From the creature features of the 1950s to the space-exploring 1960s and 1970s, the alien-hunting 1990s, and the mind-bending 2010s, science fiction films have substantially adapted to catch up with audience imagination.

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The way Redditors see it, some years from the past seven decades have contributed more to the genre than others. Perhaps there's a film that acted as a trendsetter or several very fun time passers, but either way, there are years in film history that saw the release of some great cinematic sci-fi.


The 1950s was the decade for practical effects creature features, and 1954 alone earns the timeframe its reputation. Big movies like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Them!, and Ishirō Honda's Godzilla all stomped their way into viewers' hearts within the same calendar year.


Gojira, or in English, Godzilla, went on to start one of the longest-running film franchises of all time. While many of the films featured the title character in a heroic role, the 1954 original film is a straight allegory for nuclear war, and it's an effective one. The American version with Raymond Burr, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, loses a lot of the Japanese version's darker scenes and overall impact. As mrhelmand wrote of the Japanese film, "The '54 film has endured for a reason. First time I saw it I was amazed by how bleak it was, particularly at the end. Very jarring if you're more used to seeing the big G as a hero figure fighting other monsters."


As one of the best sci-fi movies of all time, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey set trends and high bars in equal measure. Yet 1968 gave audiences even more classics and cult favorites, such as Barbarella and Planet of the Apes.

Kubrick's 2001 isn't a film for everyone, given that it's more or less an epic with an unusually slow pace. But that pace, which allows viewers to appreciate the beauty of the film's imagery, is what has drawn some fans to it. As superwinner wrote: "I love the pacing of 2001, it gives you time to digest what's going on in each scene and allows you to really watch the expressions on the actors' faces."


The same year that George Lucas unleashed Star Wars on the world, Steven Spielberg released Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Those were the only two notable U.S. sci-fi films of 1977, but each alone makes the year important.

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Star Wars was the box office juggernaut of the year, but Close Encounters of the Third Kind made quite a name for itself, as well. It's widely seen as one of Spielberg's better films on a long list of great ones, and Spirited_Respect_578 started a thread to sing its praises: "I'm actually mad I didn't watch this film sooner..." The 10 Best Years For Sci-Fi Movies, According To Reddit


The 1970s closed out with one of the best sci-fi and best horror movies of all time: Ridley Scott's Alien. However, the year also gave audiences David Cronenberg's The Brood, George Miller's Mad Max, the 007 adventure Moonraker, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

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Alien is the definitive science fiction film because it keeps things simple. The scares are memorable as are the performances, but it's the setting that really sells the experience. The Nostromo is nothing more than a claustrophobic haunted house drifting through space, and now there's an outlier on board. Fabrar started a thread after finally watching it, with their standout reaction being "I actually watched it and, holy s***, what a movie."


The third year of the 1980s gave audiences some of the decade's best sci-fi classics. Ridley Scott's Blade Runner required time to find both its audience as well as its place in film history, while Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial became a sensation overnight. Another alien movie, John Carpenter's The Thing, also required time, but it alone was enough to make 1982 one of the best years for horror movies. As for science fiction, the year saw the release of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Tron.

1997wickedboy started a thread to ask fellow Redditors why people always bring up Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park before E.T. They then follow up the question with "E.T. in my opinion is one of the greatest films of all time and its legacy should be more noted."


The big science fiction movie of 1985 was undoubtedly Back to the Future and it ended up being the number one movie for the year as a whole. But there was also Cocoon, Brazil, Enemy Mine, Explorers, and the teen sci-fi movies, Weird Science, and Real Genius.

Robert Zemeckis's Back to the Future was and remains both important and one of the most strictly entertaining movies of all time. As newfriend999 wrote, "The first one is basically the best movie ever. And then there are some sequels."


Perhaps one of the goofiest sci-fi movies ever, Men in Black was also just one of 1997's many successful big-budget sci-fi movies. From original films like The Fifth Element, Contact, Starship Troopers, and Gattaca to sequels like The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Alien Resurrection, the year was stacked front to back with science fiction films.

Paul Verhoeven's Starship Troopers makes for the ultimate companion piece to the director's Robocop, another sci-fi actioner with a major focus on social commentary. A now-deleted user started a thread to describe their rewatch, and how different it was from when they watched it at a younger age: "It amazes me that I ever missed that, in essence, it's a satire."


1999's The Matrix ensured that the decade would be closed out with a cinematic bang. But it wasn't just the Wachowski's film that dominated the year's sci-fi movie landscape, there was also Deep Blue Sea, Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace as well as cult films such as Galaxy Quest and The Iron Giant.

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It stands to reason that the original The Matrix will always be the best of the franchise and some lesser sequels have tarnished the first movie's reputation. While Gerti27 agrees that the first is the best, they're not fully on board with the hate for the sequels: "I watched the first Matrix last night, and yeah it's as perfect as it can get. There's great action, suspense, and it has style for days. All of that with an incredible story and acting. I can understand why people don't like the other movies as much, but I still thought they were great too. The first Matrix is clearly head and shoulders above the rest, though."


The 2010s kicked off with original sci-fi movies like Inception and The Book of Eli, as well as horror-skewing science fiction like The Crazies, Daybreakers, and Predators. Then there were comedy-skewing movies like Hot Tub Time Machine and sci-fi indies such as Monsters and Never Let Me Go.

Zastrous started a thread to discuss their first time watching Christopher Nolan's Inception, with the highlight of their post being "I can not recommend this movie enough. An amazing cast, with great performances all around..."


Some prestigious sci-fi movies hit theaters in 2021, including best picture nominees Dune and Adam McKay's black comedy sci-fi movie Don't Look Up. Then there was franchise fare like Ghostbusters: Afterlife, The Matrix Resurrections, The Suicide Squad, Godzilla vs. Kong, and Spider-Man: No Way Home. Finally, there were outliers like Reminiscence and The Tomorrow War. All were either worth watching or fantastic, leaving 2021 one of the better years for sci-fi movies.

Of Jon Watts's third go-round with the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler, hungrysleeper wrote, "What a great film on so many levels! Can't tell you how much this took me back to being a kid again all those years ago watching Spider-Man on the big screen for the very first time."

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Ben Hathaway is a Senior Writer (Lists) for Screen Rant. A former Therapeutic Day Treatment counselor, Ben is now a career writer. When not working, he is writing and self-publishing (on Amazon) novels under the name Scott Gray.In his spare time, he's reading on the porch or watching every film under the sun.Ben can be contacted at