10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Of All Time, According To IMDb – Collider

Including mind-bending fan favorites like Inception and Interstellar.
The highly-anticipated Avatar sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water is set to premiere on December 16, and will be among the latest additions to the most ambitious sci-fi films ever made. This isn’t unusual for the sci-fi movies that have stood out over the years, as the remarkable ones manage to introduce novel ideas, well-written narratives, and groundbreaking visuals.
RELATED: 10 Highest Rated Movies on IMDb, Ranked by Votes
For fans of the genre, IMDb users’ scores have made it easy to determine the best sci-fi movies of all time. The highest-rated ones include influential classics like Alien and Back to the Future and mind-bending masterpieces like Interstellar and Inception.
It would be an understatement to say that Marvel’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse breathed new life into the oversaturated superhero genre. It introduces fans to Brooklyn-based Miles Morales, who struggles with his new identity as Spider-Man. When the multiverse breaks wide open and brings alternate versions of the hero into the mix, things get exhilarating and chaotic.
From its endearing characters and absorbing story to its stunning variety of visuals and frantic pace, there’s more than one reason the animated film reinvigorated the franchise. The movie is a love letter to the comics and a great entry point for new fans, too.
Often cited alongside the best sci-fi horror movies, Alien is a legendary film that needs no introduction. Directed by Ridley Scott, it’s centered on the crew of the space tug Nostromo, who stumbles upon a strange abandoned spaceship. Little do they know that they would soon be bringing back a deadly extraterrestrial being with them that will threaten their survival.
The film masterfully blends the two genres together in a setting that heavily relies on an eerie, quiet atmosphere. In fact, viewers don’t ever really see the alien in its entirety until the last few minutes of the gripping movie. It may have been released over 40 years ago, but the sci-fi film still holds up and is worth watching today.
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.
Set 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
NEXT: 10 Best Thriller Movies Of All Time, According To IMDb
Saab is an editor and writer for Collider and Screen Rant. Before the two sites, she worked as an editor for a digital marketing company. She's based out of Metro Manila, Philippines, where she lives with her partner, three fat cats, and two hundred houseplants. She's passionate about all things pop culture and design. When she's not typing, she's tending to her indoor garden or watching true crime stories on Netflix.
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