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What Was The Best Sci-Fi Movie The Year You Were Born?

Updated April 28, 2020 10.2k views31 items

The Chinese zodiac assigns an animal to people based on the year of their birth. Cool idea, but let's take it a step further. Why not identify with the best sci-fi movie that was in theaters the year you entered the world? Who wouldn't want to be able to say, "I was born in the year of Rollerball," or, "I'm a T2 baby"?

We're doing our part to make it a thing. Herewith find our picks for the best sci-fi movies of every year between 1975 and 2005. Check your birth year if it's in that range, and then decide whether we nailed it or got it all wrong. (If you have a problem with 1977's pick, though, we may need to have words.)

  • Buoyed by one of the greatest trailers in history, an evocative poster design, and one of the most memorable taglines ever to come out of Hollywood ("In space no one can hear you scream"), Alien, despite its relatively green director and star-free cast, was a giant box office success. But to assume Alien's success came solely from a genius marketing campaign would discredit just how good the movie is itself.

    One of the best sci-fi/horror films ever put to celluloid, Alien sits at an astonishing 98% on Rotten Tomatoes and is responsible for launching both director Ridley Scott and star Sigourney Weaver into the Hollywood elite. Star Wars may have brought sci-fi into the popular consciousness, but Alien proved it wasn't just space operas that could reap big box office rewards.

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  • Topping the unprecedented success of 1977's Star Wars was a tall order for George Lucas and company, but, against all odds, they managed to do just that. Widely considered the best Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back crystallized the space opera series as a worldwide phenomenon and set a high bar that the franchise has been struggling to clear ever since.

    The Empire Strikes Back took viewers to new places like Hoth and Cloud City, introduced new characters like Yoda and Lando Calrissian, and ended with massive, status quo-altering twists. What do you mean Darth Vader is Luke's father? How could Han Solo be frozen in carbonite? How do our heroes come back from this!? This sequel is a masterclass in how to stoke anticipation for the next entry in a series.

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  • This 1981 sequel might not be as important as its 1979 predecessor, or as weird and flashy as 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but it is the purest distillation of George Miller's vision of a dystopian wasteland (until 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road, at least). And garnering a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes is nothing to scoff at, either.

    Mad Max 2, with its style-over-substance sensibilities, shows that sometimes all you need is some elaborate action filmmaking to excite the audience. In a positive review, Roger Ebert said, "It has a vision of a violent future world, but it doesn't develop that vision with characters and dialogue. It would rather plunge headlong into one of the most relentlessly aggressive movies ever made." This one grabs you by the horns and never lets you go.

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  • 1982 is a bit of a banner year for science-fiction filmmaking. From the groundbreaking Tron to the blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, from fan-favorite Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan to John Carpenter's beloved The Thing, 1982 certainly had its fair share of classics to pick from. Ultimately, though, this slot has to go to the moody Blade Runner.

    This highly influential picture, based on Philip K. Dick's 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was a box office disappointment at the time and has had seven versions released for public consumption over the years. It's possible that Harrison Ford's casting led audiences to expect something a bit more slam-bang fun, rather than a brooding, morally ambiguous cyber-noir. But the film's outstanding art direction has stood the test of time, proving to be an influence on all manner of sci-fi media for decades now.

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