As the writer Octavia E Butler once said, ‘Science-fiction frees you to go any place and examine anything.’ That is certainly true for the films on our list of the 100 best science-fiction movies of all time. While some are an opportunity to show off how cool it would be to have a laser sword, the eye-popping size of spaceships and alien civilisations, others act as an opportunity to explore what it means to be human in society today.
Star Wars, of course, remains an epic romp (yes, even the prequels), one that has kept us entertained for nearly 45 years and helped shape cinema as we know it. But sci-fi films also offer a chance for filmmakers to delve deeper; movies like Ex-Machina and WALL-E interrogate our humanity’s ethics and our propensity for destruction, while Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey provide poetic meditations on grief, ambition and evolution.
As Butler said, nothing is off the cards when it comes to science-fiction. Want killer space robots hellbent on destroying the galaxy? Go for it. How about an algorithm that can predict murders? Perhaps not as far-fetched as it initially seemed. And what about a malignant and jealous A.I. that threatens to end life on Earth as we know it? Well, depending on who you ask, that one might have already happened.
In order to choose the 100 best sci-fi movies, then, we decided that it was only right to enlist the assistance of a team of turbocharged experts, including Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, film director Guillermo del Toro, and the mind behind Game of Thrones, George RR Martin. We then threw in a few Time Out writers just for good measure.
The result is a list as expansive as the universe; a definitive selection housing all-time classics like Blade Runner to leftfield entries such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It’s such a good list, you’ll want to clone it.
Written by Alex Plim, Tom Huddleston, Geoff Andrew, Catherine Bray, Dave Calhoun, Cath Clarke, Alex Dudok de Wit, Eddy Frankel, Trevor Johnston, Alim Kheraj, Joshua Rothkopf, Phil de Semlyen, Anna Smith & Keith Uhlich
Want more brilliant film recommendations? Check out our lists for the best horror movies and the best thrillers ever made.