No one is quite sure what the earliest works of science fiction are. Of course, it depends on definitions. One of the often noted precursor works is Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels,” released in 1726, while Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” released in 1818, is perhaps the most famous pre-20th century work of science fiction.
Frankenstein has become part of the pantheon of older science fiction characters, which include “Dracula,” who first appeared in 1897 in Bram Stoker’s book of the same name. These stories and characters also appear in many science fiction films, including some of the best. But the best science fiction movie of all time is “Alien” (1979). (These are the 50 greatest heroes in the movies.)
To determine the best sci-fi movie of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on IMDb and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes as of October 2021. Great sci-fi doesn’t just entertain. It criticizes the present and warns us (or excites us) about the future. It makes us think. It provides us with a sense of wonder. But mostly it can be pretty darn entertaining. (These are the 100 greatest movies ever made.)
“Alien” is a great example of science fiction that makes us think. Despite director Ridley Scott’s assertion that his only intention with the movie was terror, according to Slate, “Alien” spawned many academic analyses, remaining relevant to this day.
The movie (spoilers ahead) tells the story of the crew of a commercial space tug named Nostromo, who are awoken from stasis on their way back to Earth in order to investigate a transmission coming from a nearby alien moon. All hell breaks loose after they land, and before long there’s a horrifying rogue alien — brilliantly designed by H.R. Giger — terrorizing them (and bursting forth from poor John Hurt’s chest).
With its fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat storyline, “Alien” was a smash hit that captured audiences and inspired countless films and TV shows, and it launched a franchise that’s still going strong.
To determine the best sci-fi movie of all time, 24/7 Tempo developed an index using average ratings on Internet Movie Database, an online movie database owned by Amazon, and a combination of audience scores and Tomatometer scores on Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, as of October 2021. All ratings were weighted equally. Only movies with at least 15,000 audience votes on either IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes were considered. The countless “Star Wars” movies and superhero fantasies based on Marvel Comics or DC Comics characters were excluded from consideration. Directorial credits and cast information comes from IMDb.