The 150 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

Ora Sawyers

From space odysseys to star wars, alien invaders to guardians of the galaxy — the best sci-fi films from the beginning of the movies until now

Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away, Georges Méliès never sends a bunch of folks on a trip to the moon. The adventures of space explorers and time travelers, androids and alien races don’t thrill a generation of kids chomping popcorn at Saturday matinees. The name Luke Skywalker means nothing to anyone; neither does Marty McFly, “Mad” Max Rockatansky, or Godzilla. Giant prehistoric monsters aren’t awakened from centuries-long slumbers and don’t wreck a single metropolis. E.T. never makes it to Earth, so he never has to go home. Thomas “Neo” Anderson is just another computer programmer. HAL 9000 is just a calculator.

How boring the movies would be — and how robbed we audiences would be — if science fiction never existed, or never made it past the that’s-just-for-academics stage of evolution. Ever since that bullet-like rocket gave the Moon a black eye in 1902 and added an element of fantasy into a very young art form, those speculative and imaginative stories set in the far reaches of space and/or on our own scorched earth have been an integral part of a well-balanced cinematic diet. These films have given us visions of utopias and dystopias, asked deep questions about the human experience and the pros and cons of artificial intelligence, thrilled us and made us think. Once upon a time, sci-fi was considered nothing more than a niche for nerds. Now it’s a genre wide enough to encompass everything from Ad Astra to Zardoz.

So when it came time to rank the greatest sci-fi movies of all time, we couldn’t stop at 100. Instead, we went bigger and bulked it up with an extra 50 entries, all the better to pay lip service to more of the pulpy, the poppy and the perverse entries — not to mention some of our personal favorites — that don’t normally get shout-outs in these kinds of lists. There were more than a few arguments when it came to the picks. (It was also decided early on that superhero movies as a whole usually fall out the parameters of science fiction, so you won’t the MCU, et al., canon on this list — with one very notable exception.) Here are our picks for the best the genre has to offer. Live long and prosper. May the force be with you.

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