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Best sci-fi movies of all time

  • 100 best sci-fi movies of all time

    Like most movie genres, science fiction goes back almost as far as the medium itself, all the way to 1902 to be exact. That was when Georges Méliès—an innovative genius of many talents—unleashed his 14-minute masterwork: “Le voyage dans la lune,” better known to American audiences as “A Trip to the Moon.” Inspired by the written works of Jules Verne, among other things, and laced with satirical jabs toward the scientific community, the surrealist short follows a group of astronomers as they embark on a trip to the moon. While not scientifically accurate by any means—the astronomers do travel by way of cannon shot, after all—the film did kick off a cinematic trend of depicting hypothetical ideas in anticipation of future realities.  

    To this day, the trend continues, if not to a far greater degree. For example, contemporary scientific breakthroughs like gene editing, the development of robots, virtual reality, cloning, and wearable tech, have all been foreshadowed by the sci-fi genre. Great sci-fi movies are not just a qualitative way to pass the time, but a way to explore the full realm of human potential, as the ideas of today might well become the realities of tomorrow. That said, sometimes a great sci-fi movie is just a great sci-fi movie, especially when comic book adaptations enter the fold. Alternatively, one never truly knows what the future has in store, meaning even the wildest comic book idea could one day spring to life.

    In honor of cinema’s most prophetic genre, Stacker is listing out the best sci-fi films of all time, using IMDb ratings as the data source. Only English-language movies released in the U.S. were considered, and each title needed at least 10,000 votes to qualify. In the case of a rating tie, the film with the higher amount of votes ranked higher on the list. Counting down from #100, here are the best sci-fi films of all time.

    RELATED: Best sci-fi film the year you were born

  • #100. Wonder Woman

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    Year released: 2017
    Director: Patty Jenkins

    Sisters are doing it for themselves in this wildly successful comic book adaptation from Patty Jenkins. Set during World War I, the film starts off on a distant island paradise, where Diana (Gal Gadot)—princess of the Amazons—hones her indomitable powers. Upon discovering the existence of evil in the world, Diana embarks on a quest to end all wars for good, uncovering her true identity along the way. A sequel set in 1984 is slated for release in November of next year.

  • #99. Source Code

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    Year released: 2011
    Director: Duncan Jones

    Like a clever combination of “12 Monkeys” and “Groundhog Day,” this exhilarating thriller finds a soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal) waking up inside a stranger’s body aboard a commuter train. As it turns out, the train has already exploded in the present timeline, and the soldier’s been sent into an alternate reality to find the bomber. Can he solve the mystery before the bomber strikes again in the real world?   

  • #98. Doctor Strange

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    Year released: 2016
    Director: Scott Derrickson

    This 2016 Marvel movie stars Benedict Cumberbatch as neurosurgeon-turned-sorcerer Dr. Strange, who traverses multiple planes and dimensions to protect the world. Featuring jaw-dropping special effects, the film explores various metaphysical themes, all while delivering the kind of action that viewers have come to expect from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • #97. X-Men 2

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    Year released: 2003
    Director: Bryan Singer

    The second “X-Men” installment is also one of the franchise’s best. After a mutant named Nightcrawler makes an unsuccessful attempt on the president’s life, the U.S. government enacts a range of anti-mutant policies, leading to the capture of Professor Xavier and Cyclops. To rescue two of their own, Wolverine and his peers must team up with the likes of Magneto, who’s not exactly the most trustworthy mutant.


  • #96. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    IMDb user rating: 7.5
    Year released: 2013
    Director: Francis Lawrence

    Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen in this acclaimed sequel, which takes place 12 months after the 74th Hunger Games. As Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) embark on a Victor’s Tour, Katniss discovers her previous act of defiance has spurred an uprising against the Capitol. After refusing to quell the rebellion, the two champions are thrown into yet another Hunger Games, where they must once again fight for their survival.

  • #95. Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    Year released: 1948
    Director: Charles Barton

    Putting a humorous twist on a variety of iconic horror stories, this 1948 film finds comedy duo Abbott and Costello playing a pair of hapless railway porters named Chick and Wilbur. After receiving some mysterious crates from Europe, Chick and Wilbur end up crossing paths with Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula, and the Wolf Man. Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia would later call this the “movie that changed [his] life.”



  • #94. The Time Machine

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    Year released: 1960
    Director: George Pal

    Based on the famous novella by H.G. Wells, this 1960 sci-fi film sends H. George Wells (Rod Taylor) himself into the future by way of a time machine. At first, Wells thinks he’s come upon a futuristic utopia, only to discover things aren’t as peaceful as they seem. To show the world as it whizzes by, the movie employed an ingenious time-lapse effect, and subsequently won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.




  • #93. The Secret of NIMH

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    Year released: 1982
    Director: Don Bluth

    In this dark animated adventure, a field mouse must cure her son’s illness before their home is destroyed by a field plow. Desperately seeking help, she visits a colony of super-intelligent rats, and soon discovers the secret of NIMH. This film marked the directorial debut of former Disney animator Don Bluth, who would go on to make animated features like “An American Tail” and “The Land Before Time.”

  • #92. Forbidden Planet

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    Year released: 1956
    Director: Fred M. Wilcox

    In this groundbreaking 1956 sci-fi flick, a team of astronauts come up against their worst nightmares while investigating the disappearance of a planet colony. Loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” this was the first film to be set entirely on a foreign planet. Equally worthy of note is the forward-thinking electronic score, which helped pave the way for an entirely new genre of music.

  • #91. Star Trek: First Contact

    IMDb user rating: 7.6
    Year released: 1996
    Director: Jonathan Frakes

    Directed by Commander William T. Riker himself (aka Jonathan Frakes), this “Star Trek” film pits the crew of the USS Enterprise-E against The Borg, an evil group of cybernetic aliens. Led by Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), the Starfleet journeys into the past, hoping to stop The Borg from changing the course of history. Specifically, Picard and his team must ensure humans and Vulcans make first contact, as they once did ages ago.