For this list, I’ve tried not to base my outlook on the film but on the actual screenplay, however, a great screenplay usually goes hand in hand with the quality of the film. To find the screenplays I looked up lists of the best screenplays ever written and from that, I picked out the sci-fi ones. I then collect these into a list, read them and then rank them.
10 – A Clockwork Orange
This film is great. I love the arc of the protagonist, Alex. It keeps the screenplay fresh and new which keeps you hooked in. The dialogue is great with the writer Stanley Kubrick, plus the writer who wrote the novel, Anthony Burgess doing an excellent job of creating a new sort of language. The world is cool and interesting. However, the screenplay is a little lacklustre with the screenplay more being a list of actions the characters do, not much description of the world.
9 – 12 Monkeys
12 Monkeys is on this list because of how it shows time travel. The screenplay makes the time travel believable and plausible because it does not really show how the future changed by James’s (Bruce Willis) actions. The characters are entertaining, and the mystery keeps you captivated.
8 – Back to the future
Back to the future isn’t just a great standalone film but it also works into the trilogy. Marty and Dr Browns relationship is fantastic and iconic. The story is very entertaining and intriguing, getting you to think about time travel. Another big positive, similarly to 12 Monkeys, it handles time travel very well and makes the story plausible.
7 – The matrix
The Matrix has been an incredibly influential film. It is very original. The world it creates is very cool, with the agents being some of the coolest characters. The screenplay is written great, it describes the actions and the world concisely but also manages to be very descriptive. The screenplay hooks you in straight away from the beginning with a great action scene that sets up the characters and world impressively. A very good film.
6 – The Truman show
The Truman Show is another great story. Written by Andrew Niccol who has written other great movies such as Gattaca and Lord of War. It is a fun, entertaining but heartwarming story with some thought-provoking elements. The character of Truman is relatable and likeable which combinates into a great character to follow. The screenplay handles Truman’s realization that he has been in a television show most of his life is done great. It is written well with the reader being able to clearly imagine what is going on.
5 – Alien, Aliens
Alien is said to be one of the greatest horror films made. It is a tense and gripping story. The atmosphere is great. Everything adds to the tone, from the darkness, to the oiliness and the architecture. The world and design is fantastic.
4 – Terminator 2
Terminator 2 is one of the greatest sequels ever put to the big screen and may even surpass the first film in greatness. It is a great action film with great action set pieces which makes the whole story incredibly entertaining. All this action is centered by a great personal story. The relationship between the terminator and John Connor is great and really holds the film together.
3 – 2001: A space odyssey
2001: A space odyssey is an incredibly entertaining film. It’s less focused on a character but instead a world and an idea. It is a fascinating film which leaves most of the story up to interpretation and your imagination. Even without the character element, it keeps you entertained and intrigued. The story of the evil A.I is great and very entertaining.
2 – Star Wars
Star Wars is a very good film. Its characters are intriguing, and the world is vast. I believe that a great world and concept equals a great sci-fi film. Star Wars is so far up because of its huge world. It allows for diverse story telling opportunities enabling other filmmakers to create their vision of the world. It has also been massively influential on other films and has inspired many.
1 – Inception
Inception is one of the greatest movies of the 21st century. Its influence can be found in many films after. It has a great concept that it is based around, which allows for some great visuals and action. Like terminator 2 it has a personal element which ties it together. Cobb and Mal’s relationship is interesting and adds some great tension. The whole thing is tense, leading to a great and hooking read.
Do you agree with the rankings? Am I missing some? Do tell.