15 Most Visually Stunning Sci-Fi Movies

Trippy Aronofsky headf***s! The most evocative scenery in cinema history! And... Lars Von Trier?!

Gravity sci-fi movie
Warner Bros. Pictures

Throughout the entire medium of cinema, there’s no genre that can outdo sci-fi when it comes to sheer imaginative visual splendour. Sure, horror may be able to keep us up at night turning on the lights, and the greatest period pieces can transport us to another time entirely—shout out to Cecil B DeMille and Merchant Ivory, the only people able to make pre-computer life look appealing.

But when it comes to sheer overwhelming onscreen beauty, sometimes without even a plot to back it up, nothing beats science fiction.

Unburdened by the traditional expectations of realism and the antiquated aesthetic which we expect from fantasy, sci-fi alone can create worlds unlike anything we’ve ever seen and spend hours exploring their inventive creations. With that in mind, we’ve compiled an extra-long fifteen flick list of the sci-fi genre’s most visually stunning contributions to cinema.

Are these all masterpieces of storytelling and character work? Hell no (although a lot of them also happen to be). The sole criteria for this list is a beautiful and unforgettable aesthetic, so with that in mind let’s count down the fifteen most stunning sci-fi flicks of all time.

15. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Gravity sci-fi movie

Stanley Kubrick is known for his visually sumptuous cinematic offerings, with the clinical and often austere helmer even being accused of using his actors as props for some stunning tableaus long before that became Wes Anderson’s whole schtick.

The filmmaker never topped 2001: A Space Odyssey, an Arthur C Clarke adaptation which in Kubrick's hands became a psychedelic interstellar trip from the sixties. A stunning sci-fi exploration of deep space, the flick begins with methodical, swooping camera shots introducing us to its beautiful production design and meticulously perfected sets, gradually revealing its story. Then comes the unparalleled ending sequence, one of cinema’s most potently mind-blowing scenes.

An impossible-to-parse trip, the colourful, strange closing moments of this film are guaranteed to stick with you for life—even if you have trouble explaining them to anyone without the aid of some seriously strong psychotropics.


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