Here is a list of some of the most influential and thought-provoking sci-fi movies of all time.

They will certainly rock your world and make you question your way of thinking and believing in what is possible. These sci-fi movies had a great impact on me the first time I watched them and, to be honest, I’ve re-watched them several times in a state of awe.

They will surely have the same effect on you too and influence you to develop a different perspective on the way you observe life and the very foundations of reality.

1. Alien (1979)

A space freighter ship “Nostromo” is coming back to Earth packed with 20 million metric tons of mineral ore. Its 7-member crew wakes from deep sleep to find a distress signal from a nearby planet and to respond to it.

We follow them as they land and investigate the surface of the planet only to find a derelict alien vessel carrying something that will endanger both their mission and themselves. Not only are their lives at stake but now the whole Earth is in danger from the unknown cargo they brought back with them on board from the alien ship.

2. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A dystopian future portrayed in a most disturbing Kubrick directed manner.

We follow young gang members from one violent incident to another in a not too distant future set in Great Britain. We observe the gang leader Alex as he redeems his violent excesses by participating in an experimental police program that will change his very essence and decisions.

A sort of a satire, this movie points out to moral implication of authorities to interfere and change the lives of individuals in order to adapt them to general rules and reinstate them into society as functional citizens – against their will.

3. Solaris (1972)

A thought-provoking masterpiece from the director Andrei Tarkovsky will pull you in and leave you in a state of wonder long after the movie finishes. We follow a psychologist who is sent to investigate a space station crew gone mad.

The station is orbiting a planet that is showing strange activity that is affecting the crew in the most disturbing way. As he tries to find out the cause of insanity he gradually starts to question the circumstances and disturbing occurrences that affect both the crew and him as the time goes on.

4. Inception (2010)

An amazing sci-fi thriller about a thief who is breaking into the most hidden places – people’s dreams.

Our main character makes a living by stealing valuable secrets from the depths of his victims’ subconsciousness during sleep. His skills made him a high-profile player in the world of corporate espionage yet also made him an international fugitive who lost all that is dear to him.

He is offered a way out, a redemption, by completing this last job that would erase all the wrongs from the past. The knack is that he and his team have to place something in their victim’s mind instead of stealing.

5. The Road Warrior (1981)

In a post-apocalyptic world where the only precious commodity is gasoline, there is no state of society as we know it.

In the desert lands of Australia, the only law that is on power is the law of the strongest. We join a lone drifter Max who joins a small outpost rich with precious fuel but besieged and outnumbered by bandits.

They offer Max full tanks of fuel for a way out of the barricade. A desperate man with nothing to lose will risk to sacrifice himself in order to save many from certain death from the bloodthirsty car gang lurking outside of the outpost walls.

6. The Matrix (1999)

One of the cult sci-fi movies, The Matrix, redefined the genre and became the inspiration for so many people because of its jaw-dropping visual effects, soundtrack, and, most of all, its mind-blowing story. A definitive must see a flick about awakening from a world of illusion and deceit and realization that anything is possible.

Most of all, the Matrix is highly regarded for its deep philosophical premise. The apparent story shows us a war between machines and men. We follow Neo, a hacker who is investigating another group of hackers, and eventually, his curiosity leads him to uncover a great scheme of things and a true nature of reality of his world.

7. Blade Runner (1982)

This cult classic is set in a cold, dark and hostile Los Angeles in a not so distant future of the year 2019. The megacorporation Tyrell is creating replicants (humanoid androids) with the only purpose of doing hard labor for humans in the distant Earth colonies.

The replicants are physically stronger than humans and also have a false consciousness about their human origin, as well as the ability to develop their own emotions.

However, in order to ensure the eventual consequences of replicants’ emotional growth, the Tyrell corporation made them with a lifespan of only 4 years. The plot thickens when a 6 member group of a new Nexus 6 model of replicants escapes from the distant colonies and leaves a trail of bodies in its wake.

A “Blade Runner” gets the task of tracking them down and destroying them before they can do more damage on Earth. As he tracks the replicants down he will question the very essence of what defines and makes him a human being.

8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

A true masterpiece and one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time. A must-see movie for all sci-fi fans worldwide. 4 million years before Christ, apes on Earth discover a strange black monolith and soon one of the apes takes a bone and uses it as a tool and as a weapon. The evolution of man begins. 2000 years after Christ scientists find another monolith in the Clavius crater on the Moon.

The monolith is beaming unusual radio waves towards Jupiter. In 2001, the spaceship Discovery is sent to follow the signal and reveal its source.

The 5-man crew is being supervised by an onboard computer H.A.L. 9000. HAL is an ultra-computer that can reproduce and do most of the human brain functions faster and with more sophistication. Soon the crew starts to doubt HAL’s intentions towards them during the mission.

9. Gattaca (1997)

A movie about daring to dream, facing fears, and achieving success despite the obstacles and odds working against you. A truly inspiring movie about how to overcome personal limits by sheer strength of willpower and hard work. Based in a dystopian future where children are genetically modified before birth to be healthy, smart, and better in every way than the unmodified ones.

Challenged with his inferiority an ambitious young man takes the identity of a successful athlete in order to fulfill his dream of space travel. A movie filled with amazing and inspiring words of how we can succeed against all odds and limits imposed upon us.

There are sci-fi movies I did not include in this article and I hope that you could point them out for the rest of our readers. Feel free to discuss and recommend your favorite sci-fi movies in the comment section below. In that way, we will fill in the blanks in our must-see sci-fi favorites list.

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Dana Barth

    One that should have been on the list is THX1138

  2. Magnus Thulin

    #10 Avatar.

  3. ARichard Schroeder

    The Forbin Project — the machines win, give us utopia, and we hate it

  4. mike

    Lucy -with scarlet johansson.
    (all we have to do is to use even 40% and without the hallucinogens…)

  5. Jim Roman

    The Thirteenth Floor uses multiple levels of artificial realities.

  6. Elaine Jackson

    Twelve Monkeys (the film)… Oblivion…

  7. Frank Drake

    Your list is very good and includes some the very best I agree.
    To add to it, I would point out that no best of list can be complete without acknowledging the classics. We all know why? Its because the sci fi classics were the trail blazers of the genre.
    These classics listed here were so successful that they have been reproduced successfully afterwards for younger audiences of today.

    1. The day The Earth Stood Still – 1951
    2. Invasion of The Body Snatchers – 1956
    3. War of The Worlds -195..
    4. The Time Machine – 196..

  8. Lateef Aamir

    I agree that your list is very good. I would also add these. A couple of these have dual genre’s.

    The Abyss
    Children of Men
    Dark City
    Donnie Darko
    Journey to the Center of the Earth – 1959
    Logan’s Run
    The Thing – 1982
    They Live

  9. Evil-Rat

    Soylent Green – 1973. Last movie for Edward G. Robinson, also starring Charlton Heston and Leigh Taylor-Young.

    You really have to see this one if you like dystopian films – or even if you do not. Combination of police procedural science fiction and action films, this one addresses a slew of topics we are dealing with(or ignoring) today: overpopulation, pollution(hello, China!), resource depletion, ecological disaster, greenhouse effect, and mass poverty. Based off of an award winning 1966 novel “Make Room! Make Room!” by Harry Harrison.

    The world has too many people on it, and they have little to eat except for a basic ‘hardtack’-type cracker called ‘Soylent Green’, which is supposedly made from algae collected from the Earth’s dying seas.

    WELL worth the time to watch. Might even encourage the viewers to consider the possible future that we may be leaving our descendants because of our ‘throw-a-way’ consumer culture.

  10. Arcilio Pinto

    The 1969 The Illustrated Man..

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