Since the advent of CGI, 3D and motion-capture technology, sci-fi has undergone something of a transition since 2000.

While the genre has always been about technological advancements in filmmaking, its core values are still the same - smart, intelligent stories that focus on the world around us. While some on our list might have a little bit of another genre, they're all deeply embedded in sci-fi.

Here we go...


10. MOON (2009)

With his debut film and a budget of barely over €3,000,000, Duncan Jones created one of the most gripping sci-fi films in recent memory. Sam Rockwell, in a career-best role, is an astronaut-cum-miner on the surface of the Moon who's isolated from the world and nearing the end of his rotation. However, a string of events leads him to discover something truly odd - a complete replica of himself. Despite all the wrapping around it, Moon asks a simple question - if you met yourself, would you like yourself?


9. EX MACHINA (2015)

What makes sci-fi such an interesting genre is how it allows writers, directors and actors to explore themes and issues of the current day in a sideways view. Many films on this list do it, but none more on the nose than Ex Machina. Oscar Isaac plays a bully-boy billionaire who's created a working android and brings in Domhnall Gleeson, one of his underlings, to conduct a Turing test - to see if it can be considered an artificial intelligence. What follows is a bizarre mixture of gender politics, dazzling special effects and some of the most tense disco-dancing you're ever going to see in a film.


8. DISTRICT 9 (2009)

All over Neill Blomkamp's work is nods and references to the likes of Paul Verhoeven and Robocop. However, what sets District 9 apart from other referential sci-fi films like Super 8 for example, is that it uses the same tone but doesn't tell the same story. Introducing us to the wonder that is Sharlto Copley, Blomkamp's allegorical tale of alien refugees in Johannesburg still has a huge amount of resonance today in our current troubles. As well as this, there's also an undercurrent of almost cartoonish humour and violence to it that really makes you unsure whether you're supposed to laugh or not. Maybe that's the point.



You might look at this entry and think, "Oh, that's a romantic drama!" Well, you're right. It is that, but it's also a deep sci-fi film that's dressed up as a romantic drama. Jim Carrey, in his best on-screen role, is a deeply unhappy man who uses a experimental procedure to wipe himself of the painful memories he has with Kate Winslet. As we journey through his mind, we see all the heartache he experiences and come away with a valuable lesson that's as old as the hills - it's better to love and lose than never at all.



While Rise of the Planet of the Apes might be dismissed as an attempt to revive a dormant property, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes proved that the series was back and every bit as searingly intelligent and brutal as what came before. If ever there was a case to be made for motion-capture actors being on par with real-life actors, Dawn is the case study. Andy Serkis' performance as Caesar has every bit of texture and emotional heft you'd expect from someone who's pioneered the craft. Not only that, you have a daring story about America's relationship with gun violence told through a unique prism. Hugely underrated.


5. INCEPTION (2010)

Like the aforementioned Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Inception might cleave more towards a conventional heist film than anything else - but it still is deeply rooted in sci-fi, specifically paranoia about what is real and what isn't. DiCaprio's nervy, twitchy performance as Cobb has all the hallmarks of a protagonist in a Philip K. Dick novel, but it's all wrapped up in a big-budget blockbuster that you almost don't even notice it.


4. WALL-E (2008)

As a technical exercise, Wall-E is second to none. The film has almost no dialogue for the first hour of the film and, yet, it tells everything so cleanly and clearly that it's impossible to realise it. As a story, Wall-E is one that resonates on a basic human level - even if it is about robots. Wall-E is a lone robot who's left behind on a desolate Earth to try and clean as much as it can. Arriving on a lone ship with a specific task, EVE soon bumps into Wall-E and what follows is akin to a Woody Allen-esque romance of awkwardness and tenderness. The amazing thing is that you're buying into all of it, even though it's about robots who have no outward human appearance of any description.



The truly frightening part of Children Of Men - and it is a deeply frightening film - is that it looks all so real and so believable. You can clearly see this happening and what makes it all the more believable is that it may even be happening now. While the setup of the film - a human baby hasn't been born in eighteen years - may be somewhat tenuous, it's what it represents that's frightening and believable. It's the absence of hope and humanity's indolence in changing its self-destructive nature.


2. DONNIE DARKO (2001)

One part horror, one part mind-warping sci-fi, one part teenage drama. Donnie Darko's one of those films that many of a certain generation have a real connection to, even though it's set in the '80s. A pre-fame Jake Gyllenhaal is a too-smart-for-his-own-good teenager in suburban American who is burdened with the knowledge that the entire world be destroyed in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. Who told him this? A giant robotic rabbit called Frank. Deeply weird but unmistakably brilliant, Donnie Darko still has all the resonance and charm as it did then as it does now.


1. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)

Few directors are able to recapture the energy and spirit with which they attacked their earlier work. George Miller's return to Mad Max after almost thirty years was always going to be tough. However, when watching Fury Road, it's clear that Miller is leaving everything on the table. The film bleeds energy and it's a stunning piece of work unlike anything you've ever seen. The action setpieces, the story it tells, the sheer ruthlessness of how it's told - all of it combines to create one of the greatest films - sci-fi or otherwise - of the past twenty years.