9 Best Science Fiction (Sci-fi) Movies

I am probably going to upset a few people with my selections of the best science fiction movies of all time, but I am a big boy and can take the criticism. I was going to do a five best, but I remember how bad I felt after finishing my five best science fiction books and realizing how many I had left out, so this is a ten best instead. I am sure I will miss a few un-missables as well.

On the whole – science fiction works better in written form than it does in film format – but this is not always the case. The reason I suspect is that the special effects to create imaginary worlds went straight from “not quite good enough,” to “amazing and over powering,” in a very short space of time. Which means that my favorite science fiction seems to stem from that time where the effects were “quite good, but not overpowering,” and in a few cases “so bad they added to the film.” These are in no particular order except for the first, which I consider to be the best science fiction movie ever. Today – I tend to change my favorite regularly.

For me, a science fiction movie needs three elements: It needs a great big dose of “what if,” it needs to be a good commentary on now, and it needs some hard science that does not exist yet, but could be plausible in the future.

1. Blade Runner

Ridley Scott is one of the few directors I admire and the “tech-noir/cyberpunk,” Blade Runner – I don’t know – I just made that up – is a classic sci-fi movie. Harrison Ford in an unusually “not all about me,” role as an unwilling cop who hunts down and kills rogue “replicants,” which are artificial human beings used as slaves in the off world colonies.

All too believable that when the technology to create artificial humans is developed – it will be developed by the corporations who will abuse them for profit. I have no trouble believing it anyway. Call me cynical if you will.

This is one of the best sci-fi films ever made, the atmosphere is wonderful, the acting superb and the special effects “just enough,” to be believable. Plus it has Sean Young in it. Amazon sell this for under $10 – buy it – do not rent it – you will watch this one over and over.

2. 2001 A Space Odyssey

Another classic that should be bought and not rented because it is so re-watchable. The plot, well, if you are a fan of explosions and action in your sci-fi you are going to be first of all disappointed and then amazed that you could get so much out of a movie without any explosions. The bad guy is, well, I will leave you to discover the bad guy for yourself. If you have not watched this movie – you are not a sci-fi fan.

Ground breaking for it’s time even watching it today it is hard to believe this film was made way back in 1968. Gawd that makes me feel old. Stanley Kubrick is a genius and the special effects are once again, “just good enough,” to be believable.

Absolutely has to be on any one’s top sci-fi movies list. The music is perfect, the film a testament to minimalist and simple shots, but answering the question everyone always wants to know.  You know – the answer to life, the universe and everything.

3. Dark Star

Dark Star is one of those that missed out on the mainstream viewers, but I would certainly put it on my top ten list. The premise is simple. In order to facilitate easier colonization of the solar system, Dark Star’s job it to clear away any planets that might obstruct that goal.

Dark star, like all good sci-fi, is dark, both in storyline and humor. If you have not seen it, I will not give away the plot – but go buy it and be once again surprised at the difference between this and most of today’s films. The wonderful thing about these films is the amount a viewer can get out of a movie with some very simple effects. I think a lot of that has been lost on recent years with the ease of making effects – and too many rely solely on the effects instead of genuinely creating an atmosphere or telling a compelling story.

Directed by John Carpenter, this was his first movie and his best as far as I am concerned. Low budget, fantastic atmosphere and very funny if you like your humor dark.

4. The Fifth Element

I know a frigging French director, clothes by Jean Paul Gaultier; Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker starring. What can you do? Luc Besson is a genius, this is a masterpiece and – it is great fun. Gary Oldman in his best role, Milla Jojovich looking like……..  Milla Jojovich. Bad guys in all directions, an unimaginable evil approaching and we need saving by a Taxi Driver. Wonderful stuff.

I know a frigging French director, clothes by Jean Paul Gaultier; Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker starring. What can you do? Luc Besson is a genius, this is a masterpiece and – it is great fun. Gary Oldman in his best role, Milla Jojovich looking like……..  Milla Jojovich. Bad guys in all directions, an unimaginable evil approaching and we need saving by a Taxi Driver. Wonderful stuff.

Much as I hate Bruce Willis – in a non-personal way – this is an excellent film. Well shot, well directed and the outlandish Gaultier costumes just work. Funny as well – the classic cops at a McDonalds ”fly through,” window are too real and the farcical way events unfold are also too real.

Absolutely another one to buy not rent because you will watch it again and again. Another classic science fiction movie and no shortage of explosions.

5. The Matrix

It has the necessary requirements for being one of the top ten science fiction films of all time: a big dose of “what if;” great effects that do not detract from the storyline, some fresh new tech and – oddly enough for Keanu Reeves – the actors did not get in the way of the story.

Too often in sci-fi, one ends up seeing the same actors who were in a ”mainstream,” movie last week and it detracts from the movie.

6. The Terminator

I loved this film when it came out and, although it stars Arnold, that is OK – he was no where near as famous and squeaky clean back then. I must have watched it 25 times since then. A cyborg sent back from the future to kill the leader of the human resistance before he is born? How could you resist? Crappy special effects do not detract in any way, shape or form from this movie.

All the actors – including Swarzenegger – were almost unheard of at the time the film was made and – judging from the poor effects they were on a tight budget, which just goes to show that the amount of money spent does not guarantee a success or failure. When I think of some of the massively expensive pieces of rubbish Hollywood turns out, and then compare them to this masterpiece on a shoestring, it makes you wonder.

The first sequel is also very good, but they go downhill from there. There does not seem to be any point in buying the more expensive box sets and I would only recommend the first two movies in the series. Just to confuse you, there are a number of mixed box sets with “special editions,” blah, blah, blah. They are all marketing junk to persuade you to spend more money. Buy “The Terminator,” and “Terminator T2,” none of the rest are worth the money.

As you may have guessed – the fact that there are several sequels and now a TV series, the “Sarah Connor Chronicles,” the first episode does not go all to plan.

7. Forbidden Planet

No, and I do mean, no, list of the best science fiction movies can possibly be complete without the Forbidden planet. Not so much for the film itself, which is a wonderful example of the genre, but for the influence it had.

Without the forbidden planet, there would have been no Star Trek, and although there are no star trek movies on this list, star trek the TV series was instrumental in making sci-fi an acceptable film genre, but it all starts with this movie.

Classic sci-fi at it’s best, the film really does stand the test of time, and is as fresh today as the day it was released. A must-have in any serious science fiction fan’s collection of movies, if you have not seen this, go buy it now and be amazed at the quality of the special effects for 1956 and the electronic music.

This is actually a re-telling of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” but don’t let that put you off, this is an absolutely fantastic pop culture icon. Not to be missed.

8. Barbarella

Yes, I know another film that should not be on anyone’s favorite scifi movie list, but this was and is another classic. This is an interesting take on the sci-fi genre. Sort of a soft – really soft – porn science fiction movie with peace, love and hippy sensibilities, dude. Great film and absolutely worth the seven dollars (or less) that Amazon sell it for.

Jane Fonda really made some poor quality films and this one was up there. But – it is so bad it is good. That sounds unlikely, but trust me – this film is worth every penny. It has been a long time since I saw this one, but it popped into my head as a top ten and I couldn’t let it go.

Of course – now I am slowly coming to the realization that I only have two more films and about 20 on the list, so the next two are going to be tricky because there is one I cannot not add.

9. 1984

Nineteen Eighty Four is another classic. Not as fun and light as the preceding film, but makes this list, not because it is a fantastic film, which it is – although perhaps not as good as it could have been, but because it is, I believe, prophetic.

I very much see George Orwell’s vision of the future coming to life. In real life. In small, insidious ways that slowly but surely erode the individual freedoms.The banks run the world now. I see that more and more clearly as I examine the way the system works. It is entirely based on debt and thought control.

Leave a Reply