Alien pilferage and stories of flying saucers have been laughed off by many as the frequentation of crazy conspiracy theorists or newspapers looking to sell more issues. The question, however, has never been definitively answered. In the midst of all the uncertainty, cinema has been a prominent medium to keep the flames of this gnawing question alive.
Aliens have long fascinated us. Humanity has wondered about life on the moon and among the stars at least as early as the second century when Lucian wrote about his travels to the moon and stars and his encounters with the people there. And those imaginings made it onto film as early as 1918 with Holder-Madsen’s A Trip to Mars.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the cinema’s more iconic offerings of human and alien interactions to give you something to think about before readily embracing our alien overlords. Without any further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best alien movies you should watch.
1. Arrival (2016)
When multiple mysterious extraterrestrial spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team is put together to investigate, including linguist Louise Banks, mathematician Ian Donnelly, and US Army Colonel Weber. Humankind teeters on the verge of global war as everyone scrambles for answers—and to find them, Banks, Donnelly, and Weber will take a chance that could threaten their lives, and, quite possibly, humanity.
2. Alien (1979)
After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, it’s landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun. This is overall a fantastic film and a classic. It really defined the Sci-Fi genre. The first film in this series is not just a Sci-Fi film but also a slasher horror movie that is really good at what it does. It creates really intense and suspenseful moments. Not to mention the practical effects done for the Xenomorph looks great. Ridley Scott did a great job with this film and it is a great watch for Sci-Fi and Horror fans alike Best Alien Movies Of All Time.
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his homeworld.
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Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial proved to the world for the first time that all aliens needn’t be scary and scornful. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (more commonly and affectionately referred to as E.T.) is the story of a young boy who despite his own problems finds and befriends a gentle alien who has become stranded on our planet.
Starring Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, and Drew Barrymore, E.T. takes us on an emotional journey as we find ourselves rooting not only for the genteel alien but the young boy who finds the courage within himself to help this stranger escape.
The film received rave reviews on its release and has stood the test of time, earning it a 7.9/10 rating on IMDB and an almost perfect 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, in addition to being called one of the greatest alien films ever made.
4. Aliens (1986)
Ellen Ripley is rescued by a deep salvage team after being in hypersleep for 57 years. The moon that the Nostromo visited has been colonized, but contact is lost. This time, colonial marines have impressive firepower, but will that be enough?
The first Alien was cool, and dark, and claustrophobic, but this one has none of the rich sub-themes or transporting atmosphere. It’s just a movie about a group of Space Marines fighting off a ton of Spacebugs in a converted power plant. And it’s awesome. Probably the characters are this film’s high points- Ripley is one of the most badass action heroes ever, Burke is slimy and hateable, the marines may seem arrogant and undisciplined at first, but in the end, come out people you want to root for, and Bishop is a great, slightly sarcastic character who guides Ripley down another character ark.
The action and fight scenes are awesome, the Xenomorphs are as menacing as any modern-day movie monster, and there’s no let-up of action and suspense.
5. The Thing (1982)
A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims. Scientists are disturbed at their base camp by a helicopter shooting at a sled dog. When they take in the dog, it brutally attacks both human beings and canines in the camp and they discover that the beast can assume the shape of its victims. A resourceful helicopter pilot (Kurt Russell) and the camp doctor (Richard Dysart) lead the camp crew in a desperate, gory battle against the vicious creature before it picks them all off, one by one.
6. District 9 (2009)
Violence ensues after an extraterrestrial race forced to live in slum-like conditions on Earth finds a kindred spirit in a government agent exposed to their biotechnology.
This movie is an absolute masterpiece and I can’t believe I ever felt this way. The story is as satirical as Starship Troopers at points and as emotional as a Guardians Of The Galaxy at others. It’s simple but man it hit me in the gut. I can’t imagine anyone other than Sharlto Copley playing the lead…It seems that everyone who worked on this put everything they had into it!
7. A Quiet Place
A central theme of the movie is how the family is what drives the advancement of human civilization. Just because of new harsh conditions doesn’t mean it’s time to just give up, lie down, and die.
8. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
A soldier fighting aliens gets to relive the same day over and over again, the day restarting every time he dies.
When a neophyte officer named William Cage (played by Tom Cruise) is given his first on-field mission, things go as expected and he is killed almost instantly. What happens afterward, however, is the premise upon which the entire movie hinges. Cage finds himself alive yet again, reliving the day before his death, which happens several times after.
With each death, Cage gains added clarity on how to neutralize the alien threat. He must fight alongside a dwindling group of Special Forces soldiers, one of which is played by Emily Blunt, to end the war before humanity is completely obliterated.
Edge of Tomorrow has been widely praised, especially for Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt’s performances. The film is equal parts funny, dramatic, and pulsating in its action sequence, all driven by a script that does not ever leave you bored.
Edge of Tomorrow is truly one of the better movies on this list. Even if you are not a fan of the alien genre, it’s definitely worth your time.
Director: Doug Liman | Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton
9. Predator (1987)
A team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle find themselves hunted by an extraterrestrial warrior.
The story begins with a soldier for hire (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger) who is tasked along with a band of specialists to rescue a trapped delegation of politicians. Upon arrival, however, he finds a slew of corpses and quickly discovers they are being hunted by the same creature responsible for all the death.
The film did well with the critiques as well as in box office, spawning three other sequels, all following the same format of a bloodthirsty alien secretly and savagely hunting down humans. The franchise got a welcome upgrade when it partnered with fellow franchise behemoth, Alien. In 2004, a super franchise called Alien vs. Predator was created where the two otherworldly races battled amongst themselves for dibs on who would get to kill humanity.
Director: John McTiernan | Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Kevin Peter Hall
10. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
A small-town doctor learns that the population of his community is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates. Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy) is baffled when all his patients come to him with the same complaint: their loved ones seem to have been replaced by emotionless impostors. Despite others’ dismissive denials, Dr. Bennell, his former girlfriend Becky (Dana Wynter) and his friend Jack (King Donovan) soon discover that the patients’ suspicions are true: an alien species of human duplicates, grown from plant-like pods, is taking over the small town.
Director: Don Siegel Stars: Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Larry Gates
11. Annihilation (2018)
A biologist’s husband disappears. She puts her name forward for an expedition into an environmental disaster zone but does not find what she’s expecting. The expedition team is made up of a biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and a linguist.
Annihilation is a film that boasts a very intriguing and unique idea and mostly entertains the viewer throughout the film but certainly stumbles along the way
The plot of this film is so crazy and interesting that it makes me think whoever came up with this idea is crazy or a pure genius, one of the best things about this film is that it mostly hits the mark with its potential and ideas, there are countless films out there that have a great idea but lack anything else when it comes to the story which ends up feeling like some wasted potential, and although this film does lose some potential as it feels they could have gone crazier
Overall annihilation has a great idea but loses some potentials along the way but is entertaining enough to make sure the viewer is never bored
12. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Roy Neary, an electric lineman, watches how his quiet and ordinary daily life turns upside down after a close encounter with a UFO.
Close Encounters was the personal project Spielberg wanted to pull off when he was able to establish himself as a Hollywood power player. The massive success of Jaws gave him the opportunity to realize his character-based, big-budget, special-effects-driven science-fiction tale about humanity’s place in the galaxy, a rare optimistic and benign chronicle of the first contact. The story of a father (Spielberg alter-ego Richard Dreyfuss) abandoning his family through obsession allowed Spielberg to deal with the inner demons related to his career, his own family and his upbringing by looking outward, boundlessly exploring the cosmos with outsized awe.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Teri Garr
13. Contact (1997)
Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster), after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of extraterrestrial intelligence, sending plans for a mysterious machine.
In this Zemeckis-directed MOVIE, Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) races to interpret a possible message originating from the Vega star system. Once the first contact with extraterrestrial intelligence is proven, Arroway contends with restrictive National Security Advisor Kitz (James Woods) and religious fanatics bent on containing the implications of such an event. An incredible message is found hidden in the signal, but will Arroway be the one to answer its call?
Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt
14. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Waking up from a car accident, a young woman finds herself in the basement of a man who says he’s saved her life from a chemical attack that has left the outside uninhabitable.
15. The Fifth Element’ (1997)
A futuristic cab driver’s latest passenger, a woman created from an alien cell, may be mankind’s last hope of saving Earth from impending doom.
16. Men in Black (1997)
A police officer joins a secret organization that polices and monitors extraterrestrial interactions on Earth.
Men in Black. The 1997 film tells the story of a secret intergalactic government agency tasked with the regulation and enforcement of alien activity on planet Earth. In the movie, Will Smith plays the role of a new recruit named Jay who partnering with Kay, the organization’s veteran officer (played by Tommy Lee Jones).
They must track down a rogue alien who is looking to escape the planet with a power source that could ultimately destroy our Earth. The novelty (at that time) of the concept along with the amazing alien makeup and special effects made it a near-instant hit with the audience
17. The Mist (2007)
After a powerful storm damages their Maine home, David Drayton (Thomas Jane) and his young son head into town to gather food and supplies. Soon afterward, a thick fog rolls in and engulfs the town, trapping the Draytons and others in the grocery store. Terror mounts as deadly creatures reveal themselves outside, but that may be nothing compared to the threat within, where a zealot (Marcia Gay Harden) calls for a sacrifice.
18. Super 8 (2011)
During the summer of 1979, a group of friends witness a train crash and investigate subsequent unexplained events in their small town. In 1979 Ohio, several youngsters (Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Gabriel Basso) are making a zombie movie with a Super-8 camera. In the midst of filming, the friends witness a horrifying train derailment and are lucky to escape with their lives. They soon discover that the catastrophe was no accident, as a series of unexplained events and disappearances soon follows. Deputy Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), the father of one of the kids, searches for the terrifying truth behind the crash.
19. Transformers (2007)
An ancient struggle between two Cybertronian races, the heroic Autobots who after a civil war with their mortal enemies called the Decepticons saw the destruction of their home planet of Cybertron and comes to Earth, with a clue to the ultimate power held by a teenager.
Directed by Michael Bay, the franchise stars many recognizable faces such as Mark Wahlberg, Shia LaBeouf, and Megan Fox. It tells the story of this alien race and how their past, present, and future affect the planet they now call home.
The film series has spanned over 12 years with each installment running the gauntlet for most negative reviews. For all its negative reviews and criticisms, the Transformers franchise remains one of the highest ever grossing film series, clocking in at number 13 on that list. Whatever it may sound like, it seems Michael Bay is doing something right.
Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel
20. War of the Worlds (2005)
It was a real departure for Cruise in that he almost always plays charismatic leader types. In this film, he starts out pretty unlikable. Hostile with his son. Neglectful of his daughter. Pretty unprepared and unsure of himself initially. It felt much more grounded with him as more of an average Joe. Most of us wouldn’t know what to do if aliens attacked. But then he kind of grows up over the course of the story and becomes more likable and heroic. He’s a good actor. Pity he rarely plays complex roles.
Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins
21. Independence Day (1996)
The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind’s best weapon is the will to survive.
They pretty much don’t make action movies like Independence Day anymore, although if you ask someone who caught Independence Day: Resurgence, they’ll tell you that’s probably a good thing. Regardless, there’s a certain sheen to this particular brand of FX-driven pre-2000s disaster blockbuster, an earnestness of conviction in terms of clear-cut characters like Jeff Goldblum’s “David Levinson”—call it a willingness to believe that the audience will be 100 percent on board with a protagonist from the very beginning, rather than questioning his methods.
As for the rest of the cast, we get a who’s who of ’90s delights, whether it’s an ascendant, wisecracking Will Smith—one year before Men in Black would cement him as leading man material—or Bill Pullman as the flyboy American president ready to deliver one of cinema’s greatest jingoistic addresses. Independence Day doesn’t shy away from its inspirations as pulp (it might as well be a remake of Earth vs. The Flying Saucers as far as the alien motivations are concerned) but it dresses up its Saturday morning cartoon plot with undeniably ambitious spectacle, even when viewed 20-plus years later. That exploding White House, not to mention the effortless camaraderie of Goldblum and Smith in all their scenes together, cement Independence Day among the most rewatchable sci-fi action films of the past two decades.
Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
22. Alien: Resurrection (1997)
The saga continues 200 years after Ripley sacrificed herself for the sake of humanity. Her erstwhile employers long gone, this time it is the military that resurrects the one-woman killing machine through genetic cloning to extract the alien from within her, but during the process, her DNA is fused with the queen and then the aliens escape. Now Ripley must decide where her allegiance lies.
23. The World’s End’ (2013)
In “The World’s End,” 20 years after attempting an epic pub crawl, five childhood friends reunite when one of them becomes hellbent on trying the drinking marathon again. They are convinced to stage an encore by Gary King (Simon Pegg), a 40-year-old man trapped at the cigarette end of his teens, who drags his reluctant pals to their hometown and once again attempts to reach the fabled pub – The World’s End. As they attempt to reconcile the past and present, they realize the real struggle is for the future, not just theirs but humankind’s. Reaching The World’s End is the least of their worries.
Director: Edgar Wright | Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman
24. Signs (2002)
A family living on a farm finds mysterious crop circles in their fields which suggests something more frightening to come. Everything that farmer Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) assumed about the world is changed when he discovers a message – an intricate pattern of circles and lines – carved into his crops. As he investigates the unfolding mystery, what he finds will forever alter the lives of his brother (Joaquin Phoenix) and children (Rory Culkin), (Abigail Breslin). A unique story that explores the mysterious real-life phenomena of crop signs and the effects they have on one man and his family.
25. Chronicle (2012)
Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a socially awkward, introverted teen whose main form of escape and expression is a video camera. But things begin to change when Andrew, his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and popular classmate Steve (Michael B. Jordan) discover a mysterious substance that leaves them with incredible powers. As their abilities become more powerful, the teens’ lives spin out of control when their darker sides begin to emerge. Andrew’s camera captures the unfolding events.
this movie, as well as Heat, are the movies that inspired me to get into film as an art form and pay attention to things like cinematography and well-written films and the like. However, the Chronicle really seems like the kind of movie that some people love and some people hate. If you hate it, what makes you hate it? I personally love the performances, Dane Dehann is usually a pretty meh actor but he’s doing a great job in this film, and MBJ is perfect for the role he is given.
26. Alien: Covenant’ (2017)
Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world — whose sole inhabitant is the “synthetic” David, a survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition.
Alien: Covenant has stunning cinematography. The Covenant space ship glides through the air with its odd “space sailboat” mechanics and Scott knows when the right time is to dwell on certain set pieces. Dariusz Wolski was the director of photography for this film as well as Prometheus and does a good job of capturing the atmosphere of that film. When the Covenant crew lands on the unknown planet to investigate a radio signal playing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver is where the cinematography really shines. The overcast of the unknown planet followed by the darker shades of green and blue give off a very gloomy feel to the film as well as somewhat resemble the colors of a Xenomorph. Some well-choreographed battle-sequences also manage to create some good suspense.
Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup
27. Mars Attacks! (1996)
With Jack Nicholson as president, Sarah Jessica Parker’s head appearing atop a chihuahua body and an alien race that speaks in a bird-like squawk, Mars Attacks is filled with enough campy goodness to make even the most serious sci-fi fan crack a smile. Although it was initially received poorly among critics and fans alike, repeat viewings of Mars Attacks made this one shine for a cult audience.
Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker
28. Paul (2011)
For the past 60 years, a wisecracking alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) has resided at a top-secret military base in America’s UFO heartland. When Paul decides he has had enough of Earth, he escapes from the compound and hops on the first handy vehicle — a rented RV manned by two British sci-fi nerds named Graeme (Simon Pegg) and Clive (Nick Frost). With federal agents and the father of an accidental kidnap victim on their tail, the two hatches a crazy plan to help Paul return to his spaceship.