25 Best Sci-Fi Movies

25 Sci-Fi Movies You Should Watch At Least Once

Posted in GEAR GUIDES, MOVIES By

What if time travel were possible? What if aliens exist? What happens when we achieve interstellar travel? At their best, sci-fi movies take all that hypothesizing, wondering and what-if-ing and follows those thoughts to their most logical — or at least their most interesting — conclusion.

Here are 25 examples of the best films the science fiction genre has to offer. All are titles that any sci-fi fan, or any movie fan for that matter, should watch at least once. Many of them you’ll want to watch twice. And a few will hold up to a yearly viewing for the rest of your viewing years.

Space travel, time travel, aliens, androids, future dystopias, it’s all here. So if you haven’t ticked each of these Sci-Fi movies off your list, consider this your chance to do so. While you’ll be able to find many of them popping up to stream, a sure fire way to make sure they stay watchable whenever you want is to get a good hard (or digital) copy for yourself. Because you never know what the future holds.

Inception

Inception

“The dream is collapsing.”

You’ll probably want to give this one a round two. Like the characters in the film, you’ll be wondering what’s real, what’s a dream, who’s crazy and where you are. About a team of thieves who steal secrets by getting inside their target’s dreams, this mindbender from Christopher Nolan starts off twisty and just gets twistier. As dreams morph into deeper dreams, you get city streets curving like tidal waves, hotel fight scenes without the benefit of gravity and tops that don’t stop spinning. – Watch It

Oblivion

Oblivion

“Everybody dies, Sally. The thing is to die well.”

Part of what makes sci-fi films so fun to watch is they just look so dang cool. This Tom Cruise-starring post-apocalyptic vision gets high marks in the visual appeal department with hyper sleek modernity and bombed out wasteland getting equal play. Earth is devastated after an encounter with an alien race. Now a drone repairman and his partner work as part of a mission to extract the last of Earth’s resources to power humanity’s new home on Saturn’s Titan. – Watch It

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

“Daisy, daisy…”

There’s a reason it’s a classic, a reason it tops so many “best of all time” film lists. In fact, most movies on the list you’re reading now owe something to Kubrick’s masterpiece. From the far ahead of its time visual effects to the classical music bookends to the prophetic wariness of technology, 2001 fills its audience with the same awe as prehistoric hominids felt discovering weapons. It asked in 1968 where we were headed and fifty years later, there’s still no way of knowing. – Watch It

The Matrix

The Matrix

“I know this steak doesn’t exist.”

How do you know you’re reading this? Maybe the Matrix is just telling you you’re reading, when in reality you’re a giant battery for the machines who have enslaved humanity. It’s a tough reality for Neo (Keanu Reeves) to learn — far more difficult than his subsequent kung fu training. But when he’s told he may be “the One” to free humanity from its Energizer fate, he puts up an amazing physics-bending fight, while looking damn cool in a trench coat. – Watch It

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

“Witness me!”

There’s a point in Fury Road when it becomes clear that the film is not trying to follow any rules but its own. War rigs, pole swinging warriors, fire-spitting guitars, triple piggybacked cars, cake spray. It’s a relentless ride that hurtles forward with Tom Hardy in the title role and Charlize Theron bringing a heavy dose of bad-assery to the character of Furiosa. George Miller directed this one 30 years after Beyond Thunderdome and it was worth the wait. – Watch It

Children Of Men

Children Of Men

“As the sound of the playgrounds faded, the despair set in.”

A good dystopian story needs a good calamity for humanity to face. Children of Men imagines what would happen if suddenly humanity lost the ability to reproduce. After twenty years of human infertility, the youngest person alive is eighteen years old. Clive Owen does a great job as a man going through the motions of living when it feels like there’s not much left to live for. It’s bleak, gritty and features one of the best reverse gear car chase scenes ever. – Watch It

Avatar

Avatar

“Every person is born twice.”

Watch it for the technological spectacle, one that broke new ground in 3D, motion capture, and CGI. In the film, humans enter a pod, then are neurally linked to control giant blue alien avatars. In production of the film, actors were strapped with cameras and motion capture tech, then were morphed by computers into giant blue alien avatars. Coincidence? The film was the first ever to pull in $2 billion worldwide so if you were one of the fourteen people who didn’t see it, the time is now. – Watch It

Edge Of Tomorrow

Edge Of Tomorrow

“Come find me when you wake up.”

If you think this one is called Live. Die. Repeat., that’s because the movie studio thought changing the name on the film’s home media release would revive interest after less than stellar box office figures. Why it didn’t kill at the box office is a mystery — this is a must see. Figuring out just what’s going on is part of the fun, so we won’t give too much away. Just know it offers Tom Cruise at his likeable action-hero best, with impressively formidable aliens, very cool combat suits, a militarized broadsword, and just the right wit to action ratio. – Watch It

Primer

Primer

“I haven’t eaten since later this afternoon.”

By far the lowest budget film to make the list, Primer was directed, scored, written, produced and edited by a mathematics major (Shane Carruth) who also starred in the film. He shot it for about $7k in Texas with a suburban garage for a set and his friends and family as actors. In it, engineers deal with the convolutions and complexities of time travel and timelines with no subtitles for the layman. Watch it for a thrilling new take on time travel… and its consequences. – Watch It

Interstellar

Interstellar

“Seven years per hour here, let’s make it count.”

Another from Christopher Nolan, Interstellar tells the story of a planet that’s just about done supporting human life, forcing an astronaut (Matthew McConaughey) deep into space to try to find humans a new home. It’s beautifully shot and grapples with hard science and space exploration with the same aptitude as it does family drama. All the stuff you want in your space sci-fi is here, wormholes, black holes, time-space anomalies, with a little bit of humor and hope, for good measure. – Watch It

Blade Runner

Blade Runner

“If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes.”

Watching this now still feels relevant, futuristic and very cool. Ridley Scott’s tech-noir classic is set in a Los Angeles just one year away from today, but looks decidedly more bleak. We follow Harrison Ford’s “blade runner” ex-cop as he hunts down and “retires” replicants — androids with built in expirations tasked with working off-world colonies who are illegal on Earth. It’s one of the better explorations of what makes humans “real” and androids not. Checking out the 2017 sequel as well will not disappoint. – Watch It

Source Code

Source Code

“Out here the clocks only move in one direction.”

Duncan Jones’s second feature after the very fantastic Moon focuses on an Army Captain (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he attempts to find the bomber on a commuter train using a looped timeline replaying the last eight minutes of another person’s life. It’s a literal ticking-time-bomb of a suspense thriller that does a good job of never getting repetitive despite repeating the same eight minutes on the same doomed train. It’s been called Groundhog Day meets Quantum Leap, but in the best possible way. – Watch It

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

“Carrie, I am making a birdhouse.”

Here’s one that doesn’t explore space or time travel or the future, but focuses instead on the mysterious, perplexing landscape of the human brain. If you’ve ever had a relationship you wish you could erase from your mind, you and Joel (Jim Carrey, in a pleasantly subdued role) have something in common. Joel signs up to have his girlfriend zapped from his consciousness. Director Michel Gondry takes us through the rabbit holes of Joel’s mind in a bizarre, imaginative ride. – Watch It

Iron Man

Iron Man

“I mean it’s not technically accurate. The suit’s a gold titanium alloy, but it’s kind of provocative, the imagery anyway.”

Billionaire genius Tony Stark fashions a crude metal suit to evade his captors then, back home, makes a better suit which he uses to fight evil everywhere. Fast and funny, smart and self aware, Iron Man is phase one, film one of the franchise that’s bringing us The Avengers, Thor: Ragnarok and Guardians of the Galaxy. Here the Marvel Cinematic Universe began, with a superhero played by an unconventional choice (Robert Downey Jr.) that shot new life into the genre like an electromagnet to the heart. – Watch It

Ex Machina

Ex Machina

“How do you feel about her? Nothing analytical, just… how you feel.”

Can machines think? Can they feel? Can they manipulate? Questions we’ve been asking ourselves since we dreamed up artificial intelligence. No movie tries to answer those questions as compellingly as this one. Modern, stylized, beautiful and terrifying, Ex Machina is the story of a programmer invited to “test” the human qualities of a mesmerizing android built by his genius boss. Trust, deception and the nature of consciousness play out as we see the consequences of man’s realization of AI. – Watch It

Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation

“We’ve been at war since before either of us even existed.”

The fourth installment of the Terminator series doesn’t focus on time travelling or attempts at averting Judgement Day. Instead, the year is 2018, Judgement Day happened fourteen years prior and John Connor is deeply entrenched in the Resistance — the remaining humans fighting Skynet for survival. Mired in legal trouble and mixed critical reception, the film didn’t get the attention it deserved. With great performances, satisfying references to the franchise, and a solid plot (not to mention intense visuals) Salvation unquestionably deserves another look. – Watch It

Gravity

Gravity

“Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.”

If the idea of floating unanchored in space gives you the heebie jeebies, prepare to get uncomfortable. With Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as astronauts who are hit by a bout of bad luck, Gravity follows the two (and only) stars of the film as they try to make their way back from the emptiness of space towards something (anything) they can hold on to. A major box office and critical success, watch it for the tenacity of the will to survive — and disquieting shots of vast, unsettling blackness. – Watch It

Dark City

Dark City

“When was the last time you remember doing something during the day?”

A few years after the goth favorite The Crow, director Alex Proyas returned with this futuristic noir about a man with no memories navigating a world with no sun ruled by a nefarious group of beings called The Strangers (resembling a tribe of Pinheads without pins). John Murdoch must work to clear his name of a string of murders while desperately trying to figure out just who the Strangers are and what they want, all while searching for a way out of the city to a place called Shell Beach. – Watch It

Donnie Darko

Donnie Darko

“28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds.”

After narrowly escaping death, a darkly intelligent teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) has visions of an uber creepy 6-foot tall rabbit named Frank who encourages him to take revenge on the town that frustrates him through acts of escalating vandalism. As events lead to other events that all seem to be leading somewhere specific, it seems his evasion of death has trapped him in a time-looping, transdementional barrier. Or something. It’s an undeniably unique vision on display. Answers don’t always have to be found. – Watch It

The Martian

The Martian

“Mars will come to fear my botany powers!”

Ridley Scott helmed three of the titles on our list, each one a different brand of sci-fi. This one deals closest to the real-world science of what it would take to survive alone on Mars. After being presumed dead by his crew Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left behind and must figure out how to send out signal for rescue and stay alive long enough for the signal to matter. Watching Watney run into a never ending list of problems, and seeing him solve each with ingenuity and wit is simultaneously hilarious and tense. – Watch It

Minority Report

Minority Report

“I’m sorry John, but you’re going to have to run again.”

In a successful adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s story, Tom Cruise stars as John Anderton, a cop heading the PreCrime unit that has all but eliminated murder in 2054 Washington D.C.. thanks to “Precogs” who can see murders before they happen. But when Anderton is predicted to kill a man he’s never met, he runs. Spielberg hired a team of futurists to help with the tech. Fifteen years later we’ve got smart homes, driverless cars and facial recognition… and, word is, sonic shotguns are on the way. – Watch It

Looper

Looper

“I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws.”

If you ever thought someone should make a gangster movie about time travel, or a time travel movie about gangsters, here you go. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a hitman whose job it is to assassinate the marks his mob bosses from the future send back through time. All is well until his future self gets sent back for him to kill, but his future self doesn’t die easily. Directed by Rian Johnson, the force behind a 2006 feature called Brick and a certain 2017 film called The Last Jedi. – Watch It

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith

“So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause.”

The third in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Revenge of the Sith brings everything full circle and sets up Episode IV. Returning to what made the original trilogy so good, Lucas brings back the pure entertainment of his space opera tinged with the inevitable tragedy of Anakin Skywalker’s story arc. There’s more action here than in the other two prequels and visual effects that border on visual art. If you’re feeling daunted by the sheer number of Star Wars films, this is the one from the prequel trilogy that’s a must-see. – Watch It

Alien

Alien

“I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”

Ask just about any sci-fi fan for a list of their top titles, and we’re betting this will be near the top. After answering a distress signal, the commercial space vessel, Nostromo is infiltrated by a single alien life form — with acid for blood, and a frightening reproduction cycle. Ridley Scott uses silence, flashes of the alien and our own imagination against us to heighten the tension until the alien is finally revealed in all of her terrifying glory. – Watch It

Passengers

Passengers

“If you live an ordinary life, all you’ll have are ordinary stories. You have to live a life of adventure.”

A spacecraft carrying thousands of passengers in hypersleep runs into an asteroid field, causing one of the hibernation pods to awaken one of the steerage class passengers 90 years too early. Chris Pratt plays Jim, who makes the most of his conscious among the unconscious situation. But after a years of isolation, with only an android bartender for company, he decides to open one more pod to give himself a companion (Jennifer Lawrence) to while away time in the isolation of space. – Watch It

Related

Editor's Picks



Get the Collection

Gear for Men. Straight to your inbox every Tuesday.

Land Rover Defender Multi-Tool

Land Rover Defender Multi-Tool

An iconic EDC tool.


Everyday Carry Yellow and Black

Everyday Carry

A curated EDC collection.


Bandit Titanium Keychain Knife

Bandit Titanium Keychain Knife

Lightweight and keychain-friendly.


Ten & Two Car Prints

Ten & Two Car Prints

Vintage vehicle art.




All Posts