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50 best alien movies

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

    - Director: Steven Spielberg
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.88
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Metascore: 91
    - Runtime: 115 min

    A lonely suburban boy (Henry Thomas) befriends a kind-hearted alien and decides to help the creature return to his home planet, all while government officials pursue him for their own means. Based on an imaginary friend that a young Steven Spielberg created to cope with his parents’ divorce, the beloved family film became the highest-grossing film ever at the time (a record that it held for 11 years). “E.T.” went on to garner nine Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

  • #9. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

    - Director: Nicholas Meyer
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.89
    - IMDb user rating: 7.7
    - Metascore: 67
    - Runtime: 113 min

    Admiral Kirk (William Shatner) enlists the help of the Enterprise crew to stop his longtime nemesis, the genetically engineered tyrant Khan Noonien Singh (Ricardo Montalban), from acquiring a dangerous terraforming device called Genesis. “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” is the second film in the original “Star Trek” movie series, and, according to Entertainment Weekly’s Marc Bernardin, was “the film that, by most accounts, saved Star Trek as we know it” by renewing fan interest in the franchise.

  • #8. Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (2003)

    - Directors: Daisuke Nishio, Hirotoshi Rissen, Kazuhisa Takenouchi, Leiji Matsumoto
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.91
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 68 min

    “Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem” is a visual companion of Daft Punk’s second studio album, “Discovery,” and tells the story of a popular intergalactic band whose members are abducted and brought to Earth by a malevolent corporation, where they are turned into emotionless automatons only focused on getting their next big hit. However, the band members soon rebel against their new identities and hope to introduce humans to their unique extraterrestrial music. The movie’s plot is a continuation of the ongoing story arc set up in multiple Daft Punk music videos: “One More Time,” “Aerodynamic,” “Digital Love,” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

  • #7. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

    - Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.92
    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Metascore: 78
    - Runtime: 181 min

    The culmination of a story built over more than 20 Marvel films, “Avengers: Endgame” finds the remaining Avengers and their allies fighting to bring back the millions of people snapped out of existence by alien titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) at the end of “Avengers: Infinity War.” In doing so, the characters travel back in time and revisit many iconic scenes from earlier Marvel films. The Russo brothers movie was nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 2020 Academy Awards and became the highest-grossing film of all time upon its release.

  • #6. Avengers: Infinity War (2018)

    - Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.93
    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Metascore: 68
    - Runtime: 149 min

    More Marvel Cinematic Universe characters came together than ever before when “Avengers: Infinity War” came to theaters. Over the course of the film, the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy race to stop Thanos from collecting all six Infinity Stones and gaining enough power to effectively kill half of the universe. The Hollywood Reporter critic Josh Spiegel emphasized its somber ending, writing that “Infinity War” takes “a cue from the ending of 'The Empire Strikes Back' in its super-sized finale; this is the equivalent of Han Solo frozen in the carbonite, on steroids.”

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  • #5. Fantastic Planet (1973)

    - Director: René Laloux
    - Letterboxd user rating: 3.94
    - IMDb user rating: 7.8
    - Metascore: data not available
    - Runtime: 72 min

    The French animated film “Fantastic Planet” takes place on the fictional planet of Ygam, where large, blue-skinned aliens named Draags oppress and rule over small, humanoid creatures called Oms. The Oms soon rebel, making the species question whether they can ever coexist. René Laloux’s movie contains a strong political allegory for the Soviets’ control of Czechoslovakia after 1968’s Warsaw Pact occupation and was awarded the Grand Prix special jury prize at 1973’s Cannes Film Festival.

  • #4. Arrival (2016)

    - Director: Denis Villeneuve
    - Letterboxd user rating: 4.08
    - IMDb user rating: 7.9
    - Metascore: 81
    - Runtime: 116 min

    Amy Adams stars as linguistics professor Louise, who heads a team of investigators responsible for making contact with aliens when 12 giant spaceships arrive at locations around the world. As her interactions with the creatures begin to mess with her sense of time, Louise scrambles to make interspecies communication before mounting tensions lead to war. Based on Ted Chiang’s short story, “Story of Your Life,” the film received eight Oscar nominations and was selected by the American Film Institute as one of the top ten “Movies of the Year.”

  • #3. Aliens (1986)

    - Director: James Cameron
    - Letterboxd user rating: 4.14
    - IMDb user rating: 8.3
    - Metascore: 84
    - Runtime: 137 min

    After floating adrift in space for over half a century, Ellen Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) spaceship is discovered and she is thrust into a new world. However, Ripley soon encounters the species of hostile Alien creature that killed her original crew when she joins a rescue mission to save the sole survivor of a space colony—a girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). James Cameron’s action-packed sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic garnered seven Oscar nominations (including a Best Actress nod for Weaver), and introduced several future stars, like Lance Henriksen and Bill Paxton. In 2019, Empire Magazine voted “Aliens” the greatest film sequel of all time.

  • #2. The Thing (1982)

    - Director: John Carpenter
    - Letterboxd user rating: 4.3
    - IMDb user rating: 8.1
    - Metascore: 57
    - Runtime: 109 min

    The lives of a research team in Antarctica are threatened when they are hunted by a parasitic, shape-shifting alien with the ability to take on its victims’ appearance. Although “The Thing” received negative reviews upon its release (and had the misfortune of premiering during the same summer as "E.T.," a more lighthearted alien story), it developed a cult following and was later reappraised as one of the best sci-fi horror movies ever made.

  • #1. Alien (1979)

    - Director: Ridley Scott
    - Letterboxd user rating: 4.31
    - IMDb user rating: 8.4
    - Metascore: 89
    - Runtime: 117 min

    In this sci-fi horror staple, the crew of a commercial space tug’s journey back to Earth is interrupted when they are required to intercept a distress call coming from a nearby moon. One crew member is attacked by a mysterious alien life form, who grows rapidly and begins picking off the characters one by one throughout the ship. Often hailed as one of the greatest and most influential sci-fi movies ever made, “Alien” won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects and made an iconic “final girl” out of its heroine, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). The film’s success led to a media franchise with three sequels, multiple Alien vs. Predator movies, a prequel film series, and more.

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