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The Best Intelligent Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

Updated December 6, 2019 4.4k votes 422 voters 8.5k views36 items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 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
    • Released: 1982
    • Directed by: Ridley Scott
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  • 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
    • Released: 1999
    • Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
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  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
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    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
    • Released: 1968
    • Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
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  • Inception
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    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, Elliot Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ken Watanabe, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine. DiCaprio plays a professional conman who commits corporate espionage by infiltrating the subconscious of his targets. He is offered a chance of redemption as payment for a task considered to be impossible: "inception", the implantation of another person's idea into a target's subconscious.... more on Wikipedia
    • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
    • Released: 2010
    • Directed by: Christopher Nolan
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