Movies

35 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

35 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time, Ranked by Rotten Tomatoes
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Epic tales of time travel, dystopian futures, and alien encounters.

From the mind-bending twists of cult classics that have fans debating decades later, to the high-octane thrillers that make you grip your popcorn like it's the control stick of a starfighter, each movie here has been scrutinized by the critics and emerged as a titan in a genre that's as vast as space itself.

35. Interstellar (2014)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 73%

In a near-future Earth ravaged by climate change, a group of astronauts travel through a wormhole near Saturn in search of a new habitable world for humanity, confronting the relativity of time, the bonds of love, and the extremes of human endurance.

34. Avatar ( 2009)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 81%

On the lush alien world of Pandora, disabled Marine Jake Sully becomes part of an avatar program, finding himself torn between his duty to the military-industrial complex that seeks to exploit Pandora's resources and his love for the native Na'vi people.

33. The Matrix ( 1999)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 83%

Computer programmer Thomas Anderson, living a double life as the hacker Neo, discovers that reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called the Matrix, created by sentient machines, and joins a group of rebels to fight against the machines.

32. Under the Skin (2013)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 84%

An enigmatic extraterrestrial being, taking the form of a woman, prowls the streets of Scotland, seducing lonely men into a void where they are consumed, only to undergo a crisis of identity and empathy, leading to her own demise.

31. The Thing (1982)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 85%

A group of American researchers in Antarctica encounter a parasitic extraterrestrial lifeform that assimilates, then imitates other organisms, leading to paranoia and distrust as they try to determine who among them has already been taken over.

30. Inception (2010)

Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%

Dom Cobb, a skilled thief who enters people's dreams to steal secrets, is offered a chance to have his criminal history erased if he can implant an idea into a target's subconscious, leading to a complex and visually stunning journey through layered dreamscapes.

29. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%

Admiral James T. Kirk faces off against his old enemy, Khan Noonien Singh, who seeks revenge against Kirk while attempting to acquire a terraforming device, Genesis, leading to a battle of wits and sacrifice in deep space.

28. Planet of the Apes (1968)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%

Astronaut George Taylor crash-lands on a mysterious planet ruled by intelligent apes who enslave mute, primitive humans, only to discover in a shocking twist that he has been on a post-apocalyptic Earth all along.

27. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 87%

In a dystopian future, Alex, a charismatic and sociopathic delinquent whose interests include classical music, rape, and ultra-violence, undergoes an experimental procedure to cure him of his violent tendencies, but it also robs him of his ability to choose.

26. Blade Runner (1982)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%

In a dystopian future, Rick Deckard, a "blade runner," must track down and retire four replicants who stole a ship in space and returned to Earth to find their creator, leading him to question his own humanity and the nature of the soul.

25. Minority Report (2002)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 89%

In a future where a specialized police department apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by three psychics called "Precogs," Officer John Anderton is accused of a future murder and must unravel a conspiracy to prove his innocence.

24. District 9 (2009)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%

In an alternate 1982, an extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who, through exposure to their biotechnology, becomes the key to their liberation.

23. Moon (2009)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%

Sam Bell, nearing the end of his three-year contract mining Helium-3 on the moon, experiences a personal crisis compounded by the arrival of a younger version of himself, leading to revelations about his identity and the nature of his work.

22. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

A more advanced and deadly cyborg is sent back in time to kill John Connor, the future leader of the human resistance against machines, while Connor's mother, Sarah, and a reprogrammed T-800 Terminator, work to protect him.

21. Jurassic Park (1993)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%

A billionaire philanthropist and a team of genetic scientists create a wildlife park of cloned dinosaurs, but chaos ensues when a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to escape and terrorize the human visitors.

20. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

A visionary and enigmatic exploration of human evolution and space exploration, featuring a mysterious black monolith that influences human evolution, leading to an epic journey to Jupiter and beyond the infinite, accompanied by the malevolent AI HAL 9000.

19. Ex Machina (2014)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

A young programmer, Caleb, is invited by his CEO to administer a Turing test to an advanced humanoid AI, Ava, but becomes entangled in a manipulative game between AI and creator, leading to a profound exploration of consciousness, manipulation, and freedom.

18. Solaris (1972)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

A psychologist travels to a space station orbiting a mysterious ocean planet, Solaris, only to encounter his deceased wife recreated by the planet's ocean, leading him to question reality, memory, and the nature of consciousness.

17. RoboCop (1987)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

In a crime-ridden Detroit, a fatally wounded cop returns to the force as a powerful cyborg haunted by submerged memories, fighting crime and corruption while struggling to uncover his own identity.

16. Children of Men (2006)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 92%

In a dystopian world where humans have become infertile and society is on the brink of collapse, a disillusioned bureaucrat, Theo, becomes the protector of a miraculously pregnant woman, leading him on a perilous journey to deliver her to a sanctuary at sea.

15. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%

In San Francisco, a group of people discover that humans are being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates grown from plant-like pods, leading to a tense and paranoid fight for survival against an ever-growing alien invasion.

14. Back to the Future (1985)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%

Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the eccentric scientist Doc Brown, and must ensure his high-school-aged parents unite in order to save his own existence.

13. Godzilla (1954)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%

A gigantic, prehistoric, radioactive monster called Godzilla emerges from the Pacific Ocean, wreaking havoc on Tokyo, symbolizing nuclear holocaust from Japan's perspective, and reflecting the fears of post-war Japan.

12. Alien (1979)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%

The crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo is awakened from cryo-sleep to investigate a distress call from an alien moon, leading to a deadly encounter with a lethal extraterrestrial creature that infiltrates their ship.

11. Arrival (2016)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

Linguist Louise Banks is recruited by the military to communicate with alien beings who have arrived on Earth, leading to a breakthrough in understanding their language, which challenges her perception of time and her own life choices.

10. Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

An exhausted Chinese-American woman, Evelyn Wang, discovers she can access the skills and lives of her multiverse counterparts and must use these newfound powers to fight a mysterious force threatening reality itself.

9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%

After an encounter with UFOs, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen, leading to a meeting with government agents who are also tracking the phenomenon.

8. WALL-E (2008)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%

In a future where Earth has been abandoned due to waste and pollution, a small waste-collecting robot named WALL-E falls in love with a sleek search robot, EVE, and follows her into space, inadvertently embarking on a journey that will decide the fate of mankind.

7. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%

An alien named Klaatu lands on Earth with his powerful robot Gort to deliver an important message to humanity: live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.

6. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 95%

The epic saga continues as Luke Skywalker trains with Master Yoda to become a Jedi Knight while his friends are pursued by Darth Vader as part of his plan to capture Luke, culminating in a shocking revelation about Luke's parentage.

5. Forbidden Planet (1956)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 96%

In this adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" set in space, a starship crew travels to a distant planet to investigate the fate of a colony, encountering the sole survivors, Dr. Morbius and his daughter, and confronting an invisible monster, ultimately revealed as a manifestation of Morbius's subconscious.

4. Metropolis (1927)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%

In a futuristic, dystopian city, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working-class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences, leading to a struggle between the workers and the elite.

3. Brazil (1985)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 98%

In a retro-futuristic world filled with bureaucratic nightmares, a low-level government employee, Sam Lowry, becomes an enemy of the state when he tries to correct an administrative error, leading him into a surreal journey of love, dreams, and resistance.

2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 99%

A young boy named Elliott befriends an extraterrestrial, dubbed E.T., who is stranded on Earth, and with the help of his siblings, he must find a way to help E.T. return to his home planet while evading government agents.

1. Stalker (1979)

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Rotten Tomatoes score: 100%

In a post-apocalyptic world, a guide known as the Stalker leads two clients through the mysterious and dangerous Zone, a place rumored to fulfill one's deepest desires, exploring existential themes amidst a surreal and hazardous landscape.