Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

50 best space movies of all time

1/
Universal Studios

50 best space movies of all time

Space: the final frontier. For as long as there have been humans, we’ve looked up at the night sky and wondered what lies beyond the ever-present border of our atmosphere. Our ancestors had myths to explain the formation of the stars, and today we have cinema as a tool to share theories of our own.

Science fiction has always addressed the big questions surrounding the nature of life, what it means to be human, and what being alone in the universe (or not) would mean for human civilization. Are we just a pale blue dot in an ocean of darkness, grappling with the impossibility of human life and its implications? Or are we just one of many civilizations with a delusional belief in the exceptionalism of our species?

The films on this list include soaring space operas, faithful docudramas, gripping thrillers, and speculative musings, but all of them deal with space to some degree. These films span the recent history of cinema, from 1956 to 2019, and thus a chronological progression can be observed, with the early successes influencing all the films after.

Though some movies got the dates wrong, many of the themes explored deal directly with our day-to-day lives. “Gattaca” explores the perils of the creation of so-called “designer babies;” the first of which in history was created this year. “WALL·E,” “Blade Runner,” and “Planet of the Apes” muse on what will happen to the Earth when humans leave forever. Several films take us back to one of humanity’s greatest scientific achievements—the moon landing—and the sheer amount of effort and creativity needed to accomplish such a feat.

To guide you on your next otherworldly adventure, Stacker has compiled a list of the best space movies of all time according to the Stacker Index, which takes into account a film’s IMDb user score and critics’ Metascore, so both parties' opinions are weighed. All films with over 1,000 IMDb votes and at least four Metacritic reviews were counted, so read carefully through the list for some hidden gems. Read on to find out which animated film takes the top spot, and where fan favorites “Star Wars” and “E.T.” land.

You may also like: Space discoveries that will blow your mind

2/
Twentieth Century Fox

#50. Prometheus (2012)

Directed by Ridley Scott
- Stacker score: 69.8
- Metascore: 64
- IMDb rating: 7.0
- Votes: 540,298
- Runtime: 124 min

The much-anticipated prequel to the "Alien" franchise, "Prometheus" sat on the back burner for almost 10 years while Scott focused on "Alien vs. Predator." A script rewrite and production issues further delayed the project until its release in 2012. The film has been praised for its visual effects and outstanding performances, especially by Michael Fassbender, though critics and viewers have pointed to plot holes and story predictability as the film's shortcomings.

3/
DNA Films

#49. Sunshine (2007)

Directed by Danny Boyle
- Stacker score: 71.4
- Metascore: 64
- IMDb rating: 7.3
- Votes: 220,549
- Runtime: 107 min

Written by Alex Garland, who’s now directing his own sci-fi films like “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation,” Danny Boyle’s “Sunshine” boasts an all-star cast of Cillian Murphy, Chris Evans, Michelle Yeoh, and Rose Byrne on a mission to restart the dying sun with nuclear bombs. “Sunshine” is a thrilling spectacle of humanity pushed to its limits, with special effects that still hold up to this day. Although many critics found the final act disappointing, there’s plenty to love throughout the adventure.

4/
Bandai Visual Company

#48. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe
- Stacker score: 72.9
- Metascore: 61
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 39,200
- Runtime: 115 min

If you’re not already into anime, “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie” may not be the best place to start. It’s based on a series by the same name, and while it’s not necessary that you watch the show before the film, you might be confused by the fast-paced action without proper context. But if you’re an anime fan looking for a space epic filled with bounty hunters, a nanomachine-based biological weapon, and a dog with human-level intelligence all set on the surface of Mars, look no further.

5/
Lucasfilm

#47. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983)

Directed by Richard Marquand
- Stacker score: 73.4
- Metascore: 58
- IMDb rating: 8.3
- Votes: 863,833
- Runtime: 131 min

The original “Star Wars” trilogy will always be remembered for bringing blockbusters to Hollywood, with all their action, adventure, and exorbitant budgets. The third entry, “Return of the Jedi,” is generally considered by fans and critics to be the worst of the three, though it’s no less-beloved than the first two. The Rebels, beaten time and time again, finally take their stand against the Empire, as allegiances are tested and secrets are revealed.

6/
Pan Européenne

#46. Mr. Nobody (2009)

Directed by Jaco Van Dormael
- Stacker score: 73.4
- Metascore: 63
- IMDb rating: 7.8
- Votes: 197,592
- Runtime: 141 min

This list comprises space movies, after all that’s what you came here for, but “Mr. Nobody” is one of a few time movies too. Jared Leto portrays the protagonist, Nemo Nobody, the last mortal left on Earth after everyone else achieves immortality through cellular regenerative technology. Though the movie largely takes place on Earth, Nemo at points writes a story about space travel to Mars, which is visually presented in gorgeous detail.

7/
Columbia Pictures

#45. Gattaca (1997)

Directed by Andrew Niccol
- Stacker score: 74
- Metascore: 64
- IMDb rating: 7.8
- Votes: 260,864
- Runtime: 106 min

Twenty-one years after the release of “Gattaca,” the scientific community was forced to confront an issue raised by the film: gene editing. Using CRISPR technology, scientists can now selectively edit portions of DNA in embryos, creating artificial resistance against diseases like HIV, smallpox, and cholera. Eventually, this technology could determine many human traits, from intelligence to eye color, exactly to the parents’ desire. In the world of “Gattaca,” a man born naturally—without any genes edited—poses as another man to sidestep genetic discrimination and fulfill his dreams to travel to space, and raising important questions about whether gene editing is just a novel form of eugenics.

8/
Paramount

#44. Galaxy Quest (1999)

Directed by Dean Parisot
- Stacker score: 74.5
- Metascore: 70
- IMDb rating: 7.3
- Votes: 138,301
- Runtime: 102 min

What does Sigourney Weaver do after finally escaping from the aliens in “Alien” and “Aliens?” Poke fun at another staple of the sci-fi genre in “Galaxy Quest,” a transparent but nonetheless hilarious send-up of “Star Trek” and its fans. Also starring Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Tony Shalhoub, Sam Rockwell, and Daryl Mitchell, this cult classic is beloved by the very fans it made fun of, a surefire mark of a great film.

9/
American Zoetrope

#43. THX 1138 (1971)

Directed by George Lucas
- Stacker score: 74.5
- Metascore: 75
- IMDb rating: 6.8
- Votes: 44,825
- Runtime: 86 min

“THX 1138” was a failure. That is, until George Lucas gained notoriety for “Star Wars” and fans went back to watch his first film, which depicts a totalitarian dystopia controlled by mind-altering chemicals and an android police force. The title refers to the film’s protagonist, played by Robert Duvall; to encourage conformity, names are simply three initials and four digits.

10/
Lucasfilm

#42. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Directed by Gareth Edwards
- Stacker score: 74.5
- Metascore: 65
- IMDb rating: 7.8
- Votes: 479,680
- Runtime: 133 min

Many fans found inconvenient truths (without revealing spoilers) at the end of “Star Wars: Episode IV.” 39 years later, “Rogue One,” which takes place right before “Episode IV,” sets the stage for that famous climax, explaining the story behind how the heroic band of rebels was able to strike a decisive blow against the Empire. The first “Star Wars” film to be set outside the three major trilogies, “Rogue One” was played for its no-holds-barred action, fast-paced storyline, and memorable cameos from beloved characters.

11/
Paramount

#41. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

Directed by Nicholas Meyer
- Stacker score: 75
- Metascore: 67
- IMDb rating: 7.7
- Votes: 105,457
- Runtime: 113 min

Nowadays, with the ubiquity of computer-generated images, or CGI, in blockbuster cinemas, it’s charming to remember of time of carefully painted miniatures and fireworks explosions comprising much of what we consider “special effects.” “The Wrath of Khan,” the first film to have a sequence comprised entirely of CGI, was a harbinger of this new era. Beloved by fans, William Shatner’s James Tiberius Kirk leads a war against Khan, who has sworn revenge on the Starship Enterprise, in this classic space opera.

12/
Marvel Studios

#40. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Directed by James Gunn
- Stacker score: 75
- Metascore: 67
- IMDb rating: 7.7
- Votes: 485,395
- Runtime: 136 min

Until 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were mostly confined to Earth, with a few sojourns to Asgard with Thor. However, like its predecessor which appears further down this list, “Guardians 2” is set entirely in space, where Chris Pratt’s Peter “Star-Lord” Quill was raised following his childhood abduction from Earth. With only retro songs to remember his home planet by, Star-Lord searches for answers with his band of reluctant heroes, among them a talking raccoon and sentient tree.

13/
Lucasfilm

#39. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Directed by George Lucas
- Stacker score: 75
- Metascore: 68
- IMDb rating: 7.6
- Votes: 643,095
- Runtime: 140 min

Though the trilogy of films that served as prequels to “Star Wars: Episode IV” generated ire from fans and critics alike, there’s a lot to enjoy in “Revenge of the Sith,” in which Anakin Skywalker must choose between the light side of the Jedi and the dark power of the Sith. Though the romance between Hayden Christensen’s Anakin and Natalie Portman’s Padmé is… unconvincing, the twists and turns are exciting enough to watch that they’ve now been immortalized as viral memes.

14/
Zespól Filmowy "Kadr"

#38. On the Silver Globe (1988)

Directed by Andrzej Zulawski
- Stacker score: 76
- Metascore: 72
- IMDb rating: 7.4
- Votes: 1,810
- Runtime: 166 min

Based on the novel of the same title by Jerzy Żuławski, a Polish novelist famous for his “Lunar Trilogy,” of which “Silver Globe” is the first, this film sees a stranded group of astronauts start a new civilization on an alien planet. With detailed costumes and exquisite sets, this film confronts themes of religion and custom. In all, “Silver Globe” is an incredibly ambitious work, with stunning, visionary production.

15/
Sony Pictures Classics

#37. Moon (2009)

Directed by Duncan Jones
- Stacker score: 76
- Metascore: 67
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 312,111
- Runtime: 97 min

Many sci-fi movies have grand sets, impressive special effects, and daring heroes; others use the context of sci-fi to explore the human condition. That’s the case with “Moon,” which sees Sam Rockwell as a lonely helium-3 miner on the far side of the moon, cut off from human contact for three years as he works. When he begins to suffer hallucinations, not even the viewer will be able to tell what’s real and what’s imagined.

16/
Paramount Pictures

#36. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Directed by J.J. Abrams
- Stacker score: 77.6
- Metascore: 72
- IMDb rating: 7.7
- Votes: 446,408
- Runtime: 132 min

The sequel to Abrams’ warmly received 2009 “Star Trek” reboot, “Into Darkness,” sees the same crew headed by Chris Pine’s James T. Kirk in a new adventure, tracking a mysterious villain played by Benedict Cumberbatch in a sneering, intense performance. With all the thrills and twists of the original “Star Trek” television series with the blockbuster budget of a J.J. Abrams flick, “Into Darkness” is a solid entry in the space-opera canon.

17/
Twentieth Century Fox

#35. Hidden Figures (2016)

Directed by Theodore Melfi
- Stacker score: 79.2
- Metascore: 74
- IMDb rating: 7.8
- Votes: 171,509
- Runtime: 127 min

Everyone remembers where they were when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Fewer people remember—or ever knew about—the groundbreaking scientists and mathematicians that made that walk possible, many of them women of color, during a time when segregation was still enforced. Led by stirring performances from Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, and others, “Hidden Figures” is a heartwarming story about overcoming obstacles both on the ground and in the air.

18/
Marvel Studios

#34. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
- Stacker score: 79.7
- Metascore: 68
- IMDb rating: 8.5
- Votes: 675,374
- Runtime: 149 min

After 18 films and 10 years, the beginning of the final climax of the Marvel Cinematic Universe arrived, along with Josh Brolin’s Thanos, the most terrifying villain our heroes have ever faced. With Thanos intent on tracking down the infinity stones, mystical objects capable of immense power, with the goal of eliminating half of all life in the universe, the Avengers set out across space to stop him.

19/
Universal Pictures

#33. Serenity (2005)

Directed by Joss Whedon
- Stacker score: 79.7
- Metascore: 74
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 270,390
- Runtime: 119 min

Not to be confused with the astoundingly awful 2019 film by the same title, 2005’s Serenity is a final love letter to the series “Firefly,” which follows the crew of the spaceship Serenity. Though the television series failed with audiences, a passionate cult of Joss Whedon fans convinced Universal Studios to bankroll a film meant to wrap up unresolved threads, which fans were overall pleased with.

20/
Walt Disney Pictures

#32. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Directed by Taika Waititi
- Stacker score: 79.7
- Metascore: 74
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 485,865
- Runtime: 130 min

After “Thor: The Dark World,” received lukewarm reviews, Marvel brought in New Zealand director Taika Waititi to spice up the franchise. The result: a colorful, hilarious romp through space featuring Chris Hemsworth’s Thor facing off against Jeff Goldblum’s The Collector and Cate Blanchett’s Hela, along with (and sometimes opposed to) his brother Loki, played by an always-conniving Tom Hiddleston. Some old friends and foes make surprise appearances, and among fans of superhero movies, it’s a must-see.

21/
Universal Pictures

#31. Apollo 13 (1995)

Directed by Ron Howard
- Stacker score: 79.7
- Metascore: 77
- IMDb rating: 7.6
- Votes: 246,879
- Runtime: 140 min

“Failure is not an option.” Those are the words uttered by NASA flight director Gene Kranz, played by Ed Harris, after an explosion disrupts a planned moon landing in this docudrama adapted from real events. Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton as stranded astronauts, this heart-pounding thriller will have you at the edge of your seat, even if you know the outcome.

22/
Westdeutscher Rundfunk

#30. World on a Wire (1973)

Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
- Stacker score: 80.7
- Metascore: 76
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 4,680
- Runtime: 212 min

A topic that has recently encouraged discussion among philosophers, scientists, and one intrepid tech entrepreneur is that of humanity’s existence. Are we real? Or are we living in a simulation? Some believe there’s an infinitesimal probability that we’re simulated humans, given how close we are to creating simulated societies ourselves. That question is probed by “World on a Wire,” a two-part miniseries made for German television, that predates later films like “The Matrix,” which explores similar themes.

23/
Walt Disney Pictures

#29. Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017)

Directed by Rian Johnson
- Stacker score: 81.3
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb rating: 7.1
- Votes: 466,253
- Runtime: 152 min

The middle entry of the third “Star Wars” theatrical trilogy, “The Last Jedi,” sees a precarious Resistance trying to hold on to hope as they’re pummelled by the First Order at every turn. Elsewhere, Rey attempts to convince Luke Skywalker, a reclusive hermit who wants nothing to do with his past heroism, to train her in the ways of the force. The movie angered some die-hard fans, but was overall warmly received by critics.

24/
Marvel Studios

#28. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Directed by James Gunn
- Stacker score: 81.8
- Metascore: 76
- IMDb rating: 8.1
- Votes: 951,079
- Runtime: 121 min

The aforementioned “Thor: Ragnarok” brought life and color to the Thor franchise; it owes a debt to “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which is likewise a colorful space adventure that brings exotic aliens and swashbuckling action to the MCU. Come for the visuals and Chris Pratt’s charming performance, stay for the 80s nostalgia and killer soundtrack.

25/
Universal Pictures

#27. First Man (2018)

Directed by Damien Chazelle
- Stacker score: 81.8
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb rating: 7.3
- Votes: 123,008
- Runtime: 141 min

After directing 2016’s Best Picture-losing love letter “La La Land,” Chazelle recruited Ryan Gosling to play Neil Armstrong in “First Man,” a docudrama about the perils of the space program leading up to that most famous walk on the moon. With strong performances throughout, and incredible special effects and sound design on the space launches, “First Man” is a must-see for any Apollo enthusiasts.

26/
Sever Studio

#26. Hard to be a God (2013)

Directed by Aleksei German
- Stacker score: 81.8
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb rating: 6.7
- Votes: 4,062
- Runtime: 177 min

Fermi’s paradox ponders that since the universe is so vast, and our civilization is a relatively young one compared to the age of the universe, where are all the aliens? Are we truly alone? Some scientists believe that Earth is under watch; the aliens know about us, but don’t wish to interfere with our progress as a society. “Hard to be a God” imagines a situation in which humans interfere with an alien civilization that’s centuries behind in progress, and the complex situations that arise when you mess with natural development.

27/
APJAC Productions

#25. Planet of the Apes (1968)

Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner
- Stacker score: 82.8
- Metascore: 79
- IMDb rating: 8.0
- Votes: 156,173
- Runtime: 112 min

One of the most famous sci-fi films of all time, “Planet of the Apes” sees a crashed spaceship’s crew wander a planet dominated by primates, only to discover a dark secret. With groundbreaking prosthetics that hold up to this day, it’s worth watching or re-watching just for the famous quote: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”

28/
Paramount Pictures

#24. Interstellar (2014)

Directed by Christopher Nolan
- Stacker score: 83.3
- Metascore: 74
- IMDb rating: 8.6
- Votes: 1,302,712
- Runtime: 169 min

Christopher Nolan is known for making mind-bending films that challenge and enthrall the viewer, and 2014’s “Interstellar” is a worthy addition to that canon. In a not-too-distant future, humanity suffers the widespread effects of climate change. Abandoning Earth is the only hope, and when a mysterious wormhole opens up at the end of the solar system, a daring crew travels through. Working against impossible odds and the forces of space and time, the crew must do everything possible to survive in this three-hour epic starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine.

29/
Twentieth Century Fox

#23. The Martian (2015)

Directed by Ridley Scott
- Stacker score: 83.3
- Metascore: 80
- IMDb rating: 8.0
- Votes: 681,658
- Runtime: 144 min

Based on the popular novel, “The Martian” is about mankind joining for a singular mission: save astronaut Mark Watney, who was abandoned on Mars after the rest of his crew made an emergency exit during a dust storm. Played by a charismatic Matt Damon, Watney is a genius scientist who works in tandem with the forces on Earth to return home. A fantastic ensemble cast assists him in his efforts, including Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, and Donald Glover, among many others.

30/
Lava Bear Films

#22. Arrival (2016)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
- Stacker score: 83.3
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 516,889
- Runtime: 116 min

In many movies on this list, humankind ventures far out into the galaxy, discovering alien planets and their inhabitants. In 2016’s enigmatic “Arrival,” the aliens come here. Whether they’re bearing gifts or baring their teeth remains to be seen; it’s up to a linguist (Amy Adams) and a physicist (Jeremy Renner) to interpret the alien language. Villeneuve has already shown himself to be a powerful force in the speculative science fiction genre, and “Arrival” is a head-spinning masterpiece.

31/
TriStar Pictures

#21. District 9 (2009)

Directed by Neill Blomkamp
- Stacker score: 83.3
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 605,104
- Runtime: 112 min

“District 9” sees an alien species set up camp on Earth. Using the xenophobia humans display against aliens as an allegory for the racism of South Africa’s apartheid, this found-footage mockumentary turns the glamour of interspecies contact into a biting critique of contemporary affairs.

32/
Alcon Entertainment

#20. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve
- Stacker score: 83.9
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb rating: 8
- Votes: 377,433
- Runtime: 164 min

Previously in this slideshow, we referred to director Denis Villeneuve as “a powerful force in the speculative science fiction genre.” Consider this film Exhibit B. “Blade Runner 2049” is beautiful in its tragedy, or perhaps tragic in its beauty. Anchored by a deeply empathetic performance from Ryan Gosling and featuring Ana de Armas, Mackenzie Davis, Jared Leto, and others, “Blade Runner 2049” is a worthy sequel to its groundbreaking predecessor.

33/
Lucasfilm

#19. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)

Directed by J.J. Abrams
- Stacker score: 83.9
- Metascore: 81
- IMDb rating: 8
- Votes: 785,755
- Runtime: 136 min

Achieving a higher place on this list than its sequel, “The Last Jedi,” this first entry in the third “Star Wars” trilogy introduces a new cast of characters and brings back some fan favorites to fight against the First Order, the next iteration of the franchise’s evil colonialist empire. Featuring standout performances from newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, and Oscar Isaac, and an anti-heroic return to form for Harrison Ford, “The Force Awakens” will fill you with the same childlike wonder of the original trilogy.

34/
Warner Bros.

#18. The Lego Movie (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
- Stacker score: 83.9
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb rating: 7.8
- Votes: 304,645
- Runtime: 100 min

Many were skeptical that a concept as vague as “Lego” could be adapted into a compelling film. Lord and Miller, rising stars in the comedy and animation genres, proved even the most serious doubters wrong. “The Lego Movie” is 100 minutes of intense action, side-splitting dialogue, and creative animation. Anchored by an all-star cast, “The Lego Movie” is family friendly perfection.

35/
Twentieth Century Fox

#17. Avatar (2009)

Directed by James Cameron
- Stacker score: 83.9
- Metascore: 83
- IMDb rating: 7.8
- Votes: 1,046,562
- Runtime: 162 min

The highest-grossing movie of all time, despite the ongoing efforts of “Avengers: Endgame,” “Avatar” brought eye-popping CGI to a global audience in a classic story of colonialism, romance, and resistance. Cameron waited nearly a decade, until 2005, to make the film as the technology wasn’t advanced enough in the 1990s to complete his vision. The wait paid off, both financially and in the stunning visuals of the film, which hold up very well 10 years later.

36/
Paramount

#16. Star Trek (2009)

Directed by J.J. Abrams
- Stacker score: 84.4
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb rating: 8
- Votes: 556,833
- Runtime: 127 min

Like “The Force Awakens,” this film was preceded on this list by its sequel, “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” 2009’s “Star Trek” likewise contains all the charm of the original series, with big-budget special effects and a stellar (pun intended) cast.

37/
Marvel Studio

#15. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo
- Stacker score: 85.9
- Metascore: 78
- IMDb rating: 8.7
- Votes: 453,084
- Runtime: 181 min

The climax fans waited a decade for, “Avengers: Endgame” sees the titular characters reeling from the events of the prior film and navigating a strange world. Some are focused on undoing the fallout of Infinity War, while others just want to move on and accept the world as it is. The three-hour runtime flies by as our heroes find a promising way forward.

38/
MGM

#14. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Directed by Stanley Kubrick
- Stacker score: 85.9
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb rating: 8.3
- Votes: 544,149
- Runtime: 149 min

Sci-fi movies would look a lot different without “2001,” undoubtedly the most influential film of the genre ever to hit the silver screen. The precarity of artificial intelligence, the vastness of space, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life are among the themes explored by Kubrick’s masterpiece. From the visuals to the score, “2001” earns its spot among the greatest films of all time.

39/
Warner Bros.

#13. The Iron Giant (1999)

Directed by Brad Bird
- Stacker score: 85.9
- Metascore: 85
- IMDb rating: 8
- Votes: 156,994
- Runtime: 86 min

Sci-fi films have a peculiar tendency of underperforming at the box office, only to be treated as a cult classic and idolized long after they left the theatres. Such is the case with “The Iron Giant,” the directorial debut of “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” director Brad Bird, which sees a young boy befriending a giant robot who fell from the sky. Featuring an all-star cast of voice actors, including Vin Diesel as the titular automaton, “The Iron Giant” is a gem in Bird’s stellar filmography.

40/
Twentieth Century Fox

#12. Aliens (1986)

Directed by James Cameron
- Stacker score: 87.5
- Metascore: 84
- IMDb rating: 8.4
- Votes: 602,340
- Runtime: 137 min

In several places on this list, sequels fared worse in the hearts of critics and audiences than the film that came before. Such is the case with “Aliens,” the sequel to 1979’s “Alien,” though Empire magazine named it the greatest sequel of all time. The franchise has yet to recapture the magic since “Aliens,” a terrifying thriller of galactic proportions starring Sigourney Weaver in an Emmy-nominated performance as Ellen Ripley, a hero for a spacefaring generation.

41/
Lucasfilm

#11. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Directed by Irvin Kershner
- Stacker score: 88.0
- Metascore: 82
- IMDb rating: 8.7
- Votes: 1,054,945
- Runtime: 124 min

Another of the best-received sequels of all time, Empire had a lot to live up to when it premiered three years after “Star Wars: Episode IV.” Luckily, the story matured from “chosen one saves universe” into a more complex series of blows and counter-attacks. With cinema’s most famous twist in the middle, Empire recaptures all the magic of the original and further explores the galaxy far, far away.

42/
The Ladd Company

#10. The Right Stuff (1983)

Directed by Philip Kaufman
- Stacker score: 88.5
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 52,149
- Runtime: 193 min

The films on this list that deal with America’s space program each focus on a different period. Such is the case with “The Right Stuff,” which focuses on the Mercury program of supersonic flight, sometimes in the sub-orbital region of space, which took place between 1958 and 1963. Based on the bestselling book by the same name, “The Right Stuff” was, like many others on this list, a box office failure though it was beloved by critics and remains a modern classic.

43/
Universal Studios

#9. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Directed by Steven Spielberg
- Stacker score: 88.5
- Metascore: 91
- IMDb rating: 7.9
- Votes: 337,618
- Runtime: 115 min

“E.T. phone home,” mutters the titular character as he attempts to contact his home planet, and audiences around the world fell in love. The timeless story of an intimate friendship between a boy and his alien friend, “E.T.” has resonated with generations of families, and is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time.

44/
Walter Wagner Productions

#8. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Directed by Don Siegel
- Stacker score: 88.5
- Metascore: 92
- IMDb rating: 7.8
- Votes: 40,762
- Runtime: 80 min

The fact that the oldest film on this list also makes the top ten is notable; many of the deep questions posed by old sci-fi movies seem dated to us (are “Star Trek’s” communicators any better than an iPhone?). However, the fear of someone you love seeming just a little off still raises goosebumps on the flesh of any viewer. The culprit: alien pods that, when they reach maturity, duplicate humans entirely, though the duplicates are devoid of any emotion.

45/
CNN Films

#7. Apollo 11 (2019)

Directed by Todd Douglas Miller
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 88
- IMDb rating: 8.3
- Votes: 6,817
- Runtime: 93 min

The only documentary on this list, “Apollo 11” consists solely of archival footage and is absent of narration, commentary from talking heads, or re-creations. The film presents the story of the titular mission, moonwalk and all. There’s not much else to say here, just a word of advice: see it on the biggest screen you can find.

46/
The Ladd Company

#6. Blade Runner (1982)

Directed by Ridley Scott
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb rating: 8.2
- Votes: 628,615
- Runtime: 117 min

Directed by Alien’s Ridley Scott and loosely based on a book by sci-fi master Philip K. Dick, “Blade Runner” focuses on Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard, a retired “blade runner,” tasked with hunting down and killing renegade androids known as replicants, just like he used to. The film takes place entirely on Earth; however, it’s a grimy and squalid one, as anyone with significant wealth has already left for the off-world colonies. Though space travel doesn’t feature directly, the film questions technology’s effect on the environment and human interactions.

47/
Mosfilm

#5. Solaris (1972)

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
- Stacker score: 89.1
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb rating: 8.1
- Votes: 70,070
- Runtime: 167 min

At the same time Americans were celebrating a comeback victory in the Space Race, Soviet Russians were dealing with their own questions of space travel and communism’s place in the future. Such is the case with “Solaris,” a Soviet film, which questions the limits of human rationality in a gorgeous, haunting, nearly three-hour production.

48/
Warner Bros.

#4. Gravity (2013)

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
- Stacker score: 90.1
- Metascore: 96
- IMDb rating: 7.7
- Votes: 713,126
- Runtime: 91 min

Cuarón, the five-time Oscar winner and director of “Children of Men” and “Roma,” tried his hand at an outer-space thriller in 2013’s seven-time Oscar winner “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as stranded astronauts doing whatever it takes to return home. As evidenced by the awards, Gravity was received warmly by both critics and fans, who praised the realistic visuals, performances from the leads, and stirring score.

49/
Brandywine Productions

#3. Alien (1979)

Directed by Ridley Scott
- Stacker score: 90.6
- Metascore: 89
- IMDb rating: 8.5
- Votes: 716,219
- Runtime: 117 min

Facehugger, Xenomorph, Chestburster; the titular alien in “Alien” takes many forms, all of them terrifying, as the creation of gory special effects and a dark imagination. The crew of the spaceship Nostromo is hopelessly outmatched against this unique evil, though they never stop trying to kill it, even as more and more humans fall victim to the alien’s attacks. A straightforward human-versus-nature story, the movie manages to slip in a biting critique of mega-corporations which are more interested in the bottom line than human lives.

50/
Lucasfilm

#2. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

Directed by George Lucas
- Stacker score: 91.7
- Metascore: 90
- IMDb rating: 8.6
- Votes: 1,124,039
- Runtime: 121 min

What is there to say about “Star Wars?” The 1977 film has established itself in every corner of our collective consciousness, from the global fame of its cast to the innumerable sci-fi and adventure films it influenced, not to mention the films in the franchise still being released every couple of years. The soundtrack is iconic, the characters are legendary, and the story of a chosen hero leading the galaxy to victory has inspired millions of young people all across the globe.

51/
Disney/Pixar

#1. WALL·E (2008)

Directed by Andrew Stanton
- Stacker score: 93.2
- Metascore: 95
- IMDb rating: 8.4
- Votes: 908,845
- Runtime: 98 min

“WALL·E’s” striking depiction of Earth as a barren wasteland, destroyed by the forces of climate and human overconsumption, is made even more impactful through the film’s choice to not include human dialogue for much of the film. The titular robot is an emotive trash compactor, the only one left on Earth, meant to clean up the planet’s waste; imagine his shock when a futuristic robot arrives, searching the planet for any sign of organic life. When humans are finally shown, they’re nearly comatose and incapable of social relationships, as work has become obsolete thanks to automation. A story about finding a purpose in the universe's vastness, “WALL·E” has the right mix of charm, complex storytelling, beautiful visuals and soul-searching questions to land at the top of our list.

2018 All rights reserved.