Sometime in the tail end of July, the world as we know it changed forever when David Grusch — former intelligence official — declared what many already knew in their hearts, i.e., aliens exist. The UFO whistleblower claimed that the US government already had proof and even had an alien spacecraft in its possession.
While this may not surprise some of us, it does make one wonder, “Now what?” Do they want to be friends? Are we too dumb for them? Or maybe it’s just a matter of time before they come to take over Earth for good. Well, whatever the case, here are 21 alien movies to watch while waiting for the inevitable invasion/friendly extraterrestrial excursion.
1 – Alien (1979)
A 1979 film, Alien Ridley Scott directed the movie based on a story by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett. The story revolves around the crew of the spacecraft Nostromo, which answers a distress call from a planet that leads to an invasion by an aggressive alien. A classic horror science fiction, Alien has held up to the test of time and still makes every list of favorite alien movies.
2 – Nope (2022)
Jordan Peele's biggest project so far, Nope, may not suit every palate, but nevertheless will entertain. Chilling at points and a visual treat at others, the movie explores the story of two siblings who discover an inexplicable otherworldly phenomenon unfolding in the skies above their horse ranch.
3 – The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
This one's probably a dark horse entry into the list, but it is a personal favorite. It features Keanu Reeves as the no-nonsense extraterrestrial who arrives to deliver judgment on Earth. The film remakes the classic 1951 film and centers around a humanoid extraterrestrial being whose spacecraft lands in Manhattan one day.
4 – Iron Giant (1999)
A movie that never fails to make us tear up, Iron Giant tells the story of a gentle alien robot who falls to Earth and forgets why he came. A young boy befriends and hides him, telling the giant he must be a superhero like Superman. However, a suspicious government agent wants nothing more than to destroy it.
5 – Contact (1997)
Based on a book by Carl Sagan, Contact tells the story of a team of scientists who intercept radio signals from outer space. This proves the existence of sentient extraterrestrials. Together, they decipher the messages and start building a machine according to the instructions from the unknown entities.
6 – Predator (1987)
This film spawned a multi-movie franchise and with good reason. The story centers around Arnold Schwarzenegger's character, Dutch, as he and his team try to rescue a bunch of hostages.
They quickly realize that an alien entity has started to hunt them. The film features some gruesome kills and has some pretty great horror elements. Overall, it is a must-watch for any sci-fi and horror movie fan.
7 – Avatar (2009)
A James Cameron-directed visual delight of a movie, Avatar subverts expectations by casting humans as alien invaders on the planet of Pandora. It explores the themes of colonization and the destruction of indigeneity at the hands of invaders. The movie tells the story of Na'vi, the local community near the base, directly impacted by human “exploration.”
The protagonist, a human, gets to interact with the Na'vi and realizes the breadth of damage humans cause in the name of development.
8 – Men in Black (1997)
Now, Men in Black may have spawned sequels, but nothing shows the true spirit of it like the 1997 classic featuring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Chock full of aliens, it has plenty of humor and originality. For anyone who enjoys comedy and intergalactic chaos, this one is a must-watch.
9 – Transformers (2007)
They say no sequel can improve on the original. While that's debatable, it certainly rings true in this case. If the Transformers franchise exists only to show cool cars and giant alien robots engaging in epic fights (which it is), then this movie embodies it all. And then some.
10 – IT (2017)
Based on the 1986 Stephen King novel, this film centers around seven children forced to deal with their childhood nightmares and confront Pennywise — the demon alien torturer — once and for all. A masterful blend of horror and sci-fi, IT will give viewers chills for many a night after watching it.
11 – War of the Worlds (2005)
Starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning, this 2005 sci-fi action flick came from the mind of Steven Spielberg. Visually stunning, this film's story focuses on Ray Ferrier, a dock worker who just wants to rebuild his relationship with his family. An alien invasion derails his plans, though, and he must take up arms to save the world as he knows it.
12 – The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
A movie almost as eclectic as the pop star (David Bowie) it features, The Man Who Fell to Earth was directed by Nicolas Roeg. It tells the story of Thomas Jerome Newton — an alien who comes to Earth in search of water to save his dying planet.
13 – Arrival (2016)
Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Arrival tells the story of a team of linguists led by Louise Banks, who race to decipher the language of the extraterrestrials who arrive on Earth one day. But beyond that, the film meditates on humanity and memory.
Visually stunning, Arrival tells a story of words rather than images. Everyone should see it, sci-fi fan or otherwise, at least once.
14 – Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Aliens are real. Everyone knows that. But the government tries very hard to deny their existence. Sounds familiar, eh? The film explores what happens when a regular, unassuming guy encounters the call of the unknown.
15 – Alien vs. Predator (2004)
What's better than one alien species? Why, two alien species, of course.
This movie, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, has everything — aliens, gore, and thrilling drama. It tells the story of a team of archaeologists who get caught in the crossfire of a war between two alien races.
Despite the darker undertones and color scheme (they are trapped in an underground cave, after all), the movie has a strong visual style. While this may not be a favorite of critics, it does rather well as an alien flick.
16 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
A remake of the classic 1956 sci-fi horror, this movie promises an invasion and delivers. It tells the story of Matthew Bennell, who starts to suspect something is up after a series of complaints about people behaving strangely.
He soon discovers his suspicions are correct when they come across a disfigured body. The rest of the film follows him as he races against time to stop an invasion that may consume humanity from the inside out.
17 – Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
This film again features Tom Cruise and the impeccable Emily Blunt as its protagonists. Call it Groundhog Day with aliens; a soldier keeps reliving the same day over and over again. The day ends when he dies, but everything restarts the next day. Amidst this, he must figure out how to save the world from destruction by aliens.
18 – Signs (2002)
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Signs combines science fiction and horror. It tells the story of a priest as he moves to a farm with his family. This farm becomes the center of strange occurrences soon after, with crop circles appearing in the surrounding areas.
Could this be the work of extraterrestrial forces? The film does not disclose outright. Instead, it builds on the fear and anxiety with a shadow and sound.
19 – E.T. (1982)
For many, E.T. introduced the concept of an alien movie. And why wouldn't it? The film spins a brilliant and heartwarming tale of friendship, loyalty, and what it means to be human. The story follows a young boy, Elliot, who finds an abandoned alien.
Harmless and scared, the alien, E.T. (short for extraterrestrial), finds friendship and warmth among the boy. But E.T. also attracts the attention of government investigators, and Elliot will do anything to keep his new friend out of harm's way.
20 – Lilo & Stitch (2002)
An animated children's film, Lilo & Stitch explores friendship and found families. When Stitch, an alien, escapes to Earth after running away from prison, he takes shelter in an animal shelter. He looks nothing like a dog, but little Lilo takes a liking to him immediately. Initially, Stitch sees her as someone who can hide him.
Soon, they start building a bond that thaws the heart of the rogue alien. But his imprisoners are out looking for him. Will his new family be able to keep him out of harm's way? Or will they be separated, perhaps forever?
21 – Independence Day (1996) alien movies
Aliens invade the Earth, destroying major cities. Humanity rests on the brink of destruction. A band of unlikely heroes, including a pilot, a nerd, the President of the United States, and a bunch of survivors, get together to defeat the aliens for good.
Bonus – Avengers: Endgame (2019)
No one looks at the MCU movies and thinks of them as alien movies. They are about superheroes, yes. But a lot of them do feature aliens. Thanos, technically, is an alien supervillain. Thor is a god, but he is also an alien. So, Endgame and Infinity War tell stories as much about an alien invasion as superpowers colliding. That said, Endgame requires ten years' worth of prior movie viewing.
Despite that, the epic story arc involving the original Avengers and the indomitable Thanos comes to an amazing conclusion. So, for anyone looking for content to binge on and love some sci-fi and superhero action, the MCU movies leading up to Endgame are a must-watch.
Ananyaa Bhowmik is a neurodivergent and queer pop-culture journalist with the Wealth of Geeks. She has previously worked with brands like Sterling Holidays, Myntra, Bajaj, and the Loud Interactive. She is an independent scholar, cat parent, and performance poet. Her areas of research and interest focus on and around digital marketing, Canadian indigenous history, queerness in media, and pop-culture and fandom studies.