Many of the most famous science fiction movies on this list emerged during a fifteen-year period between 1968 and 1983, which may be considered a golden age of sorts for cinema science fiction. There are classics that came before and and after that period and certain special effects have advanced remarkably since that time. Still, plenty of fans probably have a few favorites from that period on their own list of the most famous science fiction movies.

  1. "Star Wars." Specifically, "Episode IV: A New Hope," but to longtime fans "Star Wars" will always mean that 1977 classic that forever changed the way we look at movies. That a simple story and, by today's standards, simple special effects led to five sequels and a place firmly rooted in modern culture is a testament to the creativity and heart of a single, outstanding science fiction movie.

  2. "Avatar." James Cameron's blockbuster sci-fi film, with its breakthrough visuals and pro-environmental message, will forever be seen as a milestone in movie history.

  3. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Released the same year as the original "Star Wars," Steven Spielberg's follow-up to his smash hit "Jaws" proved he was no one-hit wonder. This story of harmless, but curious aliens was part mystery movie, part science fiction adventure, and provided a nice change of pace to the aliens-as-attackers scenario that marked so many science fiction films.

  4. "Planet of the Apes." The original version, released in 1968, holds up amazingly well, largely due to the performances of Charlton Heston as the astronaut Taylor, Roddy McDowell as Cornelius, Kim Hunter as Zira, and Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius. The movie received a "Best Costume Design" Oscar nomination and the strategically placed rags worn by the stunning Linda Harrison (Nova) had to have helped secure that nomination.

  5. "E.T." Spielberg returned to the world of friendly aliens again in this 1982 hit that has become one of the most beloved movies of all time.

  6. "2001: A Space Odyssey." Another 1968 classic science fiction film, "2001" moves at a slower pace than most films in the genre, but it's still an amazing movie to study and ponder, particularly as it heads toward its famous, mind-blowing climax and a lonely astronaut's showdown with HAL, the ship's computer.

  7. "Blade Runner." Director Ridley Scott, along with screenwriters David Webb Peoples and Hampton Fancher, brilliantly adapted Philip K. Dick's cyberpunk story  "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" in this 1982 science fiction noir classic starring Harrison Ford. It's one of those films you appreciate more on subsequent viewings.

  8. "The Day The Earth Stood Still." The paranoia and uncertainty of the Cold War provided the backdrop for many science fiction films, including "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "Fahrenheit 451." Among the most famous and most profound was 1951's "The Day the Earth Stood Still," with its alien Klaatu and his giant robot Gort, and their warning for humanity.

  9. "Alien." Ridley Scott really broke out with this 1979 thriller about a doomed spaceship crew and the alien who stows away on their return to Earth. Sigourney Weaver also became a star in "Alien," playing the Ripley, the signature role of her impressive career.

  10. "The Matrix." Computer-generated special effects and a whole new way of shooting movies emerged in this 1999 mind-bender that solidly rates a place among the most popular science fiction movies ever made.