Science fiction is a genre that was once out of the cinematic reach but now is everywhere, with computer-generated images flooding through it, incredible amounts of money pumped into it, and, despite a whole load of bad, has produced some of the greatest films ever, as well as massively influential and beloved.
Despite their prominence in the genre, some of the greatest sci-fi films of all time tell stories that do not revolve around aliens or have them as a main component to the movie. According to IMDb, the very best sci-fi movie fits into that category.
10 Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004) – 8.3
Other films like Metropolis also sit at 8.3 on IMDb, but due to the site ranking this movie higher in their top 250, it makes the cut and is truly one of the best of the 21st century.
Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odysseyis one of the most influential films of all time, and often heralded as one of the best movies ever made, both in and out of the sci-fi genre.
Once again, due to IMDb ranking, this higher on their top 250, this film gets the spot over some other 8.3s. It is one of the most thought-provoking, visually engrossing, and cinematically important sci-fi films ever, and will be as such for generations to come.
With gorgeous psychedelic animation, a great soundtrack, hilarious and well-done writing, and a fantastic story, the movie sees whole other dimensions come together, and incredible technology in what is perhaps the most excellent Spider-Man movie of all time.
7 Wall-E (2008) – 8.4
Sticking with animation, Wall-E is the only Pixar entry here, and while the main protagonist is a robot, and all humans now live in a spaceship, no aliens are found, it is a human story.
The film is as visually beautiful as any other Pixar movie, following the story of Wall-E, a robot left behind on Earth to clean, meets E.V.E., falls in love, and sets on a journey which alters his life, and that of humanity which is far different, and far lazier, than the one that left Earth.
6 Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) – 8.5
The debate between which of the first two Terminatormovies has raged on for years, but it seems as though the slight majority prefer Judgement Day, an excellent sequel.
Not aliens, but rather autonomous, humanoid cyborgs, the Terminator is at times a terrifying, at times badass, and all-time iconic character who plays the good guy in this film alongside Sarah Conor.
5 Back To The Future (1985) – 8.5
Speaking of iconic and beloved, there are a handful of movies out there that, despite whatever continuity flaws they may have, are considered to be perfect movies by many. Back To The Futureis one of those movies.
It may well be the greatest time travel story ever told, with Marty McFly sent back in time in the Delorean, forced to make his parents fall in love to get back to his present. It is wildly entertaining, infinitely rewatchable, and its popularity will remain for years to come.
4 The Prestige (2006) – 8.5
Coming from Christopher Nolan, not his last appearance here, The Prestigeis a mind-bending thriller/mystery, but becomes a sci-fi movie when David Bowie’s Nikola Tesla steps on the scene.
With a machine that can clone whatever steps into it, the science fiction aspects of the movie become crucial to the pledge, the turn, and the prestige of the film that is almost an underrated Nolan flick.
It is another human story that explores the reaches of space and time without revolving around aliens, as a team of researchers set out to find a new planet for humans to inhabit.
2 The Matrix (1999) – 8.7
What a strange phenomenon The Matrixis, on its own, it is one of the greatest movies ever made, but then the two sequels got made, ruining so much of the lore and worldbuilding of the first entry.
Nevertheless, by itself, the film has remained well-beloved, with Keanu Reeves playing a computer programmer pulled into the reality of his reality, and a war with the controllers of it.
1 Inception (2010) – 8.8
Not only is Inception the highest-rated sci-fi movie without aliens, but the highest rated sci-fi movie ever on IMDb, currently sitting at number thirteen of the top 250, and is the third film for Nolan on this list.
Following a team hired to plant an idea in a C.E.O.’s mind – a process called inception -, Inception is one of the most popular sci-fi films ever and is brilliantly crafted. It has a great cast, an excellent score, twists and turns, and makes you think, as well as being filled with tension, and an ending that leaves the audience deciding for themselves what Cobb’s fate was.
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About The Author
Rhys McGinley is a simple man just trying to make his way in the universe as a cinephile, and all-round nerd from Glasgow, Scotland, who has been writing his whole life. Now writing for Screen Rant, CBR, and TheGamer, Rhys has a deep passion for all things Star Wars and various comic-based properties, sitcoms, as well as an affection for all genres of film.