The 50 Best Sci-Fi Films Of The 21st Century So Far

From space-invader thrillers to interstellar-overdrive headscratchers, we’re counting down the best science fiction films since the turn of the century.


In a medium founded on expanding one’s imagination and perception of reality, no genre does it better than science fiction. We’ve come a long way from the days when Georges Méliès took us to the moon, for today’s filmmakers look far beyond our universe and into the deepest corners of our soul to reflect the current society.

With the latest entry in the Star Trek franchise arriving in theaters this week, we’ve set out to reflect on the millennium’s sci-fi films that have most excelled. To note: we only stuck with feature-length works of 60 minutes or longer and, to make room for a few more titles, our definition of “the 21st century” stretched to include 2000.

Check out our top 50 below:

1. Children of Men (2006)


In 2027, in a chaotic world in which women have become somehow infertile, a former activist agrees to help transport a miraculously pregnant woman to a sanctuary at sea.

2. Under the Skin (I) (2013)


A mysterious young woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. However, events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.

3. Upstream Color (2013)


A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

4. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)


When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)


In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a woman rebels against a tyrannical ruler in search for her homeland with the aid of a group of female prisoners, a psychotic worshiper, and a drifter named Max.

6. Her (2013)


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

7. Moon (2009)


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.

8. Timecrimes (2007)


A man accidentally gets into a time machine and travels back in time nearly an hour. Finding himself will be the first of a series of disasters of unforeseeable consequences.

9. Primer (2004)


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.

10. Holy Motors (2012)


From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the shadowy life of a mystic man named Monsieur Oscar.

11. The Host (2006)


A monster emerges from Seoul's Han River and begins attacking people. One victim's loving family does what it can to rescue her from its clutches.

12. District 9 (2009)


An extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth suddenly finds a kindred spirit in a government agent who is exposed to their biotechnology.

13. Solaris (2002)


A troubled psychologist is sent to investigate the crew of an isolated research station orbiting a bizarre planet.

14. Snowpiercer (2013)


In a future where a failed climate-change experiment has killed all life except for the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, a new class system emerges.

15. Inception (2010)


A thief who steals corporate secrets through the use of dream-sharing technology is given the inverse task of planting an idea into the mind of a CEO.

16. Attack the Block (2011)


A teen gang in South London defend their block from an alien invasion.

17. Gravity (2013)


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

18. Looper (2012)


In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past, where a hired gun awaits - someone like Joe - who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by sending back Joe's future self for assassination.

19. Minority Report (2002)


In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.

20. A Scanner Darkly (2006)


An undercover cop in a not-too-distant future becomes involved with a dangerous new drug and begins to lose his own identity as a result.

21. Ex Machina (2014)


A young programmer is selected to participate in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a highly advanced humanoid A.I.

22. Donnie Darko (2001)


A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident.

23. WALL·E (2008)


In the distant future, a small waste-collecting robot inadvertently embarks on a space journey that will ultimately decide the fate of mankind.

24. Sunshine (2007)


A team of international astronauts are sent on a dangerous mission to reignite the dying Sun with a nuclear fission bomb in 2057.

25. The Clone Returns to the Homeland (2008)


The Clone Returns Home is a compelling meditation on the paradox of life and death, and the meaning of love and family. Set in an imaginary - yet utterly imaginable - future, this quietly provocative film skillfully transposes complex emotional drama into the realm of science fiction by exploring the influence of technology on human memory and experience. Filled with stunning imagery and haunting stillness, The Clone Returns Home deftly combines subtly nuanced sci-fi with a uniquely Japanese perspective on the universal themes of family, life, love, and death.

26. Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010)


Despite being under heavy sedation, a young woman tries to make her way out of the Arboria Institute, a secluded, quasifuturistic commune.

27. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (2015)


Three decades after the Empire's defeat, a new threat arises in the militant First Order. Defected stormtrooper Finn and the scavenger Rey are caught up in the Resistance's search for the missing Luke Skywalker.

28. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)


A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier.

29. Melancholia (2011)


Two sisters find their already strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet threatens to collide with Earth.

30. Battle Royale (2000)


In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary "Battle Royale" act.

31. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)


A soldier fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies.

32. Interstellar (2014)


A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival.

33. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)


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

34. Monsters (2010)


Six years after Earth has suffered an alien invasion, a cynical journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through an infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the U.S. border.

35. The Prestige (2006)


After a tragic accident, two stage magicians engage in a battle to create the ultimate illusion while sacrificing everything they have to outwit each other.

36. The Mist (2007)


A freak storm unleashes a species of bloodthirsty creatures on a small town, where a small band of citizens hole up in a supermarket and fight for their lives.

37. Star Trek (2009)


The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.

38. Hard to Be a God (2013)


A group of scientists are sent to the planet Arkanar to help the local civilization, which is in the Medieval phase of its own history, to find the right path to progress. Their task is a difficult one: they cannot interfere violently and in no case can they kill. The scientist Rumata tries to save the local intellectuals from their punishment and cannot avoid taking a position. As if the question were: what would you do in God's place? Director's statement Aleksei wanted to make this film his entire life. The road was a long one. This is not a film about cruelty, but about love. A love that was there, tangible, alive, and that resisted through the hardest of conditions.

39. Signs (2002)


A family living on a farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields which suggests something more frightening to come.

40. Never Let Me Go (2010)


The lives of three friends, from their early school days into young adulthood, when the reality of the world they live in comes knocking.

41. The Martian (2015)


An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.

42. Cloverfield (2008)


A group of friends venture deep into the streets of New York on a rescue mission during a rampaging monster attack.

43. Coherence (2013)


Strange things begin to happen when a group of friends gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

44. Serenity (2005)


The crew of the ship Serenity try to evade an assassin sent to recapture one of their members who is telepathic.

45. Another Earth (2011)


On the night of the discovery of a duplicate Earth in the Solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident.

46. Midnight Special (2016)


A father and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child's special powers.

47. The World's End (2013)


Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from twenty years earlier unwittingly become humanity's only hope for survival.

48. Advantageous (2015)


In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter Jules do all they can to hold on to their joy together, despite the instability surfacing in their world.

49. 2046 (2004)


50. Remainder (2015)


A London man who loses his memory when he's struck by a falling object develops a way to reconstruct his past.

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