HomeEntertainment News10 Modern Sci-Fi Movies That Will Be Classics

10 Modern Sci-Fi Movies That Will Be Classics

The new millennium has been an embarrassment of riches for science fiction. From mainstream commercial hits to quiet and introspective pieces, the genre has thrived and reached new levels of recognition, thanks to directors like Denis Villeneuve and Jordan Peele.

In fact, more than a few recent sci-fi movies are on their way to becoming classics of the beloved and daring genre. From award-winning successes like Arrival to underrated efforts like Under the Skin, these masterpieces will surely stand the test of time and take their worthy place alongside classics like Star Warsand 2001: A Space Odyssey.



10 ‘Arrival’ (2016)

Louise Banks standing on a field looking pensive in Arrival.
Image via Paramount Pictures

Amy Adams gives the best performance of her esteemed career in Denis Villeneuve’s 2016 cerebral sci-fi masterpiece Arrival. Adams plays Louise Banks, a linguist tasked with interpreting a series of symbols created by aliens newly arrived on Earth.

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Insightful, thought-provoking, and profoundly impactful, Arrival is a cinematic masterpiece. The film is a triumph, balancing weighty ideas with a deeply humane plot that will ring true for every parent and child. Further elevated by Adams’ gripping performance, Arrival‘s standing has only improved over the years, with many considering it among the best films of the 21st century.

9 ‘Ex-Machina’ (2014)

Ava discovers her older models after her escape in Ex-Machina.

Alicia Vikander should’ve won her Oscar for her mesmerizing turn in Alex Garland‘s spectacular directorial debut Ex-Machina. The story centers on a programmer invited by an eccentric millionaire to administer the Turing test to a highly-advanced humanoid android named Ava.

Powered by Vikander’s excellent performance, Ex-Machina is a haunting and fascinating experience from beginning to end. Making the most out of its Frankenstein-like premise, the film is a prime example of thinking person sci-fi, a film whose grasp far exceeds its reach but never feels unpolished or implausible; on the contrary, it remains alluring and compelling, even on a rewatch.

8 ‘Snowpiercer’ (2013)

Ko Asung and Chris Evans in Snowpiercer
Image via RADiUS/TWC

Bong Joon-ho directs a large ensemble led by Chris Evans in his thrilling apocalyptic sci-fi Snowpiercer. The film follows a revolt aboard the Snowpiercer, a train carrying humanity’s remnants around the globe, segregating them by class and instigating social unrest among the passengers.

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Like the best sci-fi movies, Snowpiercer perfectly balances sociopolitical commentary with showstopping sequences. The result is an ambitious, tense, and absorbing cinematic piece that is as engrossing as thought-provoking. Flipping the script on its otherwise familiar plot, Snowpiercer is a near-perfect sci-fi story with a reputation that will only increase over time.

7 ‘Gravity’ (2013)

Gravity - Ryan fixing ship while in space
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Sandra Bullock received an Oscar nomination for her emotional and honest performance in Alfonso Cuarón‘s Oscar-winning space epic Gravity. Bullock plays Ryan Stone, an astronaut adrift in space after a routine space walk goes wrong.

Basically a one-woman show, Gravity is a powerful story about grief and survival, benefitting from Cuarón’s technical excellence and Bullock’s heartfelt portrayal. With stunning visuals, a winning, replayable score, and a timeless message that will age like fine wine, Gravity is an uplifting and triumphant entry into the venerable sci-fi canon.

6 ‘Dune’ (2021)

Paul and Jessica in the desert looking to the distance in Dune.

Villeneuve strikes again. The ambitious director tackled Frank Herbert‘s notoriously divisive and challenging seminal novel Dune with a faithful adaptation starring Timothée Chalamet. The Oscar nominee stars as Paul Atreides, a young man caught in a galactic battle over control of the desertic but crucial planet of Arrakis.

Dune successfully captures its source material’s grand scope and hefty themes and blends them with a healthy dose of thrilling action sequences worthy of a major Hollywood production. The film is an epic cinematic achievement that brought new life to a well-known classic, cementing its place in the pantheon of sci-fi triumphs. A sequel, Dune 2, will arrive in late 2023, probably another classic waiting to happen.

5 ‘A Quiet Place’ (2018)

Lee doing the hush sign while looking scared in A Quiet Place.

John Krasinski directs himself and his real-life wife, Emily Blunt, in 2018’s horror sci-fi A Quiet Place. Set in a world populated by blind monsters with heightened hearing, the film focuses on the Abbott family as they try to survive while grieving the death of their youngest child while expecting another.

Anxious but understated, A Quiet Place relies on the basics of horror, using mystery and silence to craft an exquisite creature feature far scarier than many other contemporary horror pictures. Soaring on the backs of Krasinski’s assured directing and Blunt’s career-best performance, A Quiet Place is a modern classic in the horror and sci-fi genres.

4 ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015)

Charlize Theron as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road

Thirty years after Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, George Miller returned to his famous franchise with Mad Max: Fury Road. The film stars Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky, who joins Imperator Furiosa, played by the mighty Charlize Theron, to take down the despot Immortan Joe.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a technical achievement of the highest order. The film is basically a prolonged car chase, with Miller raising the stakes and thrills to new and epic heights. However, Fury Road is also a feminist rallying cry and a successful reinvention of a saga that spent years on life support.

3 ‘Nope’ (2022)

The UFO hovering over OJ in Nope
Image via Universal

Jordan Peele‘s neo-Western sci-fi horror Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Steven Yeun. The film follows two siblings attempting to capture evidence of a UFO that appears over their horse ranch.

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Nope offers interesting commentaries about the movie-making business, the film industry, and society’s simultaneous fear and obsession with the unknown. Like Peele’s previous efforts, Nope has a healthy dose of horror, adding a layer of tension to the already eerie premise. Exhilarating and audacious, Nope finds Peele at his most commercial, marking yet another triumph in his filmography and becoming an instant classic of the genre.

2 ‘Under the Skin’ (2013)

Laura inside a car looking intently at something off-camera in 'Under the Skin'

Scarlett Johansson stars in Jonathan Glazer‘s introspective sci-fi Under the Skin. The film tells the story of an extraterrestrial being posing as an alluring human woman who seduces and preys on men in Scotland.

Featuring arguably Johannsson’s greatest screen portrayal, Under the Skin is a deliberately slow-paced and quiet exploration of what it means to be human. Johansson dominates every second she’s on screen, crafting a spellbinding portrayal that will keep audiences hooked. And while Under the Skin might prove too cerebral for some, it remains an enthralling and subdued entry into a usually crowded genre.

1 ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’

Evelyn protecting Joy and Waymond in Everything Everywhere All at Once

The Oscar-winning sensation Everything Everywhere All At Once stars Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Stephanie Hsu, and Jamie Lee Curtis. It tells the story of Evelyn, a Chinese-American immigrant who discovers she can access other universes and becomes involved in a multiversal battle against an all-powerful being called Jobu Tupaki.

Subversive and brilliant, Everything Everywhere All at Once is equal parts absurd and heartwarming. Blending heavy metaphysical themes with issues of family and identity, the film is a brilliant exploration of life, love, and the Asian-American experience. Everything Everywhere All at Once is unique, a film that will stand the test of time as one of the genre’s all-time best.

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