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50 best space movies of all time

  • #10. Aliens (1986)

    - Director: James Cameron
    - Stacker score: 93.3
    - Metascore: 84
    - IMDb user rating: 8.3
    - Runtime: 137 minutes

    In several places on this list, sequels fared worse in the hearts of critics and audiences than the film that came before. Such is the case with “Aliens,” the sequel to 1979’s “Alien,” though Empire magazine named it the greatest sequel of all time. The franchise has yet to recapture the magic since “Aliens,” a terrifying thriller of galactic proportions starring Sigourney Weaver in an Emmy-nominated performance as Ellen Ripley, a hero for a spacefaring generation.

  • #9. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

    - Director: Irvin Kershner
    - Stacker score: 94.4
    - Metascore: 82
    - IMDb user rating: 8.7
    - Runtime: 124 minutes

    Another of the best-received sequels of all time, Empire had a lot to live up to when it premiered three years after “Star Wars: Episode IV.” Luckily, the story matured from “chosen one saves universe” into a more complex series of blows and counter-attacks. With cinema’s most famous twist in the middle, Empire recaptures all the magic of the original and further explores the galaxy far, far away.

  • #8. The Right Stuff (1983)

    - Director: Philip Kaufman
    - Stacker score: 94.4
    - Metascore: 91
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Runtime: 193 minutes

    The films on this list that deal with America’s space program each focus on a different period. Such is the case with “The Right Stuff,” which focuses on the Mercury program of supersonic flight, sometimes in the sub-orbital region of space, which took place between 1958 and 1963. Based on the bestselling book by the same name, “The Right Stuff” was, like many others on this list, a box office failure though it was beloved by critics and remains a modern classic.

  • #7. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

    - Director: Steven Spielberg
    - Stacker score: 94.4
    - Metascore: 91
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Runtime: 115 minutes

    “E.T. phone home,” mutters the titular character as he attempts to contact his home planet, and audiences around the world fell in love. The timeless story of an intimate friendship between a boy and his alien friend, “E.T.” has resonated with generations of families, and is widely considered one of the greatest films of all time.

  • #6. Apollo 11 (2019)

    - Director: Todd Douglas Miller
    - Stacker score: 95
    - Metascore: 88
    - IMDb user rating: 8.2
    - Runtime: 93 minutes

    The only documentary on this list, “Apollo 11” consists solely of archival footage and is absent of narration, commentary from talking heads, or re-creations. The film presents the story of the titular mission, moonwalk and all. There’s not much else to say here, just a word of advice: see it on the biggest screen you can find.

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  • #5. Solaris (1972)

    - Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
    - Stacker score: 95.5
    - Metascore: 90
    - IMDb user rating: 8.1
    - Runtime: 167 minutes

    At the same time Americans were celebrating a comeback victory in the Space Race, Soviet Russians were dealing with their own questions of space travel and communism’s place in the future. Such is the case with “Solaris,” a Soviet film, which questions the limits of human rationality in a gorgeous, haunting, nearly three-hour production.

  • #4. Alien (1979)

    - Director: Ridley Scott
    - Stacker score: 96.6
    - Metascore: 89
    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Runtime: 117 minutes

    Facehugger, Xenomorph, Chestburster; the titular alien in “Alien” takes many forms, all of them terrifying, as the creation of gory special effects and a dark imagination. The crew of the spaceship Nostromo is hopelessly outmatched against this unique evil, though they never stop trying to kill it, even as more and more humans fall victim to the alien’s attacks. A straightforward human-versus-nature story, the movie manages to slip in a biting critique of mega-corporations which are more interested in the bottom line than human lives.

  • #3. Gravity (2013)

    - Director: Alfonso Cuarón
    - Stacker score: 96.6
    - Metascore: 96
    - IMDb user rating: 7.7
    - Runtime: 91 minutes

    Cuarón, the five-time Oscar winner and director of “Children of Men” and “Roma,” tried his hand at an outer-space thriller in 2013’s seven-time Oscar winner “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as stranded astronauts doing whatever it takes to return home. As evidenced by the awards, Gravity was received warmly by both critics and fans, who praised the realistic visuals, performances from the leads, and stirring score.

  • #2. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

    - Director: George Lucas
    - Stacker score: 98.3
    - Metascore: 90
    - IMDb user rating: 8.6
    - Runtime: 121 minutes

    What is there to say about “Star Wars?” The 1977 film has established itself in every corner of our collective consciousness, from the global fame of its cast to the innumerable sci-fi and adventure films it influenced, not to mention the films in the franchise still being released every couple of years. The soundtrack is iconic, the characters are legendary, and the story of a chosen hero leading the galaxy to victory has inspired millions of young people all across the globe.

  • #1. WALL·E (2008)

    - Director: Andrew Stanton
    - Stacker score: 100
    - Metascore: 95
    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Runtime: 98 minutes

    “WALL·E’s” striking depiction of Earth as a barren wasteland, destroyed by the forces of climate and human overconsumption, is made even more impactful through the film’s choice to not include human dialogue for much of the film. The titular robot is an emotive trash compactor, the only one left on Earth, meant to clean up the planet’s waste; imagine his shock when a futuristic robot arrives, searching the planet for any sign of organic life. When humans are finally shown, they’re nearly comatose and incapable of social relationships, as work has become obsolete thanks to automation. A story about finding a purpose in the universe's vastness, “WALL·E” has the right mix of charm, complex storytelling, beautiful visuals and soul-searching questions to land at the top of our list.

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