It’s not all aliens and disasters: Here are 10 sci-fi films that everyone can enjoy

It’s not all aliens and disasters: Here are 10 sci-fi films that everyone can enjoy
You might be a sci-fi fan without even realising it (Picture: Rex)

For some, the words ‘science fiction’ will immediately conjure up mental images of laser guns, space ships and multi-eyed aliens.

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But as fans of the genre will always tell you, there’s so much more to sci-fi than special effects, monsters and outlandish costumes.

At its core, the genre’s more about people than tech and space travel – which is why, at first glance, some of the best sci-fi films ever made don’t necessarily look like sci-fi.

So if you’re sceptical about sci-fi, or you have a friend or family-member who needs a bit of convincing, here are 10 genre classics that everyone can appreciate.

And don’t worry, there isn’t an alien in sight.

Ex Machina

Is Alicia Vikander’s ethereal robot truly intelligent, or is it all just an elaborate trick?

Domhnall Gleeson’s computer whiz is hired to find out, and ends up falling under the spell of his subject.

Set almost entirely in one location, this low-budget gem crackles with claustrophobic tension.


If time travel gave us the ability to go back and fix the past, we’d probably just make everything worse.

That’s the underlying sentiment in this nail-biting Spanish thriller, which slowly turns up the tension until it feels flat-out nightmarish.

Robot And Frank

Frank Langella puts in a remarkable performance in this bittersweet comedy-drama about an elderly man who’s given an artificial companion to keep him company.

The twist is that Frank is a jewel thief who, cunning to the last, trains the robot as his partner in crime.

The capers that ensue are both funny and genuinely moving.


From writer-director Spike Jonze comes a love story with an unlikely twist: a lonely guy (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his computer’s operating system, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.

That the resulting film is so smart and thought-provoking is a testament to the quality of the writing and performances.


Set in a future dystopia where your genetic code determines your future, Gattaca stars Ethan Hawke as a less-than-flawless man in a society obsessed with perfection.

Largely overlooked on release, this is arguably one of the best sci-fi films of the 90s.

The Truman Show

An ordinary, all-American guy goes about his life, entirely unaware that he’s the subject of a reality TV show.

Andrew Niccol (who wrote and directed Gattaca above) weaves a powerful, evergreen story, and Jim Carrey’s central performance is among his best ever.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

It’s Jim Carrey again, this time with Kate Winslet in a superb romance that takes in a device capable of erasing unwanted memories.

Full of humour and heartbreak, this is a film that sticks in the mind long after lesser rom-coms have been forgotten.

Children Of Men

Set in a disturbingly believable near future where childbirth has all-but ended, Children Of Men stars Clive Owen as a solitary man charged with looking after one of the few pregnant women left on the planet.

Crime writer PD James wrote the novel; director Alfonso Cuarón gives the film a breathtaking pace and atmosphere.

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Jake Gyllenhaal is tasked with stopping a bomb plot aboard a moving train; the twist is that he can relive the same event over and over again – a bit like Groundhog Day – and must keep going back until he’s completed his mission.

Exactly why Gyllenhaal has this ability is one of the film’s most poignant and effective twists.


This huge blockbuster from director Christopher Nolan may look like a mix of heist thriller and James Bond, but is pure sci-fi: a device that allows its users to manipulate and share dreams.

Master thief Cobb (a slick Leonardo DiCaprio) uses this tech to pull off the perfect crime – though a woman from his past constantly threatens to undo his best-laid plans.

Nolan’s web of dreams within dreams is complex but engrossing from beginning to end.

Ryan Lambie is the deputy editor of Den of Geek UK and the author of The Geek’s Guide to SF Cinema: 30 Films That Revolutionised The Genre (Robinson, 15 February, £12.99).

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