Top 5 Sci-Fi Movies Everyone Should Watch Once
Cue the theremin, wait for some extraterrestrials, and add a bit of social commentary. That’s how you make the sci-fi genre, right? Well, something tells us that Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick would say that there’s more to sci-fi than some creepy music, but we’ll leave it to you to decide.
Aliens, astronauts, UFOs, time travel, and apocalypse — you name it, there’s probably a sci-fi film about it. That’s why it’s not easy to make a list of top sci-fi movies. So, where should we start from?
Do we start from the early days of cinema? Well, that seems like a good plan. In the very beginning, Metropolis (1927), a German sci-fi drama movie, relied on groundbreaking visuals that served as a reference for all future dystopias. In fact, the aesthetic of the popular Blade Runner (1982) bears a striking resemblance to Fritz Lang’s world.
Further down the line, we have The War of the Worlds (1953), one of the best tales of alien invasions adapted from H.G. Wells’ classic novel of the same name. Then, in 1964, Stanley Kubrick released Dr. Strangelove which fueled fears of a nuclear holocaust among the audience. After that came another Kubrick masterpiece — 2001: A Space Odyssey, perhaps the most influential sci-fi film of all time.
We’re sure you catch our drift — the history of sci-fi in movies is long and fascinating. If you don’t have time to watch them all, we’ve singled out top 5 sci-fi movies you don’t want to miss.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Few movies are considered as legendary (just look at that opening sequence!) as the first one on our list. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is referred to by many as the greatest science fiction film of all time. So, obviously, it’s one you shouldn’t miss.
2001: A Space Odyssey has taken generations of moviegoers on a once-in-a-lifetime trek through space and time. In this classic, things get complicated when astronauts go to investigate a radio signal sent from the lunar artefact to Jupiter.
Bearing in mind the year it was released, the movie is also monumental because it deals with so many different themes:
- The dawn of man
- Human evolution
- Artificial intelligence
- A journey into the space unknown
- The possibility of extraterrestrial life
And all that intense stuff came into life thanks to Kubrick’s technical bravado. What makes the movie even more watchable is the fact that it’s open to interpretation. From the use of Strauss’s The Blue Danube, to its huge rotating sets, to its climatic light show, and to the famous Kubrick stare, 2001 was way ahead of its time and it set the scene for all other sci-fi movies.
Apart from Jaws’ slow reveal of the shark, which is terror storytelling at its best, no 1970s movie builds anticipation and fuels fear like this Ridley Scott’s extraterrestrial horror classic. Alien is remarkable because of its screenplay, acting, design, and so much more!
A spacecraft, Nostromo, and everyone aboard it travel safely through space. But unbeknownst to the crew, this is just the calm before the storm. They’ll shortly wake up to a distress signal that they’ll need to investigate. This serves as a great catalyst for the ensuing events. So, what happens after this terrifying signal?
Consequently, we find ourselves on a planet where the crew members are one strange-looking creature away from losing their lives. An intense and unforgettable battle follows. Who is the human’s enemy? Most of us know the answer to this question… yet Alien never loses its power, not even after 40 years. Not even when you know what will pop out of that egg. Will Sigourney Weaver’s tough Ellen Ripley save mankind? You’ll have to see it for yourself.
After the release of Alien, outer space became a new playground for our nightmares. Ridley Scott was one of the first to realize that this was the place where no one could hear us scream. The unexpected and the unthinkable will happen in Alien.
Blade Runner (1982)
A few years after releasing Alien, Ridley Scott decided that the world didn’t have enough of sci-fi movies. And he was right; people wanted more. What sci-fi film can beat his extraterrestrial spectacle from 1979? The answer is — his other classic, the excellent Blade Runner. Like most classic movies, it was misunderstood by the audience and critics. But it didn’t take them long to warm up to it. Today, it denotes the peak of cinematic science fiction.
Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s popular Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner gives a bleak vision of a 2019 Los Angeles. In the movie, Tinseltown is nothing but a hellscape where Harrison Ford’s cop Rick Deckard has to track down a group of bioengineered humanoids and “retire” them. Nothing will go wrong, right? After all, this isn’t Deckard’s first rodeo. Wrong. Deckard starts reflecting upon the nature of his own humanity and he takes us on a roller-coaster ride with him and replicants.
Moreover, because the leading character constantly questions what it means to be human, Blade Runner is a literate science fiction film. It includes the philosophy of religion and moral implications. The movie is also a visual feast. Its representation of a dystopian future is still jaw-droppingly beautiful today. Add that to the haunting Vangelis score and the search for replicants, and you get one of the best sci-fi movies ever made.
Ex Machina (2014)
Though we can easily say that the 20th century was the apex of sci-fi movies, the new millennium proves this genre still has some stories left to tell. Ex Machina features relevant storyline, brilliant acting, and stellar directing. Indeed, the 21st century sci-fi movies are giving their 20th century counterparts a run for their money.
The story begins when a programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) goes to the isolated home of a tech genius (Oscar Issac). He thinks he’s there to assist in the development of a humanoid robot, Ava (Alicia Vikander). However, as the artificially intelligent robot reveals more about herself, the programmer realizes that it’s her who’s in control. How can you win against a machine? Is it possible? Find out in Ex Machina.
This gripping movie explores the great theme of sci-fi — what it means to be human. Another good quality of Ex Machina is that it constantly makes us question whether we’re supporting the right side, i.e. humans or robots. Although Ex Machina was shot on a low budget, it still somehow ended up winning the Oscar for the Best Visual Effects.
Moving on to the movie that was a box office hit — Interstellar. Its release proved that the audience still wanted to watch sci-fi movies. There’s something about dystopian futures that beckons us to pay attention. This Christopher Nolan space epic is an adventure worthy of the big screen. But it’s something more as well — it’s an emotional story about the strong bond between a father and a daughter.
In the distant future, the Earth is slowly becoming uninhabitable and scientists need to find a solution. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a NASA physicist, has devised a plan. Namely, he wants to save mankind by transporting the population to a new home. However, NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his team need to go through a wormhole to find out which planet can be mankind’s new Earth.
Although its narrative hooks are more emotional than philosophical, Interstellar still deserves to be featured alongside other sci-fi movies. In fact, every film on our list introduced something new to the movie industry — be it stunning visuals, intense music, or futuristic settings. Interstellar’s contribution to cinema is its acting and a pretty realistic depiction of a black hole which adds to the drama. And don’t get us started on all those brilliant set pieces!
New worlds. Advanced technology. Artificial intelligence. Outer space and beyond. The best sci-fi movies have the power to transport us to places we could never even imagine. They create impossible futures that need to rely on technology for survival. As our list shows, top sci-fi movies feature mind-blowing visuals and innovative ideas. This genre has it all — from fast and funny adventures, to dystopian tragedies which are set in the present, distant future, or, sometimes, in a galaxy far, far away.