1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester
2001: A Space Odyssey isn't really a movie—it's visual transcendence. Covering all of humanity's existence, from the "dawn of man" when apes partied in rock pits to an unidentifiable future, Stanley Kubrick's monumental examination of technology, evolution, and outer space doesn't follow a streamlined narrative structure, or pander to minute attention spans. By the end of its nearly three-hour running time, 2001 doesn't answer any questions and has no more than 100 or so lines of dialogue. Basically, it's Kubrick at his fuck-the-status-quo peak.
So what's the point of it all? If you're interested in scientific accuracy and existential theories, 2001 is cinema's ultimate case study in implication; if you're more apt to spark a doobie and watch movies in hopes of enhancing the high, it's a never-ending eye-gasm. Even before the extended laser-light show that sends one character into the future and looks like a Windows Media screen saver on PCP, 2001 assaults the senses through pioneering special effects that, essentially, revolutionized not only sci-fi movies to come, but the entire medium of moviemaking.
Now that we've slathered 2001 with a thick coat of well-deserved praise, is there any further justification needed for its topping this list? We think not. Remix "The 50 Best Sci-Fi Movies" in the year 2061 and, chances are, it'll still reign supreme.