Total Nerd The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies  

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45.3k votes 2.2k voters 36.3k views 165 items

List Rules Movies which are more than just action. Please don't include superhero movies or The Matrix series, Star Wars series, Star Trek series, or the Terminator series.

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Cerebral sci-fi is sci-fi that cares as much about ideas as explosions. I like Star Wars, Star Trek, and superhero movies. But how many more space battles can I watch without getting bored?

Sometimes cerebral sci-fi is weird  but not for the sake of being weird. How many people understand the ending of 2001, a fine example of cerebral sci-fi? These kinds of movies keep your mind occupied rather than force you to sit on the couch passively for two hours. My favorites include Gattaca, 12 Monkeys, Moon, and Contact.

This list contains movies I like, movies I dislike, and some I haven't seen. You can help the rest of us decide what to see by voting for your favorites and voting down the ones you disliked. You can also add movies to the list. Movies which are more than just action. Please don't include superhero movies or The Matrix series, Star Wars series, Star Trek series, or the Terminator series.

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Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies
Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The screenplay, ...more

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Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe 12 Monkeys, also known as Twelve Monkeys, is a 1995 American science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, inspired by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce ...more

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Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, Douglas Rain 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more

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JohnWa added Summer Glau, Morena Baccarin, Nathan Fillion Serenity is a 2005 American space western film written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is a continuation of Whedon's short-lived 2002 Fox science fiction television series Firefly and stars the ...more

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Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Carl Weathers 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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Inception is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies
Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Inception is a 2010 science fiction thriller film written, produced, and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars a large ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph ...more

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Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Chris Elliott 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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Ex Machina is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies
Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Ex Machina is a 2015 independent science fiction psychological thriller film directed by Alex Garland. A young programmer (Domhnall Gleeson) is selected to participate in a ground-breaking ...more

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Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James 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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Ethan Hawke, Jude Law, Uma Thurman Gattaca is a 1997 American science fiction film written and directed by Andrew Niccol. It stars Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman, with Jude Law, Loren Dean, Ernest Borgnine, Gore Vidal, and Alan ...more

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Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain Interstellar is a British-American 2014 science fiction epic film directed by Christopher Nolan, starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine. The film ...more

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Dennis Quaid, Louis Gossett, Jr. Enemy Mine is a 1985 science fiction drama film directed by Wolfgang Petersen based on the story of the same name by Barry B. Longyear. It starred Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. as a human ...more

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The Martian is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies
Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig The Martian is a 2015 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott, based on the novel by Andy Weir. An astronaut (Matt Damon) becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him gone, and must ...more

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CarlSwart added Charlton Heston, Linda Harrison, James Whitmore Planet of the Apes is a 1968 American science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starring Charlton Heston. Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, and James ...more

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Matthew McConaughey, Jodie Foster, Tom Skerritt 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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JohnWa added Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson Back to the Future is a 1985 American comic science fiction film. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, produced by Steven Spielberg, and stars Michael J. Fox, ...more

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Drew Barrymore, Ashley Tisdale, Jake Gyllenhaal Donnie Darko is a 2001 American supernatural drama film written and directed by Richard Kelly and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Noah Wyle, Jena ...more

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Dark City is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies
Jennifer Connelly, Kiefer Sutherland, Melissa George Watch for Free with Amazon Prime Free Trial Dark City is a 1998 neo-noir science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay was written by Proyas, Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer. The film stars Rufus Sewell, Kiefer Sutherland, ...more

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Groundhog Day is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies
Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott Groundhog Day is a 1993 American fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. It was written by Ramis and Danny Rubin, based on a story ...more

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Edge of Tomorrow/Live.Die.Repe... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies
Edge of Tomorrow/Live.Die.Repeat Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt

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Children of Men is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Cerebral Sci-Fi Movies
CarlSwart added Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, Michael Caine Children of Men is a 2006 science fiction thriller film directed and co-written by Alfonso Cuarón. The screenplay, based on P. D. James's 1992 novel of the same name, was credited to five ...more

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Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright Unbreakable is a 2000 American superhero drama film written, produced, and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. The film tells the story of ...more

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Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is set ...more

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Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Thomas Haden Church Idiocracy is a 2006 American satirical science fiction comedy film directed by Mike Judge and starring Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard, and Terry Crews. The film tells the story of two ...more

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StevenHess added Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, Michael Hayes Highlander is a 1986 British-American cult fantasy film directed by Russell Mulcahy and based on a story by Gregory Widen. It stars Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, and Roxanne ...more