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50 best alien movies

  • #20. They Live (1988)

    - Director: John Carpenter
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.75
    - IMDb user rating: 7.3
    - Metascore: 55
    - Runtime: 94 min

    This sci-fi action horror movie centers on a drifter (Roddy Piper) who gets high-tech sunglasses and learns that society’s ruling class are really aliens who are manipulating the public to adhere to the status quo and needlessly spend money by spreading subliminal messages in the media. Director John Carpenter has said that “They Live” is about “yuppies and unrestrained capitalism,” and that the political messaging was based on his criticisms of how Ronald Reagan’s “Reaganomics” policies unhealthily influenced mass media commercialization in the 1980s.

  • #19. District 9 (2009)

    - Director: Neill Blomkamp
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.75
    - IMDb user rating: 7.9
    - Metascore: 81
    - Runtime: 112 min

    In an alternate 1982, sick and insectoid aliens are found in Johannesburg, South Africa and forced into an internment camp called “District 9.” Years later, a human government agent’s (Sharlto Copley) DNA begins to mutate after he’s exposed to the alien weaponry, causing him to seek refuge in District 9 as tensions between the two species escalate. The film’s premise was inspired by events that took place in Cape Town during the apartheid era, and it went on to receive four Oscar nominations (including Best Picture and Best Visual Effects).

  • #18. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

    - Director: Don Siegel
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.78
    - IMDb user rating: 7.7
    - Metascore: 92
    - Runtime: 80 min

    An alien invasion begins in the fictional Californian town of Santa Mira after extraterrestrial spores fall from the sky and grow into huge seed pods, each of which produces a duplicate copy of a pre-existing human. Little by little, local doctor Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) realizes that townspeople are being quietly replaced by the aliens, and rushes to prevent more of his neighbors from being switched. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was adapted from Jack Finney’s 1954 sci-fi novel, “The Body Snatchers.”

  • #17. Predator (1987)

    - Director: John McTiernan
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.78
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Metascore: 45
    - Runtime: 107 min

    Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in “Predator” as Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, the leader of a paramilitary rescue team tasked with saving hostages in a guerrilla-occupied Central American territory. During their mission, the team encounters a technologically advanced alien known only as “Predator,” who begins picking them off one by one. Although the film initially received mixed reviews, it was hailed as a classic action film in retrospect.

  • #16. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

    - Director: Robert Wise
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.78
    - IMDb user rating: 7.7
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 92 min

    Based on Harry Bates’s short story “Farewell to the Master,” this sci-fi classic opens as an extraterrestrial spacecraft suddenly lands near the White House. A humanoid alien named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) exits with his robot bodyguard, Gort (Lock Martin), and insists that he has an extremely important message to deliver to Earth’s leaders. Although Klaatu is initially cast out by government leaders, he is taken in by a kindly woman and her son, who teach the world a moral fable about tolerance and unity. The film was directed by Robert Wise, who went on to direct iconic musical movies like “West Side Story” and “The Sound of Music.”

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  • #15. Man Facing Southeast (1986)

    - Director: Eliseo Subiela
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.79
    - IMDb user rating: 7.7
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 105 min

    In an Argentinian psychiatric hospital, Dr. Julio Denis (Lorenzo Quinteros) is surprised when his patient, Rantés (Hugo Soto), claims that he is actually an alien whose image was projected to Earth from light-years away. When Rantés begins to exhibit seemingly supernatural powers that support his claim, local authorities attempt to hide the man from public life and “fix” his behavior with electroshock therapy and excess medication—against Denis’s better judgment.

  • #14. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

    - Director: Steven Spielberg
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.84
    - IMDb user rating: 7.6
    - Metascore: 90
    - Runtime: 138 min

    Ordinary electric lineman Roy Neary’s life gets turned upside down when he sees an unidentified flying object that he’s convinced is a UFO. Roy risks alienating his loved ones, home, and career when he dedicates his life to finding the “truth” about alien life, coming into contact with government researchers and other UFO enthusiasts as they prepare to meet extraterrestrial visitors in Wyoming. The film received eight Academy Award nominations and won for Best Cinematography.

  • #13. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

    - Director: James Gunn
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.84
    - IMDb user rating: 8.0
    - Metascore: 76
    - Runtime: 121 min

    Brazen space rogue Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) runs into trouble after he steals an orb wanted by villainous alien Ronan, who threatens to destroy the entire universe. In order to stop him, Quill is forced to team up with a ragtag band of intergalactic criminals who come to be known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. The Marvel film has a standout soundtrack full of popular songs from the 1960s and 1970s and was followed by a sequel in 2017.

  • #12. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

    - Director: Jim Sharman
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.85
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Metascore: 58
    - Runtime: 100 min

    In this cult classic, naive newlyweds Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) seek help from the Transylvanian inhabitants of a creepy castle (led by Tim Curry as the seductive scientist, Dr. Frank-N-Furter) after their car breaks down. The castle’s residents are revealed to be aliens from the planet Transexual, as a night of bisexuality, cannibalism, and murder unfolds. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is one of the most popular “midnight movies” ever made, with many theaters across the U.S. hosting regular screenings that include audience participation.

  • #11. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

    - Director: Philip Kaufman
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.86
    - IMDb user rating: 7.4
    - Metascore: 75
    - Runtime: 115 min

    This remake of Don Siegel’s 1956 film of the same name takes place in San Francisco, where health inspector Matthew (Donald Sutherland) and his colleague, Elizabeth (Brooke Adams), discover that humans are being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates. Although this version of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” received mixed reviews upon its release, it’s now heralded as one of the greatest remakes and sci-fi horror movies ever made.

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