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My Ten Favorite Science Fiction Movies of All Time

Hasta la Force be with you, baby.

I love sci-fi movies. They're so cool. They explore ideas about humanity and themes of time or technology that we can only dream about. It's either that or an awesome space movie. This was a tough list to make, because I had to leave off some great films like Inception and The Matrix. There's just so many cool sci-fi movies! Anyways, here are my ten favorite science fiction movies of all time. And, yes, I count Star Wars as sci-fi and not fantasy.

10. Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Is it as good as the first two? No. Is it still great? Yes. Return of the Jedi is a satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy. This is the best that Luke is throughout the entire saga. His character is the highlight of the movie, and his relationship with Vader is obviously the emotional core. We've got some great new characters in here with Lando Calrissian, Jabba the Hutt, and, of course, Emperor Palpatine. It fully completes Luke's Jedi arc while also closing out the rebel storyline and wrapping it all in this beautiful, fun, adventurous bow that isn't as compelling or as exciting as New Hope or Empire while still being fantastic.

9. Ex Machina

A clever, intelligent sci-fi film can be great. Ex Machina is one of the most intelligent films I've ever seen. The movie slowly builds up its characters in this slow, well-written first half. It explores themes of humanity and asks all of the questions that movies about AI usually ask. And then, in the second half, there's just a tip of the dominoes and everything comes crashing down. The film does a fantastic job of taking its time to set up a great story and themes and then pay it off with a slam-bang third act that ties everything together in an extremely satisfying way. I highly recommend this movie if you have not seen it.

8. Interstellar

I think Interstellar is one of Christopher Nolan's most underrated films. This movie is a gigantic space adventure that is also a character study of a man who has to leave his kids to save the world. And, even though he's only gone for what feels like a year or two, time works differently in space, so his kids age faster than him. It's a devastating, poignant film that has all of the mind-bending Christopher Nolan-ness that you'd expect while having this heavy, emotional core in the middle of all of it. Great, great movie.

7. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Terminator 2 manages to build on everything that The Terminator set up. Arnold is a good guy now. His Terminator is sent to protect John Connor from the T-1000, a more powerful shape-shifting Terminator that is now trying to kill the kid instead of his mother. The movie is more exciting. It's higher stakes. But it's also more complex. You see a child in need of a father figure and he turns to this robot incapable of emotion and starts teaching him how to care for people. It's a deep, complex story while also being a pulse-pounding sci-fi action flick that I absolutely love.

6. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I don't like romance movies. They just aren't my thing. So I didn't really want to watch this movie. And then I did. And it's incredible. It takes the romance movie template and throws it out the window, replacing it with a sci-fi concept that is incredibly relatable. What if you could forget your ex? So this movie explores that idea. It's so weird. It's so unique. And that's what makes it so good. Jim Carrey gives one of his best performances ever here. The story and screenplay are amazing. The direction is fabulous. It's such a strange film to be on a list with Star Wars and Terminator movies, but that's what makes it amazing.

5. Minority Report

Minority Report is another great science fiction concept. What if you could see crimes before they happen? That concept is taken to another level when our main character is accused of a crime he's going to commit and has to go on the run. It's a tense action thriller with a sci-fi twist. It's injected with all of the Spielberg magic that his movies have while also starring Tom Cruise. It's a great story paired with a tense atmosphere and some incredible action.

4. Star Wars

The classic space opera is still one of the best science fiction films ever made. I know people would argue that Star Wars is space fantasy, but for the sake of this list, it's sci-fi. This movie is just lightning in a bottle. Everything worked. The characters. The story. The setting. The writing. The music. It's so iconic. As soon as "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..." appears on screen for the first time, you are swept away on this epic, exciting journey with mystical ties and mythological influence. It's an amazing film that still holds up to this day.

3. Avatar

Anyone who thinks Avatar is overrated is plain and simply wrong. Sure, the story is generic at times, but the story for Star Wars is generic at times. There has never been a world like Pandora. This is not an experience like going to Pandora for the first time. The visuals of this movie have been discussed ad nauseam, but I think the story and characters really make this film. Jake's journey is one that many have been on, but it's a satisfying arc that is injected with the right amount of creativity and uniqueness that it feels new. The romance with Neytiri is compelling. You feel all of the heartbreak and sadness as their habitat is torn down. And you feel the triumph when the Na'vi fight back against the humans. This is a fantastic movie. I love it and will defend it against anyone.

2. Back to the Future

Back to the Future is amazing. It's the pinnacle of 80s greatness. It's unique. It's funny. It's charismatic. Robert Zemeckis directs an energetic sci-fi comedy that has an extremely creative concept executed very well. The characters are unforgettable. The story is incredibly fun and light-hearted. It has the comedic layer but there's also a sense of urgency throughout because you know Marty needs to get his parents back together to be able to get back to the future. I love this movie. It's incredible. And it's endlessly rewatchable.

1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Take everything great about A New Hope. Take everything great about Return of the Jedi. Now get rid of everything bad between both of those movies. The Empire Strikes Back is my second-favorite movie of all time, and it's probably the film I have the most nostalgia for. I don't know how many times I've seen this movie, but it's still just as good every single time I watch it. From the Wampa sequence to the introduction of Yoda to the asteroid field to the greatest climax of all time, Empire is perfect. It's the best Star Wars film. It has one of the greatest plot twists of all time. This movie made Darth Vader the world's most popular villain. I adore this movie. It is truly, truly perfect. So it comes in at number one.

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