10 Best Alien Movies of All Time

Updated July 10, 2018
5 min read

Far beyond what we have explored, might lie a planet with life just like ours. While astronomy hasn’t reached there yet, cinema hasn’t failed in its imagination. Isn’t that the beauty of films, it takes you to places which may not even exist and make them palpable beyond anything real? Here is the list of top alien movies ever made. You can watch some of these best alien movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

1. E.T. the Extra Terrestrial (1982)

Steven Spielberg directed ‘Extra Terrestrial’ is about a lonesome being from another planet and his quest to go back home. His friendship with the earthling ‘Elliot’ forms the crux of a joyfully drafted drama. ‘ET’ is more than just its plot. It is a reflection of the innocence that precedes adulthood, about friendships which we all once had and ‘that time’ which never comes back. Nostalgia is guaranteed!

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2. Alien (1979)

‘Alien’ was released at a time when space exploration had created a new wave of curiosity over the possibility of extra terrestrial life. Director Ridley Scott uses the combination of mystery and fear already surrounding aliens to create a horror film. The absence of technology in that era is converted into its strength as the film keeps the unseen invisible to the audience.

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3. The Thing (1982)

The greatest advantage of being an alien in a film is that it can take any form as no one has seen one in real life. That aspect is given a literal meaning in ‘The Thing’ where there exists an alien who can take the form of anyone it touches. From a perplexing first scene, the film builds on to a plot where an alien being buried deep in the Antarctic ice comes to life. John Carpenter uses paranoia and fear as his tools to explain its interaction with our world.

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4. Arrival (2016)

‘Arrival’ astounds you with its concept. A concept that surprisingly no writer/filmmaker ever thought of. If ever Aliens arrive to earth, chances of them engaging in a Spielbergian warfare are less. At least not before they try to communicate with us first. What’s also beautiful about ‘Arrival’ is that at its heart, it is a story of mother and the difficult choices she has to make.

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5. District 9 (2009)

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A bunch of aliens find themselves embroiled in the materialistic aspirations of the world we inhabit leading to their complete isolation and misery. Touching upon the realms of society, ‘District 9’ is shot in a documentary-like manner. It has interviews and reports in retrospect which give it a sense of realism like no other science fiction film.

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6. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

The film was a long term project of Spielberg and it didn’t disappoint. Amidst the curiosity of its characters, the film appropriately takes the fear and dread that surrounds aliens as a starting point. While most plots fade into conflict, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ follows a path which leads to the marvel which surrounds the concept of cohabitation. The film is unique for the subtle approach it takes unlike most alien films which are seasoned with drama and action.

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7. Under the Skin (2014)

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Story of an alien who inhabits the earthly form of a seductive young woman so to pray on on humans, but soon begins to discover herself as human with tragic and terrifying consequences. Stylistic, magical and visually mesmerizing, ‘Under the Skin’ is a sly but bold commentary on superficiality existing in human society. It is largely indecipherable, but its style and mood is very similar to director Glazer’s brilliant last film, ‘Birth’, which I loved.

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8. Predator (1987)

Action and aliens has not always been a very successful combination in cinema. ‘Predator’ is a delightful mention at the top of that league. The special effects in the film are way ahead of its time and the plot is compact in its nature. Arnold Schwarzenegger provides the necessary firepower despite not being given a position to steal the show.

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9. Signs (2002)

Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix starrer ‘Signs’ is the perfect example of how the plot of aliens visiting the earth can be masterfully executed without the aid of action. The film is about a family which spots some patterns on their field and builds on from there. What lacks in the plot is overcome by a well-rounded screenplay and suspenseful storytelling. The film builds an atmosphere of tension and anxiety which is convincingly conveyed by its actors. The ending of the film did not impress everybody as the exposition raised the expectations so high that in the end it seems that the climax shouldered too big a responsibility.

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10. Independence Day (1996)

This film is one of pure action. ‘Independence Day’ sticks to its guns and does not aim to have intellectual depth and is pretty good at that. Fighting a superior technology possessed by the aliens, the odds are stacked against the earthlings but it is their endeavour that is their biggest weapon. Despite not being a favourite among critics, ‘Independence Day’ has been something that alien-action films aspire to be even today.

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