The 25 Best Sci-fi Movies of The 21st Century

17. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

As the most recent film on this list, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is fresh in all of our heads. Following its predecessor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn had a lot to live up to in order to do its great sequel justice. To all Ape fans’ delight, the movie turned out receive even greater acclaim than the previous film.

Besides the emotional storytelling and breathtakingly hyper-real effects, Andy Serkis as Caesar has to be the most enticing part of these films. His movements and demeanor nail every corner of the acting grid when it comes to a role like this, making his performance the entrancing centerpiece of these movies. Hopefully, this series of good response to the film, its prequel, and universe created within them will continue to increase as the films continue their reign of sci-fi genius.


16. Coherence


As James Ward Bykit’s directorial debut, Coherence serves as an experiment with a great result in minimalistic science fiction. The film focuses mostly on dialogue, but has a dark and challenging plotline that emphasizes parallel universes and ‘coherence’, a state of reality where other realities can seamlessly intersect with one another.

Eerie in tone, yet brilliant and thought-provoking in story, Coherence is easily not just one of the best science fiction films of the post 2000’s, but one of the best movies of the recent years in general.


15. Serenity


A spin-off film of the beloved, yet short-lived series, Firefly, Serenity opened in 2005 to positive reviews. Although it didn’t make back its budget until its home video release, the film is incredible in that it takes an extremely intricate universe and makes it appealing for novices instead of just ‘brown-coats’ (Firefly fans).

Firefly was one of Joss Whedon’s first efforts, and opened the door for him to the recognition and success he’s gotten to today. Serenity is also one of Whedon’s first cinematic outings, which helped his reputation in the movie world to get him to the ‘king of Comic-Con’ role he carries in the present.

Serenity will always be a beloved sci-fi film of the post 2000’s not only because of it’s die-hard fan base, but also because of its perfectly light atmosphere that opens up the viewing demographic for the film to those besides devoted ‘brown-coats’.


14. Star Trek

Star Trek

Never has a film been rebooted with such brilliance and reverence for the original franchise. Not only did this film induct a new, millennial group of Trekkies; it also used the cerebral elements of the classic episodes to its advantage by crossing over the new Trek universe with the one from the original series.

This achievement not only thrilled audiences as an amazingly exciting achievement, but as a truly loyal and talented reboot of such a beloved world. This film definitely ‘boldly went where no man has gone before’.


13. Gravity


Thirteen years after Children of Men, Alphonso Cuaron released Gravity. Seeing as this is one of the most popular science fiction achievements in recent years, it’s easy to call this one an important film, but how long will it hold up? Many people criticized Gravity for its thin plot, but the technical progressiveness and astounding special effects make the movie hard to dismiss.

The movie may not have a lot of dialogue, but the dialogue it does have is poetic and strong. Some would call this movie an experiment, but many have concluded that is a science fiction classic and will remain just that for years to come.


12. The Man from Earth


As one of the most cerebral movies ever, Man from Earth is unique sci-fi in that focuses mostly on dialogue versus heavy effects or action. Man from Earth was conceived as a script by Jerome Bixby in 1968 until being completed on his death bed 30 years later. Bixby is credited as a writer for the original Star Trek series as well as Twilight Zone and the original blueprint for Issac Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage. The film was directed by Richard Shcheknman and released in 2007.

The film was widely shared amongst internet users via peer-to-peer networks, which Scheknman later thanked the fans for. Following a man who does not age as he begins to move to a new city, which he does every ten years so people will not recognize his unique ability to not age, the story mostly focuses on the man, John Oldman played by David Lee Smith, as he converses and opens up about his true nature to a group of people.

As one of the most minimal, yet beautiful sci-fi stories ever told, Man from Earth will remain an absolute masterpiece.


11. Sunshine


As Danny Boyle’s only attempt at sci-fi, this movie has remained a cult classic since its release in 2007. Although Cillian Murphy is the centerpiece to this flim, Boyle had quite an ambitious vision for all of the acting in this movie. He actually had all of the actors live together for a short period of time to study the knowledge that their characters in the film should be aware of.

The film follows a group of scientists who are on a mission to the sun in order to keep it from burning out. The movie has some of the breathtaking effects of the 21st century, and although it has been ridiculed for its harsh change in tone during its final act, this one remains a beautiful piece of work, and most likely will hold its position as a sci-fi cult classic for years to come.


10. Inception


Based off of the cult anime hit, ‘Paprika’, Inception was Nolan’s first cinematic endeavor after his major success with the Batman franchise.

Many people have called the film’s plot uneven and pointed out several holes in the story, but Nolan’s intentions with this film seem to be the most idealistic of all of his films, so you can’t blame him for letting loose his whimsies with Inception. Serving as a multi-layered meta-experiment in cinematic continuity, Inception holds a strong place in the hall of fame of science fiction.


9. Donnie Darko


As the earliest film on this list, Donnie Darko remains remarkably appreciated and honored to this day. As Richard Kelly’s directorial debut, Donnie Darko shook audiences and critics with its bold, original vision and extremely intelligent plot. It’s also one of Jake Gylenhaal’s first big performances, and he shines as the title character.

Even the biggest fans of the movie still debate the truths of the universe created within the movie, which I’m pretty sure was Richard Kelly’s exact intention. Long live Frank the bunny.