(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!
The 200 Best Movies of the 2010s | The 50 Best Animated Movies of the 2010s
The 50 Best Comedies of the 2010s | The 50 Best Horror Movies of the 2010s
The 50 Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 2010s | The 50 Best Superhero Movies of the 2010s
Adjusted Score: 81351%
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.
Following a disaster that wipes out most of civilization, a scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and a miner (Chris Pine) compete for... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84634%
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.
Long ago, legions of monstrous creatures called Kaiju arose from the sea, bringing with them all-consuming war. To fight the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87161%
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.
The discovery of a clue to mankind's origins on Earth leads a team of explorers to the darkest parts of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 86265%
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.
Mega City One is a vast, violent metropolis where felons rule the streets. The only law lies with cops called... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88124%
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.
As a planet hurtles toward a collision course with Earth, two sisters (Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg) cope with the approaching... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88689%
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.
In Earth's future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87084%
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.
A temporal agent (Ethan Hawke) embarks on a final time-traveling assignment to prevent an elusive criminal from launching an attack... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88092%
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.
An awkward office drone (Jesse Eisenberg) becomes increasingly unhinged after a charismatic and confident look-alike takes a job at his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 89674%
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.
Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a Navy bomb expert, has just reunited with his family in San Francisco when he is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 93471%
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 1979 Ohio, several youngsters (Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso) are making a zombie movie with a Super-8 camera.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 92378%
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.
Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist in San Francisco, is experimenting with a drug that he hopes will cure his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91492%
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.
An aging, cantankerous ex-cat burglar (Frank Langella) finds his zest for life renewed when he trains his robotic caretaker to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100112%
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 2045, the planet is on the brink of chaos and collapse, but people find salvation in the OASIS, an... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90362%
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.
Eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of events due to the malevolent influence of a passing... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105479%
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.
Scientists, soldiers and adventurers unite to explore a mythical, uncharted island in the Pacific Ocean. Cut off from everything they... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90863%
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 woman (Amy Seimetz) unwittingly undergoes a series of bizarre experiments, then meets a kindred spirit (Shane Carruth) who may... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98319%
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.
The government and a group of religious extremists pursue a man (Michael Shannon) and his son (Jaeden Lieberher), a young... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96679%
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 and his baby daughter are the last survivors of a damned and dangerous mission to the outer reaches of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96308%
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: 95319%
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.
Disguising herself as a human female, an extraterrestrial (Scarlett Johansson) drives around Scotland and tries to lure unsuspecting men into... [More]
Adjusted Score: 99606%
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.
A brutal mugging leaves Grey Trace paralyzed in the hospital and his beloved wife dead. A billionaire inventor soon offers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 96634%
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.
The crew of the Starship Enterprise returns home after an act of terrorism within its own organization destroys most of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97328%
Critics Consensus: Effortlessly mixing scares, laughs, and social commentary, Attack the Block is a thrilling, briskly-paced sci-fi yarn with a distinctly British flavor.
South London teenagers (John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones) defend their neighborhood from malevolent extraterrestrials.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98357%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling and superbly acted, The Hunger Games captures the dramatic violence, raw emotion, and ambitious scope of its source novel.
In what was once North America, the Capitol of Panem maintains its hold on its 12 districts by forcing them... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103163%
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.
In a dystopian society, single people must find a mate within 45 days or be transformed into an animal of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106576%
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.
A surprise attack in outer space forces the Enterprise to crash-land on a mysterious world. The assault came from Krall... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101215%
Critics Consensus: Smart, innovative, and thrilling, Inception is that rare summer blockbuster that succeeds viscerally as well as intellectually.
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief with the rare ability to enter people's dreams and steal their secrets from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 98315%
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.
Gary King (Simon Pegg) is an immature 40-year-old who's dying to take another stab at an epic pub-crawl that he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101634%
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.
After arriving safely home from their unprecedented victory in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102011%
Critics Consensus: Finding the human story amidst the action, director Duncan Jones and charming Jake Gyllenhaal craft a smart, satisfying sci-fi thriller.
Helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is part of a top-secret military operation that enables him to experience the last... [More]
Adjusted Score: 114477%
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.
Former scientist Galen Erso lives on a farm with his wife and young daughter, Jyn. His peaceful existence comes crashing... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107069%
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.
Thirty years ago, Clifford McBride led a voyage into deep space, but the ship and crew were never heard from... [More]
Adjusted Score: 108252%
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.
Lena, a biologist and former soldier, joins a mission to uncover what happened to her husband inside Area X --... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110510%
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.
After surviving a car accident, Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) wakes up to find herself in an underground bunker with two... [More]
Adjusted Score: 105374%
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 the Autobot seeks refuge in a junkyard in a small California beach... [More]
Adjusted Score: 103962%
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.
Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) a programmer at a huge Internet company, wins a contest that enables him to spend a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104770%
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.
When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Maj.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104254%
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 a future society, time-travel exists, but it's only available to those with the means to pay for it on... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104100%
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.
Ten years after simian flu wiped out much of the world's homosapiens, genetically enhanced chimpanzee Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 106661%
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.
A sensitive and soulful man earns a living by writing personal letters for other people. Left heartbroken after his marriage... [More]
Adjusted Score: 104511%
Critics Consensus: Snowpiercer offers an audaciously ambitious action spectacular for filmgoers numb to effects-driven blockbusters.
A post-apocalyptic ice age forces humanity's last survivors aboard a globe-spanning supertrain. One man (Chris Evans) will risk everything to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107542%
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.
When astronauts blast off from the planet Mars, they leave behind Mark Watney (Matt Damon), presumed dead after a fierce... [More]
Adjusted Score: 121653%
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.
Officer K (Ryan Gosling), a new blade runner for the Los Angeles Police Department, unearths a long-buried secret that has... [More]
Adjusted Score: 112208%
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 reality of present-day Oakland, Calif., telemarketer Cassius Green finds himself in a macabre universe after he discovers... [More]
Adjusted Score: 121148%
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.
Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a... [More]
Adjusted Score: 110556%
Critics Consensus: Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is an eerie, tense sci-fi thriller that's masterfully directed and visually stunning.
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission. Her commander is veteran astronaut Matt... [More]
Adjusted Score: 111472%
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.
Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the galaxy faces a new threat from the evil Kylo Ren... [More]
Adjusted Score: 122772%
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.
Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads an elite team of investigators when gigantic spaceships touch down in 12 locations... [More]
Adjusted Score: 127945%
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.
Luke Skywalker's peaceful and solitary existence gets upended when he encounters Rey, a young woman who shows strong signs of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 114970%
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.
Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When... [More]
Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.