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The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time 

Ranker Film
Updated October 8, 2019 19.4k votes 1.7k voters 20.3k views 26 items

List Rules Vote up the best intelligent movies, or those that are smart, clever, etc.

Aliens are often depicted as intelligent life forms, yet a great deal of alien movies from the past don't necessarily warrant themselves as intelligent. While they may be completely entertaining, films like Mars Attacks may not be considered smart or clever—even if the writers decided to kill the aliens with blues music. Of course, this isn't to say all movies based on the extraterrestrial are the same—far from it, actually. Some of the best sci-fi movies of all time incorporate aliens into the mix, all the while coming off as intelligent films and changing the way these types of films go.

So, what constitutes a smart alien movie? Perhaps it's what a movie based around aliens doesn't include that makes it the intelligent kind. In other words, what do all of these quintessential sci-fi movies with aliens have in common? It's simple: humans and aliens in an all out war. Films like Arrival and Under the Skin, however, use aliens while also incorporating thought-provoking scenarios and social commentary throughout to ultimately become some of the more intelligent alien movies—and there are plenty more like it.

Check out the list of top alien movies below and vote up those you feel are smart and clever, or even evoke emotion within the viewer. You can also vote movies down if you don't feel they hit the mark, as well as add your own ideas of smart alien flicks to the list. Then check out our list of the best alien movies on Netflix.

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list ordered by
1
Star Wars Episode V: The... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
2
Alien is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Ridley Scott (1979), starring Sigourney Weaver, John Hurt & Ian Holm

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50 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Alien #9 of 852 The Best Horror Movies Of All Timelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

3
Star Wars Episode IV: A ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - Despecialized Edition Dir. by George Lucas (1977)
4
Aliens is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by James Cameron (1986), starring Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton & Michael Biehn

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The Best 'Aliens' Quotes #201 of 350 'Old' Movies Every Young Person Needs To Watch In Their Lifetimelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

5
E.T. the Extra-Terrestri... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
6
District 9 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Neill Blomkamp (2009), starring Sharlto Copley, Jed Brophy & Vanessa Haywood

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#181 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #58 of 157 The Best Movies You Never Want to Watch Again #9 of 191 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made

7
Planet of the Apes is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
TheAzureComet added
8
War of the Worlds is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Steven Spielberg (2005), starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman & Channing Tatum

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#958 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #244 of 599 The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made #146 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books

9
Close Encounters of the ... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Steven Spielberg (1977), starring Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr & Carl Weathers

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#268 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #21 of 591 The Best '70s Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

10
The Thing is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by John Carpenter (1982), starring Kurt Russell, Keith David & John Carpenter

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#95 of 253 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #83 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #12 of 852 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time

11
Arrival is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Denis Villeneuve, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner & Forest Whitaker

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#240 of 367 The Best Movies Based On Books #51 of 191 The Best Alien Movies Ever Madelisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

12
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Stanley Kubrick (1968), starring Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter & Ed Bishop

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#77 of 253 The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time #535 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movieslisted on Every Oscar Winning Film Ever

13
Cloverfield is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Matt Reeves (2008), starring Odette Annable, Lizzy Caplan & Jessica Lucas

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14
Contact is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Robert Zemeckis (1997), starring Matthew McConaughey, Jodie Foster & Jay Leno

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#705 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #20 of 191 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made #239 of 321 Movies with the Best Soundtracks

15
The Day the Earth Stood ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Robert Wise (1951), starring Patricia Neal, Michael Rennie & Frances Bavier

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16
Signs is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Jason Kent Mood added Dir. by M. Night Shyamalan (2002), starring Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix & Abigail Breslin

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#365 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #125 of 710 The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars #19 of 191 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made

17
Alien: Covenant is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Alien: Covenant Dir. by Ridley Scott (2017), starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston & Billy Crudup

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#363 of 852 The Best Horror Movies Of All Time #1,284 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #75 of 191 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made

18
Super 8 is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by J.J. Abrams (2011), starring Elle Fanning, AJ Michalka & Kyle Chandler

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19
Oblivion is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Joseph Kosinski (2013), starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman & Olga Kurylenko

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10 Cloverfield Lane is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Dan Trachtenberg, starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead & John Gallagher

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21
Starman is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by John Carpenter (1984), starring Jeff Bridges, John Carpenter & Karen Allen

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#220 of 571 The Greatest Movies Of The 1980s, Ranked #816 of 1,699 The Most Rewatchable Movies #86 of 191 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made

22
Men in Black Internation... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by F. Gary Gray (2019), starring Chris Hemsworth, Tessa Thompson & Liam Neeson

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#186 of 191 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made #137 of 233 The Worst Sequels Of All Time #13 of 31 The Funniest Movies About Aliens

23
The Man Who Fell to Eart... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Nicolas Roeg (1976), starring David Bowie, Rip Torn & Buck Henry

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#172 of 191 The Best Alien Movies Ever Made #126 of 591 The Best '70s Movies #19 of 25 The Best Science Fiction-y Psychological Dramas

24
Midnight Special is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Jeff Nichols (2015), starring Kirsten Dunst, Michael Shannon & Joel Edgerton

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25
Under the Skin is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Intelligent Alien Movies of All Time
Dir. by Jonathan Glazer (2013), starring Scarlett Johansson, Kryštof Hádek & Paul Brannigan

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