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Killer Flics Attack!: Best Sci-Fi Films – Our Critics' Lists

“Inception” has put sci-fi back in the movies, with mixed reviews. We look at the best science fiction films of all time. (See our guests’ lists of top picks below.)

A scene from the 1927 film "Metropolis" (Credit: imdb.com)

“Avatar” hit the jackpot. Leonard DiCaprio and “Inception” hit rougher waters with their dream travel. But science fiction is one of the sturdiest, most celebrated genres in the history of film.

From the earliest days of silent film, the movies have taken us to alternate “sci-fi” realities. Off the Earth. Into the Earth. To far galaxies. To unseen dimensions. Sci-fi films challenge convention, and offer different worlds, even within our own.

We’re looking at the best-of-the-best with Annalee Newitz of io9 and New York Times chief film critic A. O. Scott.

Guests:

A.O. Scott, chief film critic for the New York Times.

Annalee Newitz, editor of i09, a blog from Gawkermedia that covers Sci-Fi, fantasy, and all things nerdy. She’s also written for Wired, Popular Science, and New Scientist.

Michael Brotherton, professor of physics and astronomy at University of Wyoming in Laramie. He’s the author of two Sci-Fi novels, Star Dragon and Spider Star.

More:

Here are our guests’ lists for best science fiction films.

Picks of A.O. Scott, New York Times:

2001
AI/ET/Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Alien/Aliens
Alphaville
Fahrenheit 451
Gattaca
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Kevin McCarthy and Donald Sutherland versions; not Nicole Kidman version)
Metropolis–Fritz Lang version AND Rintaro anime
Spaceballs/ The Empire Strikes Back
Robocop/Starship Troopers

Picks of Annalee Newitz of io9.com:

Metropolis
The Day the Earth Stood Still
2001
Star Wars: A New Hope AND Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (tie)
Blade Runner
Videodrome
Terminator 2
Ghost in the Shell (Japanese version)
Teknolust (Lynn Hershman-Leeson)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (I hadn’t thought of this as sci-fi but it makes sense)
Honorable Mention: Primer (Shane Carruth)

Picks of Mike Brotherton, University of Wyoming:

Destination Moon
2001: A Space Odyssey
2010
Predator
The Abyss
Contact
Deep Impact
Red Planet
Minority Report
Primer

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Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

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Dick West (Dr. Walter Richard West, Wah-pah-nah-yah or Wapah Nahya, Light Foot Runner), 1912−1996, Southern Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Cheyenne Sun Dance—The Third Day, 1949. Paper, casein, 24 5/8 x 35 1/8 inches. © 2013 Philbrook Museum of Art, Inc., Museum purchase, 1949.20, Photo: John Lamberton.

Artists of earth and sky. Rawhide, bear claw, eagle feathers and the glory of America’s Plans Indians, on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 
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The Rev. Jamal Bryant leads a rally outside of the Baltimore Police Department's Western District police station during a march and vigil for Freddie Gray, Tuesday, April 21, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP)

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