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Top 40 Greatest Science-Fiction Films

A few months ago, I listed the Top 20 Greatest Science-Fiction Novels. Science-fiction also lends itself to the visual medium, though, and as influential and important as those 20 novels are, the following 40 movies are probably more familiar and influential for most of us. Numbers 11-40 are listed without commentary, but the top ten deserve some explanation, if not justification. As usual, I disclaim that this is my personal list and I do not ask you to agree with it. Also, I restricted myself to the following rules:

(1) This is a science-fiction list, and as such, I did not include anything that could better be classified as fantasy or sci-fi/fantasy. Therefore, you will not find things like Star Wars or Flash Gordon on this list. You also won't find anything that is based on a comic book, even if the hero happens to be from another planet like Krypton.

(2) I could only include one movie per director. There are a few directors that made this especially difficult, like Steven Spielberg, David Cronenberg, and Richard Fleischer, but I stuck with it, picking the best film from each and discarding the rest.

(3) Lastly, I didn't want to include anything released after 2009, which unfortunately excludes Inception or any other science-fiction movie released this year.

THE TOP 40-11
40. The Cell, 2000, Tarsem Singh

39. Twelve Monkeys, 1995, Terry Gilliam

38. Predator, 1987, John McTiernan

37. Re-Animator, 1985, Stuart Gordon

36. The Lawnmower Man, 1992, Brett Leonard
35. Demolition Man, 1993, Marco Brambilla

34. Moon, 2009, Duncan Jones

33. Donnie Darko, 2001, Richard Kelly

32. La Jetee, 1962, Chris Marker

31. Enemy Mine, 1985, Wolfgang Petersen
30. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1978, Philip Kaufman

29. The Time Machine, 1960, George Pal

28. Vanilla Sky, 2001, Cameron Crowe

27. Soylent Green, 1973, Richard Fleischer

26. District 9, 2009, Neill Blomkamp
25. The Running Man, 1987, Paul Michael Glaser

24. Children of Men, 2006, Alfonso Cuaron

23. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004, Michel Gondry

22. Strange Days, 1995, Kathryn Bigelow

21. Tron, 1982, Steven Lisberger
20. Dark City, 1998, Alex Proyas

19. Gojira, 1954, Ishiro Honda

18. Event Horizon, 1997, Paul W. S. Anderson

17. The Matrix, 1999, Andy and Larry Wachowski

16. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977, Steven Spielberg
15. Until the End of the World, 1991, Wim Wenders

14. The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951, Robert Wise

13. The Thing, 1982, John Carpenter

12. Primer, 2004, Shane Carruth

11. The Fly, 1986, David Cronenberg

40. The Cell, 2000, Tarsem Singh

39. Twelve Monkeys, 1995, Terry Gilliam

38. Predator, 1987, John McTiernan

37. Re-Animator, 1985, Stuart Gordon

36. The Lawnmower Man, 1992, Brett Leonard


35. Demolition Man, 1993, Marco Brambilla

34. Moon, 2009, Duncan Jones

33. Donnie Darko, 2001, Richard Kelly

32. La Jetee, 1962, Chris Marker

31. Enemy Mine, 1985, Wolfgang Petersen


30. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1978, Philip Kaufman

29. The Time Machine, 1960, George Pal

28. Vanilla Sky, 2001, Cameron Crowe

27. Soylent Green, 1973, Richard Fleischer

26. District 9, 2009, Neill Blomkamp


25. The Running Man, 1987, Paul Michael Glaser

24. Children of Men, 2006, Alfonso Cuaron

23. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 2004, Michel Gondry

22. Strange Days, 1995, Kathryn Bigelow

21. Tron, 1982, Steven Lisberger


20. Dark City, 1998, Alex Proyas

19. Gojira, 1954, Ishiro Honda

18. Event Horizon, 1997, Paul W. S. Anderson

17. The Matrix, 1999, Andy and Larry Wachowski

16. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977, Steven Spielberg


15. Until the End of the World, 1991, Wim Wenders

14. The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951, Robert Wise

13. The Thing, 1982, John Carpenter

12. Primer, 2004, Shane Carruth

11. The Fly, 1986, David Cronenberg



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-e. magill 8/17/2010

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