Best Science Fiction Films of All-Time

The American Film Institute (AFI) defines “science fiction” as a genre that marries a scientific or technological premise with imaginative speculation.” In 2008, they compiled a list of the top ten science fiction films of all-time. 

Tim Dirks of AMC’s Filmsite describes the science fiction film genre as follows:

Sci-fi films are often quasi-scientific, visionary and imaginative – complete with heroes, aliens, distant planets, impossible quests, improbable settings, fantastic places, great dark and shadowy villains, futuristic technology, unknown and unknowable forces, and extraordinary monsters (‘things or creatures from space’), either created by mad scientists or by nuclear havoc. They are sometimes an offshoot of fantasy films, or they share some similarities with action/adventure films. Science fiction often expresses the potential of technology to destroy humankind and easily overlaps with horror films, particularly when technology or alien life forms become malevolent, as in the “Atomic Age” of sci-fi films in the 1950s.

Here are my top ten science fiction films of all-time:

# Film Year
1 Blade Runner
2 The Day the Earth Stood Still
3 2001: A Space Odyssey
4 Aliens 
5 The Matrix  1999
6 Brazil  1985
7 Star Trek
8 A Clockwork Orange
9 The Terminator  1984
10 Planet of the Apes  1968

Honourable mention (in order): Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); Minority Report  (2002); Forbidden Planet (1956);  Inception (2010); Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991); Avatar (2009); The Time Machine  (1960); Twelve Monkeys (1995); Metropolis (1927); Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986); Donnie Darko (2001); District 9 (2009); I, Robot (2004); Children of Men (2006); Source Code (2011); The Road Warrior (1981); Star Trek: First Contact (1996)Serenity (2005); Gattaca (1997); Soylent Green (1973); The Andromeda Strain (1971) 

Note: I categorize Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial as fantasy films. Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I would categorize as horror films.

Here is the AFI’s List:

# Film Year
1 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968
2 Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope 1977
3 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 1982
4 A Clockwork Orange 1971
5 The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951
6 Blade Runner 1982
7 Alien 1979
8 Terminator 2: Judgment Day 1991
9 Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956
10 Back to the Future 1985

One thought on “Best Science Fiction Films of All-Time

  1. Fantastic, solid categorical definition of science fiction, with ‘must-see’ titles! Fantastic entry, thanks very much, makes solid video list.

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