99 Science Fiction Films You Must See: The Complete List

By Last Updated: February 28, 2024Views: 3308

A few years ago I started a feature in which I compiled a list of 99 sci-fi films that everyone must see (thus the title of this article) and would every other week post an article making the case for why I felt that they should be in fact seen. Well for one reason or another, this petered out and stopped. But 2023 is the year of resurrection! And so yet another long-dead feature will see new life in the form of actually completing what I started. Hurrah! Below you will find the original article and the complete list with links to the previously published articles. A new entry will come every other Friday beginning January 13th (you know, for good luck). As always your thoughts are appreciated. Let me know if you agree with the list. Did I miss anything? (Keeping in mind this is a list of 20th-century films.)  NOTE: all movies with a review are linked in bold. Enjoy! -PMC

I love science fiction. A simple perusal of this site and you could pick that up pretty quickly. And science fiction movies in particular are my favorite way of mine to pass the time. So I decided to do a feature on this site about the 10 best sci-fi movies of the 20th century. That list soon became 20. Then 30. Then 40 – 50 – 75 and finally, when I reached 99 I stopped. I could have kept going but…

I soon realized that there were just too many great (and not-so-great) films out there and to narrow it down to a top 10 was all but impossible. And ranking them for that matter was just as ridiculous. Sure we all have our favorites but saying one is the best or even better just seemed, well, silly.

So I changed tracks. I’d start with the notion that all of these films have merit and are for one reason or another worth watching. In fact, must be watched. Seriously, your life will be better if you do.

Okay, here’s the deal. I have published my list right down there at the bottom (pretty impressive, eh?), and every other week I will go through the list one at a time and give my pitch on why that film is a “must-see” and important to the genre and just a damn fine way to spend an hour or two with a beer and a bowl of popcorn.

What It Is Not

A countdown. As I said this is not a list to rank these movies, the numbers are for organizational purposes only and should not be taken as one is better than another. All are great for their own reasons (which is actually the point of this exercise). Also, this will not be a review site. There are a ton of real honest-to-god movie reviewers out there who can and do a better job at reviewing films than I do. Which segues us into…

What It Is

One fan to another giving my reasons for why you should take the time to watch great movies. Or maybe you’re not a fan and I can convince you to give a particular film a shot. Now keep in mind not all of these films are “classics” or even good in a conventional sense, of course obviously, some are just out-and-out brilliant and are considered classics or “cult favorites”, but all of them I think are important and have redeeming qualities and are worthy of your time.

So join me each fortnight and I’ll try to convince you why each film on that list over there deserves your time and deserves to be seen. And if you’re not careful you might just enjoy yourself too.

The List

  1. Forbidden Planet
    Fred M. Wilcox, 1956
  2. Blade Runner
    Ridley Scott, 1982
  3. Le voyage dans la lune
    Georges Méliès, 1902
  4. The Black Hole
    Gary Nelson, 1979
  5. Phase IV
    Saul Bass, 1974
  6. Zardoz
    John Boorman, 1974
  7. 2001: A Space Odyssey
    Stanley Kubrick, 1968
  8. Metropolis
    Fritz Lang, 1927
  9. The War of the Worlds
    Byron Haskin, 1953
  10. Westworld
    Michael Crichton, 1973
  11. Solaris
    Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972
  12. Alphaville
    Jean-Luc Godard, 1965
  13. The Thing from Another World
    Christian Nyby, 1951
  14. The Thing
    John Carpenter, 1982
  15. Star Wars
    George Lucas, 1977
  16. Gojira (Godzilla)
    Ishirô Honda, 1954
  17. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial
    Steven Spielberg, 1982
  18. Dune
    David Lynch, 1984
  19. The Time Machine
    George Pal, 1960
  20. X: the Man with the X-Ray Eyes
    Roger Corman, 1963
  21. Mad Max
    George Miller, 1979
  22. Alien
    Ridley Scott, 1979
  23. Jurassic Park
    Steven Spielberg, 1993
  24. Frau im mond (Woman in the Moon)
    Fritz Lang, 1929
  25. Fantastic Voyage
    Richard Fleischer, 1966
  26. The Invisible Man
    James Whale, 1933
  27. Superman
    Richard Donner, 1978
  28. Terminator
    James Cameron, 1984
  29. Star Trek: The Motion Picture
    Robert Wise, 1979
  30. Aelita
    Yakov Protazanov, 1924
  31. Dark City
    Alex Proyas, 1998
  32. Brazil
    Terry Gilliam, 1985
  33. A Clockwork Orange
    Stanley Kubrick, 1971
  34. The Fifth Element
    Luc Besson, 1997
  35. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    Steven Spielberg, 1977
  36. The Man Who Fell to Earth
    Nicolas Roeg, 1976
  37. Nineteen Eighty-Four
    Michael Radford, 1984
  38. The Quiet Earth
    Geoff Murphy, 1985
  39. Sleeper
    Woody Allen, 1973
  40. Village of the Damned
    Wolf Rilla, 1960
  41. Fahrenheit 451
    François Truffaut, 1966
  42. Enemy Mine
    Wolfgang Petersen, 1985
  43. La Jetée
    Chris Marker, 1962
  44. THX 1138
    George Lucas, 1971
  45. Quatermass and the Pit
    Roy Ward Baker, 1967
  46. Things to Come
    William Cameron Menzies, 1936
  47. Planet of the Apes
    Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968
  48. Liquid Sky
    Slava Tsukerman, 1983
  49. A Boy and His Dog
    Q. Jones, 1975
  50. Dark Star
    John Carpenter, 1974
  1. The Damned
    Joseph Losey, 1963
  2. Plan 9 from Outer Space
    Edward D. Wood Jr, 1959
  3. Last Night
    Don McKellar, 1998
  4. Silent Running
    Douglas Trumbull, 1972
  5. The Road Warrior
    George Miller, 1981
  6. Them!
    Gordon Douglas, 1954
  7. Videodrome
    David Cronenberg, 1983
  8. RoboCop
    Paul Verhoeven, 1987
  9. Slaughterhouse 5
    George Roy Hill, 1972
  10. The Fly
    David Cronenberg, 1986
  11. Altered States
    Ken Russell, 1980
  12. Back to the Future
    Robert Zemeckis, 1985
  13. The Matrix
    The Wachowskis, 1999
  14. Twice Upon a Time
    John Korty & Charles Swenson, 1983
  15. Soylent Green
    Richard Fleischer, 1973
  16. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
    Irvin Kershner, 1980
  17. Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn
    Nicholas Meyer, 1982
  18. Total Recall
    Paul Verhoeven, 1990
  19. The War Game
    Peter Watkins, 1965
  20. The Incredible Shrinking Man
    Jack Arnold, 1957
  21. Ghost in the Shell
    Mamoru Oshii, 1995
  22. Starship Troopers
    Paul Verhoeven, 1997
  23. Island of Lost Souls
    Erle C. Kenton, 1932
  24. Destination Moon
    Irving Pichel, 1950
  25. The Day the Earth Stood Still
    Robert Wise, 1951
  26. Flash Gordon (serial)
    Frederick Stephani, 1936
  27. The Brother From Another Planet
    John Sayles, 1984
  28. Aliens
    James Cameron, 1986
  29. Batman
    Tim Burton, 1989
  30. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
    Richard Fleischer, 1954
  31. Strange Days
    Kathryn Bigelow, 1995
  32. Superman II
    1980, Richard Lester (Richard Donner)
  33. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms
    Eugène Lourié, 1953
  34. Born in Flames
    Lizzie Borden, 1983
  35. Invaders from Mars
    William Cameron Menzies, 1953
  36. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
    Don Siegel, 1956
  37. Just Imagine
    David Butler, 1930
  38. Earth Vs the Flying Saucers
    Fred F. Sears, 1956
  39. Mars Attacks!
    Tim Burton, 1996
  40. Terminator II: Judgment Day
    James Cameron, 1984
  41. Tetsuo : The Iron Man
    Shin’ya Tsukamoto, 1989
  42. The Silent Star
    Kurt Maetzig, 1960
  43. Starman
    John Carpenter, 1984
  44. When Worlds Collide
    Rudolph Maté, 1951
  45. Seconds
    John Frankenheimer, 1966
  46. Colossus : The Forbin Project
    Joseph Sargent, 1970
  47. Quintet
    Robert Altman, 1968
  48. Tron
    Steven Lisberger, 1982
  49. Galaxy Quest
    Dean Parisot, 1999

Originally published Feb 23, 2015 

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