Up till now I have been writing about 80s films, especially Science Fiction, so now I thought it would be a good time to branch out a bit and give an overview on what most people agree to be the Top Science Fiction Films of all time!
1. Metropolis: 1927
Long considered the first great and most important and influential film of the genre, director Fritz Lang’s iconic silent classic (which chronicles the toppling of a powerful futuristic city), still dazzles and amazes today, with sets and special effects that are still unparalleled in movie history, especially Maria, Science Fiction’s first famous robot!
2. The Day the Earth Stood Still: 1951
Another genre icon appears in this timeless classic directed by film great Robert Wise (The Sound of Music) and starring Gort, the worlds most indestructible robot, who can only be held back by Klatuu, the worlds first ambassador from another planet. Powered by great performances from Micheal Rennie as Klatuu and Patricia Neal as the Earth woman who befriends him, as well as the powerful presence of Gort himself, along with a memorable score by the masterful Bernard Hermann and a wonderful script that never feels forced or overdone, this is one topical and important film that still resonates today!
3. The War of the Worlds: 1953
The great alien invasion film of all time (adapted from the classic H.G. Wells novel) still impresses with its bold use of color (a rarity in Science Fiction those days), great Oscar Winning effects and a chilling seriousness and intensity that’s truly effective.
4. Forbidden Planet: 1956
Perhaps Sci/Fi’s most prominent and long working star makes his debut in this trail blazing Technicolor spectacle, Robbie the Robot. This imaginative retelling of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” also features future comedy star Leslie Nielson in his most famous straight man role as the commander of an interplanetary rescue team, who find there’s more than meets the eye to the strange planet they’ve been sent to. Featuring dazzling sets and special effects and an unforgettable all electronic soundtrack, Sci/Fi would not witness such an event again until 1968s “2001”.
5. Invasion of the Body Snatchers: 1956
This simple but effective shocker relies little on special effects, instead going for our very souls in one of the all time great psychological thrillers. When a small town doctor starts to investigate reports of hysteria and paranoia among family and friends, he begins to realize that no one is safe and no one can be trusted. Released at the height of the McCarthey scare in the mid 50s, this film hasn’t lost any of its power to creep under our skin with a foreboding atmosphere dramatically heightened by a chilling music score and one of the most famous quotes in film history “There Here Already, You’re Next!”.
Another one of the great psychological films of the genre is a hair raising (no pun intended) twist on culture, philosophical tradition and controversial science. When an astronaut (played by film idol Charlton Heston) crash lands on a strange planet, he finds himself face to face with an insane world where apes are the rulers of civilization and humans are dumb cattle, which in turn makes him “The Missing Link”! This seemingly simple, but sharp satire is further powered by a timeless and intelligent script, standout performances including Roddy McDowell, Kim Hunter and Maurice Evens, incredible (for the time) Oscar Winning makeup and one of the most shocking twist endings in film history!
7. 2001: 1968
What many hail as “The Supreme Science Fiction Masterpiece”, art house director Stanley Kubrick’s astonishing achievement is certainly worthy of the praise, with astounding sets and Oscar Winning special effects that remain unequaled! While not for everyone, with its slow pace and ambiguous storytelling, this absorbing film is still undeniably a work of art, bolstered by an unforgettable soundtrack of classical music and a dazzling sense of scope and grandeur that draws the patient and intelligent viewer in for the ultimate trip!
8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 1977
The film that convinced us that we are not alone, director Steven Spielberg’s second hit after his runaway Blockbuster (Jaws) is a very unusual and warmly rewarding film which became the template for the feel good, New Age sleeper hit. When a simple, hapless man (played brilliantly by Richard Dreyfuss) witnesses U.F.O.s visiting his town, he becomes engaged in an emotional journey which will lead him to be among the first humans to make contact with Extraterrestrials. Beautifully written and directed with dazzling special effects and a subtle, but stirring score by Spielberg favorite John Williams!
9. Star Wars: 1977
That same year also saw the rebirth of Science Fiction, pop culture and the movie industry as we know it with writer/director George Lucas’ intergalactic fairy tale phenomenon, striking a chord with audiences all around the world! Drawing from various classic film and literature references of the past, Lucas somehow combined all the elements together, reinterpreted them as a big screen tribute to the popular Sci/Fi Saturday matinee serial “Flash Gordon” and in the process created something entirely new and unprecedented in film history, spawning five more films in what became a series, toys, clothing, collectors items and more, but lets not forget the film itself. After all these years this simply told, but exhilarating fantasy adventure still leaves us breathless with unforgettable characters, groundbreaking special effects and one of the most exciting and famous of all film scores, again by John Williams who won an Oscar for his work, one of seven the film earned!
10. Blade Runner: 1982
Though a misunderstood failure in its day, this essential Science Fiction classic has stood the test of time as one of the most important and influential films of the genre. A triumph of production design and moody atmosphere, director Ridley Scott’s ambitious tale of a burnt out android hunter (played by Star Wars star Harrison Ford) and the deadly robots he must hunt down (including Rutger Huaer and Darryl Hannah in standout performances), has influenced almost every Science Fiction film and TV show that came after it, with its bleak Film Noir styled storytelling, a strangely prophetic vision of the future and sets and special effects that still hold up!