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OTHER Best Lists
Top 50 Best Science Fiction Movies of All Time
The advent of cinema at the end of the 19th century changed the way we saw the world. Those first images flickering across the screen were simply shots of every day life, captured by a stationary camera 57 seconds at a time. It didn't take long for this method of filmmaking to stop thrilling the audience, and many filmmakers saw film as a storytelling medium waiting to be exploited.
At almost the same time, what would become known as science fiction would have its first flowering, with works by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and others appearing on bookshelves and in magazines around the world. Their stories thrilled readers, and it was only natural that these would be adapted as some of the first narrative films.
Science fiction's markers, such as space travel, time machines, and far-off, never-before-seen worlds, were naturals for early filmmakers to experiment with. Georges Melies, a stage magician turned director, employed a wide variety of camera tricks and intricate set pieces, to create some of the first science fiction films, such as A Trip to the Moon.
These films played around the world, influencing a generation of silent filmmakers like Fritz Lang, whose silent masterpiece Metropolis is one of the most extravagant films ever made. With the introduction of sound in the late 1920s, science fiction films allowed effects masters to play with new techniques in audio and video trickery. The 1950s saw not only an explosion in the number of high-quality science fiction films, but also in the rise of low-budget B-movies.
These films, perfect for drive-ins or the back half of a double feature, would eventually make it to television, which introduced a generation of filmmakers to the genre. Film school-trained filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas would revolutionize the film industry, defining the modern blockbuster with their effects-heavy, adventure-driven science fiction films like Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The introduction of computers to film led not only to incredible new graphics, but also to science fiction films that took advantage of the computer as a plot device, and even characters.
Today, science fiction movies have become the most popular genre to mass audiences, with the top-earning films of all-time nearly universally being science fiction.
This explosion has not merely produced popular films, but spectacular, ground-breaking cinematic experiences which thrill and delight audiences, and push the state-of-the-art further and further, not only technologically, but within the realms of what kinds of stories we can tell, and what kinds of characters we can relate to.
Welcome to our carefully curated list of the Top 50 Best Science Fiction Movies of All Time, covering a range from past to the very present!