Lists · Movies · Podcast Unlimited

The Top Ten Movies Featuring Aliens

They Live 1988

“I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien”
Sting – “Englishman in New York”

Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, we already did a Top Ten movie alien list. This one is different for two reasons: 1) the former was just about the characters, this one is now about the films; and 2) this list is omitting the Star Wars and Star Trek franchises (we’ve done plenty of lists regarding those franchises already.)

So what makes an alien film good? Makeup and special effects help, sure, but that is not the be-all and end-all. A plot always help, but if I want to see a story about “us humans defending our blue Earth from evil invaders”, I’d watch an anime. Of course, I’d mentioned over and over how my reviewing mantra is, “It’s the characters, stupid.” But we did that list.

The counter-intuitive answer is that what a movie about aliens good is the humans. More specifically, the essence of humanity. If our alien antagonists are straw men… err straw aliens  (e.g.: space Nazis), our heroes don’t have to do much to be heroic in comparison. That is, if the aliens are evil just for the sake of being evil, the bar is set so low, the protagonists can be complete dicks, tools, and total dumb asses, yet still be considered “good” because they were the lesser evil. On the other hand, if our alien is space Jesus, then the humans on-screen will have everything handed to them on a silver platter, with little to no effort exerted on their part. The alien has to be a catalyst for humans to strive to be better than what they are. They are trying to find and examine the soul(s) of humanity – searching for what makes us tick – questioning our raison d’être – pressing our buttons in order for us to ascend metaphorically and metaphysically. That is why it is so hard to make a very good sci-fi film in general.

Then again, as a counterpoint, watching stuff getting blown up, vaporized, or gutted by futuristic weapons, behind a killer soundtrack for two hours is just pretty damn cool to watch as well.

I got to admit, compiling the list was much easier than coming up with this intro. So without further ado, let’s break out the bubblegum and start the show…

The Podcast Unlimited Top Ten Movies Featuring Aliens

Keith’s List

  • 10. E.T. (1982)
  • 9. Enemy Mine (1985)
  • 8. They Live (1988)
  • 7. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
  • 6. Stargate (1994)
  • 5. Starman (1984)
  • 4. Dreamcatcher (2003)
  • 3. Starship Troopers (1997)
  • 2. Avatar (2009)
  • 1. Predator (1987)

Honorable Mentions: Close Encounters of Third Kind (1977); The Last Starfighter (1984); Aliens (1986); Alien Nation (1988); Independence Day (1996); Men In Black (1997); The Fifth Element (1997); Galaxy Quest (1999); The Mist (2007); District 9 (2009); Avatar (2009).

“While cruising through the ionosphere, I saw these alien beings
Everywhere I went up there, they were shakin’ their alien things”
The B-52’s – “Cosmic Thing”


My List

  • 10. Stargate 1994
  • 9. Starship Troopers 1997
  • 8. Enemy Mine 1985
  • 7. Alien Nation 1988
  • 6. Starman 1984
  • 5. E.T. 1982
  • 4. Aliens 1986
  • 3. 2001: A Space Odyssey 1968
  • 2. Attack the Block 2011
  • 1. They Live 1988

Honorable Mentions: The Day Earth Stood Still (1951); Close Encounters of Third Kind (1977); Alien (1979); The Thing (1982); The Last Starfighter (1984); Little Shop of Horrors (1986); Predator (1987); Independence Day (1996); Avatar (2009); The Avengers (2012); The World’s End (2013).

Next Podcast Unlimited List: Top Ten (Twenty?) Arcade Games of the 1990’s.


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