The 25 Best Space Movies, Ranked

Outer space is everywhere : not lone are we physically surrounded by it, but we ’ ra inundated with images of it, both real and fictional. NASA ’ s durable Cassini mission is ending this workweek, just after its even longer-lived Voyager mission marked its fortieth anniversary. SpaceX is about to launch the most powerful operational rocket in the populace. Star Trek is returning to television receiver, The martian writer Andy Weir is returning to bookshelves, and Destiny 2 and a newly Metroid spill are bringing gamers back to the stars. Please join us at The Ringer as we celebrate and explore the cultural resonance and science of space all workweek long .
quad : It ’ s the final frontier, the place where no one can hear you scream, and a boundless backdrop that squashes any world ’ sulfur self. Or indeed we ’ ve been told by three of the best space movies ever, as determined by the semi-rigorous rate process we ’ ra deliver nowadays .
Whether a floor unfolds in the by, the award, or the future — in our own galaxy or one far, far aside — space makes a capital rig for film. For one thing, it ’ south constantly trying to kill characters, which raises the storytelling stakes. Its scale, and the focal ratio required to traverse it, make distance a natural special-effects case. And most importantly, the cold void of quad forces characters to confront their individual fears and self-doubts even as it inspires existential and epistemic questions that fascinate us all. It ’ south no wonder that Hollywood never stops making outer space movies. ( Brad Pitt, James Gray, and Insterstellar ’ sulfur cameraman are at study on another epic poem right field immediately. ) Our appetite for them is deoxyadenosine monophosphate huge as the vacuum .
We ’ ve seen respective space movies added to the index in 2017, from the great to the severe ( and everything in between ), and we distillery have the annual Star Wars episode ( and, uh, Geostorm ) to salivate over. But today ’ s exert is an try to determine the best distance movies of all time, with a list of nominees dating back decades.

To qualify for the list, it ’ s not sufficient for a film to be sci-fi ( Blade Runner doesn ’ t count ). Nor are aliens alone enough ( blue, E.T., Close Encounters, and Arrival ). The prerequisite is elementary : To be eligible, a movie has to be at least partially set in space. Some of the movies below wholly learn place in space, while in others, quad makes more of a cameo. But if you ’ rhenium wondering why a movie you love didn ’ metric ton make our cut, an absence of actual space scenes might explain the rebuff .
To arrive at our ranking, we stuck to about the lapp formula we followed in our ranking of thoroughly Bad Movies earlier this year. First we canvassed our staff for favorite-space-movie nominees. After weeding out nonqualifiers ( apologies to Alien Nation ) and supplementing the list with some desirable candidates that weren ’ metric ton mentioned, we ran the resulting 55 films through the equation below :

Let ’ s take this one acronym at a clock time .
CR stands for cultural Relevance and, in the words of commodity Bad Movie ace Andrew Gruttadaro, “ was determined by multiplying a movie ’ south number of Google News hits in the last class ( with 1 decimal point being awarded per 100 hits ) by the total of years it ’ s been since that movie ’ south release. ” We want to reward movies that never grow old, becoming artistic touchstones and constantly resurfacing in our cultural conversation. Of course, this metric function favors movies that belong to ongoing series such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and Avatar — which, judge by Google, James Cameron has at least been busy hash out, if not directing — but that ’ second OK, since sequels help draw attention ( and devotion ) to the originals .
RT stands for Rotten Tomatoes score. This time about, we aren ’ metric ton targeting ill reviewed movies, so the higher here, the better ( although not all of our leaders are wholly critic-approved ) .
PO stands for Public Opinion. last week, we asked you — that is, those of you who follow The Ringer on Twitter and happened to see this tweet — to select your 10 favorite films from our number of 55. More than 5,500 readers responded. After the crowdsourced picks came in, we tabulated the vote totals and ordered each movie from 1 to 55, with first place receiving 55 points, second place receiving 54 points, and then on .
With each of those three components in hand, we did the arithmetical to calculate each movie ’ randomness GSS, or Great Space Score. The higher the score, the higher the ranking .
now that you know the methodology, you, like Lewis Pirenne in Isaac Asimov ’ randomness Foundation, might be thinking, “ Space, man, have you no deference for science ? ” To which we, like Foundation ’ s Anselm haut Rodric, say, “ Science be damned ! ” ( Foundation has very lifelike dialogue. ) No, not truly — we like skill. But movie greatness is more than a count of mathematics, so there ’ randomness board to disagree .
We hope you ’ ll join us on this top-25 travel ; when you ’ ve touched devour at the bottom of the page, you ’ ll find a connection to the rankings for the full 55. We ’ re now T-minus one paragraph away from the rankings, so it ’ south time to stare at your screen and start saying that stuff is a proceed .
Remember to check back for more space-related content throughout the workweek. And wear ’ thyroxine miss our consultation elsewhere on the locate Monday with Industrial Light & Magic effects legend John Knoll, who had a hand in the looks of a few of the films below. Ben Lindbergh

Just Missed the Cut

Total Recall (1990)

Directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall is a perfectly weird space movie, a standout of ’ 90s skill fabrication. In it, Schwarzenegger madly yelps “ Two weeks ! ” while his old-lady disguise malfunctions when he ’ s trying to infiltrate the planet Mars. later, he kills a confederate named Richter by dragging him in battlefront of a moving elevator and bisecting his arms from the rest of his soundbox ; then he holds up both arms and says, “ See you at the party, Richter ! ” I in truth, actually love Total Recall.  — Andrew Gruttadaro

Sunshine (2007)

Danny Boyle ’ s Sunshine, which recently turned 10, is the ultimate “ except for the ending ” movie. Most of the movie perfectly captures the oppressive silence of space, channeling the serene-yet-sinister stateliness of 2001 : A Space Odyssey and Andrei Tarkovsky. Boyle understands that aliens, enemy spacecraft, and crazed killers aren ’ t the only things that make space chilling ; the unforgiving environment, and the small-but-costly slip-ups that can occur under intense atmospheric pressure, are terrifying enough. I just wish he could do over the third act, which transitions besides abruptly and cryptically into shaky-cam slasher horror that about — but not quite — spoils the exquisite apparatus. — Ben Lindbergh

The Fifth Element (1997)

The Fifth Element was released in 1997, and it would inactive be ahead of its time if it came out today. It ’ s a fantastic depiction of the future that never loses sight of the essential absurdity of human beings and the societies we create. The movie is a two-hour acidic trip with Chris Tucker and Gary Oldman turning it up to 11 in supporting roles, yet it somehow manages to remain ground with a solid moderate operation from Bruce Willis and a love floor between him and a supernatural being who was built in a lab from estrange DNA. Luc Besson, the writer and film director, caught lightning in a bottle with this matchless : It shouldn ’ metric ton work, but it does. Jonathan Tjarks

Hidden Figures (2016)

That we have the engineering for space exploration in 2017 is incredible. That the lapp technology besides existed in the 1960s, long before the internet, smartphones — sin, even calculators became platitude ? It ’ second honestly incredible. Hidden Figures puts that intelligence into perspective via the stories of three african american women whose bright number-crunching launched John Glenn into orbit. It ’ s a in truth “ untold ” narrative, and one of the most compel ever put to film. — Rubie Edmondson

Interstellar (2014)

interstellar brought me on an emotional voyage unlike anything I ’ ve felt before. I saw it three times in IMAX over the foremost few weeks of its acquittance because I may never again come thus cheeseparing to experiencing the sensation of traveling through space and time. Its booming sounds and striking images physically enthralled me. The way in which it fused both the antic and the familiar mentally captivated me. The plot holes preceptor ’ metric ton hamper the journey through wormholes and total darkness holes, because no film will bring you closer. Interstellar is cinematic magic trick that brought me to a place that ’ randomness hard to reach as you get older : a place of childlike wonder. Kevin O ’ Connor

Top 25

25. Galaxy Quest (1999)

“ How did I come to this ? ” an anguish, purple-head-pronged Alan Rickman asks early on in Galaxy Quest, moments before a hungover and forgetful Tim Allen strides into the green room, an hour former to his own fan convention. Galaxy Quest is a think experiment taken to its most chaotic, delightful, and even tentacly heart-warming extremes, a love portrayal of a astronomic cargo cult that simultaneously makes playfulness of everything and takes all of it wholly badly. sure, Allen has since outed himself as the worst kind of internet troll — but in Galaxy Quest, we can still enjoy him at his David Duchovny–esque best. The film is a perfect send-up of Star Trek fandom a well as a perfective sci-fi voyage in its own correct. It is, just in general, perfect, and never — never — something to be skipped over in its deservedly countless cable syndication loop topology. — Claire McNear

24. Gattaca (1997)

An original sci-fi movie with top-of-the-line movie stars and a cameo from Gore Vidal. Remember when that was possible ? Gattaca is a fib about the dangers of eugenics centered on three objectively genetically blessed white people, but once you get past that minor hurdle, Andrew Niccol ’ mho 1997 feature is the best kind of think experiment — pointed and human-scale in a way that encourages us to emotionally invest in its hypotheticals. In keeping with the theme of this list, though, Gattaca ’ randomness imagination of space is less futuristic than old school. It ’ sulfur still the last frontier, an impossible dream for Ethan Hawke ’ s Vincent, a naturally conceived human being in a society where everyone ’ south been genetically engineered for perfection, and Uma Thurman ’ s Irene alike. And when Vincent finally gets there, it ’ second pure catharsis. Gattaca ’ s a profoundly american movie about how deoxyribonucleic acid shouldn ’ t be and isn ’ t fortune that shockingly flopped at the American box office, but at least we appreciate it now. — Alison Herman

23. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

certain, Rogue One : A Star Wars Story has its issues. There ’ s a blind quality who offs Stormtroopers with a staff. There is authoritative Star Wars plot armor in the form of all-important information being available merely via physical media. ( The internet doesn ’ metric ton exist, but intergalactic travel does ? ) There ’ randomness a creepy CGI reincarnation. And — pamperer alert — you can ’ t count on getting to know any of your newfangled friends better in future installments .
But as a wise serviceman once wrote on the internet, Rogue One is the best popcorn war movie since Saving Private Ryan. Taken that direction — as a war movie set in space alternatively of as a meaningful installment of a larger mythology ( which it even is, IMO ) that is both still being formed and was largely set in stone farseeing ago — Rogue One is vastly harbor. Yes, it ’ s dark, but thus is life. Whether or not Rogue One should be counted as one of the best space movies of all time comes down to how you answer a simple question :
GIF from ‘Gladiator’ reading, “Is this not why you are here?! Are you not entertained?”
GIF from ‘Gladiator’ reading, “Is this not why you are here?! Are you not entertained?”

— Jack McCluskey

22. The Martian (2015)

The martian begins as most tales of disaster do : with unexpected upwind and very regretful fortune. One moment Mark Watney ( Matt Damon ) is good a botanist on Mars, studying crap and wisecracking with his suspiciously fine-looking gang members. The adjacent, he is abandoned on a planet whose integral environment is antithetic to his being. There are no extraterrestrial being invasions or flashbacks to his beautiful wife and children back home, just shots of Watney, who is forced to confront a stage set of circumstances that most likely end in death. What follows is an intricate survey in triage, both for Watney — who switches from panicked, to despondent, to determined that he will “ science the damn ” out of his survival — and his dedicated saviors back home. ( Shout out to Donald Glover as the nominal oblivious-yet-brilliant aerodynamicist. ) The movie ’ s most thrill moments don ’ triiodothyronine come in the shape of explosions or antic space folly, but via the imaginative victories cooked up by Watney and his very patriotic defend system. I never thought I would tear up witnessing a space botanist discover the first potato sprout in a farm that he fertilized with his own jack, but that ’ s The martian ’ south charm : It ’ s a movie about making due with a handful of supplies and your genius, a love letter to the baron of intellectual. — Alyssa Bereznak

21. Contact (1997)

Growing up Catholic, I think I liked Contact therefore much for the whole “ science versus religion as told by Jodie Foster versus Matthew McConaughey ” storyline. But very, good the whole scene where Foster is being hurled around the galax distillery makes me wish contact : The Theme Park Ride existed, and besides I am identical beaming 3-D was not a thing at the time the movie came out. Oh, and how about that whole mirror scene in the begin ? ! How did they shoot that ? ! equitable kidding, we all know now, but hera ’ s a very fun Reddit thread about it. so many layers ! — Molly McHugh

20. Wall-E (2008)

Wall-E is the most experimental and audacious movie Pixar has always made. deoxyadenosine monophosphate army for the liberation of rwanda as enliven movies for kids go, this one stands out for having the most socially responsible message since FernGully, its use of live natural process actors in quick-cut scenes, and basically being a dumb film for the entire first half. Wall-E poetically issues a buttocks warn about the consequences of club ’ sulfur blatant neglect for the planet and our increase dependence on automation and engineering while sending a beam of hope via the uncompromising liveliness of life. Plus there ’ s an adorable automaton love history and beautiful animation. — Zach Mack

19. Space Jam (1996)

Rumors circulate every few years about a Space Jam sequel, but it ’ s never going to happen. alone once in this universe will a ace athlete who quit mid-career to be a mediocre athlete in another fun decide to participate in a 88-minute image-rehabilitation undertaking that is besides a full-length children ’ randomness movie about avaricious aliens who want to enslave a beloved Warner Bros. property but besides agree not to enslave said property if it can beat them in basketball. besides, Bill Murray is besides busy for this crap now .
no, we have to enjoy Space Jam for the bizarre, embarrassing, arrant miracle that it is : a slapstick commercial for the NBA, Michael Jordan, Looney Tunes, and physically impossible dunks. — Kate Knibbs

18. Star Trek (2009)

I first watched Star Trek as a begrudge favor to a ally. She “ like science fiction ” and I “ decidedly did not, ” but I figured there are worse things than staring at Chris Pine for two hours while he swaggers around causing mayhem as a young Captain Kirk ( at least that ’ s how the film was advertised to me ). This is where I admit that I had never seen an episode of the original series, nor did I have much of a concept for it beyond character names and the fact that it involved space. however, by the browning automatic rifle battle scenery I was intrigued, and once the stoic Spock is forced to admit that he was emotionally compromised by the death of his mother, I was feeling a bite emotionally compromised myself .
This is a movie about happenings in space, surely ( and there are decidedly a lot of CGI renderings, strange species, and shots of the wiiide vaaaastness of spaaace to prove it ). But it ’ s besides a film about emotion and family and the things that link people ( and Vulcans ) to one another. It ’ south natural in some places and not-so-great in others, but as my initiation to the Star Trek population, it was memorable. — Megan Schuster

17. Independence Day (1996)

Some space movies are about the stateliness of space, the exalted wonder of the null, the mindblowing possibility of reach with a celestial other. not Independence Day, which is basically a film about how much aliens fellate and America rules. alternatively of glorifying worlds beyond ours, the ultimate summer popcorn flick turns estrange life into a formidable but punchable villain, and the results are far more capture than they have any right to be. “ WELCOME TO EARTH ! ” Will Smith bellows, an irresistible avatar for chauvinism. Jeff Goldblum outsmarts his astronomic foes using the office of 1990s calculator engineering in a plot point sol stupid it can entirely be fantastic. Independence Day is a dumb, beautiful celebration of our dumb, beautiful worldly concern. — Kate Knibbs

16. Predator (1987)

If it wasn ’ thyroxine for the fact that the words “ ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ” and “ PREDATOR ” flash across the shield within the first few seconds, there ’ five hundred be no room to distinguish between this movie ’ second opening scene and that of any of the Star Wars films. even the music is Star Wars-y.

And fine, the adjacent hour and 47 minutes take place in a central american jungle and specifically not in quad, but the first hour and a half lays it all out for us : Whatever it is our big-bicepped heroes are dealing with, it ’ s not of this world. They ’ rhenium not gon sodium be on a level play field with this cryptic design as it lurks about in an OG invisibility cloak. As we quickly find out, not even ( most of ) America ’ sulfur biggest sexual tyrannosauruses can contend with an invisible alien trophy-hunter with thermal goggles and a shoulder-mounted missile-launcher. After indulging in a game of cat-and-mouse, the Predator takes out Blain ( x real-life Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura ), and Mac ( Bill Duke ) sees his translucent outline run into the hobo camp. This sets in gesticulate one of the most meet and gratuitous shows of firepower in movie history : For a full 86 seconds, these dudes precisely bite their lips and inject from the pelvis — with the most pathetic collection of guns a humble team of vehicle-less commandos could carry .
sure, they ’ ve got the old reliables — the MP5s, M16s, and an M60 — but these guys besides humped an automatic grenade launcher into the bush, Billy ( Sonny Landham ) carries an M-16 with a shotgun attached to it, and, most impressively and incredibly, Blain is carrying around a fucking gatling gun. But the workweek ’ s worth of ammunition they burnt through is all for naught ; they kill nothing, and from there, Dutch and his gang last start to understand that they ’ re wholly outmatched — and that they ’ rhenium being hunted. Without spoiling besides a lot of the fun, I ’ ll say that dutch goes revelation now on Predator ’ s ass, relying on a few primitive methods of war. He ’ s so cunning that the Predator develops a grudge deference for his quarry, abandons all the high-tech alien weaponry that puts him at such an advantage, and decides alternatively that this gripe should come down to a good antique fisticuffs. It ’ sulfur great in every manner. — Danny Kelly

15. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Think rear for a moment to the fantastic press The Force Awakens faced before its open in 2015 : a critical community burnt out on cynical IP plays ; a massive fanbase already stung by one bungled addition to their beloved original trilogy ; the possibility that even if this revival wasn ’ t an abomination, it ’ five hundred be a otiose rework. You probable wear ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate remember that build-up because J.J. Abrams ’ s revamp arrived on the fit amply formed and ready to make a billion dollars : effortlessly diverse, aware of its inheritance, and taking full advantage of the twenty-first hundred with some gorgeous ( and frequently practical ! ) special effects. The Force Awakens works because it offers archetypes that feel both universal and of the moment : a villain literally related to Darth Vader ( who however smacks of the beta maleness that gave us Gamergate ) and another orphan-turned-prophesized hero ( who, when she wielded a lightsaber, still sent chills down my spine ). Episode VII pulled off the near-impossible and plastered Star Wars ’ repute as the best-managed mega-franchise in the business. shout out to you, Kathleen Kennedy, and take some notes, Marvel and DC. — Alison Herman

14. Planet of the Apes (1968)

The original Apes international relations and security network ’ t in truth a space movie compared to some on this tilt, but its supporter is an astronaut, and it does start in space. It besides makes the most of the several minutes it spends there. You ’ re more likely to remember “ You maniacs ! ” or “ You damn dirty copycat ! ” or Charlton Heston ’ s maniacal, meme-able laugh than anything George Taylor says in the opening scene ( while smoke, as astronauts do ), but as an encapsulation of space ’ mho appeal as a rig, one could do worse than this quote : “ Seen from out hera, everything seems different. Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man ’ sulfur ego. I feel lonely. ”
Like most big space movies, Apes is imbued with wonder and mystery, and like most successful sci-fi, its delineation of a different prison term isolates and amplifies the flaws of our own. Almost half a century belated, the film ’ second effects and costumes look all of their senesce, but the narrative still works as a cautionary fib and an emblem about racial conflict. After four directly sequels and two reboots ( which has spawned two well-received sequels of its own ), the end of Apes is nowhere in spy .
planet of the Apes went into wide-eyed theatrical performance spill a few days before 2001 : A Space Odyssey, so it ’ south appropriate that it besides precedes 2001 on our ranking. — Ben Lindbergh

13. Gravity (2013)

This will sound like an exaggeration or an hyperbole, but, truly, it is not : Watching Gravity in the dramaturgy was a profoundly moving experience for me. I thought that every single depart of it — Sandra Bullock ’ s forced-into-heroism heroism ; George Clooney ’ s absolutely chiseled fearlessness ; the terrify soundtrack ; the way that Alfonso Cuarón dangled the tiniest morsel of hope in front of everyone with the thinnest while of string — was precisely perfective. gravity does what every movie about space should aspire to do, which is to make you feel entirely inadequate and unimportant ( HOW CAN I POSSIBLY MATTER WHEN MEASURED UP AGAINST THE BIGNESS OF SPACE ? ? ? ) while besides making you feel like possibly that empty impression in your chest of drawers you can ’ t outrun is something more than just nothingness — it ’ s your misprint connection to the population, bad and huge and beautiful and terrify and perfect. — Shea Serrano

12. Spaceballs (1987)

Carl Sagan may or may not have uttered the give voice “ billions and billions ” during his pop-cosmology television series a generation ago, but it is an accurate descriptor of how many jokes are contained within Mel Brooks ’ s exalted outer-space farce. Spaceballs, of course, is the defining parody of the self-serious Star Wars. Brooks calls up the major elements of George Lucas ’ s universe — the princess, the mysterious prince, the shaman, the sidekicks both furry and robotic, the villains, the white-helmeted soldiers — and wrings all of them for laughs .
There is a entrust band of cultists who trade one-liners back and forth in knowing shorthand. “ I ’ meter surrounded by assholes. ” “ Merchandising ! Merchandising ! ” “ Please, please, don ’ t make a bustle. I ’ molarity equitable plain Yogurt. ” And, a personal favored, “ What ’ s the matter, Colonel Sandurz ? Chicken ? ” ( here is where I disclose that the actor who played the prey of the wimp joke, the pro ’ mho pro George Wyner, is a longtime supporter of my wife ’ s family. )
now that I ’ ve announced my bias, I ’ ll leave you with the film ’ second best scene, a bit of meta-comedy featuring Rick Moranis and Wyner in which they watch a VHS tape of Spaceballs and fast-forward to the moment in the film when the two characters are watching a VHS magnetic tape of Spaceballs. It ’ s a consummate sting of writing and acting whose intricate pun recalls Tom Stoppard and agile delivery honors Abbott and Costello. And it all happens in space .
—Craig Gaines

11. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

You can split the Marvel Cinematic Universe into two eras : Before Guardians and After Guardians. The tenth movie in the franchise, Guardians of the Galaxy, was the first Marvel movie to feel like it had a divide personality. Without the weight of the Avengers to bring him down, director James Gunn created a movie that was storm, compelling, and truly fun — and not in a cheap, look-at-that-big-explosion kind of way .
Chris Pratt is excellent as intergalactic cool-jerk Peter “ Starlord ” Quill — the perfect combination of invest heroism and detached sarcasm, a choice that ’ south welcome in a movie featuring a blue villain and planets called Morag and Xandar. ( Pratt ’ s star office has been overstated since, but watching Guardians, you can at least understand why he broke out. ) Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper attack out the crew as Quill ’ s versatile extraterrestrial being companions — Diesel literally plays a tree who can alone say three words — and Guardians blossoms into an interminably enjoyable origin narrative about a mismatched, rabble group of heroes. The soundtrack ’ mho pretty great, besides. Nothing against Iron Man or Captain America, but Guardians of the Galaxy makes it heavily to come binding to Earth. — Andrew Gruttadaro

10. Avatar (2009)

It took all of five years for James Cameron ’ s history of Jake Sully and the Na ’ six to become a punch lineage. possibly less than that. How did this happen ? How did the most successful non-sequel history in movie history become a landmark for jokes about febrile foreigner tails, Cameron ’ s ill-famed self-absorption, and Sam Worthington ’ s un-starriness ? Cameron ’ s munificence made the movie a target, but its province is what made it forgettable — Avatar was one of the great moviegoing events of the twenty-first hundred, a bombastic and painterly effort of force. But it looked bad — brassy, flush — on TVs. More so on computer and pad screens. The digital imagination that Cameron employed to bring the blue-skinned Na ’ united states virgin islands to life has besides aged ailing in the intervene decade. But what is most lost about Avatar ’ s initial, deafening affect is not the film ’ s pass for a intuitive magnificence or technical audacity — two of Cameron ’ second lifelong pursuits — but its intergalactic floor of species at odds .
Avatar is a space movie in much the like manner The Searchers is a western. It captures a dispute between races, one militaristic and ceaseless in its bay for dominance, the other more religious but no less equipped for battle. And like The Searchers, John Ford ’ sulfur building complex, cockeyed summation of race and world power in the american West, Avatar portrays its native people with a simplistic nobility and fierce underbelly. Avatar is not quite the iconic vision of a global that has passed us by that The Searchers is. But it does show what could be in a fracture future — privatized military leading the way through the cosmos in search of valuable wares from vulnerable faraway lands. It ’ s not thus much a parable as a uncoiled warning. Careful what you go searching for in space — you just might find it. — Sean Fennessey

9. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

At its best, Star Trek is less about the legal action than it is about problem-solving and Asking Big Questions — the boot movies suck precisely because the franchise was handed over to the chuckleheads from Lost, who aggressively and decisively do not understand this — and Wrath of Khan is all about aging, deathrate, fatherhood, the limits of human means, and not one but three different questions about scientific ethics. ( besides, seasonably of nothing, I constantly thought Merritt Butrick was actually good as David Marcus. )
It ’ randomness one of the best examples of one of the best star Trek movie traditions : Having the bad guy played by a big-name guest actor who swings from his ( or her ) heels. It ’ randomness besides a high point for the Kirk–McCoy–Spock Freudian Trio, punctuated by Spock sacrificing his own biography to save the ship — an act born on its expression out of simple logic, but executed out of heavy love and foreshadowed in Spock ’ s birthday give of A Tale of Two Cities. It ’ randomness OK to cry. I won ’ thymine order anyone. — Michael Baumann

8. Apollo 13 (1995)

Apollo 13 is the least experiential space movie ever made, and that ’ s credibly why it ’ s the most rewatchable one. It is a love letter to American ingenuity and a testament to the charms of Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon being trapped in a flying thimble together. It besides features one of the capital exhale crescendo in blockbuster history. It ’ mho easy to tell a history where everything that can go wrong does go wrong, but this is a movie where everything goes right. The tranquillity moments are tender ( Kathleen Quinlan ’ s Marilyn Lovell listening to the radio receiver as her conserve goes around the dark slope of the moonlight ) ; the curious moments are hilarious ( “ I think old Swigert gave me the clap. Been pissin ’ in my relief tube. ” ) ; and the chilling moments are terrifying ( “ Houston, we have a problem. ” ) .
Most space movies are about things that are out of our control and beyond our comprehension — whether it ’ s ideas ( like the search for the mean of life ) or technology ( like jumping to hyperspace ) — but not Apollo 13. Every push button gets pushed, every dial gets turned, guys have to ballet dance around earphone jacks, and atmosphere filters need to be built out of tube socks and duct record. It ’ s a hardheaded, human movie about a time when humans looked at something adenine impractical as landing on the moon and attacked the trouble much. Work the problem, people. — Chris Ryan

7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

space is brilliant and space is terrifying ; it follows that a great distance movie should induce in its spectator both wonder and horror. With all due deference to Jack Torrance, I sincerely believe that 2001 : A Space Odyssey is Stanley Kubrick ’ s scariest movie. There ’ sulfur such an elegance and ease to its awful. Studios have wasted the equivalent of minor nations ’ GDPs trying to craft elaborately creepy CGI villains — and they will never surpass a bone-chillingly indifferent loss dot named HAL. Alfonso Cuarón spent $ 100 million trying to get a single shot as existentially panic-inducing as that mum moment when Frank realizes his wrinkle has been cut and he ’ randomness going to spend the rest of his inadequate animation hurtling through space. Filmmakers have been trying to top this movie for about 50 years nowadays, and no one ( not even Christopher Nolan ) has succeeded. sure, Hollywood ’ s monkey-suit technology has come a retentive way since 1968, and none of the human performances in 2001 are peculiarly memorable ( I will mail you a dollar if you can name the contribute actor in this film without Googling ), but these feel like small flaws when taken against the massive enormousness of this film. Imagine making a space movie a class before the blasted moon bring and it still looking fresh five decades later. even 16 years after its once-futuristic-sounding namesake, to watch 2001 is to open the pod bay doors… of your mind. — Lindsay Zoladz

6. Aliens (1986)

Of all the installments in the Alien film franchise, this one holds up the best. If Alien is a horror film in outer space, Aliens would be a war thriller, besides in space. The film ’ sulfur writer and director, James Cameron, does a consummate job expanding upon what little we previously knew about Ellen Ripley, the Weyland-Yutani Corp, and the terrific and homicidal xenomorphs to tell a tense floor about survival, authorization, and corporate avarice. besides, the answer to the motion posed early in the film — “ So who ’ s laying these eggs ? ” — is one of the best adult reveals in film. Period. — Zach Mack

5. The Right Stuff (1983)

This is one of my front-runner movies always in any music genre. It pulls off the fine poise act of recognizing the absurdity of the early Cold War — it ’ sulfur difficult not to laugh at the hypermasculinity and flag waving of the Space Race — while besides embracing it. Is it absurd to look at test pilots as the last cowboy, as Sam Shepard literally rides his horse to Pancho ’ s glad Bottom Riding Club ? Sure, but those guys were besides very cool. This film lives in the moment before liftoff, buoyed by one of the greatest movie soundtracks ever and incredible performances from circus tent to bottom : Shepard ’ mho gunman Chuck Yeager, Levon Helm ’ s resourceful Jack Ridley, Fred Ward ’ s aggro Gus Grissom, Ed Harris ’ s frenzied male child lookout John Glenn, Dennis Quaid ’ s classify clown Gordo Cooper, and Pamela Reed as his wife Trudy, whose struggle to “ maintain an even strain ” breaks your affection more and more each time you watch it. But the performance that characterizes the movie best is Donald Moffat ’ s exorbitant LBJ. It ’ sulfur across-the-board, it ’ sulfur absurd, it ’ mho hyperbolic, but it ’ s besides a major historic human body going amuck over issues of colossal geopolitical importance. This movie is beautiful, hilarious, sad, dramatic, and hysteric. — Michael Baumann

4. Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi (1983)

An anonymous penis of The Ringer ’ mho staff counts Return of the Jedi as their front-runner Star Wars movie, an opinion so misguided that I ’ megabyte withholding their name to protect their repute. Jedi is worse in about every way than the two films that came before it. It ’ s a true tonic bridge between the original trilogy and the prequels, one that rejects the riveting darkness of The Empire Strikes Back in favor of cuddlesome Ewoks, awkward retconning, superweapon recycle, and a virtually consequence-free climax. The too-long Tatooine sequence, bogged devour by “ Lapti Nek ” ( or manner worse, “ Jedi Rocks ” ), feels like it belongs to a unlike movie than the three-pronged climax, and Boba Fett ’ s sarlacc run into was so feeble that the extend universe had to undo his death .
yet to paraphrase Luke, there is still good in Jedi, including Luke ’ s capture at Jabba ’ s palace, the speeder-bike chase, and everything in the throne-room scenes, one of which features possibly my favored minute-or-so snip on any Star Wars soundtrack. The movie is calm fabulously quotable, from “ You ’ re gon na fail here, you know ” to “ The Emperor is not vitamin a forgiving as I am. ” Most of all, it ’ mho just satisfying to spend more clock with these characters, whose chemistry is integral tied though Harrison Ford barely wanted to be back .
Jedi is clearly riding the coattails of its predecessors ( and the Google-results inflation of its successors ) to its elite placement on this list. But man, they ’ ra amazing coattails. — Ben Lindbergh

3. Alien (1979)

It ’ s the hush in Alien that ’ s worse than anything. The way the music fades out as the alien egg cracks open, moments before the fleshy monstrosity latches onto Kane ’ s spacesuit. The bizarre tranquillity of him resting in the checkup ward while a human-incubated nightmare is strapped to his face in a mating ritual from sin. The suffocating hush — punctuated only by the clink of chains — fair before the fully-grown estrange makes its debut to devour Brett. now 38 years old, Alien continues to horrify because of the quiet that orbits the loudly, graphic moment at the heart of the film, when the titular beast erupts from Kane ’ s stomach. There ’ mho awful of the unknown before the foreigner birth and fear that something more disturb will happen subsequently. The second shoe never drops, and Alien morphs into an action-thriller as Ripley scrambles to escape. But it ’ s those eerie, empty moments that make this one of the best quad movies of all meter. — Victor Luckerson

2. Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

This is the best star Wars movie. It gave us, in the cross of a few minutes, both the “ I love you. ” / “ I know. ” exchange and “ I am your father. ” It gave us the most dramatic lightsaber battle of any of the seven movies — after Darth Vader and Obi-Wan precisely sort of poked at each other in a hallway for a couple minutes at the end of A New Hope, Vader chases an increasingly panicky Luke across Cloud City, pummeling him with pipes and boxes, literally beating the arrogance and optimism out of our hero. That sense of “ Oh wow, this truly international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine going to be that easily, and that ’ s dismay, ” pervades the floor, as Luke, Leia, and Han suffer an barrage of defeats and unexpected obstacles to rival the chain of golden breaks they ’ d skated by on in the last movie. That makes a two-hour movie with five or six distinct acts fly by. — Michael Baumann

1. Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)

The one that started it all. George Lucas changed skill fabrication, and the movie industry in general, with the beginning Star Wars movie. Forty years late, Disney is making billions off the universe Lucas created. Lucas was a chief synthesizer, liberally borrowing from sources angstrom varied as Flash Gordon and Akira Kurosawa, but he owed his greatest debt to Joseph Campbell, the writer who popularized the idea of “ the hero ’ south travel, ” the archetypal report at the heart of fabulous tales in every homo club. The young man from base beginnings receives a name to adventure then waffles on whether to leave home until he meets a mentor who sets him on his way, where he finds new allies who help him triumph over his ultimate fear. once you set that history in space, it pretty much writes itself. Most of the movies inspired by A New Hope, including the prequels, copied the surface-level stuff — special effects, epic space battles, and witty kid from an attractive unseasoned cast — without understanding the fundamental framework. Star Wars works because it speaks to a deep desire in the human heart ; watching it without rooting for the main characters is like trying to keep your leg in home when person taps your patella. The Star Wars population continues to expand, but people will always watch and love this movie. — Jonathan Tjarks
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