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Top 50 Sci-Fi Movies

Science fiction, sci-fi, SF... however you want to abbreviate it, the genre heavily featuring future worlds, alien planets, otherworldly beings, unstoppable technology, hostile organisms, benign intergalactic forces, stun guns, camp robots and some really improbable hairstyles has produced some of cinema's finest films. Film4's critics have been at work voting on their favourite futuristic cinema, and we've unearthed some startling results. Read on to beam our list of the top 50 science fiction films of all time directly into your earthling brain.

  • 2001: A Space Odyssey

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Stanley Kubrick

    Kubrick, cinema's chilliest genius, abandons conventional narrative and presents a succession of beautifully-composed sketches on the theme of evolution, death and rebirth linked by the mystical presence of a large black monolith. We know what the year 2001 looks like now, and it doesn't look much like Kubrick's vision. But 2001: A Space Odyssey itself still looks immaculate. Spectacular, trailblazing and philosophical, it's an undisputed masterpiece.

  • Blade Runner

    Blade Runner (1982) Ridley Scott

    Reviled on release, who would have thought that Ridley Scott's sci-fi noir would go on to become so influential and retrospectively acclaimed? Adapted from science fiction genius Philip K Dick's novel 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?', Harrison Ford stars as the detective who retires synthetic humans until an encounter with a beautiful android leaves him calling his own identity into question. One of the seminal sci-fi movies of the 1980s  and all time.

  • Brazil

    Brazil (1985) Terry Gilliam

    Undoubtedly Terry Gilliam's masterpiece. Visual brilliance combines with snappy satirical humour to create one of the best films of the 80s. Worrying, then, that it nearly didnt make it to the screen thanks to a furious battle with Universal who threatened to bury the film with an anti-marketing campaign. But the films triumph in the face of adversity only makes its tale of an everyman office worker who dares to defy the system all the more poignant.

  • The Fly

    The Fly (1986) David Cronenberg

    When a scientific experiment goes wrong, the DNA of a man becomes spliced with that of a house fly. With special effects king Chris Walas on hand to indulge his darkest fantasies, writer-director David Cronenberg shows us the mutation of man into monster in still-unsurpassed grisly detail. Chuck a dose of cracking chemistry between the then-married Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis into the mix, and youve got one of Cronenbergs finest American movies.

  • Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

    Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) Philip Kaufman

    Philip Kaufman's well-judged remake of Don Siegel's 1956 classic, based on the novel 'The Body Snatchers' by Jack Finney, works a treat. Donald Sutherland plays a health inspector who notices that his friends are beginning to act rather oddly. No prizes for guessing they have been turned into pod people, but soon the lines between who is who become more ambiguous. Very entertaining, and despite the by now over familiar-plot, pleasantly suspenseful.

  • The Thing

    The Thing (1982) John Carpenter

    Influential horror sci-fi starring a hirsute Kurt Russell as a whiskey-swigging pilot who unwittingly becomes defender of the planet when his Antarctic research team comes in contact with a body-invading alien. Suspense maestro John Carpenter revamped the already-chilling 1951 B-movie The Thing From Another World to deliver this superbly frosty and tense exercise in being careful who you trust.

  • The Terminator

    The Terminator (1984) James Cameron

    The sci-fi action-thriller that launched the careers of James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger into the stratosphere. Still endlessly entertaining, the secret of its success is certainly not in its originality, but lies in its relentless energy, tough-as-nails heroine (Linda Hamilton) and Schwarzenegger himself as the taciturn killer robot, who in the course of the action delivers fewer than 100 words of dialogue.

  • The Day The Earth Stood Still

    The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) Robert Wise

    A reasoned plea for peace in the face of the escalating Cold War, Robert Wises sci-fi classic is a potent parable that remains as chillingly relevant for the 21st century as it was for the last. It also acts as a reminder that the best sci-fi is always a fusion of spectacle and strong ideas, and that purposeful direction and a literate script can more than compensate for limited resources. The high-water mark of 50s science fiction cinema.

  • The Man Who Fell to Earth

    The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) Nicolas Roeg

    Adapted from the novel by Walter Trevis, The Man Who Fell To Earth is a psychedelia-inflected sci-fi about loneliness and consumerism from Nicolas Roeg. The director makes the most of his inherently otherworldly star, David Bowie who plays the alien visitor of the title - a messiah of eco-friendly ideals who is educated by US TV, corrupted by capitalism and betrayed by the humans he encounters.

  • Metropolis

    Metropolis (1927) Fritz Lang

    Fritz Lang's spectacular, highly-influential vision of a teeming, politically dubious urban future is a seminal landmark in film, never mind science fiction. Lang depicts a society of bustling streets and skyscrapers in which people live in comfort. Below is an expressionist nightmare of men and women as machines - a vision of a future where society is divided into the haves and have-nots. Boasting 30,000 extras and costing $2 million in 1926, the lavish set pieces still astonish.

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