Best 8 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time Ranked

New sci-fi movies like Avatar: The Way of Water, Everything Everywhere All at Once and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dominated the box office and managed to land Oscar nominations this year. Only time will tell if they’ll make it to IMDb’s top 10 sci-fi movies, which rarely change.

8 ‘Back to the Future’ (1985)

Rating 8.5/10

Director Robert Zemeckis’s Back to the Future became an unforgettable part of audiences’ childhoods when it premiered to become a box office hit in the 80s. It follows the wacky time travel adventure of Marty McFly, who is accidentally sent back to the past in Dr. Emmett Brown’s ​​DeLorean. The situation becomes worse when Marty realizes he could cease to exist after he messes up his parents’ relationship.

What makes the classic film work is that it doesn’t try too hard to delve into the science, and instead focuses on building a character worth rooting for. Plus, it’s ridiculously hilarious and its comedic tone makes viewers feel like things will turn out alright, even while seeing the worst consequences of Marty’s antics.

7 ‘The Prestige’ (2006)

Rating: 8.5/10Set in London towards the end of the 19th century, director Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige delves into the intense rivalry between two stage magicians. Robert Angier and Alfred Borden are determined to prove that they’re the best at their craft, and will risk everything to pull off never-before-seen stunts on the stage.

The sci-fi element comes in when it becomes apparent that the only way the magicians can outdo each other is through novel (and dangerous) experiments and inventions. The film brilliantly uses sci-fi to make the psychological thriller a truly nerve-wracking race until its tragic end.

6 ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ (1991)

Rating: 8.6/10

Terminator 2: Judgment Day is an excellent example of a sequel done right. Directed by James Cameron, the sci-fi action film is centered on the fate of the future leader of the rebellion, John Connor. A highly advanced and dangerous Terminator (T-1000) is sent by Skynet to eliminate the boy, but the resistance sends one of their own – T-800.

The box office hit is bigger, bolder, and better than the original, which says a lot considering how successful the 1984 movie was. Its shape-shifting antagonist played a huge role in raising the stakes and making the action sequences more engaging and thrilling.

5 ‘Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope’ (197

Rating: 8.6/10

Directed by George Lucas, 1977’s Star Wars is the movie that birthed a franchise that’s still massively successful today. A New Hope introduced the dramatic conflict between the authoritarian Galactic Empire and the courageous Rebel Alliance, while also depicting now-iconic characters like Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia Organa.

The award-winning classic was way ahead of its time, portraying unprecedented and striking scenes set in space and underscoring the viability of science fiction as a cinematic staple. There are undoubtedly still numerous fans around the world who have made it a tradition to re-watch the Skywalker Saga, beginning with the film that started it all.

4 ‘Interstellar’ (2014)

Rating: 8.6/10

Director Nolan’s Interstellar initially takes place on a dying planet that is the dystopian version of earth in the not-too-distant future. When ex-NASA pilot Joseph Cooper is given the chance to leave his farm and lead a mission to space in search of another home, he doesn’t expect what he eventually finds.

Praised for its accurate depictions of celestial bodies and space travel, the film manages to combine science and an emotional father-and-daughter story. It contrasts the vastness of outer space with the intricate details that make the characters human. Of course, it’s worth noting that its mind-blowing plot is also an excellent foray into portraying theoretical physics in a visually stunning way.

3 ‘Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)

Rating: 8.7/10

The continuation of the epic space opera (this time directed by Irvin Kershner), The Empire Strikes Back follows the battle between the rebels led by Princess Leia and the Empire under Emperor Palpatine. Meanwhile, Luke trains with the Jedi Master Yoda to learn how to use the Force in preparation for his climactic confrontation with the powerful Sith Lord, Darth Vader.

There are several iconic moments from the highest-rated Star Wars film that explain why it’s still a beloved entry in the franchise. It further fueled the cultural phenomenon that would stick around long after the 80s, as it continues to inspire fanclubs, spinoffs, parodies, merchandise, and more.

2 ‘The Matrix’ (1999)

Rating: 8.7/10

Most fans would agree that the Wachowskis’ first entry in the Matrix franchise is still the best one. The Matrix introduced viewers to Thomas Anderson (who goes by his hacker name “Neo”), an unassuming computer programmer who learns the truth about his simulated reality. He soon joins forces with the resistance to free others from the manipulation and control of extraterrestrial beings.

The film won numerous accolades and is known for its novel concepts and cutting-edge visuals. Even those who have never seen the movie before may recognize its cyberpunk imagery and “bullet time” moments that have become an irreplaceable part of cinematic history.

1 ‘Inception’ (2010)

Rating: 8.8/10

Among Nolan’s most staggering and iconic works is Inception. The sci-fi action film is centered on a group of professional thieves led by Dom Cobb, whose usual job is to infiltrate the victim’s subconscious to steal information. Someone soon hires him to do an impossible task, to implant an idea instead. The protagonist’s personal life soon becomes inextricably linked to the group’s mission, making things even more perilous.

The unique dreamscapes and the way they are depicted in the film are striking, not to mention the way the premise itself really makes viewers think. It’s a movie that deserves the high praise it receives from both fans and critics, as it’s a genuine standout that took the sci-fi genre to new heights.

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Adam Regan
Adam Regan
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Features and account management. 3 years media experience. Previously covered features for online and print editions.

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