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The 10 All-Time Greatest Sci-Fi Movies, According To Ranker

The proliferation of popular science fiction is at an all-time high, what with Marvel’s multiverse saga launching, Everything Everywhere All At Once, Moonfall, The Adam Project, and many others streaming across audience screens. It’s hard to narrow down the science fiction field to just a top 10. With a wide array of crossover genres and overlapping motifs, the choices seem endless.

Yet a recent poll on Ranker shows that in terms of favorites, fans are loyal to tried and true classics, a good portion of which stick to good old fashioned monster fights and, of course, a certain cherished franchise that defined many a childhood.

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Predator (1987)

Predator-Dutch

It’s hard to believe that this b-movie jungle adventure achieved cult status, but it most definitely has. With classic creature effects and makeup and not a great amount of CGI, director John McTiernan managed to give sci-fi fans a whopping good time by watching Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch slowly but surely lose his special forces team one by one as an alien hunter picks them off in a grisly and gruesome fashion.

Related: The 10 Best Flashbacks In Star Wars

Predator all leads up to a standard mano y mano climax, where Dutch squares off with the big guy hand to hand, ultimately doing in the dreadlocked big baddie with a fortuitous trap measure. It’s too much fun because it once again gives movie fans their most coveted outcome: last-minute saves from a battered hero.


Jurassic Park (1993)

Logo for Jurassic Park

One of the rare family-friendly entries in Ranker’s list is the seminal Spielberg film Jurassic Park, which changed the CGI cinematic experience forever. Jurassic Park was a groundbreaking flick about science going haywire and audiences loved it. The film launched an empire of sequels, merchandise, theme park rides, and pop culture flashpoints.

The beloved original follows the trio of Sam Neil’s Alan Grant, Laura Dern’s Ellie Sattler, and Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm as they tour an island theme park populated by genetically engineered dinosaurs. Naturally, things go awry and the heroes scramble for their lives as gorgeously rendered dinos attempt to have them for dinner.


Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

The T-1000 waving his finger at Sarah Connor in the refinery in Terminator 2 Judgment Day

This universally loved Terminator sequel to the original 1984 film was an utterly innovative film for its time, which is why it still holds up for so many after all these years. One of James Cameron’s many wild successes, the sequel outdid its predecessor by a country mile, flipping the script by turning Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 into the hero instead of the villain.

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Linda Hamilton rendered an incredible performance as one of the first and long overdue female warriors shown in equal screen time and capability with her souped-up role as Sarah Connor (along with Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley in the Aliens franchise). A roaring Guns n’ Roses soundtrack and revolutionary CGI in Robert Patrick’s deadly T-1000 had fans clamoring for more.


Aliens (1986)

Ellen Ripley in Aliens

Yet another James Cameron sequel tops the ranks with this acclaimed sci-fi flashpoint in the Aliens series. While Ridley Scott went for the nuance of space horror suspense in the original film, Cameron upped the ante significantly with hardcore sci-fi action.

Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley, one of sci-fi’s most heralded heroines, drifts in space for 60 years after the events of the first film and ends up accompanying a strike force team to a planet where a human colony has gone missing. The acidic bloody monsters have infested, naturally. Face-hugging high jinks and Butch and Cassidy style last stands ensue, with a particularly memorable climax scene between an armored Ripley and the alien queen.


Star Wars (1977)

X-Wings flying towards the Death Star in Star Wars A New Hope

It goes without saying George Lucas’ 1977 film changed the landscape of movie-going forever. Baby Boomers and Gen X kids coming of age in the late ’70s were irreparably intertwined with the seminal space opera. Star Wars spawned an entire pop culture of its own, resulting in vast influences across all platforms and mediums including cinema, animation, television, toys and books, and collectibles.

Related: 10 Reasons Star Wars Stormtroopers Have The Worst Job

It was easy to see why in hindsight, as the relatively simple plot of farmboy takes on an evil empire through the help of some lost magic and a group of ragtag associates was less important than the generation-defining chemistry between Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, and Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa.

The Terminator (1984)

Despite its sequel looming large in the hindsight minds of many a Terminator fanboy, the OG is still firmly set in the sci-fi fan collective consciousness. It was a tent pole offering of the early ’80s and it was James Cameron’s launch into worldwide sci-fi acclaim.

Often derided by critics of the time, who weren’t exactly impressed with the best of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s acting skills after his showing in Conan the Barbarian, Arnie came back swinging as a time-traveling cyborg sent back to kill the mother of the future resistance leader. Though Schwarzenegger only speaks a dozen lines or so, the film endures as a classic, with stellar performances from Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor and sci-fi staple Michael Biehn as Kyle Reese.

Blade Runner (1982)

There are little to no complaints about this vaunted film, heralded by sci-fi fans the world over as the best noir sci-fi movie ever made. Ridley Scott’s magnum opus didn’t take the box office by storm when it was released, in large part due to Harrison Ford’s muted performance in the shadow of his recent Han Solo fame, but the film quickly became a cult classic, with its varied theatrical and director cuts often debated by hardcore Blade Runner fans.

Related: The 10 Best Cyberpunk Movies According To LetterBoxd

The story follows Rick Deckard, a detective living in a dystopian Los Angeles who’s assigned to track down a group of escaped androids led by Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty. The film is lauded for ahead-of-its-time social commentary on the dangers of climate change and artificial intelligence.


Alien (1979)

Alien Movie

Ridley Scott and James Cameron’s projects tend to dominate many sci-fi lists and invariably Scott’s defining entry in the space horror genre always makes the cut. Alien was a smart sci-fi movie ahead of the curve, invoking a dread not often seen aboard starships as it followed the crew of the Nostromo, who encounter a deadly and aggressive alien species set loose on their ship.

With a stellar cast including Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Lance Henrikson, Yaphet Kotto, John Hurt, and Harry Dean Stanton, the success of Alien started another empire of toys, sequels, books, video games, and even crossovers with that other sci-fi beastie franchise, the Predator series.

The Matrix (1999)

Keanu Reeves as Neo in The Matrix

The Wachowski sisters’ inventive second feature after Bound took the world by storm. The Matrix was a one-of-a-kind offering, giving sci-fi fans a heaping bowl of their most coveted tropes, including a reluctant savior who comes into world-altering powers, spell-binding action sequences, a decisively cutting-edge CGI technique in ‘bullet time,’ and a fairly introspective commentary on the nature of reality.

Keanu Reeves gives what’s widely perceived as a career-defining performance (Theodore Logan and John Wick notwithstanding) as Neo, a computer hacker who’s tasked to save humanity from its enslavement by evolved A.I.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back

It would be difficult indeed to find a sci-fi fan who doesn’t hold this second entry in the Star Wars saga in the highest regard.

Generally thought of as the best Star Wars film of all time, the sequel to the 1977 original holds a number of flashpoint moments, including the first appearances of Imperial Walkers on the ice planet Hoth as they assault the Rebel base, Luke Skywalker’s meeting of Jedi Master Yoda and his subsequent training on Dagobah, the Millennium Falcon’s aerial acrobatic escapes from the Imperial fleet, and Lando Calrissian’s betrayal in Cloud City. Perhaps most infamously of all, it also includes Darth Vader’s reveal to Luke Skywalker that he is indeed his father, resulting in what’s perhaps the most quoted line in sci-fi history.

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