: 1986

Stacker Score: 88.00
IMDb Rating: 8.4
Metascore: 86
Tomatometer: 98%

Co-writer and director James Cameron took the reins from Ridley Scott for the second “Alien” movie, released seven years after the original. It won two Oscars and 18 others awards, along with a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Sigourney Weaver. Michael Biehn and Carrie Henn star along with Weaver. It’s 98% Tomatometer score was tied with “E.T” for the top-rated film on our list via that outlet.

99/
Universal Pictures

#3: Back to the Future

Released: 1985

Stacker Score: 88.00
IMDb Rating: 8.5
Metascore: 86
Tomatometer: 96%

Marty McFly entered the film lexicon in 1985, traveling 30 years into the past in the magnificent DeLorean, invented by mad scientist Doc Brown. Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson star in this film directed by Robert Zemeckis. According to IMDb, the script was rejected 40 times before it was finally greenlit. It also gave us the perfect doofy bully archetype in Biff Tannen, a character type that would be riffed on throughout the ‘80s.

100/
FortyFour Studios

#2: WALL-E

Released: 2008

Stacker Score: 89.75
IMDb Rating: 8.4
Metascore: 95
Tomatometer: 96%

Pixar’s lone entry on our list, “WALL-E” got the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film in 2009. Director Andrew Stanton had experience with animation (“Finding Nemo”), but this was his first foray into sci-fi. Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, and Jeff Garlin star in a film about which Roger Ebert wrote, “This story told in a different style and with a realistic look what could have been a great science-fiction film. For that matter, maybe it is.”

101/
Lucasfilm

#1: Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope

Released: 1977

Stacker Score: 89.75
IMDb Rating: 8.7
Metascore: 92
Tomatometer: 93%

Originally released as “Star Wars,” “A New Hope” sets the standard for sci-fi films — tying “WALL-E” in Stacker Score, but earning the nod for the #1 spot due to its importance in sci-fi history. Many directors have acknowledged its influence, including James Cameron, J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, and others. It of course stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher, and introduced the world to so many iconic characters. It won six Oscars, establishing a new level of scale and detail for a blockbuster-style movie. This is an immortal film.

2018 All rights reserved.