10 Almost Perfect Sci-Fi Movies

10 Almost Perfect Sci-Fi Movies

There’s an argument to be made that perfection is unattainable, or even something abstract. It definitely feels that way when it comes to entertainment, because, even when it comes to all-time favorites, there are usually nitpicks or tiny things wrong, at the very least. Perfection might be a good thing to aim for, because the closer one gets to it, the better… but achieving it quite literally is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.

So, when looking at one genre – hey, let’s say science fiction – there are plenty of works contained within that are great, and even close to perfect, but not quite there. These films arguably fit that definition, usually impressing in multiple areas while having at least one definable flaw, or a small number of slight missteps, that hold them back from being perfect. Though, at the end of the day, near-perfect still equals some level of excellence; that shouldn’t be forgotten.

10 ‘District 9’ (2009)

Director: Neill Blomkamp

District 9
Image via Sony Pictures

2009 was a good year for the sci-fi genre, with District 9 being one significant contributor to that. It combined body horror with satire/social commentary and some over-the-top action for good measure, being about an alien spacecraft that becomes stranded over the city of Johannesburg. This makes the aliens refugees, and their race is discriminated against by humanity, and exploited by some.

It uses a science fiction story to look at prejudice and reflect the apartheid era in South Africa, which lasted most of the second half of the 20th century. District 9 falters in a few areas, with some questionable characterizations when it came to certain human characters and a conclusion that some may feel lacks finality, but the film is undoubtedly creative, and manages to achieve a great deal with what was a relatively small budget, as far as sci-fi movies with groundbreaking special effects go ($30 million).

District 9

Release Date
August 5, 2009

Sharlto Copley , Jason Cope , Nathalie Boltt , Sylvaine Strike , Elizabeth Mkandawie , John Sumner


Watch on AMC+

9 ‘Looper’ (2012)

Director: Rian Johnson

Image Via Sony Pictures Releasing

Looper endeavors to do a great deal within a runtime of less than two hours, telling an engaging story about time travel and assassins. Targets for assassinations get sent back in time, with the assassins waiting for them, all done because killing and disposing of people is exceedingly difficult in the future. The assassins are well-paid, but part of their job involves one day killing their future selves before retiring.

Complications ensue when Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s future self, played by Bruce Willis, is sent back in time, but the former proves unable to kill the latter. It’s a strange but excellently engaging premise… for a while. It stumbles a bit as it reaches its final act, which feels disappointingly small in scope and a little underwhelming compared to the fast-paced and more action-packed first two acts of the film.


Release Date
September 26, 2012

Rian Johnson


Watch on Netflix

8 ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ (2023)

Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Justin K. Thompson, Kemp PowersMiles Morales shooting his webs, sliding down a surface in 'Spider-Man- Across the Spider-Verse' (2023)

The almost five-year wait between Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse was largely worth it. The original was a breath of fresh air among superhero movies, telling an origin story without feeling redundant or overly familiar. The animation style and sense of humor certainly helped, too, with Into the Spider-Verse hitting every note it needed to.

If that 2018 film was perfect, then 2023’s Across the Spider-Verse was… well, not quite perfect, but close. The only real hiccup to enjoying or fully appreciating it was the fact it felt unfinished, with a downright cruel/jarring cliffhanger that didn’t seem so bad when the third Spider-Verse movie was scheduled for 2024. But now there have been delays, and as of 2024, the release date isn’t well-known. If that film comes out and perfectly wraps up all the threads left hanging in Across the Spider-Verse, then it might seem like a perfect two-parter in hindsight. But, until then, it does feel ever so slightly frustrating.

Watch on Netflix

7 ‘Woman in the Moon’ (1929)

Director: Fritz Lang

Woman in the Moon is a Fritz Lang movie that lives eternally (and unfairly) in the shadow of the filmmaker’s 1927 masterpiece, Metropolis. Both are epic science fiction movies that still hold up remarkably well considering they’re each approaching a century old. Metropolis is almost certainly the best sci-fi film of the silent era, and Woman in the Moon isn’t too far beyond quality-wise.

That is, it’s similarly strong on a technical front, and exhibits a similar amount of creativity, especially when it comes to the special effects utilized to show a voyage to the moon nearly 40 years before the real thing. Where it stumbles a little, however, is in the melodrama and romance departments, with the conflict between certain space travelers feeling a little undercooked compared to the more adventurous aspects of the film.

Buy on Amazon

6 ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ (2017)

Director: James Gunn

Chris Pratt as Starlord fighting Ego the Living Planet
Image via Marvel Studios 

The first Guardians of the Galaxy, released in 2014, is more or less perfect, as far as superhero movies go. It expertly introduces a bunch of flawed but endearing characters, gives them a reason to form an unlikely team, and gradually shows them getting closer and becoming the titular Guardians of the Galaxy by the film’s end. Along the way, there’s plenty of action, humor, and heartfelt moments.

Then, in 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was released, and it was a film of massive highs and occasional lows. There’s a good three-quarters of the movie that’s pretty much just as good as Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), and its emotional moments arguably hit harder… though it’s just not balanced quite as well, with humor sometimes undermining more serious moments and the tone feeling overall a little chaotic. This is never in a way that stops Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 from being entertaining, but it ultimately doesn’t feel quite as thrilling or as effortless as the first.

Watch on Disney+

5 ‘Nope’ (2022)

Director: Jordan Peele

OJ Haywood, played by actor Daniel Kaluuya, rides on a horse away from the alien Jean Jacket in Nope
Image via Universal Pictures

First and foremost, you do have to admire the way Jordan Peele’s films have gradually increased in scope while retaining a fairly comparable level of quality. Get Out is his smallest but arguably most intense/interesting, while Us upped the scale of things and proved unsettling in similar ways. Then along came Nope, which felt considerably bigger, taking on science fiction elements in a big way and feeling quite epic in parts, especially throughout the spectacular third act.

Before that final act, though, Nope is a slow burn that comes a little too close to being too slow, at times (and not many). Get Out was a tight 104 minutes, Us was 12 minutes longer, and then Nope was 14 minutes longer than that. It’s a nitpick to say something 130 minutes long was too long, but maybe just a little tightening could’ve made Nope more consistently thrilling, rather than just white-knuckle/scary for most (but not all) of its runtime.


Release Date
July 20, 2022

130 minutes

Main Genre

Watch on Starz

4 ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ (2017)

Director: Rian Johnson

Luke Skywalker faces Walkers in The Last Jedi
Image via Lucasfilm

Oh boy. When it comes to Star Wars, most will agree that the original trilogy rocks, but regarding anything made after 1983, it’s a free-for-all. It’s a series that has so many fans and detractors at this point that consensus is impossible, and some won’t like hearing the suggestion that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is near-perfect; some might even be displeased at hearing something along the lines of “it’s pretty good.”

The Last Jedi takes risks and certainly packs an emotional punch, not to mention it looks spectacular and visually dazzling in a way that few other Star Wars movies have managed, and sounds as good as any of them. It explores the Force in an interesting way, builds a great dynamic between Kylo Ren and Rey, has its share of awe-inspiring moments, and does remarkable things with an older and more jaded Luke Skywalker (who resists his calling but overcomes then lives up to it in the final act, which detractors tend to overlook). That whole Canto Bight sequence, though? Detractors and fans alike will probably agree that it slows down the film or at least underwhelms compared to other sections, and it does contribute to the feeling of The Last Jedi being uneven. But when it’s good, it soars – haters be damned.

Watch on Disney+

3 ‘Dune’ (2021)

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Timothée Chalamet as Paul and Rebecca Ferguson as Jessica in Dune looking at the horizon.
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

This one’s a little bit of a tricky situation. In a post-Dune: Part Two (2024) world, 2021’s Dune can be fully appreciated as the first half of an impressive two-parter; a duology that nevertheless could still get sequels. Part Two wraps up the adaptation of the first book in the Dune series, and watching both films back to back feels relatively satisfying.

Much of the exciting stuff happens in Dune: Part Two, but Dune still has a lot to offer narratively and thematically, just not quite as much. A good deal of it’s set-up, and very good set-up (and world-building) at that, but at a point, it does just sort of end. Being able to go straight into Dune: Part Two nowadays is nice, but for a while, 2021’s Dune was all there is, and its conclusion lacks a certain grace while also feeling abrupt.


Release Date
October 22, 2021

Denis Villeneuve

155 Minutes

Watch on Max

2 ‘They Live’ (1988)

Director: John Carpenter

Image of the late Roddy Piper from his iconic scene in They Live (1988)
Image via Universal

John Carpenter’s made some movies that could be described as perfect, with Halloween being a go-to/genre-defining slasher film, and The Thing having atmosphere and special effects that put most modern productions to shame. Scrappier but just as entertaining as those two would be They Live, which is a thrilling blend of buddy comedy, action, satire, and sci-fi.

It’s a film that takes a little while to get going, but always feels like it’s going somewhere, especially by the time you get to the famous “put the glasses on” action scene that just goes on and on in the best way possible. On paper, the final act should be just as exciting, but it feels a bit rushed and slapped together compared to what came before. The way They Live ends is clever (and the final sequence is brilliant), but the roughness of the execution in that final 20 to 30-minute stretch leaves a little to be desired.

They Live

Release Date
November 23, 1988

Roddy Piper , Keith David , Meg Foster , George Flower , Peter Jason , Raymond St. Jacques


Rent on Apple TV

1 ‘Inception’ (2010)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur fighting a man in a spinning hallway in Inception.
Image via Warner Bros.

Inception runs for about two and a half hours and moves for a mile a minute for most of that runtime. It’s an entertaining film that puts a sci-fi spin on the heist sub-genre, involving a team of people needing to plant an idea in an individual’s mind, which involves going into his dreams and exposing his subconscious to said idea.

It’s a Christopher Nolan movie, so Inception is naturally polished and exciting, though it lays the exposition on perhaps a little thick early on, and then drags ever so slightly as it lumbers toward a conclusion at the end of a final act that goes on just a touch too long. But Inception is still fantastic; perhaps even close to perfect, just not quite representative of Nolan at his very best. It’s close, though. Exceedingly close.


Release Date
July 15, 2010


Rent on Apple TV

NEXT: Every Andrew Dominik Movie, Ranked

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *