Best Sci-Fi movies 1980 onwards...(ok 1979)

The prometheus discussion and all the hate draw my interest. As I didn’t hate it that much (read: not at all), maybe I’ve just not watched the classics except of Total Recall… Blade Runner? No.

Nr Title Rating
1 - Outland -
2 - Serenity -
3 - District 9 6.0
4 - Terminator 2 8.5
5 - Videodrome -
6 - They Live -
7 - Re-Animator -
8 - The Fifth Element 9.0
9 - The Matrix 8.0
10 - Back to the Future 7.5
11 - 12 Monkeys 10.0
12 - Solaris 7.0
13 - Looper -
14 - Blade Runner 5.0
15 - The Prestige 7.5
16 - Brazil -
17 - Star Trek II 0.0
18 - The Man Who Fell To Earth -
19 - Children of Men -
20 - Gattaca 9.5
21 - Inception 8.5
22 - Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -
23 - Sunshine -
24 - 28 Days Later 8.0
25 - Dark City -
26 - The Thing 9.5
27 - Enemy Mine -
28 - The Empire Strikes Back 8.5
29 - Alien 7.5
30 - Escape From New York 4.0
31 - Robocop 8.5
32 - The Terminator 8.5
33 - The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max II) 9.0
34 - Minority Report 6.5
35 - Jurrasic Park 8.0
36 - Flash Gordon -
37 - Alien Nation -
38 - Tron -
39 - Last Starighter -
40 - Dune -
41 - Idiocracy -
42 - Cloud Atlas -
43 - Galaxy Quest -
44 - the Star Trek reboot -
45 - Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country 0.0
46 - Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension -
47 - Strange Days 8.0
48 - Contact 6.5
49 - Cube
50 - Starman -
51 - Pitch Black -
52 - Frequency -
53 - Spaceballs ?
54 - Apollo 13 disqualified
55 - Day of the Animals disqualified
56 - Mars Attacks!* 6.0
57 - Moon -
58 - Source Code -
59 - Another Earth -
60 - Melancholia -
61 - Aliens 9.0
62 - AI 5.5
63 - Akira -
64 - Wall-E -
65 - The Abyss 9.5
66 - The Fly 8.5

QT3’s most liked Sci-Fi movies (in no particular order):

Dark City
District 9
Terminator 2
The Abyss
The Terminator
Blade Runner
The Matrix
The Thing


District 9
The Abyss
Terminator 2

Off the top of my head.

I’d list these from the 1980s:

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Escape From New York (1981)
The Road Warrior (1981)
Blade Runner (1982)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
The Thing (1982)
Videodrome (1983)
The Terminator (1984)
Brazil (1985)
Aliens (1986)
The Fly (1986)
Robocop (1987)
They Live (1988)

The '70’s were a great time for thoughtful sci fi and produced my personal favorites. Silent Running, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Andromeda Strain, etc… The '80’s seemed to signal the rise of action films with a science fiction setting as opposed to actual stories of science fiction. Moon and Inception have tried to bring back that approach in recent years, but I still miss the slow and deliberate approach to storytelling that those earlier films had.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been any good sci fi since then. Movies such as Megaforce, Zapped and Yor: Hunter from the Future have all been great!

Dark City is one of my favorites.

And 12 Monkeys is probably a good one to add, too.

Does Primer count?

Just ones that come to mind that haven’t been mentioned.

The Fifth Element
The Matrix
Back to the Future

12 Monkeys
District 9
Blade Runner
The Prestige
Star Trek II
The Man Who Fell To Earth
Children of Men
The Matrix
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
28 Days Later
Dark City
Terminator 2
The Abyss
The Thing
Enemy Mine

And a smattering of superhero movies.

The best sci-fi movie in the context of the movie that best uses sci-fi with all its problems and glories, is The Fifth Element. It’s the perfect blend of spectacle, goofiness, imagination, and irony. The dark sister to it is Blade Runner, as thoroughly sci-fi but of a much darker bent and damaged by poor effects.

The best sci-fi movie that wasn’t a sci-fi movie is probably District 9 for its technical brilliance.

The best sci-fi universe is a tie between Terminator and Alien/s/eses.

Blade Runner is damaged by poor effects? Are you fucking high? The movie is a visual spectacle.

The reason I loved District 9 is that it did something which only a science fiction movie can possibly do: it helped me understand and feel the point of view of a racist. Without science fiction how exactly do you make a movie that will help you empathize with people who are rejecting people who are different from them? I don’t think it can be done. But with the science fiction setting, and the documentary style of film making, I found myself feeling at a gut level why I’d feel distrustful and want to contain people behind fences. When I don’t understand ‘the other’ and am scared of it, that fear really is the source of discrimination. It’s one thing to just say that, but another to actually show the audience by having them feel it. So brilliant. The movie made me feel very uncomfortable.

My favorite recent Science Fiction movie has been Gattaca. It is not traditional ‘movie’ Sci-Fi (which tends to be Science fantasy), but rather real Science Fiction, well written and acted.

. . . except when special effects are used, which are of the Star Wars Ep. VI variety and break the immersion. The sets are masterpieces, the art direction is great, but everything that flies, floats, or goes pew pew yanks me out of the story.

What, seriously? Watch this and tell me it doesn’t hold up for a 30 year old movie. This would look great today (in fact it does if you watch it on blu-ray, where it looks fantastic) with the possible exception of the cockpit displays which are obviously early 80s style.

Not sure about the pew pew comment either, given that all the guns are ballistic weapons which hold up as well as any ballistic weapon.

I’m with krayzkrok, I think the spinner looks bad ass.

The practical effect looks great . . . until the cheap dry ice blower. The first shot of the car rising looks great . . . until the crappy shot through the windshield. The cityscape looks great . . . until the off-color palettized car comes into scene. I’m not knocking it in context, it was and is a breakthrough movie, but the effects put me off back then when I was a kid, and they still put me off now. It’s mostly because the movie is a gritty noir piece with ultra-real sets (just look at the rain and gloom in the start of your clip) but then it gets yanked out to smooth or choppy effects at certain points and drags me out. The Fifth Element maintains a certain joyfully simplistic palette throughout and profits from it, the occasional bad effect doesn’t detract from the whole because everything is just a bit silly in the first place.

The question was about sci-fi, not cinema verite or chronologically contextual achievements, that’s why I said what I said. Blade Runner is definitely a better movie than 5th, but not a better sci-fi movie.

Houngan, I love ya, but you fuckin’ on crack with this one. ;)

I’d have started this in 1977 - basically the year that special effects extravaganzas redefined the market place with Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Before that they were so few and far between that you tended to see them all simply because you were so starved from the waits in between.

Dang, A Boy and His Dog just misses even that.

Blade Runner (Original or Final - the pre-digital Spinner’s are still glorious)
Dark City (Director’s Cut)
The Empire Strikes Back
The Thing (1982 version)
Escape From New York
The Terminator
The Matrix
The Road Warrior (aka Mad Max II)
Minority Report

Hey man, I’m just arguing taste, and we all know how that turns out. I’m not calling people wrong, but I’m not going to be called wrong for things that struck me, well, wrong.

Still looks better than a lot of CGI.

But…I’m calling YOU wrong. ;)