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The Best Alien Movies Ever Made 

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Originally by Ranker Community
Updated June 1, 2020 273.8k votes 22k voters 1.7M views 181 items

List Rules Movies must feature extra-terrestrials

The best alien movies, ranked by fans of space and sci-fi genres. Alien movies can take several forms. What are the best alien movies? Many films about extraterrestrials, alien abductions, or visitors from other planets turn them into traditional horror villains. These "alien war" movies tend to follow a simple pattern: 1) UFOs arrive on Earth, 2) a misunderstanding or outright evil intent sparks a war between aliens and humanity, 3) with massively destructive and terrifying results.

Whether the movies are funny, scary, or totally crazy, there are plenty of parallels to be found between them. Consider the similarities of Battle: LA, Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds, and even Tim Burton's genre parody, Mars Attacks. However, there are also films in which aliens are not an interstellar threat but a boon to humanity, or at least well-intentioned explorers like Arrival. E.T. is the classic example of the "friendly alien" genre – and the xenomorphs in the Alien franchise stay in outer space, so that's good for humans, too. E.T. is also one of the best alien kids movies ever made.

What are the best alien films of all time? Often in these films, the aliens are tragically misunderstood, and it's the primal nature of human beings that spark conflict. Finally, there are numerous films about aliens which attempt to "realistically" depict what might happen if humans and extraterrestrials interacted. These include Close Encounters of the Third Kind (another Spielberg film!), District 9, and even abduction films purportedly based on "true stories," such as Fire in the Sky.

While this list does not include all alien movies ever made, it is a list of the best alien films. What do you think are the greatest alien movies of all time? Vote up the good alien movies you'd watch over and over, and vote down the ones that aren't worth your time. If you find you want more ideas then check out the best alien movies on Netflixbest action movies on Netflix, best movies on Netflix, the best Predator movies, and our list of scary movies on Netflix

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1
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Michael Biehn

Released: 1986

Directed by: James Cameron

Aliens is a 1986 American science-fiction action horror film written and directed by James Cameron, produced by his then-wife Gale Anne Hurd, and starring Sigourney Weaver, Carrie Henn, Michael ...more

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2
Alien is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt, Ian Holm

Released: 1979

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Alien is a 1979 science fiction horror film directed by Ridley Scott. The crew of the commercial space tug Nostromo encounter the eponymous Alien, a deadly and aggressive extraterrestrial set ...more

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50 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Alien #9 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Predator is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, Carl Weathers

Released: 1987

Directed by: John McTiernan

Predator is a 1987 American science fiction action film directed by John McTiernan and was distributed by 20th Century Fox. It stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, Elpidia Carrillo, Bill ...more

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Killer Details In ‘Predator’ That Fans Have Hunted Down #25 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #153 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies

4
The Fifth Element is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Milla Jovovich, Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman

Released: 1997

Directed by: Luc Besson

The Fifth Element is a 1997 English-language French science fiction action film directed and co-written by Luc Besson. It stars Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman and Milla Jovovich. Mostly set in the ...more

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5
Star Wars Episode V: The... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1980

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

The Empire Strikes Back is a 1980 American epic space opera film directed by Irvin Kershner. Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan wrote the screenplay, with George Lucas writing the film's story ...more

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6
Star Wars is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1977

Directed by: George Lucas

Star Wars is a 1977 American epic space opera film written and directed by George Lucas. The first release in the Star Wars franchise, it stars Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Peter ...more

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The Most Hated Star Wars Villains #50 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

7
Men in Black is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Steven Spielberg

Released: 1997

Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld

Men in Black is a 1997 American science fiction action comedy film directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, produced by Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith. ...more

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8
Independence Day is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox

Released: 1996

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Independence Day is a 1996 American science fiction disaster film co-written and directed by Roland Emmerich. The film stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, ...more

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9
District 9 is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Sharlto Copley, Jed Brophy, Vanessa Haywood

Released: 2009

Directed by: Neill Blomkamp

District 9 is a 2009 science fiction film directed by Neill Blomkamp, released August 13, 2009. It takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa. District 9 is based on Alive in Joburg, a short film ...more

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#187 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #15 of 45 The Best Alien Horror Movies Ever Made #51 of 114 The Best Intelligent Horror Movies

10
Close Encounters of the ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Carl Weathers

Released: 1977

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 science fiction film, written and directed by Steven Spielberg and featuring Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, ...more

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11
The Thing is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Richard777 added Kurt Russell, Keith David, John Carpenter

Released: 1982

Directed by: John Carpenter

The Thing is a 1982 American science fiction horror film directed by John Carpenter, written by Bill Lancaster, and starring Kurt Russell. The film's title refers to its primary antagonist: a ...more

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#95 of 241 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #85 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #12 of 784 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

12
Star Wars: Episode VI - ... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

Released: 1983

Directed by: Richard Marquand

Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi is a 1983 American epic space opera film directed by Richard Marquand, and the third and final film in the original Star Wars trilogy. After a daring ...more

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#11 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #23 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #15 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

13
Stargate is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Kurt Russell, James Spader, Djimon Hounsou

Released: 1994

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

Stargate is a 1994 French-American adventure science fiction film released through Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Carolco Pictures. Created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the film is the first ...more

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14
Pitch Black is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Keith David

Released: 2000

Directed by: David Twohy

Pitch Black is a 2000 science fiction horror film co-written and directed by David Twohy. The film stars Vin Diesel, Radha Mitchell, Cole Hauser, and Keith David. Dangerous man Richard B. ...more

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15
The Abyss is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Chris Elliott

Released: 1989

Directed by: James Cameron

The Abyss is a 1989 American science fiction-adventure film written and directed by James Cameron, starring Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Michael Biehn. When an American submarine ...more

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16
Total Recall is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside

Released: 1990

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. In 2084, a construction worker, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), suddenly finds himself embroiled in ...more

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17
E.T. the Extra-Terrestri... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Drew Barrymore, Erika Eleniak, Debra Winger

Released: 1982

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a 1982 American science fiction-family film co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Melissa Mathison, featuring special effects by Carlo ...more

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18
Starship Troopers is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Neil Patrick Harris, Denise Richards, Amy Smart

Released: 1997

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Starship Troopers is a 1997 American military science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier. The story follows a young soldier named Johnny Rico and his ...more

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19
Avatar is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez

Released: 2009

Directed by: James Cameron

Avatar is a 2009 American epic science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron, and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni ...more

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20
Signs is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin

Released: 2002

Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan

Signs is a 2002 American science fiction thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Executive producers for the film comprised Shyamalan, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Sam ...more

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21
Contact is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Matthew McConaughey, Jodie Foster, Jay Leno

Released: 1997

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Contact is a 1997 American science fiction drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It is a film adaptation of Carl Sagan's 1985 novel of the same name; Sagan and his wife Ann Druyan wrote the ...more

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22
Star Trek is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Zoe Saldana, Jennifer Morrison, Winona Ryder

Released: 2009

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Star Trek is a 2009 science fiction film directed by J. J. Abrams, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and produced by Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk. It is the eleventh film based on the ...more

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23
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, Blythe Danner

Released: 1998

Directed by: Rob Bowman

The X-Files is a 1998 American science fiction film written by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, and directed by Rob Bowman. It is the first feature film based on The X-Files series created by ...more

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24
Prometheus is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba

Released: 2012

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Prometheus is a 2012 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof, and starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan ...more

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25
Star Trek II: The Wrath ... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Alien Movies Ever Made
Kirstie Alley, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy

Released: 1982

Directed by: Nicholas Meyer

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is a 1982 sci-fi film written by Jack B. Sowards and Nicholas Meyer adn directed by Nicholas Meyer.

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#143 of 522 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #231 of 1,646 The Most Rewatchable Movies #78 of 553 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made