You think you know what the best Sci-Fi movies of all time are. The trouble is, so do a billion other nerds, and each one of them is willing to fight you. To the death. It's time we settled this. But first, a quiz!
Welcome to nerd club. The first rule of nerd club? We talk about nerd club. Constantly. All the time. To anyone, whether they want to talk about it or not. Then we make lists, hard, heavy, intricate lists. Lists that dictate what thing is better than what other thing. And if this is your first time at nerd club... you have to make a list.
And by god, I'm gonna make a list. The list. The best sci-fi films of all time list.
I can hear you, you know. Cracking your knuckles, grinding your teeth. Flexing your nerdly physique and preparing your keyboard for a white hot tirade of wikipedia-backed fact punches. This is it. The big time. The list of the best sci-fi films of all time. Don't think I don't know what the stakes are. There has never been more pressure on the writer of a list that compares some things to other similar things and decides which of the things is better. Do you think I'm not feeling the heat? Do you think I'm not sweating here? Even though I sweat a lot anyway because I'm kind of fat and haven't shaved in a while?
Cool your jets man, we can talk about the best sci-fi films ever without having to resort to whatever it is nerds have instead of violence. We just need some ground rules...
1) The list will be in two separate categories; Undisputed Classics and Modern Contenders.
2) The subjects will be presented in chronological order, and not order of superiority.
3) Factors taken into account will be popularity, concept, originality, visual impact and wether or not Will Smith punches an alien in the head.
4) Trilogies etc. will be based on the strength of their first installment.
5) At the end of the list, all factors will be taken into consideration and a Best Sci-Fi Film Ever of All Time will be elected by a team of experts (me and some guys I know). The elected film will be forever regarded as the undisputed and irreplaceable champion of Sci-fi film.
6) The comments section will never, ever, be read by the author of this list. Ever. So don't even bother.
Ready? Let's do this...
Directed by: Fritz Lang
Metropolis finds its way unto the list by virtue of arguably being the first pure Sci-Fi film to be done on an 'epic' scale, featuring effects that, at the time, would have made people shit from their eyes.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Directed by: Robert Wise
This film was one of the first to take a more sympathetic angle to the prospect of alien invasion. When a stranger from the stars comes to earth to warn us against our violent ways, he is promptly shot.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Slick, intelligent and with ground breaking effects. So much time was spent making a deep, gorgeous and disturbing film that they forgot to script any lines for the actors.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Directed by: Franklin J. Schaffner
A movie that taught us to fear apes. Fear them.
Direct by: Andrei Tarkovsky
Deep and minimalist. Thanks to a zany planet a scientist is reunited with his dead wife! Hilarity ensues! Nah, just kidding. Brooding, pensive stuff all round, really.
Star Wars (1977)
Directed by: George Lucas
Star Wars captured the imagination of a generation with its spectacular effects, lovable characters and liberal use of lazer swords. There are some people alive today who claim never to have seen Star Wars. These people are assholes.
Direct by: Ridley Scott
The crew of a starship are terrorized by a vaguely phallic alien beast. A dark and intense thriller that set the tone for 80's Sci-Fi and created one of cinema's best loved modern monsters.
Blade Runner (1982)
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Based on the Phillip k. Dick short story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner raised interesting questions about the nature of existence in the face of advanced artificial intelligence. What it is more fondly remembered for is Scott's vision of the mean streets of the future. Also, the hot robot stripper.
E.T: The Extra Terrestrial (1982)
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Spielberg proves his mettle as a director by making us fall in love with an alien creature that looks like it was shat rather than born. On a side note, this movie spawned the least successful video game of all time.
The Terminator (1984)
Directed by: James Cameron
Arnold Schwarzenegger in a career-making role as a relentless killing machine sent back from the future to terminate someone's mother. A gritty, fast paced action flick that somehow resulted in the governor of California
Back to the Future (1985)
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Back to the Future gave us a time travel movie that pitted Michael J Fox against the best school bully ever and the seductive advances of his own mother. If you're not moved by the soundtrack, you're probably dead.
Directed by: Katsuhiro Otomo
One of the definitive cyber-punk visions of the future, with animation quality that holds its own against modern scrutiny. Satisfies the japanese film quota of boobs and monsters with flair and ease.
Total Recall (1990)
Direct by: Paul Verhoeven
This movie is what happens when somebody says they're going to make a film based on one of Phillip K. Dick's stories, but then get distracted with unflinching violence and three-boobied space whores.
Jurassic Park (1993)
Directed By: Stephen Spielberg
Spielberg reminds us that Dinosaurs are awesome through emerging CGI techniques. A landmark film in visual effects.
The Matrix (1999)
Directed by: The Wachowski Bros.
While it was not the first film to put nerd chic in the mainstream, slick directorial techniques, a fun concept and a shitload of kung fu mean that it was certainly the most successful. Damn near killed by its own sequels.
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Though this film often flies under people's radar, Sunshine was a fantastically directed film that took great delight in highlighting all the horrible ways that space can kill you. If you wanted a condensed study of Danny Boyle's directorial techniques, you'll find it in this film.
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Animation techniques move so fast now that it won't be long before WALL-E looks like a laughable piece of shit. In the mean time, however, it is one of the best animated visions of the future to date.
District 9 (2009)
Direct by: Neill Blomkamp
In a thinly veiled commentary on apartheid, alien refuges are unfortunate enough to find themselves stranded in Johannesburg. Filmed in a documentary style, this one was a hit with the critics. Also, somebody gets shot with a pig.
Directed by: James Cameron
A huge budget film that, despite being criticised for its lack of original script, won so many awards that James Cameron can now tile his roof with them. A movie that is visually stunning, set on an intricately realized world.
Independence Day (1996)
Directed by: Roland Emmerich.
Though soundly trounced in all other categories, Independence Day scored so high in the 'Will Smith Punching and Alien in the Head' category that it rocketed to first place. It also scored highly in the 'Jeff Goldblum Provides Handy Exposition' and 'The President Flies a Fighter Jet' categories.
So there you have it. If you have issue with the Undisputed and Irreplaceable Champion of Sci-Fi film, you can take it up with Will Smith.
(Or you can check out the various other lists. They're all good.)