We are definitely obsessed with the question of whether or not there’s life in the universe other than on our own blue planet. In fact, we’ve let our imagination run away with us! Alien movies have been at the forefront of popularity for decades. There’s no doubt that alien movies typically follow a sort of pattern, for the most part. First, the aliens arrive or we are made aware of them. Then, a war is typically fought, with us narrowly winning by some stroke of good luck. Of course, there are also some that are not about warring with aliens, as well. Some even have alien good guys in them, but they do all have one thing in common. They all have some kind of representation of alien life forms coming to Earth. If you’re a sci-fi fan and alien movies are your thing, here’s a list of the top 20 alien movies ever made in no specific order. If you want to have a alien movie marathon, all you have to do is pick which ones you want to watch. You’ll probably end up watching them all, if you haven’t already. So, get your popcorn and snacks ready and settle in! (These are in no particular order.)
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
For some of us, this was the first alien movie we ever saw, but either way, it’s definitely memorable. No alien movie list would be complete without this original movie from the seventies. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which was written and directed by Steven Spielberg, was about a regular blue-collar worker from Indiana named Roy Near, whose life takes a dramatic turn after he has an encounter with a UFO. Near ends up following a number of physic clues after his UFO encounter to what is to be a first meeting between the visitors from outer space and representatives of Earth. Roy Near is played by Richard Dreyfuss. Others who also star in this movies are Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balabn, Francois Truffaut, and Cary Guffey.
Battle of Los Angeles (2011) World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles internationally
Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, this American military action film with a science fiction theme is also referred to as Battle: LA. The plot was adapted from a screenplay which was written by Chris Bertolini and is loosely based on an incident during wartime dubbed with the same name as the title. It follows a squadron of US Marines, led by Marine Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz, who become the last line of defense between our world and a global invasion. Nantz, who is played by Aaron Eckhart, is retiring, but must take one more journey into the battle of a lifetime in order to safeguard a platoon which includes Marines, a Navy corpsman, Army soldiers who’d gotten separated from their platoon, and sergeant from the Air Force sergeant. Other star roles are played by Michelle Rodriquez, Ne-Yo, Ramon Rogriquez, Michael Peña, and Bridget Movnahan.
Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day is about aliens coming with the goal being to not only invade Earth, but to destroy it as well. Although the aliens have superior technology, mankind has the best weapon of all, the will to survive. This American science fiction/action film was co-written and directed by Roland Emmerich and stars Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, along with Randy Quaid, Adam Baldwin, and Vivica A. Fox. The movie focuses on several different groups of people while converging on the Nevada desert in what is the aftermath of a massive worldwide attack by aliens. The origin of the extraterrestrials is unknown. Joint efforts around the world combine for a last-ditch effort to save Earth, counterattacking on the United States’ Independence Day on July 4.
Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Signs came out in 2002 and is science fiction/horror film. It was executive produced by Sam Mercer, Shyamalan, Kathleen Kenned, and Frank Marshall. The basic plot is about a family who lives on a farm finding strange and baffling crop circles in their corn fields, suggesting not only that something else was out there, but also that something bad was still to come. Starring Mel Gibson, the storyline concentrates on his character, ex-Episcopalian priest Graham Hess who is now just an average farmer and his discovery of a cornfield message. Hess finds a mysterious series of crop circles, an elaborate pattern of lines and circles. Hess soon realizes that this extraordinary event was caused by extraterrestrial life and as the mystery further unfolds, circumstances arise that will change all of their lives forever. The movie explores kinship, faith, and extraterrestrials via the phenomena of crop signs. Additional stars include Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, and Joaquin Phoenix.
The Fifth Element (1997)
The Fifth Element, which was co-written and directed by Luc Besson, is an English-language French science fiction/action movie. The central plot revolves around saving the human race and the planet Earth. Bruce Willis plays a twenty-third century New York cab driver by the name of Korben Dallas, who ends up with the world’s fate in his hands after LeeLoo, played by Milla Jovovich, lands in his cab. Leeloo is the human personification of the fifth element and in order to keep the Great Evil that is already coming from destroying the whole world, she need to combine with the other four elements. Other stars include Ian Holm, who plays Father Vito Cornelius, Ruby Rhod, a zny broadcaster played by Chris Tucker, and Zorg, played by Gary Oldman, who is the wicked industrialist. Dalls joins forces with the Father, Rhod, and Leeloo to recover four mystical stones which are necessary for defending the impending attack against Earth.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this American science fiction/drama movie is a film adaptation of a 1985 novel by Carl Sagan with the same name. Ann Druyan, who was Sagan’s wife, and he wrote the outline for the storyline of the film as well. The basic plot is about after years of listening and searching, Dr. Ellie Arroway, played by Jodie Foster, finally finds conclusive radio proof of the existence of intelligent extraterrestrials. The radio signals ends up being plans for a mysterious and perplexing machine. In Contact, Arroway races to interpret a potential message which is found to have originated from a star system called Vega. Subsequently, she reveals the message is plans for some kind of machine. There is some resistant from Kitz, the National Security Advisor played by James Woods as well as religious fanatics whose only thought is for containment. Eventually, Arroway is chosen for making first contact. Also starring in this movies are Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, John Hurt, Rob Lowe, David Morse, William Fichtner, Angela Basset and Jake Busey.
Written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof and directed by Ridley Scott, Prometheus is a science fiction movie. The general storyline is that a team, once they have followed clues to what they believe to be the origin of mankind, they find a structure on a distant move, discovering that they are very much not alone. A crew of explorers are led by two brilliant young scientists who had discovered clues to mankind’s origins on Earth, taking them to the blackest parts of the cosmos. An unimaginable terror is waiting for them, unbeknownst to them, each having their own version of what or who may be there to meet them. Starring Noomi Rapace, guy Pearce, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, and Charlize Theron, Prometheus in set in the late twenty-first century. The plot centers on the crew of the spaceship by the same name which follows a star map which eventually leads them to discovering a threat which could wipe out all of humanity.
Men in Black (1997)
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and produced by Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes, Men in Black is an American science fiction/action/comedy movie. It’s loosely based on a comic book series of the same name which was created by Sandy Carruthers and Lowell Cunningham. The basic plot is about a NYC policeman joining an elite and secret organization which monitors and policies interactions with extraterrestrials here on Earth. The movie stars Will Smith, as Jay, and Tommy Lee Jones, as Kay, who play the roles of two agents who supervise and hide the existence of aliens from ordinary humans. The best-kept secret in the universe is that extraterrestrials already live right here on Earth in disguise and are policed by a highly funded, but unofficial government agency referred to as the Men in Black. Kay and Jay provide immigration services while regulating all things alien. During the investigation of succession of unregistered close encounters, the two of them uncover an intergalactic terrorist’s deadly plot to assassinate two opposing galaxies’ ambassadors who are in residence in NYC and take their galaxies.
Super 8 (2011)
Written, directed, and co-produced by JJ Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg, Super 8 is an American science fiction/horror movie. The film was actually shot in Weirton, West Virginia and its surrounding areas. The main storyline is about a group of friends in the summer of 1979 witnessing a train derailment which releases some kind of dangerous presence into the small town and their subsequent investigation of unexplained events therein. The movie stars Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, and Kyle Chandler. The Ohio youngsters, filming with a Super-8 camera, are in the midst of making a zombie movie. While filming, they witness an outrageous train crash, luckily escaping with their lives. However, they soon realize that the horrifying derailment was no mere accident and there are soon a series of disappearances and unexplained events which follows. The father of one of the kids, Deputy Jackson Lamb, tries to get to the bottom of what is going on.
Pacific Rim (2013)
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim is an American science fiction/action movie. The screenplay was adapted by del Toro and Travis Beacham from an original story written by Beacham himself. Set in the future, a war is upon humankind where an obsolete weapon that is seemingly special may be their only hope for saving the world from these monstrous sea creatures and a certain apocalypse. The movies stars Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Robert Kazinsky, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, and Max Martini. Sea monsters have materialized through an inter-dimensional portal located on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, starting a war with Earth. The story follows a washed-up pilot named Raleigh Becket who is called out of retirement in order to be teamed up with Mako Mori, a rookie pilot. The two pilots join minds to control a man-made giant robot, called a Jaeger, in a last ditch effort to save the world.
Directed by Michael Bay, produced by Tom DeSanto and Don Murphy, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Transformers is an American science fiction/action movie based on the Transformers toy line by Hasbro. This movie combines live-action filming with computer animation and was the first installment of the film’s series. The plot follows an ancient struggle between the evil Decepticons and the heroic Autobots, both of which are Cybertronian races, who come to Earth for a clue possessed by a teenager which will lead them to an ultimate power source. The movie stars Shia LaBeouf as that teenager, whose name is Sam Witwicky. Other stars include Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, Anthony Anderson, Rachael Taylor, and Jon Voight. Voice actor Hugo Weaving voices Megatron and Peter Cullen voices Optimus Prime. Witwicky gets caught up in a war between two alien robot factions who can disguise themselves, transforming generally into vehicles of some sort, including construction equipment, or even machinery, such as a phone or toaster. Both are looking for the Allspark. The Decepticons want to use it for building an army, giving life to all the machines on Earth. The Autobots just want it for ending the war and rebuilding their home on plant Cybertron. With the fate of humanity at stake, only Witwicky can save the day.
War of the Worlds (2005)
Written by Josh Friedman and David Koepp and directed by Steven Spielberg, this American science fiction/thriller movie is roughly based on the the novel by HG Wells with the same name. The storyline focuses on one family’s fight for survival when Earth is invaded by aliens on tripod fighting machines. The movie stars Dakota Fanning, Tom Cruise, Miranda Otto, Justin Chatwin, and Tim Robbins and is narrated by Morgan Freeman. Tom Cruise plays Ray Ferrier, a dockworker who is struggling to build a better relationship with his children whom live separately from him with their mother and step-father. While watching the kids, instead of being the normal, stressed-filled visit that it usually is, strange events begin happening which turn out to be an alien invasion. Ferrier then struggles to keep his children safe, protecting them until he can reunite them with their mother.
Written by Eric Heisserer and directed by Denis Villeneuve, Arrival is an American science fiction/drama movie based on Ted Chiang’s short story from 1998, ”Story of Your Life.” A linguistics professor named Louise Banks, is tasked with the interpretation of the unfamilar alien language when the arrival of twelve mysterious spacecrafts, seemingly carrying alien visitors, appear all over the globe. The movie stars Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, and Forest Whitaker. The movie follows Banks, played by Amy Adams, who is recruited by the US Army in order to hello translating communications from one of the twelve alien spacecrafts. She must find out why they’re here before a war outbreak due to rising tensions. Banks races to find a way to communicate, and hoping to unravel the puzzling mystery before it’s too later, she takes a chance, possibly threatening her life as well as that of all mankind.
District 9 (2009)
Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell, produced by Carolynne Cunningham and Peter Jackson, and directed by Neill Blomkamp, District 9 is a science fiction/action/horror movie based on a short film ”Alive in Joburg” also written by Blomkamp. It is a co-production of the United States, New Zealand, and South Africa. The basic storyline is that of an extraterrestrial race who arrived on Earth looking for refuge, but instead of gaining safe harbor, are forced to live in slums. The movie stars Jason Cope, Sharlto Copley, and David James. Aliens had arrived on earth some thirty years before, not to war, but to find refuge; their planet was dying. They are put in slum-like residences, separated by humans, in an area referred to as District 9. The aliens are managed by a company called MultiNational United, who only wants to learn how to master their advanced technology and isn’t concerned about their well-being. When a field agent is exposed to the biotechnology, altering his DNA, he becomes a kindred spirit, hiding out in District 9 as well.
Directed by Ridley Scott, Alien is a science fiction/horror movie, the first movie in what would later become an Alien franchise with six total movies. The screenplay was written by Dan O’Bannon and was based on previous science fiction and horror works he had co-authored with Ronald Shusett. The title refers to an extremely aggressive extraterrestrial being which stalks, then attacks crew members of a spaceship. The movie stars Sigourney Weaver, Veronica Cartwright, John Hurt, Yaphet Kotto, Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, and Ian Holm. The crew of a merchant starship, the Nostromo, is awakened for cryo-sleep midway through their return home in order to investigate an unknown transmission perceived as a distress call coming from an alien ship. Once they encounter a nest of eggs on the alien ship, the terror begins. A mysterious lifeform leaps out of one of the eggs, attaching itself to a crew member which causes him to fall into a deep coma. They then realize the alien’s life cycle has only just begun. There are also two movies including Aliens where they fight Predators (the next movie.)
Written originally under the title ”Hunter” by two brothers, Jim and John Thomas, this movie was directed by John McTieran, Predator is an American science fiction/action movie. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the plot follows him and his elite team of special forces which are on a secret mission in a Central American jungle when they discover they are being hunted by an extraterrestrial combatant. The movie also stars Peter Hall, Jesse Ventura, and Carl Weathers. Schwarzenegger stars as Dutch, a soldier of fortune who is hired by the US government to lead a group of commandos on a mission to secretly rescue a group of politicians being held hostage in Guatemala. However, when the team lands in Central America, they realized that something is severely wrong after finding a series of dead bodies. They soon discover they are the ones being hunted by a savage creature with not only extraordinary strength, but also the ability to completely disappear, melting into its surroundings.
E.T. The Extra-terrestrial (1982)
Written by Melissa Mathison and co-produced and directed by Steven Spielberg, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is an American science fiction/fantasy movie featuring special effects by Dennis Muren and Carlo Rambaldi. The basic storyline is that of a distressed child who gathers the determination and fearlessnes to help ET, an affectionate alien, not only escape Earth, but also to send him back to where he came from. The movies stars Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore, and Pat Welsh. Elliot, played by Henry Thomas, is a young, lonely boy who discovers and befriends this gentle alien who has been stranded on Earth. Bringing the alien into his home, he dubs him ”ET”, which stands for extra-terrestrial. He then enlists the help of his siblings in order to return ET to his home planet, all the while keeping him secretly hidden from not just their mother, but the government as well. However, ET soon falls ill, which results in an intervention by the government, creating a crucial situation for both Elliot and ET.
Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
Directed by Doug Liman, this American science fiction movie is based on a screenplay which was based on the Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s 2004 Japanese novel ”All You Need is Kill”. It is alternatively known by ”Live. Die. Repeat.” it’s marketing tagline. Starring Tom Cruise as a soldier who is fighting aliens, he begins reliving the same day over and over, restarted each time he dies. The plot of the movie takes place in the future when Earth is being invaded by an alien race. Major William Cage, which is played by Cruise, is a public relations office who has never seen combat, but is forced to join a suicide mission. Cage is killed within moments, only to find himself in some kind of time loop which allows him to relive the same brutal fight day after day. As the days pass, Cage’s fighting skills improve, bringing him and his teammate, Rita Vratiaski, played by Emily Blunt, closer to defeating the aliens each day.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Produced by Walter Wanger and directed by Don Siegal, Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a classic American science fiction/horror movie starring Dana Wynter and Kevin McCarthy. The movie, shot in Superscope, was in black and white, partially done in a film noir style. The plot concerns an invasion of an extraterrestrial type which begins in a California town, albeit a fictional one, of Santa Mira. Keven McCarthy stars as Dr. Miles Bennell, who is perplexed by his patients claiming that their loved ones have been replaced somehow by emotionless impostors. Despite denials from those around him, Dr. Bennell, along with the help of his former girlfriend, played by Dana Wynter, and Jack, play by King Donovan, who is a friend of his, they discover that they patients suspicions are actually the truth. An alien species which grows from plant-like pods, assimilates the personalities and memories as well as the physical characteristics of a human sleeping near it. The difference is that these duplicates have no human emotion. From this movie came the slang ”pod people” used in the twentieth century, referencing the human duplicates without emotion as seen in the movie, but used to describe those who also seemed to not have emotions.
Written, co-edited, produced, and directed by James Cameron, Avatar is an American epic science fiction movie starring Sam Worthington, Stephen Lang, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Rodriguez. Although this movie wasn’t set on Earth, it’s a movie of an alien presence, ours, trying to take over an indigenous species called the Na’vi and their planet called Pandora. The special effects are absolutely mind-blowing. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, you need to! The title refers to a Na’vi body which has been genetically engineered to be remote controlled by a human mind due to Pandora’s poisonous environment and is used to interact with Pandora’s natives. Set in mid twenty-second century, humans are colonizing Pandora in order to mine unobtanium, a mineral that is a superconductor. Threatening the existence of the Na’vi, the mining colony continues to expand. Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, a former Marine who is now completely paralyzed from the waist down. Through the use of his Avatar, he is sent to negotiate with the Na’vi, but he falls in love with one of the women played by Zoe Saldana. As their bond grows, he tries to help her and her people fight back and save their world.