Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
It seems like sci-fi has been riding high at the cinema lately. In the past year we’ve seen such major releases as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Trek Beyond, Arrival, and Passengers. With the highly anticipated Ghost in the Shell opening this weekend and movies like Blade Runner 2049 and Alien: Covenant scheduled to be released later this year I thought it was as good a time as any to list my favorite sci-fi films of all time. Here they are from number 10 to number 1.
10. Jurassic Park (1993)
Written by Michael Crichton, directed by Steven Spielberg, and featuring some of the coolest-looking dinosaurs you’ve ever seen, this one was bound to please and it didn’t disappoint. It’s spawned three sequels so far with more on the way, but this one starring Jeff Goldblum, Sam Neill, and Laura Dern is still the best of the bunch.
9. Interstellar (2014)
Matthew McConaughey stars as a single father and space traveler charged with leading a mission to save the Earth but torn by the fact his journey will likely result in never seeing his daughter grow up. Emotional, thought-provoking, and well written, this film is the best sci-fi Hollywood has produced in the last few years.
8. Moon (2009)
Sam Rockwell puts on a one-man show under the excellent direction of Duncan Jones and an assist from Kevin Spacey who voices his robot sidekick. There are no big action scenes or expensive CGI. This film is simply a magnificent study on what it is to be human and how easy it is for corporations to dehumanize us all.
7. Aliens (1986)
Sigourney Weaver proved guys weren’t the only badass sci-fi heroes in Ridley Scott’s Alien. In James Cameron’s 1986 sequel, she was even bigger and badder. This time she’s up against a whole slew of the space monsters and when she finally comes face to face with their queen, it’s a battle you won’t soon forget.
6. Gattaca (1997)
Ethan Hawke and Jude Law try to find their place in a future where your DNA determines your lot in life. Hawke plays a flawed young man willing to do anything to fulfill his dream of space travel while Law plays a genetically superior man that’s destroyed his potential but might just be able to help Hawke achieve his own.
5. Star Wars (1977)
The film that proved sci-fi could appeal to the cinematic masses and that hooked a certain seven-year-old boy in Ohio on the genre for life. As I sat in my parents’ car watching Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, and Darth Vader on the big screen at the drive-in I knew I was watching something special. Forty years later, it’s spawned a host of sequels, prequels, and spin-offs that show no sign of losing steam.
4. Inception (2010)
Christopher Nolen, director of the best superhero movie ever, also directed two of my favorite sci-fi films. Interstellar is great, this one is even better. Leonardo DiCaprio leads a fantastic cast deep into the mind of an industrial scion to complete a complex mission with one very simple goal: to plant an idea.
3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Sequels rarely do the original justice, but this one did that and more. As great as Star Wars is, this follow-up is even better. Creator George Lucas handed over the director and screenplay reins to Irvin Kershner and Lawrence Kasden and those two men took Lucas’s vision to the next level. Boba Fett, the carbonite freeze scene, the lightsaber duel, the big reveal concerning the relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader… simply awesome.
2. The Matrix (1999)
The Wachowski’s mind-bending film blew away audiences at the turn of the century with its excellent script, bullet-time cinematography, and iconic performances by Keanu Reeves, Lawrence Fishburne, and Hugo Weaving. The concept, the pacing, and the action in this film make it one you can enjoy again and again. The movie’s two sequels didn’t measure up, but this one is an all-time great.
1. Blade Runner (1982)
Simply the best sci-fi film ever made. It wasn’t a big hit when it was released, but over time it’s grown into a classic. Based on a novel by Phillip K. Dick, this futuristic noir features stand-out performances by Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. It also includes a great cast of secondary characters played by Edward James Olmos, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, and William Sanderson. In my opinion, it’s the masterpiece of director Ridley Scott’s long and stellar career.
And to avoid short-changing some other favorites, here are a dozen Honorable Mentions: Alien (1979), The Road Warrior (1981), Predator (1987), Total Recall (1990), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), Stargate (1994), The Fifth Element (1997), Cube (1997), Contact (1997), Dark City (1998), Pitch Black (2000), Minority Report (2002)