For as long as there have been humans, we’ve looked up at the night sky and wondered what lies beyond the ever-present border of our atmosphere. Our ancestors had myths to explain the formation of the stars, and today we have cinema as a tool to share theories of our own. Stacker compiled a list of the best space movies of all time according to the Stacker score, which equally weighs a film’s IMDb user score and Metascore (data from October 2020), so both critics’ and fans’ opinions are taken into account.
Science fiction has always addressed the big questions surrounding the nature of life, what it means to be human, and what being alone in the universe (or not) would mean for human civilization. Are we just a pale blue dot in an ocean of darkness? Or are we one of many civilizations with a delusional belief in the exceptionalism of our species?
The films on this list include soaring space operas, faithful docudramas, gripping thrillers, and speculative musings, but all of them deal with space to some degree. These films span the recent history of cinema, from 1956 to 2020, and thus a chronological progression can be observed, with the early successes influencing later films.
Though some movies got the dates wrong, many of the themes explored deal directly with our day-to-day lives. “Gattaca” explores the perils of the creation of so-called “designer babies.” “WALL-E,” “Blade Runner,” and “Planet of the Apes” muse on what will happen to the Earth when humans destroy it. Several films take us back to one of humanity’s greatest scientific achievements—the moon landing—and the sheer amount of effort and creativity needed to accomplish such a feat.
All films with over 1,000 IMDb votes and at least four Metacritic reviews were counted, so read carefully through the list for some hidden gems. Read on to find out which animated film takes the top spot, and where fan favorites “Star Wars” and “E.T.” land.
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