The 100 best sci-fi movies

Leading sci-fi experts, filmmakers, science fiction writers, film critics and scientists pick the best sci-fi movies ever made

This is a golden age of science fiction cinema. Wander into your local multiplex and you’re faced with a choice between aliens and superheroes, giant robots and dystopian futures, all presented in shimmering 3D with top-of-the-line digital effects. Purists love to quibble about quality, but they don’t really have a leg to stand on: sure, many modern movies prize spectacle over substance, but that’s nothing new, and the likes of ‘Gravity’, ‘Under the Skin’, ‘Moon’ and the Marvel series prove that smart sci-fi is still very much in demand.

So how did we get here? How did this hugely popular but critically frowned-upon genre go from cardboard spaceships on strings at the local drive-in to the world-conquering pinnacle of blockbuster success? To find out, we created ‘The 100 best sci-fi movies’, a definitive look at the genre from the silent spectacle of 1927’s ‘Metropolis’ to the emotional intimacy of 2013’s ‘Her’. The results are inspiring, enlightening and often surprising, with slam-bang Hollywood mega-hits nestling alongside French arthouse oddities to create a new, inclusive definition of what the term ‘science fiction’ really means.

To make the list, we polled the leading lights in the fields of both science and science fiction, from world-beating physicists to award-winning authors, from Oscar-nominated filmmakers to the stars of film and TV. Where else can you find ‘Pacific Rim’ director Guillermo del Toro rubbing shoulders with ‘Game of Thrones’ creator George RR Martin, or C-3PO himself, Anthony Daniels, trading favourites with Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse? How many sci-fi faves do horror-meister Stephen King, ‘The Thing’ director John Carpenter and TV science hero Jim Al-Khalili have in common?

The result is an epic feature that celebrates the established masterpieces while also finding room for those small-scale oddities that you might have missed. We hope it’ll serve not just as a fun read for film fans, but as an inspiration for future directors, writers and perhaps even budding scientists. Just look at all the wonderful things you can create with a little imagination.

Produced by Alex Plim. Written by Geoff Andrew, Catherine Bray, Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Alex Dudok de Wit, Eddy Frankel, Tom Huddleston, Trevor Johnston, Joshua Rothkopf, Anna Smith and Keith Uhlich.

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Comments

9 comments
Joseph R
Joseph R

Okay, so Godzilla, the film that spawned the entire tokusatsu genre doesn't make it on the list, but Pacific Rim, a film that would never have been made if the kaiju eiga wasn't a thing does. How does that make sense?

Ed N
Ed N

"the likes of ‘Gravity’, ‘Under the Skin’, ‘Moon’ and the Marvel series prove that smart sci-fi is still very much in demand"


Wow.


SPOILER ALERT (though, only crap will be "spoiled")


I stopped watching "Gravity" about 10 minutes in.


Apparently, the producers couldn't hire a high-school senior as a science consultant.


There is a scene, absolutely critical to the story-line, in which two astronauts are in free-fall, about 5 feet apart, holding onto a common rope. They are motionless relative to each other.


Yet, one is unable to prevent the other from falling to the Earth, because she isn't strong enough.


Lifting a tiny speck of lint - too small to be seen - on Earth would require more effort.


The real problem would be to pull as gently as possible.


It was ludicrous. Why not portray the Earth as a flat square, while they were at it?


"The Moon" had an absurd scene, also, at which point I quit watching. It was exceedingly dull, in any event.


High-school students should find these movies embarrassing (sadly, few do).


To characterize them as "smart" is pathetic.


I haven't seen "Under the Skin", so my comments don't pertain to it, as far as I know.










David W
David W

Dimensions: A Line, A Loop, A Tangle of Threads makes my top 100 list.  Little known, but I love it.

William F
William F

A list with Star wars or CE3T in the top ten can not be a serious one. Absoluty right with just one: 2001 a space odissey 

David S
David S

I have never considered Ghostbusters to be a science-fiction movie.

trangthetroll
trangthetroll

complete and utterly wrong on so many levels.

A trip to the Moon, The Day the Earth Stood Still, War of the Worlds are not in the top ten. Ridiculous.

Her, Under the Skin, Gravity, Barbarella, Avatar, Star trek 2009, should not be on any best ever list.


AI was an abomination, rip off of Disney Pinocchio, then warped into some psychotic version, where parent replace their sick and dying kid with a robot? then when magically their real kid gets healed they abandon this robot kid on the side of the road. come on man sheesh.

Lets see whats missing...20k leagues under the sea, Equilibrium,  Brave New World, The Island, Escape from New York, Mad Max ( original), Mad Max beyond Thunderdome, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, BattleStar Galactica (it was a theatrical film before tv show) I could go on.

Starship troopers is another abomination that is an insult to Robert HeinLein and one of the greatest sci-fi books of all time.

THX-1138 is number 93???WTF you have the adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai higher than that? It was Lucas's first movie, and one of the early firsts about dystopian society. freaked me out as a kid.

I'm not sure what the criteria was but wow what a mess.


mike c
mike c

Can't believe that Danny Boyle's 'Sunshine' wasn't included.