Lynn, a newish foldedspace reader, is proving herself full of good information. She provided the tip about the library book sale (albeit via Denise’s weblog), and yesterday she mentioned The Oregonian‘s list of the fifty greatest science fiction films of all time (as selected by fifteen science fiction authors and “hardcore buffs”)..

Being a science fiction fan, I couldn’t resist tracking down the list. Follow the link to read expanded commentary on each of the selections, or just take a gander at the summary below.

  1. Alien (1979), which Dave and I just saw in the theater on Halloween night. This is a reasonable choice for the top spot.
  2. Blade Runner (1982), giving Ridley Scott the two top spots. Is this really the second-best science fiction film ever made? Pam would disagree. I would, too.
  3. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), which Dana loves. I only saw it once, long long ago.
  4. Metropolis (1927), which I’ve never seen.
  5. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
  6. Star Wars (1977), which captured the imagination of a generation.
  7. The Matrix (1999), a film I enjoy more each time I watch it.
  8. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), which has always bored me.
  9. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), which I recently saw on the big screen; I love the first half, don’t like the second half.
  10. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Ugh.
  11. Terminator 2 (1991), say what?
  12. Alphaville (1965), which I’ve never seen.
  13. Aliens (1986), which is okay, but a little over-the-top sometimes.
  14. A Clockwork Orange (1971), which is very disturbing.
  15. Brazil (1985), a fine film dystopia.
  16. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), which is fun, but number sixteen?
  17. The Thing From Another World (1951), which I’ve never seen.
  18. Solaris (1972) — uh, no. This film is t-e-d-i-o-u-s.
  19. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), which I’ve never seen.
  20. The Terminator (1984) — I’ve never been a fan of the Terminator films.
  21. Testuro: The Iron Man (1988) — hm, a film of which I’ve not ever heard�
  22. Things to Come (1936), which I’ve not seen.
  23. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), a good Star Trek film, and one of my most-watched movies of all time.
  24. Mad Max (1978), which I loved when I was in high school.
  25. Forbidden Planet (1956) — how can you not love Shakespeare in space?
  26. Back to the Future (1985), which I haven’t seen in a long time, so I just added it to my Netflix queue.
  27. The City of Lost Children (1995), which Joel and Aimee love, but which seems too artificial for me.
  28. The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957), now this gave me nightmares when I was a kid. The giant spider was just too much.
  29. Them! (1954), which I’ve never seen.
  30. Akira (1988), which I’ve never seen.
  31. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), which I’ve never seen.
  32. Farenheit 451 (1966), which I saw once long ago but no longer remember.
  33. Repo Man (1984) — Can you believe I’ve never seen it? It’s at number 46 on the Netflix queue.
  34. Planet of the Apes (1968), which has some good scenes, but also looks like a TV movie-of-the-week in most spots. Read the book.
  35. 12 Monkeys (1995) — Boo-yah! I love this film.
  36. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954), which I’ve never seen straight through.
  37. Delicatessen (1991), which I have not seen, but want to.
  38. Fantastic Planet (1971), of which I’ve never heard.
  39. The Fly (1986) — come again?
  40. Jurassic Park (1992), one of my favorite thrill-ride films, I love the T-Rex sequence.
  41. Silent Running (1971), which I cannot sit through, so I’ve never seen the entire thing. Boring.
  42. Return of the Jedi (1983), which should not be on this list — George Lucas beginning to lose restraint.
  43. The Brother From Another Planet (1984) — I’ve never heard of this, either.
  44. The Fifth Element (1997), while agree that elements of this film are visionary, other pieces are utterly annoying.
  45. The Thing (1982), which I’ve only seen once, while drunk in college.
  46. Dark City (1998), which I didn’t like as much as Roger Ebert (who loved it), but it’s on my Netflix queue anyhow.
  47. Pitch Black (2000), which I’ve not seen.
  48. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), an indication that this list has degenerated into silliness.
  49. The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), which I have not seen.
  50. Starship Troopers (1997), which received poor reviews but which I rather liked.

I’m pleased to see that neither of the recent Star Wars films made the list. I may watch them from time-to-time, but it’s simply out of nostalgia, because I’m part of the Star Wars generation. I skip whole scenes (thank you, DVD!). The Oregonian also has a list of the five worst science fiction films of all time, and local celebrities listing their favorite science fiction films.

There are some science fiction films that I particularly like that didn’t make the list. They may not be particularly good, in an objective sense, but I always enjoy:

  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), which I feel is the second best film in the franchise, much better than the over-rated Star Trek IV (which is just painful to watch now): “Double dumbass on you!”
  • When Worlds Collide (1951), a cheesy 1950s science fiction film that I first saw in the theater — it frightened me!
  • Outland (1981), with Sean Connery. This film fits perfectly with the Alien/Blade Runner-type dystopic near future.
  • Buckaroo Banzai (1984), which is pure goofy fun.
  • Logan’s Run (1976), which has a fascinating story poorly brought to screen. A remake might be good, eh?
  • The Black Hole (1979), which is dreadful really, but for which I have a soft spot in my heart.

What science fiction films do you love, and why?


On 08 November 2003 (11:57 AM),
Dana said:

Ye gods, that list is awful. I agree with about half of it. Alien, while good, is not the best ever made. It’s acceptable as a first choice, but it wouldn’t be mine.

I’ve heard of all the films you haven’t, but a lot of them I haven’t seen, either.

I think part of the difficulty is that it’s hard to actually find 50 good SF films. There is at least one horrible ommision. Contact. Contact is one of the finest SF movies ever made.

I will spare you all my own, personal, list, however. =)

Oh, yeah — I’m pretty sure you misspelled Tetsuo: the Iron Man.

On 08 November 2003 (12:00 PM),
J.D. said:

Come on, Dana. Give us your list. I want to make fun of Time Bandits! 🙂

And, you’re right — Contact is a fine film, one which belongs near the top of the list. I’d forgotten it, too.

On 08 November 2003 (12:22 PM),
Dana said:

Okay, my top ten. How’s that?

1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
2. Contact
3. Brazil
4. The Truman Show (you’ll probably argue this isn’t SF)
5. The Empire Strikes Back
6. Bladerunner
7. Forbidden Planet
8. The Day the Earth Stood Still
9. 12 Monkeys
10. Back to the Future

I have trouble generating rankings, though. I could easily give you a list of the 50 SF films I think are the best, but ranking them beyond that, saying this is absolutely better than that one is pretty hard. So I think these are probably the top 10, but they may not be very exactly ranked.

And, of course, this is just my opinion. There are a number of films on the original list that I have not seen, so perhaps I’d include them if I’d seen them.

On 08 November 2003 (12:29 PM),
Joel said:

Contact, hmm, now that’s the one that’s all about destruction, right?

On 08 November 2003 (12:33 PM),
Joel said:

In the top 50, I’d want to include more movies that make me laff, like Sleeper and Deathrace 2000.

On 08 November 2003 (12:38 PM),
J.D. said:

Dana’s right; it’s difficult to actually rank my favorite science fiction films. I can tell you what they are, but not the order in which I like them:

  • Alien
  • Blade Runner
  • Outland
  • Star Wars
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Buckaroo Banzai
  • Contact
  • The Matrix
  • 12 Monkeys

What? No older films? Nope. As much as I like Forbidden Planet and When Worlds Collide, they’re not in the same class. If I could include fantasy, I’d add Spirited Away.

Y’know, I’d love to see some of the old serials I remember watching on television as a kid: the Buck Rogers, the Flash Gordon, the Commander Cody serials. I wonder if Netflix has them…

On 08 November 2003 (12:52 PM),
Dana said:

I should clarify — My above list is what I think qualify as the top ten Best SF Movies.

They are not my ten Favorite SF movies. Because in that case Buckaroo Banzai would be #1! Swoon!

On 08 November 2003 (02:56 PM),
Dave said:

I don’t know that I could come up with a list that was ranked one through ten, but here’s what I would put into that pool of the top SF movies.

Star Trek II
Blade Runner
The Matrix
The Empire Strikes Back
Total Recall
The Road Warrior

Maybe I’d put Outland on the list, but I’d have to see it again. I keep getting it mixed up with Saturn 3. Not good…

On 08 November 2003 (03:01 PM),
Dana said:


Total Recall

GACK. Kindly allow me to eviserate you with this spoon…

Gattaca is an excellent choice, and should have been in my list. Replace Back to the Future. Unforgivable omission (Note: remember to kick self).

On 08 November 2003 (04:06 PM),
J.D. said:

Gattaca is good. Very good.

On 08 November 2003 (11:10 PM),
dowingba said:

I am a big fan of Terminator 1 & 2.

On 09 November 2003 (10:11 AM),
Denise said:

I like Terminator I & II, and Highlander. Go figure. Clancy Brown is great in Highlander. I have to say, though, my all-time favorite SF movie is Aliens II, followed closely by Aliens I. Wrath of Khan is great, too, though – especially those ear slugs!

On 10 November 2003 (07:28 AM),
Dave said:

How can you not like Predator!? Sure, it’s not deep, but it has such killer lines as: “This stuff will make you a god damnned sexual Tyrannosaurus…” from the later to be governor of Minnesota. Oh, wait. I guess Dana didn’t vote for the Independence Party candidate in the last election…

And as for Total Recall, what can I say? I like Phillip K. Dick’s stories, even butchered.

On 10 November 2003 (07:34 AM),
J.D. said:

And, if nothing else, Total Recall marked the first time I’d ever seen Sharon Stone in a film. And what an appearance! Hubba hubba.

On 10 November 2003 (08:27 AM),
Amanda said:

Pitch Black is a must see. A low-budget scifi extravaganza with Vin Diesel–what could be better! The first time I saw this movie I was freaked out for days… although it may have been the massive amount of weed I consumed prior to the viewing. Hmm.

On 14 November 2003 (07:33 PM),
chris said:


On 07 March 2004 (09:53 PM),
Carson Gilmore said:

I would like feedback on the following, which through years of research I have come to deem, in their respective time periods, the most influential science fiction films ever made:

Metropolis (1927)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
The Thing From Another World (1951)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
Blade Runner (1982)

Any comments would be appreciated

On 20 March 2004 (05:44 PM),
Hugh said:

I cannot beleive this list nor the fact that you have not seen some of the greater films on it… SEE them, and watch some of the below!!! For your own good!

mad max II
soyulant green
omega man
invasion of the body snatcher ( leonard nimoy/donald sutherland remake )
planet of the apes ( series )
demon seed
fantastic voyage
black hole
forbidden planet ( origonal )
repo man
12 monkeys
the man who fell to earth
pitch black
logan’s run
12 monkeys
the andromeda strain

A couple of examples – total recal: excellent book but butchered to pander to the masses, predator? same – excellent story but given some “glitter” to make it sweet enough for mass release. 2001: READ THE BOOK – brilliant, written whilst the film was being made, you will never watch the film again after this. Bladerunner: Ridley Scott makes this film – don’t read the book as the film is highly adapted from the book ( good book in it’s own right but doesn’t stand up to Ridley’s film ). The Thing – even the origonal is good – the remake? Brilliant, read the comics for the expansion on the films ( that goes for a lot of these films – read darkhorse comics for a starting point ). Carson, Amanda and JD have the right idea but if you were to watch the selection I have listed you would see that good Sci-Fi films are out there – watch them!

On 16 September 2005 (08:41 PM),
Joe said:

— My Top List —

I can’t choose the best out of these movies:
1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
1. Blade Runner (1984)
1. H. G. Wells’ Things to Come (1938)

The Great and Influential Classics:
4. Forbidden Planet (1956)
5. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
6. Metropolis (1927)
NA. La Jetee (1962)
NA. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

Intermission 1. The beasts, creatures and weirdo’s that don’t really interest me, but everyone lists as influential sci-fi:
NA: Frankenstein (1931)
NA: The Thing (1982)
NA: King Kong (1933)
NA: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956, 78)
NA: Them!

The Great Thinking films:
7. The Matrix: Reloaded (Shows more of the Matrix world than the first film.)
8. A Clockwork Orange
9. Solaris (1972)

For the imagination, special effects, influence, and re-watchability:
10. Star Wars (1977), Empire Strikes Back
11. Alien
12. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

Intermission 2. Fun, Funnny, and Must See Films:
NA. Dark Star (Phenomenology)
NA. Young Frankenstein (1974)
NA. Spaceballs
NA. Galaxy Quest

Uh… Good for Some Unknown Reason:
13. Silent Running (1971)

More Great Thinking Films:
14. Star Trek: First Contact
15. Total Recall
16. Gattacca
17. Pi
18. Primer (2004)
19. Cube
20. The Andromeda Strain
21. Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

Uh… Good for Some Unknown Reason:
22. The Time Machine (1960)

Worth Watching:
NA. Sci-Files (Documentary)
NA. THX 1138
NA. eXistenZ
NA. Soylent Green
NA. A. I. — Artificial Intelligence
NA. Donnie Darko

Flashy and Recommended:

23. Equilibrium
24. Dark City
25. Brazil

3 Replies to “The Greatest Science Fiction Films”

  1. Zaphod says:

    With the amount of CLASSIC movies on this list which you have not seen, I don’t think you are qualified to make a list.

  2. Daniel G.Her says:

    E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
    Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    Blade Runner (1982)
    Matrix, The (1999)
    Metropolis (1927)
    Clockwork Orange, A (1971)
    12 Monkeys (1995)
    Aliens (1986)

  3. psikeyhackr says:

    You have Star Wars films listed but not

    The Abyss

    What is the universe coming too?


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