It was hard to narrow down this list to ten movies. I could easily double the number of movies and still have some left off. However, I’ve tried to choose the movies that people genuinely should see – movies that leave you feeling that they’ve changed you in some way. So, without further ado, below are ten of the best science-fiction movies of all time. In no particular order, of course,
1. Brazil (1985)
You wouldn’t expect the darkest movie on this list to be written and directed by a member of the Monty Python gang, but that’s exactly the case here. Terry Gilliam crafts a nightmare dystopia with Brazil, but still manages to wrangle a lot of comedy from it. Jonathan Pryce plays Sam Lowry, a man who becomes obsessed with a woman he keeps seeing in his dreams. His mundane job and his mundane lifestyle is suddenly altered by this desire to find the woman. With a cast including Robert de Niro, Michael Palin, Jim Broadbent and Ian Holm, Brazil is a wild ride from start to finish.
2. Children of Men (2006)
Director Alfonso Cuaron presents another dystopian future in Children of Men. This one is set in a world where the human race can no longer produce babies. However, the whole future of society is thrust into uncertainty when Clive Owen’s character Theo Faron is hired to protect a woman. A woman who is the first on the planet to be pregnant in eighteen years.
3. Aliens (1986)
Obviously Alien is another great sci-fi movie. But Aliens is a superior sequel and earns the only Xenomorph-related spot on this list. Written and directed by James Cameron, Aliens sees Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley return to the place where she encountered the alien creature. However, this time there is more than one monster to deal with and the world of the Xenomorph is scarily expanded upon.
4. Inception (2010)
Arguably Christopher Nolan’s greatest film and easily his most original concept, Inception is a mind-bending masterpiece. Leonardo DiCaprio leads a team including Tom Hardy, Ellen Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt into the head of Cillian Murphy. Their mission is to implant an idea into his head by traversing several layers of dreams in order to reach his subconscious. It may sound complex, but Nolan makes sure we understand what is happening the whole way through. With tense action, incredible world-building and just a pure entertainment drive, Inception may be the best sci-fi movie of the last ten years.
5. Metropolis (1927)
Frirz Lang’s Metropolis still, impressively, holds up after being nearly a century old. It also serves as one of the first feature length sci-fi movies. In the year 2030, the story follows Freder, from the elitist rich, and Maria, a mere worker, as they try and bridge the damaging class divide. Lang doesn’t just attempt to make a social commentary with this film, but also uses the most advanced special effects at the time to deliver something akin to a work of art.
6. Back to the Future (1985)
Probably everyone’s favourite movie, Back to the Future is something guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Marty McFly is an unwilling time traveller, thrust thirty years into his past where he ends up meeting the younger versions of his parents. However, Emmett ‘Doc’ Brown is there to lend a hand and the two work together to get Marty back to his present.
7. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
James Cameron knows how to deliver a sequel. This time, he is tackling a sequel to his own property, The Terminator. Sarah (Linda Hamilton) and John Connor (Edward Furlong) find themselves pursued by the newest version of the Terminator – the T1000. Played menacingly by Robert Patrick, this shape-shifting monster of liquid metal proves a worthy adversary and cashes in on its effects. In a weird, but welcome, twist of fate, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator is now the protector and both Cameron and Arnie revel in making him the hero this time around. The action is raw, the stakes are higher and the quotes are pretty iconic. A movie that sticks in the brain, Terminator 2 is another excellent sequel.
8. The Matrix (1999)
The Wachowskis redefined the action genre with their sci-fi epic, The Matrix. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Lawrence Fishburne star in this film where the human race is unknowingly trapped within the Matrix – a reality created by machines who are using humans for their own nefarious purposes. However, some people have realised what the Matrix is and Thomas Anderson steps forward as the chosen one – the hero who can unveil the truth about the Matrix and destroy the machines behind it. The Matrix is more than just the iconic slow-mo bullet dodge, it’s an unforgettable, thrilling ride through a crazy world.
9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
It’s hard to encapsulate exactly what Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is about. It begins in prehistoric Africa, following a group of monkeys as they learn the art of war. Then, in the far future where space travel is common, we watch as a group of scientists discover a huge monolith. After, we are introduced to the most famous character in the film – the computer HAL. HAL has become sentient and is intent on sabotaging the actions of the two spacemen onboard its ship. It’s not just an iconic movie featuring hundreds of parodied moments, but Kubrick’s film goes beyond entertainment and poses questions that some people still haven’t been able to answer.
10. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
It would be hard to design a list of the best sci-fi movies of all time and not include a Star Wars movie. The Empire Strikes Back is often considered the best of the Star Wars franchise. With no need to reintroduce us to the lead characters, Empire kicks off with a space battle on the icy world of Hoth. Introducing us to Master Yoda, Lando Calrissian and Boba Fett just to name a few, Star Wars has always been a franchise reliant on its unique characters. But Empire delivers more than this – a thrilling story with devastating twists and top-notch action sequences.