Sci-fi author S. Craig Zahler's favorite sci-fi movies and television shows

by S_Craig_Zahler | created - 16 Jan 2014 | updated - 1 month ago | Public

This list is of movies and shows that have scientific underpinnings and evoke a sense of wonder or at least speculate on the consequences of certain scientific advances. (Note: Although I really enjoy Aliens, Starship Troopers, and Robocop, to me, these movies feel like action movies in futuristic settings, rather than science fiction.)

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1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

G | 149 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi

82 Metascore

After discovering a mysterious artifact buried beneath the Lunar surface, mankind sets off on a quest to find its origins with help from intelligent supercomputer H.A.L. 9000.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Daniel Richter

Votes: 555,760 | Gross: $56.95M

2. Babylon 5 (1994–1998)

TV-PG | 45 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

In the mid 23rd Century, the Earth Alliance space station Babylon 5, located in neutral territory, is a major focal point for political intrigue, racial tensions and various wars over the course of five years.

Stars: Mira Furlan, Richard Biggs, Stephen Furst, Andreas Katsulas

Votes: 26,423

3. Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987–1994)

TV-PG | 44 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

Set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk's five-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers set off in the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on their own mission to go where no one has gone before.

Stars: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton

Votes: 89,547

4. Moon (2009)

R | 97 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

67 Metascore

Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet's power problems.

Director: Duncan Jones | Stars: Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, Dominique McElligott, Rosie Shaw

Votes: 316,525 | Gross: $5.01M

5. Star Blazers (1979– )

22 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

In the year 2199, a starship must make a dangerous voyage to the distant planet Iscandar and back to save Earth from an alien invasion.

Stars: Eddie Allen, Michael Bertolini, Amy Howard Wilson, Lydia Leeds

Votes: 1,073

6. Super Dimensional Fortress Macross (1982–1995)

TV-PG | 25 min | Animation, Action, Adventure

An alien spaceship crash lands on Earth and her secrets lead to a desperate war against an alien enemy sent to retrieve the ship.

Stars: Arihiro Hase, Mari Iijima, Vic Mignogna, Monica Rial

Votes: 1,637

7. Armored Trooper VOTOMS (1983–1984)

TV-MA | Animation, Action, Drama

The end of the 100 year war between the planets Bavalant and Melkia does not allow Melkian soldier Chirico Cuvie a moment of peace. His accidental involvement in a clandestine mission ... See full summary »

Stars: Bruce Aarons, Wally Cole, Dan Green, Kip Kaplan

Votes: 139

8. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)

G | 132 min | Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

48 Metascore

When an alien spacecraft of enormous power is spotted approaching Earth, Admiral James T. Kirk resumes command of the overhauled USS Enterprise in order to intercept it.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan

Votes: 76,209 | Gross: $82.26M

9. The Abyss (1989)

PG-13 | 145 min | Adventure, Drama, Mystery

62 Metascore

A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.

Director: James Cameron | Stars: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn, Leo Burmester

Votes: 153,709 | Gross: $54.46M

10. Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (I) (2004)

PG-13 | 100 min | Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi

66 Metascore

In the year 2032, Batô, a cyborg detective for the anti-terrorist unit Public Security Section 9, investigates the case of a female robot--one created solely for sexual pleasure--who slaughtered her owner.

Director: Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Akio Ôtsuka, Atsuko Tanaka, Tamio Ôki, Kôichi Yamadera

Votes: 34,227 | Gross: $1.04M

11. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

R | 136 min | Crime, Drama, Sci-Fi

80 Metascore

In the future, a sadistic gang leader is imprisoned and volunteers for a conduct-aversion experiment, but it doesn't go as planned.

Director: Stanley Kubrick | Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates, Warren Clarke

Votes: 704,779

12. Gunbuster (1988– )

PG | 30 min | Animation, Action, Drama

A young pilot, daughter of a deceased space captain, is selected to pilot a colossal robot as the key point of Earth's defence in a space war.

Stars: Noriko Hidaka, Rei Sakuma, Norio Wakamoto, Maria Kawamura

Votes: 1,206

13. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

PG | 138 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

Roy Neary, an electric lineman, watches how his quiet and ordinary daily life turns upside down after a close encounter with a UFO.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon

Votes: 170,622 | Gross: $132.09M

14. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Not Rated | 83 min | Animation, Action, Crime

76 Metascore

A cyborg policewoman and her partner hunt a mysterious and powerful hacker called the Puppet Master.

Director: Mamoru Oshii | Stars: Atsuko Tanaka, Iemasa Kayumi, Akio Ôtsuka, Kôichi Yamadera

Votes: 118,181 | Gross: $0.52M

15. Total Recall (1990)

R | 113 min | Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller

57 Metascore

When a man goes for virtual vacation memories of the planet Mars, an unexpected and harrowing series of events forces him to go to the planet for real - or does he?

Director: Paul Verhoeven | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, Rachel Ticotin

Votes: 282,510 | Gross: $119.39M

16. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

PG-13 | 105 min | Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

68 Metascore

A substance designed to help the brain repair itself gives advanced intelligence to a chimpanzee who leads an ape uprising.

Director: Rupert Wyatt | Stars: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Karin Konoval

Votes: 478,115 | Gross: $176.76M

17. This Island Earth (1955)

Passed | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi

Aliens come to Earth seeking scientists to help them in their war.

Director: Joseph M. Newman | Stars: Jeff Morrow, Faith Domergue, Rex Reason, Lance Fuller

Votes: 8,237

18. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

G | 92 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.

Director: Robert Wise | Stars: Michael Rennie, Patricia Neal, Hugh Marlowe, Sam Jaffe

Votes: 73,171

19. Blake's 7 (1978–1981)

Not Rated | 50 min | Adventure, Drama, Sci-Fi

A group of convicts and outcasts fight a guerrilla war against the totalitarian Terran Federation from a highly advanced alien spaceship.

Stars: Michael Keating, Paul Darrow, Peter Tuddenham, Jan Chappell

Votes: 2,986

20. Oblivion (I) (2013)

PG-13 | 124 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

54 Metascore

A veteran assigned to extract Earth's remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.

Director: Joseph Kosinski | Stars: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough, Olga Kurylenko

Votes: 461,057 | Gross: $89.02M

21. Robot Carnival (1987 Video)

90 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama

A collection of short stories, made by different animators with "robot" as the working title.

Directors: Atsuko Fukushima, Hiroyuki Kitakubo, Hiroyuki Kitazume, Kôji Morimoto, Takashi Nakamura, Yasuomi Umetsu, Manabu Ôhashi, Hidetoshi Ômori, Katsuhiro Ôtomo | Stars: Kôji Moritsugu, Yayoi Maki, Keiko Hanagata, Kumiko Takizawa

Votes: 1,730

22. TRON: Legacy (2010)

PG | 125 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

49 Metascore

The son of a virtual world designer goes looking for his father and ends up inside the digital world that his father designed. He meets his father's corrupted creation and a unique ally who was born inside the digital world.

Director: Joseph Kosinski | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund, Olivia Wilde, Bruce Boxleitner

Votes: 299,746 | Gross: $172.06M

23. Forbidden Planet (1956)

G | 98 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

A starship crew goes to investigate the silence of a planet's colony only to find two survivors and a deadly secret that one of them has.

Director: Fred M. Wilcox | Stars: Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis, Leslie Nielsen, Warren Stevens

Votes: 42,103 | Gross: $3.00M

24. TRON (1982)

PG | 96 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

58 Metascore

A computer hacker is abducted into the digital world and forced to participate in gladiatorial games where his only chance of escape is with the help of a heroic security program.

Director: Steven Lisberger | Stars: Jeff Bridges, Bruce Boxleitner, David Warner, Cindy Morgan

Votes: 107,446 | Gross: $33.00M

25. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–1999)

TV-PG | 45 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

In the vicinity of the liberated planet of Bajor, the Federation space station Deep Space Nine guards the opening of a stable wormhole to the far side of the galaxy.

Stars: Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, Cirroc Lofton, Alexander Siddig

Votes: 46,386

26. Black Mirror (2011– )

TV-MA | 60 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

An anthology series exploring a twisted, high-tech world where humanity's greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.

Stars: Daniel Lapaine, Hannah John-Kamen, Michaela Coel, Beatrice Robertson-Jones

Votes: 357,081

27. Source Code (2011)

PG-13 | 93 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

74 Metascore

A soldier wakes up in someone else's body and discovers he's part of an experimental government program to find the bomber of a commuter train within 8 minutes.

Director: Duncan Jones | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright

Votes: 459,019 | Gross: $54.71M

28. Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954– )

26 min | Family, Sci-Fi

Cruising the galaxy in his space ship "The Orbit Jet" Space Ranger, Rocky Jones, Vena Ray, and 10 year-old Bobby defend the Earth and themselves against space-bound evil doers.

Stars: Richard Crane, Sally Mansfield, Scotty Beckett, Robert Lyden

Votes: 154

29. Star Trek: The Original Series (1966–1969)

TV-PG | 50 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

In the 23rd Century, Captain James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise explore the galaxy and defend the United Federation of Planets.

Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, Nichelle Nichols

Votes: 67,620

30. The Outer Limits (1963–1965)

TV-PG | 51 min | Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi

An anthology series of insightful science fiction tales.

Stars: Bob Johnson, Ben Wright, William Douglas, Robert Culp

Votes: 6,501

31. The X-Files (1993–2018)

TV-14 | 45 min | Crime, Drama, Mystery

Two F.B.I. Agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained, while hidden forces work to impede their efforts.

Stars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis

Votes: 186,507

32. Kronos (1957)

Not Rated | 78 min | Action, Drama, Horror

Aliens from another world send a huge robotic accumulator to invade the Earth and absorb all energy it comes in contact with.

Director: Kurt Neumann | Stars: Jeff Morrow, Barbara Lawrence, John Emery, George O'Hanlon

Votes: 1,534

33. Primer (2004)

PG-13 | 77 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

68 Metascore

Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there's something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they've built, wrestle over their new invention.

Director: Shane Carruth | Stars: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Casey Gooden, Anand Upadhyaya

Votes: 91,304 | Gross: $0.42M

34. V (1983)

Unrated | 197 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

When aliens come to Earth to ask for our help, a few suspicious humans discover their horrific true intentions and prepare to resist.

Stars: Jane Badler, Michael Durrell, Faye Grant, Peter Nelson

Votes: 12,317

35. Astro Boy (1964)

Animation, Family, Sci-Fi

The story of Astroboy, a robot created by Dr Elephant, in the image of a boy, who has super strength and could fly.

Directors: Rintaro, Yoshitake Suzuki, Eiichi Yamamoto

Votes: 51

36. eXistenZ (1999)

R | 97 min | Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller

68 Metascore

A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged.

Director: David Cronenberg | Stars: Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe

Votes: 88,828 | Gross: $2.84M

37. Metropolis (1927)

Not Rated | 153 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

98 Metascore

In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences.

Director: Fritz Lang | Stars: Brigitte Helm, Alfred Abel, Gustav Fröhlich, Rudolf Klein-Rogge

Votes: 147,744 | Gross: $1.24M

38. WarGames (1983)

PG | 114 min | Sci-Fi, Thriller

77 Metascore

A young man finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III.

Director: John Badham | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Ally Sheedy, John Wood, Dabney Coleman

Votes: 84,916 | Gross: $79.57M

39. Voices of a Distant Star (2002)

Unrated | 25 min | Animation, Short, Drama

The love of Japanese high school students Mikako Nagamine and Noboru Tera is tested when Mikako is sent to fight aliens in a distant universe and voice mails to and from Earth become months to years in transmission.

Director: Makoto Shinkai | Stars: Mika Shinohara, Makoto Shinkai, Sumi Mutoh, Chihiro Suzuki

Votes: 7,847

40. Gravity (2013)

PG-13 | 91 min | Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

96 Metascore

Two astronauts work together to survive after an accident leaves them stranded in space.

Director: Alfonso Cuarón | Stars: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen

Votes: 723,540 | Gross: $274.09M

41. Her (2013)

R | 126 min | Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi

90 Metascore

In a near future, a lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with an operating system designed to meet his every need.

Director: Spike Jonze | Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara

Votes: 483,951 | Gross: $25.57M

42. Godzilla (1954)

Not Rated | 96 min | Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi

78 Metascore

American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast.

Director: Ishirô Honda | Stars: Takashi Shimura, Akihiko Hirata, Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi

Votes: 26,231 | Gross: $2.42M

43. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

PG-13 | 146 min | Drama, Sci-Fi

65 Metascore

A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become "real" so that he can regain the love of his human mother.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, Frances O'Connor, Sam Robards

Votes: 277,933 | Gross: $78.62M

44. Macross Plus (1994– )

Not Rated | 115 min | Animation, Sci-Fi

Two old friends/rivals find themselves rival test pilots in competing projects while a mutual old flame returns to them with her own secrets.

Stars: Beau Billingslea, Bryan Cranston, Richard Epcar, Rica Fukami

Votes: 3,282

45. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002–2005)

TV-MA | 24 min | Animation, Action, Crime

The futuristic adventures of a female cyborg counter intelligence agent and her support team.

Stars: Shirô Saitô, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, William Frederick Knight, Richard Epcar

Votes: 16,598

46. Cyber City Oedo 808 (1990– )

Not Rated | 120 min | Animation, Action, Crime

In the city of Oedo 2808 A.D., three Cyber criminals are given two choices, to either rot in jail or to join a special force of the Cyber Police to get possibly one more chance at freedom ... See full summary »

Stars: Hiroya Ishimaru, Stuart Milligan, Tesshô Genda, Sean Barrett

Votes: 1,294

47. Contact (1997)

PG | 150 min | Drama, Mystery, Sci-Fi

62 Metascore

Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt

Votes: 239,372 | Gross: $100.92M



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