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My Top 16 Sci-Fi Movies Of All Time

Posted by on Aug 9, 2009

A site called Total Sci-Fi Online came out with their Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies of all time list a week ago, and like what usually happens, people look at such a list and say “what the hey” and “hey, you forgot about” and “why is that ranked so high or so low.” I’m obviously no different, if you remember my post on the Top 100 Singers Of All Time, still one of my most visited posts.

One of the problems you sometimes have with critics is that some stuff they throw on a list is just because they think something is cool and has to be on the list, whether they actually liked it or not. For instance, 2001: A Space Odyssey always makes these lists, yet I’ve always thought it was one of the most boring movies I’ve ever tried to watch. Also, Dune was a fantastic book, yet the movie was a mess.

Of course, my list will have my own biases in it. After all, if you know anything about me, you know I’m a major Star Trek fan, so it will be represented.

Anyway, I hope you check out the list above. Meanwhile, I’m going to list my own favorites, in reverse order, and I decided to go with 16 because, well, I just like that number this morning. Actually, I liked the number 15, but then I had trouble with which two movies needed to be near the bottom of my list, so I decided to keep them both. Here we go; and yes, the link to each one is an affiliate link to buying the movie, if you’re so inclined to do so:

16 Fantastic Voyage – This was one of those big time special effects movies from the 60’s that starred Raquel Welch (that’s enough to put it on my list). Someone is really sick, and these people are shrunk with this new technology and actually “fly” a ship into a person’s body to battle the disease. This was way ahead of its time; nothing like it has been done since.

15 Predator – For me, this was a sleeper hit, because I hadn’t heard about it when it first came out; what rock was I hiding under? This was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best performances, because he wasn’t playing a robot, was with an ensemble cast that included a future governor of Minnesota, and the Predator was so good that they brought him and his family back for at least 3 more movies.

14 War of the Worlds – This movie freaked people out, even decades after learning that Orson Welles radio performance was a hoax. What this movie taught everyone was that you could build up terror without actually seeing monsters, and the pacing was fantastic. Okay, I’ll admit that once we saw the aliens I was a little disappointed, but before then, this movie, even though I saw it many years later since I wasn’t born when it came out, was intense.

13 Omega Man – I saw this movie before I saw Planet of the Apes, and it was my introduction to Charlton Heston. At the time, I didn’t equate the dark creatures he was battling with zombies, ala Will Smith and I Am Legend (which I didn’t see; I don’t like zombies), which is a good thing because I might never have watched it. Talk about scary and being ahead of its time; who’d have thought that the original protector of the right to bear arms would also be one of the first big white Hollywood stars to have an interracial relationship on screen?

12 Fantastic Planet – This little avant-garde cartoon movie is fantastic, hence its name. It’s about these little people who are made slaves for this larger race of people, yet one of the little people discovers a major secret that he uses to free his civilization. This movie really was deep, and way ahead of its time; check out this clip to see if it engages you in any way.

11 Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind – This is how most of us who love space movies hope that, if there ever really is an alien encounter, it goes. Richard Dreyfuss really played his part well, and all of us were hoping he’d make it over the mountain and get to interact with the aliens, which of course he did. This was also, at the time, the longest movie I’d ever seen, yet I could have watched another hour.

10 Planet of the Apes – I actually saw the second movie first, which kept me up late at night for weeks. The first one, with Charlton Heston (though he made a brief appearance in the second movie), was obviously the better movie. Who hasn’t quoted lines from this movie after seeing it? The idea that man will one day ruin the planet and that another race will step up to the plate seems plausible the more you think about it.

9 X-Files: Fight The Future – At this time this movie came out, X-Files was my favorite show. This movie wasn’t for people who’d never seen the show, because they’d have had no idea what was going on. Yet, if they just wanted a thrill a minute, this movie had lots of it. The producers took a major chance with this movie, as it linked the end of one season with the beginning of the next season, and if fans missed it then they’d have had no idea what was going on. For me, it was a perfect compliment to the series.

8 Andromeda Strain – Talk about a movie that was ahead of its time. No one had ever heard of ebola when this story, then movie, came out. In general, something is killing all the citizens in towns around the country, and a small band of super scientists are put together to try to figure out what’s going on. The difference this time is that each scientist has their own personal issues they have to work through at the same time. Very human movie and a precursor to the hysteria we went through in the 80’s when the real thing came to light.

7 Terminator – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s second movie on this list, and his best movie ever. Talk about capturing the imagination of the world; robot comes back in history to kill the person who’s eventually going to give birth to the leader they’re fighting in the future. Can one change the future? This movie, and the three that followed it, seem to indicate that answer is no, but they still keep trying. The second movie was great also, but this one started it all. Yeah, tell me you’ve never said “I’ll be back.”

6. The Matric – This movie was just cool. Imagine the premise; everything we see and feel right now isn’t real, just something forced through our bodies by a race of machines intent on eliminating anything else that’s real, which is a dark place instead. If humans created machines, doesn’t that mean that at least one human has the capability to overcome them? “I should have taken the blue pill.” And I’d have loved it even more if it had been this version:

5. Jurassic Park – The build up for this movie was intense; the movie didn’t let me down. Imagine; science realizing that they can actually make dinosaurs via DNA from the past. Then they take a shortcut; what could go wrong? This is science that some are talking about doing today; I think it’s a mistake, but what do I know? This movie was so intense when I saw it that I had to go back 3 days later to watch it again so I could finally get to sleep. It taught me to never, and I mean NEVER, go to any more movies of this type at midnight.

4. Star Wars III – Revenge Of The Sith – In my opinion, this was the best movie out of the six. It was dark, action packed, and definitely the one movie that was more for adults than for kids or swooning little girls. Even though we all knew what was going on, we were captivated in seeing how it all went down, from Yoda battling the Sith to Obi Wan Kenobe and Anakin Skywalker battling to the almost death on a volcano planet. Never had the forces of good and evil been to definitely drawn out and illuminated. It was so good that I easily overcame my one gripe, which was Anakin so immediately giving his life over to the Sith with no qualms whatsoever.

3. Star Trek II – Wrath Of Khan – This was the first movie that almost made me cry since Brian’s Song. They brought back Ricardo Montalban as Khan from one of the best TV episodes, and he was the perfect choice for this movie as well. William Shatner as James Kirk uttered a line in this movie that’s one of my mantra’s these days: “I never believe in the no-win scenario.” That they killed off Spock almost crushed my spirit; I was so glad they brought him back, even if the 3rd movie overall wasn’t top notch. And Kirstie Alley was still hot. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of a few.” For some reason the speech part is against copyright, so this is a clip that’s somewhat different, yet you still get the visual:

2. Armageddon – This movie makes the list because it almost made me cry near the end also, which, from what I understand, a lot of other guys felt the same way. The premise is that a super asteroid is heading towards Earth, and NASA decides to hire some guys known for drilling oil wells to do the job of digging into the asteroid so they can blow it up with a nuke. When Bruce Willis tells his daughter that he won’t be coming back, even though I have no children, that was a tough moment, but when he actually does blow himself and the asteroid up, fulfilling his words, and then they show the wedding scenario with his picture and the other guys who didn’t come back,… well, it took all the reserve I had not to fall out like a baby.

1. Independence Day – This one makes the top of my list because it’s the one movie that I can go to when I need a boost even now. The premise behind the movie is that, just before America’s Independence Day, we’re visited by an alien race that’s intent on wiping out humanity so they can scavenge the planet for all its resources for its own people. And their technology is way beyond ours; how can we overcome it? With Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, and a rousing speech from Bill Pullman, that’s how. This movie is personal with me. For 2 1/2 days after the attack on the Twin Towers in NYC on September 11th, 2001, I was glued to the TV, changing channels every so often looking for something new on what was going on. I didn’t sleep for more than 60 hours. Finally, I knew I had to get away from it. So, I got up, went into the bedroom, and put this movie into the DVD player and went to the speech.

I watched the movie from that point 6 or 7 times in a row before I started feeling good. That’s why this movie is number one on my list.

And there you go. I’d love to hear your comments and see which movies you feel belong on the list. And maybe you’ll put your own list together, and let us know; I love this stuff!

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Oh man, that is one serious list there. It bring back so many memories.
.-= Deneil Merritt´s last blog ..Girlfriend Went Crazy With Logo And eBook Cover =-.

August 9th, 2009 | 10:56 PM

The original list brought many memories also, Deneil, but there were some movies on it that I had never heard of, and some that were, well, boring as sin. I hope my list is pretty action packed, except for Fantastic Planet.

August 10th, 2009 | 1:57 AM

Ummmm.. Aliens?
I liked all the movies you listed, but Aliens (not the 1st flick, ‘Alien’) kicked ass.

And Independence Day is your top pick..?

…the one where they launched sidewinder a2a missiles at the huge spaceships (with unrealistically large detonations), which would be ineffective unless the spaceships were made of aluminum foil.

And (spoiler) Wil Smith is able to immediately hack into the aliens computer system with his Mac laptop at a time they could barely interface with a PC? 🙂

So ‘feel good movie’? Sure.
Realistic or even obeying the laws of physics or logic? No way.

I can bend some rules or suspend disbelief a bit, since they ARE sci-fi flicks, but “Team America World Police” by the SouthPark guys was just as believable as Independence Day. lol

My 2 cents.

August 10th, 2009 | 1:56 PM


The idea is “favorite”, not logical. Is it logical for people to be shrunk and fit inside a person’s body? Nah! And you got the characters wrong; that was Jeff Goldblum. But it made me feel good; that goes a long way as far as I’m concerned.

I actually liked the first Alien movie, but I had to watch it multiple times to get it all in; I’m not much into scary, so I figure if I couldn’t watch it in one showing it doesn’t count. lol

August 10th, 2009 | 5:34 PM

hey Mitch,
I like your list. You hit all of my favorites I think (Planet of the Apes, Terminator, Independence Day, et al). I would only disagree on Star Wars. Star Wars III may have been the best of the series, but I think the original deserves to be in the top three since it started it all… but it’s not my list, is it. 🙂
.-= Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..Trade Show Kinsella =-.

August 10th, 2009 | 3:31 PM

But Steve, if I went the “first” route, then I’d have to say the first Star Trek movie was better than the second one, and it’s great (okay, I’m a fan), but not as great as the second one.

Course, there’s nothing saying you can’t start your own list,… 😉

August 10th, 2009 | 5:24 PM

hey Mitch,
That reminds me of another movie I’d put on my list, if I was making a list… Another example of one of the few times the SEQUEL is better than the original…
the Road Warrior! I saw Mad Max a few years later, and it was ok, but Road Warrior was AWESOME! ~ Steve, the listless trade show guru
.-= Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..Trade Show Kinsella =-.

August 11th, 2009 | 6:10 PM

I’d have to agree with you that the second movie was much better than the first, Steve. Not sure it would make my top 30, though.

August 12th, 2009 | 1:43 AM

Planet of the Apes use to freak me out haha

The great thing about me is.. my memory sux so bad, i can watch movies over and over and it’s just like watching them the first time haha!

Planet of The Apes
Jurassic Park
Independence Day

My favs out of the list above!
.-= Jake´s last blog ..It’s Friday – The Man Cave! =-.

August 10th, 2009 | 7:40 PM

I’m glad I have someone else backing me on Independence Day, Jake. These were all fun movies, for sure.

August 10th, 2009 | 9:03 PM

Isn’t it funny what people do and don’t like? I LOVED 2001 and LOVED Dune. Alright, Sting made the film (Kyle was a bit wooden) but they were defining films for me.
I would have put TRON up there as well again because it played such a shaping role.
I’d also have put Star Wars V – Empire strikes back up there. Man that’s a dark film best of the bunch.
Aaaarrrgggh Mitch, I’m reading through the top 100 and want to go and watch EVERY single one of them. 🙂

August 11th, 2009 | 4:58 AM

Hi Matt,

Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I almost want to pull out all of these movies and have a marathon myself. The only one I don’t own in some fashion is Fantastic Planet; that’s a shame. Course, I’d also have to find a place to reconnect my VHS, since most of the movies I have are on tape.

I thought about Tron because it was the first movie to use computer technology (remember when we were all agog over primary colors? That’s what made Dire Straits a big name), but it wasn’t a great movie otherwise. At least not top 16 great; if I did my top 30 it would have made the list.

I also thought about Star Wars V, but in the end I decided to leave it out because, well, for me it just didn’t have as many memorable moments in it until the end (quote three lines you remember from that movie), though it did introduce Yoda to us (man, I love Yoda!).

August 11th, 2009 | 10:31 AM

Ok, three quotes from Empire, here goes:
1. No, I am your father (best quote ever)
2. The force is with you, young Skywalker, but you are not a Jedi yet
3. Impressive. Most impressive. Obi-Wan has taught you well

All appear to be Vader though 🙂

August 23rd, 2009 | 7:20 AM

Hey Matt, you actually missed the most enduring quote, which came from Yoda: “Do or do not; there is no try.” 😀

August 23rd, 2009 | 10:26 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

I love science fiction — books, stories, movies, all of it.

While I’m not motivated enough to make my own favorites list, I do want to comment on yours, for whatever it’s worth.

I’m going to agree with you on Independence Day. In fact, after reading this post yesterday, I pulled out the tape and watched the movie again.

Today, I pulled out a DVD of Contact and watched it.

I really enjoy Independence Day. Yes, I could quibble over parts of it, but I won’t. It’s a feel good movie. (And it was easy to hack the mother ship’s computer because they were using Windows: The Evil Empire edition, update 7a, service pack 4. Everyone knows that’s easy to compromise. 😉 )

Contact isn’t on your list, but it would be in my top 10.

I’m also a huge fan of the Stargate movie and both TV shows and subsequent movies it inspired.

I did not like the Planet of the Apes movies.

I am not a fan of scary movies and rarely watch them, but I sat through the original Alien movie three times before leaving the theater. That movie scared the peanuts out of my M&Ms.

Good list, with a few minor quibbles.

Act on your dream!


August 12th, 2009 | 1:18 AM

Hi John,

I liked the book Contact much better than the movie, which probably keeps it off my list. That’s not fair, but what else probably isn’t fair is that Matthew McConaughey’s part in the movie was, well, weak also. Kind of irritating, I have to say.

Funny stuff about Windows; I actually laughed out loud reading that.

Minor quibbles; that’s what choice is all about! 🙂

August 12th, 2009 | 1:46 AM
Doug Dillard:

Great List Mitch! I am throwing in the Fifth Element, as I just got done watching it with my son and LeLu is HOT!
.-= Doug Dillard´s last blog ..Free Private Label Rights =-.

August 12th, 2009 | 2:58 AM

I saw that it was on, Doug, but I’d been watching something else before it. I’ve never seen that movie; one of these days, I will.

August 12th, 2009 | 3:14 AM

For some reason I pointedly ignored watching the 5th Element for a long time (dunno why() but eventually sat down to watch it, and have since watched it a few more times over the years!

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the movie, and I’m still not entirely sure why (aside from the hot starlet) but agree with Doug that you should def grab the HD version and give it a whirl.

August 12th, 2009 | 10:23 AM

I know that this is sujbective list but… Independence Day? Man, be serious. Aliens that come with technology so great that we beat them with computer virus uploaded to their OS with CD… I’m sorry but that is the most stupid thing ever happened in SF movie history. And that is only No 1 place that should be given to Emmerich “art”. And where is “Blade Runner”, “Alien”? And what the heck is doing Armageddon there? 🙂 Gravity that allows tanks to fly but makes people stand still? I respect your choice about first and second place but just wanted to express my feelings… I’m sorry, but I had to 🙂

August 12th, 2009 | 8:02 AM

Thanks for stopping by, Maria. Course, if you created your own list, I’m sure I’d be able to come by and trash some of your choices. I’ve never liked Blade Runner, and I already explained to someone else why Alien isn’t on the list. That’s why this world is a great place; we can all like what we want to like.

August 12th, 2009 | 10:48 AM

re: Independence Day.
Finally, someone else who agrees with me! LOL

But, as Mitch alluded to, I guess it depends whether they’re ranked by “feel good” and enjoyable or “believable” and enjoyable SciFi.

I recall really liking Independence Day when I first saw it, but subsequent viewings were less enjoyable as my suspension of disbelief was strained to the point of aneurysm. 🙂

August 12th, 2009 | 10:40 AM

Steve, I don’t worry about too much disbelief if I’m looking to be entertained. I mean, if I looked at things that way, then every movie we’ve ever seen that has anything coming from another planet, or outer space at all, would have to be scrapped, since we all know Einstein’s principles disallow almost any real space travel and coming back to our own time, especially if we try to leave our own solar system.

August 12th, 2009 | 10:50 AM

You’re a sci-fi fan, yet you believe interplanetary space travel between star systems is impossible!?!? 😉

Otherwise brilliant people reportedly thought our bodies would be torn to pieces if we traveled at speeds faster that a galloping horse, and walking on the moon was sci-fi until it happened.

Just because Einstein said speed of light travel is impossible, doesn’t mean it is (past scientists have been wrong about a lot of things). And failing that, there might be methods of bending space or other ways to accomplish interstellar travel that – if I thought about them too hard – would pop a blood vessel in my eye.

E = M.C. Hammer
Speed of Light Travel = “Can’t touch this!”

So that aspect of Sci-Fi, to me, is the easiest to believe. Aliens that look like hot human babes..? Not so much. 🙂

August 14th, 2009 | 3:56 PM

Hi Steve,

I don’t believe interplanetary space travel is impossible; what I do believe, and know, if that if you did attain the speed of light going out, then coming back, that everything you knew beforehand would be gone. Did you know that when astronauts go into space and come back that their time pieces are behind ours? It’s like the principle of driving in a car; if you’ve ever paid attention, the closer things are to you, the faster they appear to be going. Time actually moves slower when you’re in a car than when you’re outside. If you set the clock in your car a minute ahead of the time on your watch and drive for two weeks, you’ll notice that the time will be the same, or pretty close to it. That’s why.

Want more science? I have a lot more I can impart. 😉 E = M.C. Hammer; now that’s funny!

August 14th, 2009 | 4:16 PM
Chris Peterson:

Your list is terrifically nostalgic. It takes me back into sci-fi wilderness. Won’t want argue with you on any of silly issues of accuracy, its more fun to just relive its glory & moments beyond your & my imagination. Especially Matrix, my personal favrite. Thanks for that.

August 19th, 2009 | 6:42 AM

Matrix is a good one, for sure. I like the Muppets take on it also. lol

August 19th, 2009 | 9:42 AM