(Photo by Lionsgate, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Warner Bros., A24/courtesy Everett Collection)
The 50 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 2010s
After fantasy franchises like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter convinced audiences to realize that, yes, being a geek is fun, people emerged in the early 2010s thinking: What next? Why, science-fiction, of course! The genre hit the decade hit with full force, starting with a number of inescapable series from yesteryear resurrected for modern times. We’re talking the return of Star Wars, Mad Max, Blade Runner, and even Planet of the Apes.
Of course, it wasn’t all just nostalgia plays, but also thought-provoking original material, like Ex Machina, Arrival, Looper, Inception, and Interstellar. And though sci-fi is often set in the future, its stories actually help inform and decipher how we live today through technology and allegory. Look only to Her, Snowpiercer, or The Lobster for proof. And then you had grounded space-set science-fiction like Gravity and The Martian. Otherwise, if sci-fi to you means giant robots and monsters, there was Godzilla, Kong: Skull Island, Ready Player One, and Pacific Rim.
Whatever the style, or budget, we took every sci-fi movie from the decade and then ranked them by Adjusted Tomatometer, a formula which weighs multiple factors, including a movie’s release year and its number of reviews. Speaking of, each movie needed a minimum of 80 reviews for consideration. And now, it’s time for us to launch into the stars with the 50 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 2010s!
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Adjusted Score: 81.886%
Critics Consensus: Z for Zachariah wrings compelling drama out of its simplistic premise -- albeit at a pace that may test the patience of less contemplative viewers.
In the wake of a nuclear war, a young woman survives on her own, fearing she may actually be the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83.694%
Critics Consensus: It may sport more style than substance, but Pacific Rim is a solid modern creature feature bolstered by fantastical imagery and an irresistible sense of fun.
When legions of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.778%
Critics Consensus: Ridley Scott's ambitious quasi-prequel to Alien may not answer all of its big questions, but it's redeemed by its haunting visual grandeur and compelling performances -- particularly Michael Fassbender as a fastidious android.
Ridley Scott, director of Alien and Blade Runner, returns to the genre he helped define. With Prometheus, he creates a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84.974%
Critics Consensus: Fueled by bombastic violence and impressive special effects, rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor, Dredd 3D does a remarkable job of capturing its source material's gritty spirit.
The future America is an irradiated waste land. On its East Coast, running from Boston to Washington DC, lies Mega... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86.386%
Critics Consensus: Melancholia's dramatic tricks are more obvious than they should be, but this is otherwise a showcase for Kirsten Dunst's acting and for Lars von Trier's profound, visceral vision of depression and destruction.
Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.077%
Critics Consensus: Interstellar represents more of the thrilling, thought-provoking, and visually resplendent filmmaking moviegoers have come to expect from writer-director Christopher Nolan, even if its intellectual reach somewhat exceeds its grasp.
With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.646%
Critics Consensus: Fun genre fare with uncommon intelligence, Predestination serves as a better-than-average sci-fi adventure -- and offers a starmaking turn from Sarah Snook.
PREDESTINATION chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke) sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87.842%
Critics Consensus: Hauntingly bleak and thrillingly ambitious, The Double offers Jesse Eisenberg a pair of compelling roles while reaffirming writer-director Richard Ayoade's remarkable talent.
Eisenberg plays Simon, a timid, isolated man who's overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.32%
Critics Consensus: With just enough human drama to anchor the sweeping spectacle of giant monsters smashing everything in sight, Gareth Edwards' Godzilla satisfyingly restores the franchise's fire-breathing glory.
In Summer 2014, the world's most revered monster is reborn as Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures unleash the epic... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.397%
Critics Consensus: It may evoke memories of classic summer blockbusters a little too eagerly for some, but Super 8 has thrills, visual dazzle, and emotional depth to spare.
In the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash while... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89.68%
Critics Consensus: Led by Rupert Wyatt's stylish direction, some impressive special effects, and a mesmerizing performance by Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes breathes unlikely new life into a long-running franchise.
A single act of both compassion and arrogance leads to a war unlike any other -- and to the Rise... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.805%
Critics Consensus: Led by a brilliant performance from star Frank Langella, Robot & Frank works as both a quirky indie drama and as a smart, thoughtful meditation on aging.
Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.145%
Critics Consensus: Ready Player One is a sweetly nostalgic thrill ride that neatly encapsulates Spielberg's strengths while adding another solidly engrossing adventure to his filmography.
In the year 2045, people can escape their harsh reality in the OASIS, an immersive virtual world where you can... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90.91%
Critics Consensus: A case study in less-is-more filmmaking, Coherence serves as a compelling low-budget calling card for debuting writer-director James Ward Byrkit.
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.69%
Critics Consensus: Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster's mythos without ever matching up to the classic original.
Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures' "Kong: Skull Island" reimagines the origin of the mythic Kong in a compelling, original... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.39%
Critics Consensus: As technically brilliant as it is narratively abstract, Upstream Color represents experimental American cinema at its finest -- and reaffirms Shane Carruth as a talent to watch.
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. (c) Official Facebook... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92.037%
Critics Consensus: Midnight Special's intriguing mysteries may not resolve themselves to every viewer's liking, but the journey is ambitious, entertaining, and terrifically acted.
Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, and Kirsten Dunst star in writer/director Jeff Nichols' drama about a father and his eight-year-old son... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91.793%
Critics Consensus: High Life is as visually arresting as it is challenging, confounding, and ultimately rewarding - which is to say it's everything film fans expect from director Claire Denis.
Monte (Robert Pattinson) and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93.16%
Critics Consensus: Intimate in setting yet ambitious in scope, the beautifully acted Marjorie Prime poses thought-provoking questions about memory, humanity, and love.
Eighty-six-year-old Marjorie spends her final, ailing days with a computerized version of her deceased husband. With the intent to recount... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94.202%
Critics Consensus: Its message may prove elusive for some, but with absorbing imagery and a mesmerizing performance from Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin is a haunting viewing experience.
From visionary director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth) comes a stunning career transformation, a masterpiece of existential science fiction that... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.851%
Critics Consensus: Like its augmented protagonist, Upgrade's old-fashioned innards get a high-tech boost -- one made even more powerful thanks to sharp humor and a solidly well-told story.
After his wife is killed during a brutal mugging that also leaves him paralyzed, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall Green, SPIDER-MAN:... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.65%
Critics Consensus: Visually spectacular and suitably action packed, Star Trek Into Darkness is a rock-solid installment in the venerable sci-fi franchise, even if it's not as fresh as its predecessor.
In Summer 2013, pioneering director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes 'Star Trek Into Darkness.' When... [More]
Adjusted Score: 95.453%
Critics Consensus: Effortlessly mixing scares, laughs, and social commentary, Attack the Block is a thrilling, brisky-paced sci-fi yarn with a distinctly British flavor.
From the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Attack the Block follows a gang of tough inner-city... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96.029%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling and superbly acted, The Hunger Games captures the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97.233%
Critics Consensus: As strange as it is thrillingly ambitious, The Lobster is definitely an acquired taste -- but for viewers with the fortitude to crack through Yorgos Lanthimos' offbeat sensibilities, it should prove a savory cinematic treat.
Colin Farrell stars as David, a man who has just been dumped by his wife. To make matters worse, David... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.283%
Critics Consensus: Star Trek Beyond continues the franchise's post-reboot hot streak with an epic sci-fi adventure that honors the series' sci-fi roots without skimping on the blockbuster action.
Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise encounter an alien warrior race when marooned on a distant planet after... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.417%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
Visionary filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) writes and directs this psychological sci-fi action film about a thief who... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98.492%
Critics Consensus: Madcap and heartfelt, Edgar Wright's apocalypse comedy The World's End benefits from the typically hilarious Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, with a plethora of supporting players.
The third installment of director Edgar Wright's trilogy of comedies starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, following the successes "Shaun... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.65%
Critics Consensus: Smart, smoothly directed, and enriched with a deeper exploration of the franchise's thought-provoking themes, Catching Fire proves a thoroughly compelling second installment in the Hunger Games series.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100.429%
Critics Consensus: Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller.
When decorated soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he's... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.306%
Critics Consensus: Rogue One draws deep on Star Wars mythology while breaking new narrative and aesthetic ground -- and suggesting a bright blockbuster future for the franchise.
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," an all-new epic... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99.742%
Critics Consensus: Ad Astra takes a visually thrilling journey through the vast reaches of space while charting an ambitious course for the heart of the bond between parent and child.
Astronaut Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.659%
Critics Consensus: Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.
Based on Jeff VanderMeer's best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.326%
Critics Consensus: Smart, solidly crafted, and palpably tense, 10 Cloverfield Lane makes the most of its confined setting and outstanding cast -- and suggests a new frontier for franchise filmmaking.
A young woman wakes up after a terrible accident to find that she's locked in a cellar with a doomsday... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101.386%
Critics Consensus: Bumblebee proves it's possible to bring fun and a sense of wonder back to a bloated blockbuster franchise -- and sets up its own slate of sequels in the bargain.
On the run in the year 1987, Bumblebee finds refuge in a junkyard in a small Californian beach town. Charlie... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.826%
Critics Consensus: Ex Machina leans heavier on ideas than effects, but it's still a visually polished piece of work -- and an uncommonly engaging sci-fi feature.
Alex Garland, writer of 28 Days Later and Sunshine, makes his directorial debut with the stylish and cerebral thriller, EX... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.276%
Critics Consensus: Gripping, well-acted, funny, and clever, Edge of Tomorrow offers entertaining proof that Tom Cruise is still more than capable of shouldering the weight of a blockbuster action thriller.
The epic action of "Edge of Tomorrow" unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103.192%
Critics Consensus: As thought-provoking as it is thrilling, Looper delivers an uncommonly smart, bravely original blend of futuristic sci-fi and good old-fashioned action.
In the futuristic action thriller Looper, time travel will be invented - but it will be illegal and only available... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102.837%
Critics Consensus: With intelligence and emotional resonance to match its stunning special effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes expands on its predecessor with an exciting and ambitious burst of sci-fi achievement.
A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105.219%
Critics Consensus: Sweet, soulful, and smart, Spike Jonze's Her uses its just-barely-sci-fi scenario to impart wryly funny wisdom about the state of modern human relationships.
Spike Jonze takes the helm for this comedy about a withdrawn writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104.202%
Critics Consensus: Snowpiercer offers an audaciously ambitious action spectacular for filmgoers numb to effects-driven blockbusters.
In this sci-fi epic from director Bong Joon Ho (The Host, Mother), a failed global-warming experiment kills off most life... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106.049%
Critics Consensus: Smart, thrilling, and surprisingly funny, The Martian offers a faithful adaptation of the bestselling book that brings out the best in leading man Matt Damon and director Ridley Scott.
During a manned mission to Mars, Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is presumed dead after a fierce storm and left... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107.067%
Critics Consensus: Visually stunning and narratively satisfying, Blade Runner 2049 deepens and expands its predecessor's story while standing as an impressive filmmaking achievement in its own right.
Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106.106%
Critics Consensus: Fearlessly ambitious, scathingly funny, and thoroughly original, Sorry to Bother You loudly heralds the arrival of a fresh filmmaking talent in writer-director Boots Riley.
In an alternate present-day version of Oakland, black telemarketer Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) discovers a magical key to professional success,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109.227%
Critics Consensus: War for the Planet of the Apes combines breathtaking special effects and a powerful, poignant narrative to conclude this rebooted trilogy on a powerful -- and truly blockbuster -- note.
In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 109.327%
Critics Consensus: Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that's masterfully directed and visually stunning.
Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in a heart-pounding thriller that pulls you into the infinite and unforgiving realm... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110.583%
Critics Consensus: Packed with action and populated by both familiar faces and fresh blood, The Force Awakens successfully recalls the series' former glory while injecting it with renewed energy.
In this thrilling continuation of the epic space opera, ex-stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), scrappy desert dweller Rey (Daisy Ridley), and... [More]
Adjusted Score: 111.323%
Critics Consensus: Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams.
When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team--lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams)--are brought together... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110.758%
Critics Consensus: Star Wars: The Last Jedi honors the saga's rich legacy while adding some surprising twists -- and delivering all the emotion-rich action fans could hope for.
In Lucasfilm's Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the Skywalker saga continues as the heroes of The Force Awakens join the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 113.992%
Critics Consensus: With exhilarating action and a surprising amount of narrative heft, Mad Max: Fury Road brings George Miller's post-apocalyptic franchise roaring vigorously back to life.
Filmmaker George Miller gears up for another post-apocalyptic action adventure with Fury Road, the fourth outing in the Mad Max... [More]
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