List of Good Science Fiction Movies (

By:Robert Vaux
Date: -

Many people consider science fiction a "lesser" movie genre, but that's only because it is extremely difficult to pull off properly. When someone does, however, it transcends almost any other form of storytelling in terms of depth, complexity and profundity of ideas. Numerous little-known gems are littered through the list of science fiction films, from Alex Proyas's "Dark City" to Andrew Niccol's "Gattaca." The list of good science fiction movies generally boils down to about a dozen titles.


Fritz Lang set the bar for the genre with this 1927 classic about a timeless city where faceless workers toil beneath the machinations of a ruling elite. It's best known for its female robot, created to replace the workers' beautiful leader Maria (Brigitte Helm).

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Robert Wise adapted Harry Bates' story "Farewell to the Master" into a haunting 1951 parable about man's capacity for destruction and the need to overcome Cold War suspicions. The catch phrase "Klaatu barada nikto" has since become a genre classic.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

On the other end of the paranoia meter comes Don Siegel's terrifying 1956 classic about seed pods from outer space that replace human beings with emotionless drones. It's been remade three times and none of them have yet to equal the power of the original.

Forbidden Planet

Fred Wilcox brought Shakespeare's "The Tempest" into the space age in this tale of a seemingly benevolent scientist (Walter Pidgeon) and his daughter (Anne Francis) exploring the remnants of an alien civilization on a far-off world. Their robot assistant Robby became so popular that it starred in a series of movies on its own.


In 1968, Stanley Kubrick created what is widely considered the greatest science fiction movie ever made. Spanning the breadth of human civilization, it tells the tale of alien beings who first gave humanity intelligence and the ways we used and misused it in our efforts to understand who and what they are.

Planet of the Apes

1968 was a banner year for science fiction movies. Franklin Schaffner's masterpiece about a world "where apes evolved from men" was equal parts epic adventure, social satire and chilling cautionary tale. It spawned an entire franchise of sequels--and the final twist still packs a wallop.


Not the remake with George Clooney, but the 1972 Soviet original directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, positing an alien organism occupying the entire surface of a planet and a group of scientists in an orbiting satellite who begin to interact with it in strange and unpredictable ways.

Star Wars

Not even George Lucas could have anticipated the ways his swashbuckling 1977 update of Buck Rogers serials changed movie making--and pop culture in general--forever. Despite its clunky dialogue and subsequent tinkering (Greedo did not shoot first), it remains the quintessential popcorn picture.


Ridley Scott expertly blended science fiction and horror in this 1979 outing about a deep space cargo ship that takes on an unwelcome visitor. Its Lovecraftian notions of a hostile universe combine with surprisingly normal human drama to create a one-of-a-kind exercise in fear. It also features some actress named Sigourney Weaver who went on to do rather well with her part.


Steven Spielberg contributed a number of masterpieces and near-masterpieces to the genre, but the champion still remains his 1982 fantasy about a lonely little boy (Henry Thomas) who befriends a stranded alien in the suburbs of Southern California.

Blade Runner

Initially lost in "E.T."'s wake, Ridley Scott's 1982 "future noir" has since risen in stature to become the final word on dystopian visions. Harrison Ford stars as a burned out detective assigned to hunt down a band of rogue androids, who ironically may be more human than the authorities who pursue them.

The Matrix

Though blunted by a pair of less-than-stellar sequels, the Wachowski brothers' 1999 sci-fi thriller remains a definitive statement of life in the Internet age. In its dark future, humanity lives in a virtual world controlled by machines, while a band of resistance fighters struggles to free them by turning that same virtual world against its controllers.