Total Nerd The Best Intelligent Sci-Fi Movies of All Time  

Ranker Film
531 votes 67 voters 32 items

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

An intelligent sci-fi movie isn't necessarily hard to come by, but in a sea of thousands of alien-wrangling and space-ship-flying films, they can certainly be overlooked for their wit and progressive thinking. In other words, plenty of clever and thought-provoking sci-fi flicks are out there, many of which may change how you view the genre—while some may even make you think twice about the existence of extraterrestrial beings. In short, these aren't your average, quintessential sci-fi films

Of course, it's not just how convincing or thought-provoking a movie is that makes it intelligent. Even the best sci-fi movies can miss the mark here. Whether it's the general storyline or even the setting, such as a dystopian wasteland set 30 years in the future, a sci-fi film can boast intelligence and cleverness in a variety of ways. Take 12 Monkeys for instance. While time travel was nothing a movie hadn't done at the time, the film's screenplay, dialogue, and setting (not to mention the acting) all work hand-in-hand to make it one hell of a mind-boggling journey. But is it the best sci-fi movie of its kind?

Be the deciding factor here and vote up your favorite intelligent sci-fi movies below, while voting down any films you feel aren't as smart or cerebral as the next. You can also add your own choices to the list.

Blade Runner is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Intelligent Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
Photo: Freebase
1 37 VOTES

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, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is a modified film adaptation of the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019, in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans, are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation as well as by other "mega-corporations" around the world. The use of replicants on Earth is banned and they are exclusively utilized for dangerous ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, + more

Initial Release: 1982

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Also Ranked

#54 on The Greatest Movies of the 1980s, Ranked

#42 on The Best Movies Based on Books

#32 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#79 on The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

29 8
Agree or disagree?
see more on Blade Runner
The Matrix is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Intelligent Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
Photo: via Tumblr
2 28 VOTES

The Matrix is a 1999 American-Australian science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It depicts a dystopian future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality called "the Matrix", created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer "Neo" learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the "dream world". The Matrix is known for popularizing a visual effect known ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Gloria Foster, + more

Initial Release: 1999

Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

Also Ranked

#37 on The Most Rewatchable Movies

#49 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

#39 on The Greatest Epic Movies Ever Made

#2 on The Best Dystopian and Near Future Movies

22 6
Agree or disagree?
see more on The Matrix
Primer is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Intelligent Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
Photo: via Twitter
3 27 VOTES

Primer is a 2004 American science fiction drama film about the accidental discovery of a means of time travel. The film was written, directed, produced, edited and scored by Shane Carruth, who also stars in the main role. Primer is of note for its extremely low budget, experimental plot structure, philosophical implications, and complex technical dialogue, which Carruth, a college graduate with a degree in mathematics and a former engineer, chose not to simplify for the sake of the audience. The film collected the Grand Jury Prize at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, before securing a limited release in the United States, and has since gained a cult following. ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Shane Carruth, David Sullivan, Keith Bradshaw, Kevin Lucero Less, Casey Gooden, + more

Initial Release: 2004

Directed by: Shane Carruth

Also Ranked

#11 on The Best Time Loop Movies

#19 on Great Movies About Inventors & Innovators

#12 on The Best Movies About Doppelgangers

#12 on The Best Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winners

20 7
Agree or disagree?
see more on Primer
2001: A Space Odyssey is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Intelligent Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
Photo: Freebase/Public domain

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 Clarke's short story "The Sentinel". Clarke concurrently wrote the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was published soon after the film was released. The film follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer Hal after the discovery of mysterious black monoliths affecting human evolution. The film deals with the themes of existentialism, human evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life. It has been noted for its scientifically accurate depiction of space flight, ...more on Wikipedia

Actors: Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop, Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, + more

Initial Release: 1968

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

Also Ranked

#86 on The Best Psychological Thrillers of All Time

#36 on The Best Movies Roger Ebert Gave Four Stars

#51 on The Best Movies Based on Books

#28 on The Greatest Film Scores of All Time

21 7
Agree or disagree?
see more on 2001: A Space Odyssey