The 10 Best Sci-Fi Movies Of The 2010s, According To Letterboxd

Over time, it often becomes increasingly difficult to come up with fresh, creative and unique concepts for films. While this is true in just about every genre, it’s especially the case with science fiction. They’re usually stories told in fantasy or futuristic worlds, so they need big ideas.

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Despite the difficulty, the 2010s ended up producing a handful of terrific sci-fi films. Not counting any in the superhero genre, Letterboxd’s cinephile users have reviewed the decade’s sci-fi movies and it’s a great way to gauge which are the best.

ten Melancholy (2011) – 3.78

Stream on Amazon Prime, Hulu, Roku Channel, Tubi, Kanopy and Vudu

Director Lars von Trier is known for being a filmmaker who makes visually interesting and intellectually engaging projects. One of his greatest works is Melancholy, which focuses on the relationship between two sisters just as a new planet is on a collision course with Earth.

The sci-fi aspect is certainly intriguing, though it’s that sibling bond that really shines. Kirsten Dunst won Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her lead performance in this stellar film. This is actually the middle entry in von Trier’s “Depression Trilogy” after Antichrist and before Nymphomaniac.

9 Hard to Be a God (2013) – 3.79

Stream on Kanopy

It's hard to be a god

Like Melancholy, this 2013 film is both a science fiction film and an art film. Based on a 1964 novel of the same name, It’s hard to be a god takes place in Arkanar, a city on a planet with a society resembling the Middle Ages.

The Russian film follows a group of scientists sent to Arkanar to help locate civilization there, though they are not allowed to violently interfere or kill anyone. Interestingly, the film received mixed reviews among Russian media, but got a much better response once it was released for reviews elsewhere.


8 JUNK HEAD (2017) – 3.80

Not available to stream

A runaway character in Junk Head

The case of the release date of ORDER HEAD is quite unique. If you look most places for the movie, you’ll find it’s a 2021 movie, but that’s not entirely true. It appeared at the Fantasia International Film Festival in 2021, but actually first arrived as a short film in 2013, then the feature debuted in 2017.

Directed by Takehide Hori, the stop-motion animated film is set in a future where humans have lost the ability to reproduce. Clones were built to help but things remained difficult. Guillermo Del Toro gave the film a solid review, and the animation style was highly praised by those who saw it.

seven Shin Godzilla (2016) – 3.80

Rent on Apple TV

Over the years, there have seemingly been countless movies centered around the iconic Godzilla. More recently, the character has starred in several feature films in the United States, including 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong where he fought another legendary monster.

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However, the best recent version of the character was probably shin godzilla, which was released in Japan and is the 31st installment. In many ways, the plot is nothing new, but a lot of the praise went to the special effects and how the absurd aspects of the story were leaned into.

6 Ex Machina (2015) – 3.98

Stream on Showtime, Kanopy and Hoopla

Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina

Alex Garland quickly became one of the most searched names in cinema and it all really started with Ex-Machina. Garland wrote and directed this film, which was nominated for a handful of Oscars, including Best Original Screenplay.

During the ceremony, Ex-Machina won Best Visual Effects despite only being made for around $15 million. The story centers on a programmer who is invited to his eccentric CEO to perform tests on an artificial intelligence humanoid robot. Besides the effects and the writing, this was praised for the performances of the cast, especially Alicia Vikander.

5 She (2013) – 4.05

Stream on Kanopy

Theodore talks to Samantha in Her

Not all sci-fi movies have to focus on alternate planets, aliens, time travel, or anything of that magnitude. At Spike Jonze’s Her is a perfect example of a small-scale sci-fi movie that’s actually more grounded in romance than anything else.

The film tells the story of a lonely man who falls in love with an artificial intelligence operating system known as Samantha. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was highly praised, as was Scarlett Johansson‘s voice work, while Her also racked up five Oscar nominations in 2014.

4 Arrival (2016) – 4.07

Stream on Hulu and Paramount+

Arrival 2016 Denis Villeneuve

A handful of names stood out as those who really broke through the ranks of great filmmakers during the 2010s and Denis Villeneuve is very near the top of that list. After rising to prominence with the intense Prisoners in 2013, it seemed to focus on the science fiction genre.

RELATED: 10 Best Denis Villeneuve Movies, According To Letterboxd

In 2016, he released Arrival which takes a different route than expected on the concept of an alien invasion. Instead of featuring battles or grand deeds, the story is about a linguist who works to try and communicate with the species to find out what they want. Arrival earned eight Academy Award nominations and universal acclaim.

3 Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – 4.09

Stream on HBO Max and Max Go

Following the success of Arrival, it made sense for Denis Villeneuve to undertake an even bigger project which was blade runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to the 80s classic directed by Harrison Ford. Although the film ended up failing commercially, it was a critical darling.

Ryan Gosling has taken over the role of the protagonist and is joined by a formidable supporting cast including Ana de Armas and Dave Bautista. Another film with multiple Oscar nominations, it won Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography trophies and likely played a part in Villeneuve’s nomination to director. Dunes.

2 Interstellar (2014) – 4.17

Stream on Paramount+ and FXNow

Anne Hathaway in Interstellar

While he certainly became a household name before the 2010s, Christopher Nolan found a way to make the decade his own. He released two modern classics of the genre, including Interstellar, which is a sometimes confusing but very moving film.

Set in a dystopian future, the plot follows a group of humans who travel through a wormhole in their attempts to find a new planet for humanity to live on. It’s nearly impossible to watch this film without tearing up a few specific scenes and things are boosted by excellent acting, a large-scale setup, and Nolan’s trademark tropes.

1 Creation (2010) – 4.17

Stream on HBO Max

The team infiltrating someone's mind in Inception.

At the start of the decade, Christopher Nolan did something very difficult to pull off. He managed to release a totally original movie that was a blockbuster and became a staple of pop culture going forward, with everyone knowing what the idea of Creation is.

With the spirit of Nolan and a star-studded cast including Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Elliot Page and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to name a few, it’s no wonder it’s been a hit. The film follows a group of thieves who enter a subject’s dreams to implant a thought in his mind. He has had eight Oscar nominations and won four.

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