The Ultimate 5 Sci-Fi Movies

Just in time for holiday rentals and purchases. Be sure to include your top five!

Ultimate 5 Sci-Fi Movies

Fiziko and I decided to do a little list on the best Sci-Fi ever. Mind you
this list is far from definitive, in fact, we want to hear your five. Now sit
back, relax and enjoy.

Fiziko’s List

#5 Stargate (1994)
This
was the best movie Devlin and Emmerich ever came up with. It had brains
behind it, great cinematography, believable characters complete with flaws,
and some nice action sequences and special effects that can really only
be done in a science fiction film. Plus, there’s French Stewart before “Third
Rock From The Sun,” which is amusing. (No, his eyes aren’t open here
either.)
(DVD
| VHS
| CD
| IMDB)

#4 The X-Files: Fight The Future (1998)
You
all know I’m an X-Phile. This movie was able to be great because it was
building from established characters and mythos, without suffering from
the studio “churn out a sequel fast” kind of mentality. Chris
Carter was free to write a movie that spent very little time building up
characters and moved on to the actual plot very rapidly. The movie was great
because they had the freedom to make it great.
(DVD
| VHS
| CD
| IMDB)

#3 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
It’s
not light viewing, but it’s definitely good viewing. Kubrick knew how to
put a film together. The pace is slow
but consistent, as it is in all of his films. There’s a lot to think about
here. The only real flaw with the film is that reading the book is almost
a prerequisite to understanding what’s going on. (I’d suggest reading it
anyway, actually.) There’s a lot of imagery and parallels that show Dave’s
experiences and mankind’s development in general as we grow from cave-dwelling
apes to the modern society we are. The suggestion that modern society is
in its adolescence is not a popular notion in some circles, but it is one
that I feel is accurate.
(DVD
| VHS
| CD
| IMDB)

#2 Tron (1982)
I’ll
always have a soft spot for this one. It’s one of the first movies I saw
in a theater that I can remember. (I was five years old at the time.) It’s
a little slow paced, but I still enjoy it. Again, the scientific basis is
pretty weak, but the story makes up for it. Released a year before Gibson’s
Neuromancer was published, it stands as one of the earliest examples of
virtual reality on record. (Well, there’s certainly earlier examples, like
Ubik by Philip K. Dick, but few that actually involve actualcomputer-generated
realities.) The acting was well done, especially for a movie that was really
aimed at the early-teen demographic. It’s been a while since Disney made
a film this dark, and I doubt they’ll do it again any time soon.
(DVD
| VHS
| IMDB)

#1 Ghostbusters (1984)
I
must confess that I’ve seen this movie far too many times. I’ve worn out
a Betamax copy, a Betamax copy, and a VHS copy of this movie. I bought my
DVD player on June 15, 1999, along with the 15th anniversary copies of Ghostbusters
and its sequel,which were released on that day. It’s a perfect blend of
action and wit. Rick Moranis provides slapstick comedy that doesn’t feel
insulting or pandering. (By the way, he improvised his dialogue in that
long, panning shot at his party.) Ivan Reitman is adecent comedic director,
who loves to let his stars improvise. In most cases, it works very well.
With the team of people assembled for this picture, it couldn’t really fail.
They’re funny on their own, and they’d worked together often enough that
they knew how to be funny together. The science aspects are pretty weak,
but they honestly tried. (It’s really more speculative fiction than sci-fi.)
This is the only film I can watch again and again without getting tired
of it.
(DVD
| VHS
| CD
| IMDB)

TheAngryMob’s List

#5 Total Recall (1990)
If
you lost your mind, how would you know?
This is one of my favorite tag
lines of all time. Total Recall is just too much fun to pass up.
Mysterious aliens, mutants, corporate conspiracy, triple-breasted whores,
it has it all wrapped around a twisty-turny plot that has you guess right
up until the end.
(DVD
| VHS
| CD
| IMDB)
#4 Enemy Mine (1985)
This
little-known action-adventure flick pits Dennis Quaid against Louis Gossett
Jr. on an inhospitable world. What evolves is a deep friendship despite
their vast differences. This movie incorporates excellent Sci-Fi themes,
as well as “Buddy” film elements, and finishes it all off with
an overall message that we can use today.
(DVD
| VHS
| IMDB)
#3 Alien (1979)
I
have a bit of a confession to make. I’m 26 years-old, and this movie still
scares the bejesus out of me. How a twenty-something film has held up this
long is beyond me, but it still rocks. Horror, suspense and Sci-Fi in just
the right proportions. Designed to be the ultimate (and final) monster movie,
it ironically sparked an entire sub-genre of horror.
(DVD
| VHS
| CD
| IMDB)
#2 The Abyss (1989)
Many
people point to James Cameron’s little boat movie as his best. He actually
peaked eight years earlier. The Abyss featured ground-breaking effects,
a killer cast, and an intense storyline. The jury’s still out on whether
the “Extended Version” is really an improvement. I feel it gives
us a little more information, but really doesn’t change the base plot of
the film. Check it out for yourself.
(DVD
| VHS
| CD
| IMDB)
#1 The Matrix (1999)
I’ve
heard people older than myself describe their feelings at first seeing Star
Wars. The excitement, the awe, the wonder. That’s how I felt after watching
The Matrix for the first time. Mind blowing plot, eye-popping effects,
and an overall feel that this movie is something special, something that
no other film can match.
(DVD
| VHS
| CD
| IMDB)

28 replies on “The Ultimate 5 Sci-Fi Movies”

  1. fiziko says:

    Typo
    The second instance of “a Betamax copy” in my
    Ghostbusters blurb should read “a Betamax player.”
    Oops.

  2. rickyjames says:

    You Guys Have Got To Be Kidding…
    This is a joke, right? ***Tron*** as an ultimate SF movie? Enemy Mine? Total Recall? The Freakin’X-Files Movie as one of the ultimate 5 sci-fi movies? This stuff is sci-fi junk food, even tho yeah, I’ve seen em all. Next you list a few ***good*** sci-fi movies that I like, too: Stargate, Abyss, Ghostbusters. Matrix is in a class by itself – great, but too new to be regarded as a classic. Only Alien and 2001 on your list are even CONTENDERS to ULTIMATE TOP 5, and I think only 2001 actually makes that list. The candidates to me are:

    2001

    Alien

    Aliens

    Back To The Future

    Blade Runner

    A Clockwork Orange

    Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    The Day The Earth Stood Still

    Dr. Strangelove

    E.T.

    The Empire Strikes Back

    Frankenstein (1931 Karloff version)

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers

    King Kong

    The Matrix

    Metropolis

    Night of the Living Dead

    On The Beach

    Planet of the Apes

    Rocky Horror Picture Show

    Star Wars

    Terminator (I and II)

    War of the Worlds

    Check THESE out on video, give em a view, and THEN make a list….

    • gregc says:

      Re: You Guys Have Got To Be Kidding…
      everyone has their own lists i know but surely Dune and Hardware have to be considered. and I’m sure there are plenty that weve all forgotten ;}……

      • rickyjames says:

        Re: You Guys Have Got To Be Kidding…

        Well, let me add a tag line here that the comments attached to my lengthy list above are really IMHO. I have trouble with the “H” part sometimes, and I’m working on it. Sorry. Bottom line, I guess I’m a great believer in whatever list moves you is the ultimate list for you, and that’s great. I personally LOVE “Time after Time” even tho I would never include it in an “ultimate” list. (Tho the somewhat related 1960 version of The Time Machine probably belongs on the candidate list…like you say, there’s plenty we’ve all forgotten…)

        Trivia: Ricardo Montebaun (sp) agreed to do Kahn again in Star Trek II only because HE loved “Time After Time” too, and was willing to be directed by the guy who did it…

    • fiziko says:

      Re: You Guys Have Got To Be Kidding…

      A Clockwork Orange

      Night of the Living Dead

      On The Beach

      Rocky Horror Picture Show

      I’ve taken the liberty of shortening
      your list to the ones I haven’t seen yet. Clockwork
      Orange is one of the DVDs I own but haven’t watched
      yet. (I’ve got a few days worth of those, actually.)
      I spent about a week writing this list because I kept
      trying to narrow it down to five. Ask me again in a
      year, and
      it’ll look different. You may not agree with my
      choices, but I will say that everything I’ve seen on
      your list was under considersation.

    • Neo Minder says:

      Re: You Guys Have Got To Be Kidding…
      Okay okay, I’ve been reading this damn site for months and months, I finaly got singed up just to reply to this. *L* One movie that seems to be mssing from all these lists that I, IMHO, believe should be on them: Quite Earth. And Ghost Busters was Sci-Fi. Although it does seem inda funny to walk around with a nucular reactor on your back it’s gotta be sci-fi. -Neo

      Only Alien and 2001 on your list are even CONTENDERS to ULTIMATE TOP 5, and I think only 2001 actually makes that list. The candidates to me are:

      2001

      Alien

      Aliens

      Back To The Future

      Blade Runner

      A Clockwork Orange

      Close Encounters of the Third Kind

      The Day The Earth Stood Still

      Dr. Strangelove

      E.T.

      The Empire Strikes Back

      Frankenstein (1931 Karloff version)

      Invasion of the Body Snatchers

      King Kong

      The Matrix

      Metropolis

      Night of the Living Dead

      On The Beach

      Planet of the Apes

      Rocky Horror Picture Show

      Star Wars

      Terminator (I and II)

      War of the Worlds

      Check THESE out on video, give em a view, and THEN make a list….

  3. cygnus says:

    My 5
    5) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
    4) The Matrix
    3) Star Wars
    2) Terminator 2
    1) The Empire Strikes Back

    Ghostbusters ain’t Sci-Fi, it’s comedy. And Stargate sucked.

    • Pez69 says:

      Re: My 5
      Explain to me why Ghostbuster or any other movie be Sci-Fi and comedy. Ever heard of Ice Pirates, a sci-fi movie but also bloody funny.

      My 5 would have to include, in no order cause i can’t put them in order

      Tron
      Dune(the first one, not new one)
      Blade Runner
      Akria
      Aliens

      • rickyjames says:

        Re: My 5

        Explain to me why Ghostbuster or any other movie be Sci-Fi and comedy. Ever heard of Ice Pirates, a sci-fi movie but also bloody funny.

        Ice Pirates gets an honorable mention in my book for the castration assembly line scene… comedy / sci-fi / horror all in one!

  4. hitch says:

    I have to stick up…
    for enemy mine. that really is an underrated movie, and one I consider excellent. The acting was great, and it is a movie that shows that science fiction is relevant to everyone, and can be as much or more about people than about technology. And did so without the sometime preachiness of Trek.

  5. xah says:

    my top 5
    5. X-Men

    4. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

    3. The Day After (for social impact)

    2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    1. Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

    I’d put the other Star Wars movies and Star Trek IV higher, but their “brands” are already represented.

    Part of the ranking has to take into account the special effects, IMHO. This hurts older films.

    Next, although it doesn’t presume technology that did not exist at the time the film was made, “The Day After” should be considered a sci-fi film. It’s a classic dystopia. OTOH, a movie like Goldfinger, where James Bond kept reaching into the gadget bag, is not science fiction. I don’t know why. But I feel like this is the right answer.

    Finally, has anyone seen “Threads”?

  6. jayhawk88 says:

    Top5 – 3
    OK, so I don’t have time right at the moment to ponder a defninitive Top5, but I just wanted to plug two of my favorites that seem to have not been mentioned yet: The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai and Big Trouble in Little China. Classics in every sense of the word.

  7. zedaar says:

    One that seems to have been missed
    There seems to be one name that hasn’t even
    appeared in the contender list, and thats:
    The Fifth Element!
    Sci-Fi at it’s “Die Hardest”!

  8. spock says:

    Top 5 SF Movies
    Historically and from a film making standpoint there are not enough serious SF movies. Too many are conceived as camp or style, too many simply follow in the footsteps of others.

    2001

    The first movie with a serious SF plot, and probably the only movie to take science seriously enough to make spacecraft silent. Effects wise 2001 would be a very hard movie to make, even today. From a film making standpoint it was astonishing. Many composite elements were done “in camera” giving stunning and seamless results that are hard to match even today. Take a look at Star Wars, Matrix or Episode 1 or whatever you like. You can see matte lines for any optical effects and pixelization and stair stepping for digital effects Kubrick’s pacing was slow and deliberate, much like life and space really is. This movie had the first serious use of an artificial intelligence, HAL is an inspiration and a goal for many modern computer scientists.

    Blade Runner

    Blade Runner set the style for the entire SF genre, and a lot of general filmaking, to this very day. It is no mistake that almost every film mentioned by those writing here has a sort of dark and used, lived in, future dominated by blue lighting and weathered metals. This look of course flows from…

    Star Wars
    Space Opera at its unashamed finest, but also a classic tale of a mythological hero quest. The effects, primitive by todays standards, changed movie making for all time. The huge hyper detailed models, used and beat up craft, and of course lightsabers. We all want our own light sabers now don’t we. Star Wars stands as a strong cultural phenomenon, and has had a far greater impact than any other SF film ever. Just look at the number of other films that mention/refer to it…the number of books, news articles (video and print) even government projects! The only rival for cultural effect is Star Trek, but mostly that is a TV series not a movie.

    The Forbidden Planet
    Pure pulp SF. Great stuff. All great SF flows through this movie. The effects work here was very solid for its time and the story was a basic warning that there are things men should not dream of, an oddly luddite theme that sticks with much of SF even today. How many episodes of Trek, B5 or whatever have you seen that dealt with this theme…how many movies ? People forget the serious theme because of the pulp SF wrappings, but it is there. Still, this is the shakiest inclusion in my opinion. The reason shall become clear.

    The Day the Earth Stood Still
    This 1951 movie is just plain antiquated next to a visual stunner like the Matrix, but let me assure you that this was the FIRST time SF was taken seriously by those telling the story. For those of you who don’t know it…an alien lands and demands we make peace or be destroyed as a danger to other civilizations. 2001 did thinking SF better, but ti simply could not have been done without this movie being there first with a far simpler more direct theme.

    It is hard to believe that such great movies as Terminator, Matrix and Aliens don’t make this list, but they just don’t. Tron also fails to make the list despite being the first film to include CG. So does Jurassic Park despite its stunning CGI and the simple believability of its dinosaurs. If I could add one more, I would’nt add any of these greats. They are greats, I wish it was a best 10 list…but hey then I’d be sad about leaving out 11-15.

    Instead I’d add what I consider to be a dismal story with no serious SF intrinsic value, but it is SF if only due to the setting:

    Final Fantasy
    The first animated film that had convincingly real characters. It could have been a very stylized movie shot on film. I doubt we’ll see another serious stab at this sort of animation for years, but believe me: We have seen the future of movie making. It is not a fantasy, it is not real. It is virtual.

    Don’t get me wrong, the movie definitely has animation flaws in abundance, but so does everything else…and what came earlier was even weaker. I mean…Disney ? That ain’t anywhere near photoreal.

    Final Fantasy may be the most historical movie mentioned in this discussion, not merely in SF moviemaking, but in moviemaking and human culture. (Even as I mention The Train it may remain the most historical.) It may well portend the eventual decline (not the end I should hope) of acting, one of the oldest and grandest traditions of humanity. The world is changed.

    The only reason I do not include Final Fantasy in the top 5 is simply because it is too new. It seems very clear that the film has earned its place.

    Well, there is my list. YMMV.

  9. hitchhucker says:

    What about…
    Lots of great lists…the only movie that comes to mind that would make my top 5 that hasn’t been mentioned yet is 12 Monkeys.

    There’s one other sci-fi movie that I saw a _long_ time ago in the theaters…I’m not sure it would make my top 5 just because I’ve only seen it once and such a long time ago at that. But I can’t get this movie out of my head. I can’t even remember the title…maybe someone could help me out?

    The movie centered around these sunglasses that allowed the wearer to discover how things “really looked”. For example, a billboard that advertised a soft drink would, to the wearer of these magic glasses, be revealed as saying “SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY” in big block letters. Some regular joe found a pair of these glasses and stumbled upon a huge alien conspiracy. I also remember one fight seen that must have lasted at least 15 minutes.

    • YaRness says:

      all i can say is i’ve seen this movie

      The movie centered around these sunglasses that allowed the wearer to discover how things “really looked”. For example, a billboard that advertised a soft drink would, to the wearer of these magic glasses, be revealed as saying “SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY” in big block letters. Some regular joe found a pair of these glasses and stumbled upon a huge alien conspiracy. I also remember one fight seen that must have lasted at least 15 minutes.

      i’ve seen it, but i sure as hell can’t remember what it was either.

      on another note though, this and a few other mostly unheard of movies mentioned (quiet earth, ice pirates, enemy mine [though this last one was on network tv at one time or two]) REALLY reminds me what a geek i am ;P

      • Daemonik says:

        Re: all i can say is i’ve seen this movie

        The movie centered around these sunglasses that allowed the wearer to discover how things “really looked”. For example, a billboard that advertised a soft drink would, to the wearer of these magic glasses, be revealed as saying “SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY” in big block letters. Some regular joe found a pair of these glasses and stumbled upon a huge alien conspiracy. I also remember one fight seen that must have lasted at least 15 minutes.

        You’re thinking of “They Live” with Roddy Piper.

      • fiziko says:

        Re: all i can say is i’ve seen this movie
        Congrats YaRness. That was comment number 1000.
        Aren’t you proud?

  10. Daemonik says:

    Some other forgotten films
    I also noticed a few other greats that no one’s seemd to mention. How about “The Thing”? the B&W version was simply great but John Carpenter managed to throw a lot of depth into his remake and developed the story into something much more disturbing. To this day I wonder where that dog got off to.

    Also should consider:

    The Andromeda Strain
    Solaris
    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the remake)
    The Road Warrior
    Godzilla (B&W Original version)

  11. whackmol says:

    Do they have to be movies on “film”?
    If the list can include broadcast releases, then here’s two that have to be considered:

    Dune (the 6 hour Scifi channel version) and
    Babylon 5, In the Beginning

    • Lord_Of_The_Beer says:

      Re: Do they have to be movies on “film”?
      Then you are getting in to TV series…..

      Do you really want to go there

      • ltning says:

        Re: Do they have to be movies on “film”?

        Do you really want to go there

        From what I’ve seen, we’ve already gone there. StarTrek movies are in essence not any different from Babylon 5 movies, in that they are both spinoffs/supplements to an existing TV series.
        And B5: In the Beginning is just a darn good movie, no matter how you look at it. I’d say that it should atleast be considered for a top-X list, where X is a reasonably low number.

        -Ltning

  12. Lord_Of_The_Beer says:

    Not my list
    Most of the movies are good but hardly my faves

    My list

    1) Dr Strangelove

    2) The Ghost in the Shell

    3) Star Wars

    4) Strange Days

    5) Bladerunner (The original not the Directors cut)

    If you want to include Fantasy Then Willow And Highlander must be mentioned.

    If you want humor the the list would have to include “Galaxy Quest”

    If you want the best of the worst then it is “Plan 9 from Outer Space” & “Attack of the Killer Tomatos”

    If you want the worst of the worst – Battlefield Earth

    Feel Free to Disagree

  13. wyvernlord says:

    My List
    Most of the films listed are good. My favorite though in no particular order and repeating some already listed are:

    Akira
    Matrix
    Independence Day
    Nightfall (Issac Asimov story…hard to find, strange, but interesting story)
    Fantastic Planet (another hard to find, animated, strange story, but interesting all the same.)

    And if we include TV movies, I liked the V miniseries…cheesy, but different!

    IN the end though, Ill watch and usually enjoy most Sci-fi/Fantasy films, and some of the suspense horror films (those that play more on the fear, not how fast they can gross me out)

  14. xah says:

    wait a second — Brazil
    Brazil. I forgot to mention Brazil. Scratch T2 off my list.

  15. hoggoth says:

    Don’t argue, VOTE!
    Don’t argue about the top sci-fi movies, VOTE ON IT!

    I just whipped up a Cold Fusion application to vote on the top Sci-Fi movies just for fun. Go to: http://www.PeterTheobald.com/bestscifi/ to vote now!

Comments are closed.