Rolling Stone Top 40 Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century

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Ask any science-fiction movie fanatic what their go-to films are, and you’ll get a lot of great answers back: Metropolis, Blade Runner, 2001, The Day the Earth Stood Still, the original Godzilla, The Thing etc. But let’s face it – those answers are so last century. Great sci-fi movies didn’t decide to party like it’s 1999 then call it a day; a host of thrilling, intelligent, offbeat, funny and frightening SF films have hit art houses and multiplexes since Y2K.

In 2014, we concocted a list of the Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 21st Century — a quick and dirty survey of the best the genre has had to offer since the millennium’s beginning. More than a few major science-fiction flicks, however – from franchise-expanding blockbusters to arthouse headscratchers – have dropped since then, so it was time for an overhaul and an update. We’ve now expanded our list to 40 titles, to better highlight the best and brightest SF films of our still-new–ish millennium. Some noteworthy favorites of ours just barely missed the cut (very sorry, Alex Rivera’s Sleep Dealer) or some major titles were dinged on quality-control issues. (Avatar may have been a gamechanging film for 3D, but “unobtainium”? Really?!?) We’re confident, however, that there’s a place in the canon for these relative latecomers.

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  1. 1 new

    Children of Men

    2006, in 10 top lists Check
  2. 2 new

    Ex Machina

    2014, in 4 top lists Check
  3. 3 new

    Under the Skin

    2013, in 7 top lists Check
  4. 4 new

    Arrival

    2016, in 7 top lists Check
  5. 5 new

    Inception

    2010, in 19 top lists Check
  6. 6 new

    WALL·E

    2008, in 23 top lists Check
  7. 7 new

    Gravity

    2013, in 9 top lists Check
  8. 8 new

    28 Days Later...

    2002, in 8 top lists Check
  9. 9 new

    The Martian

    2015, in 6 top lists Check
  10. 10 new

    Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens

    2015, in 7 top lists Check
  11. 11 new

    Mad Max: Fury Road

    2015, in 21 top lists Check
  12. 12 new

    Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

    2004, in 26 top lists Check
  13. 13 new

    District 9

    2009, in 10 top lists Check
  14. 14 new

    Serenity

    2005, in 3 top lists Check
  15. 15 new

    Looper

    2012, in 3 top lists Check
  16. 16 new

    Snowpiercer

    2013, in 1 top list Check
  17. 17 new

    A Scanner Darkly

    2006, in 5 top lists Check
  18. 18 new

    Her

    2013, in 8 top lists Check
  19. 19 new

    Edge of Tomorrow

    2014, in 4 top lists Check
  20. 20 new

    Gwoemul

    2006 — a.k.a. The Host, in 12 top lists Check
  21. 21 new

    Midnight Special

    2016, in 0 top lists Check
  22. 22 new

    The World's End

    2013, in 1 top list Check
  23. 23 new

    Moon

    2009, in 4 top lists Check
  24. 24 new

    Minority Report

    2002, in 6 top lists Check
  25. 25 new

    Primer

    2004, in 7 top lists Check
  26. 26 new

    Artificial Intelligence: AI

    2001 — a.k.a. A.I. Artificial Intelligence, in 11 top lists Check
  27. 27 new

    Cloverfield

    2008, in 4 top lists Check
  28. 28 new

    Attack the Block

    2011, in 2 top lists Check
  29. 29 new

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    2014, in 3 top lists Check
  30. 30 new

    Reign of Fire

    2002, in 0 top lists Check
  31. 31 new

    Monsters

    2010, in 2 top lists Check
  32. 32 new

    2046

    2004, in 7 top lists Check
  33. 33 new

    Donnie Darko

    2001, in 19 top lists Check
  34. 34 new

    Guardians of the Galaxy

    2014, in 7 top lists Check
  35. 35 new

    Sunshine

    2007, in 1 top list Check
  36. 36 new

    Pacific Rim

    2013, in 1 top list Check
  37. 37 new

    The Girl with All the Gifts

    2016 Check
  38. 38 new

    Source Code

    2011, in 0 top lists Check
  39. 39 new

    Another Earth

    2011, in 0 top lists Check
  40. 40 new

    The One I Love

    2014, in 0 top lists Check
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Last updated on Jan 8, 2019; source