Best of the Worst Worlds — 10 Greatest Sci-Fi Dystopias

1
Elysium (2013)
Elysium (2013)
Columbia Pictures
This summer, director Neill Blomkamp and Matt Damon show a bleak future where the privileged elite live a luxurious space habitat, while the impoverished struggle to survive in the resource-deficient barren Earth down below.
2
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
Warner Bros/Everett Collection
Often considered the best modern example of an urban dystopia, Blade Runner's futuristic Los Angeles inspired numerous directors after its release. The blending of Eastern and Western imagery within a sprawling, dense metropolis has been a visual benchmark of the science fiction genre.
3
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)
Image Entertainment/Everett Collection
The film adaptation of George Orwell's classic novel perfectly captures a bleak future where a totalitarian government has complete control over the lives of its citizens, all under the gaze of the omnipresent Big Brother.
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4
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Planet of the Apes (1968)
Twentieth Century Fox Film/Everett Collection
Rod Serling penned the screenplay for the film adaptation of Pierre Boulle's novel about a planet ruled by a simian species. Charlton Heston plays the movie's lead role, and provides a classic moment during the film's famous twist ending.
5
Metropolis (1927)
Metropolis (1927)
Paramount Pictures/Everett Collection
Often considered a cinematic "text," Metropolis is a piece of visionary art by Austrian filmmaker Fritz Lang. Metropolis is the first feature-length science fiction film, and presents a futuristic urban dystopia where a great schism exists between the classes.
6
12 Monkeys (1995)
12 Monkeys (1995)
Universal Pictures/Everett Collection
Terry Gilliam's visionary prowess provides a bleak look into a future where most of the population has been wiped out by a deadly virus, driving the remaining survivors to live underground while animals regain control of the planet. Bruce Willis stars as a man from the future tasked to prevent the catastrophic event from happening.
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7
Children of Men (2006)
Children of Men (2006)
Universal Pictures/Everett Collection
Based on the P.D. James novel of the same name, Children of Men presents a world on the brink of collapse decades after humanity has been discovered to be infertile. Alfonso Cuaron's vision offered a startling and gritty portrayal of a society devoid of a future.
8
Wall-E (2008)
Wall-E (2008)
Disney/Everett Collection
Although it is a children's movie, Wall-E presents a harrowingly beautiful future where the excesses of civilization deplete the Earth of its resources. Humans have left the uninhabitable planet behind to live in outer space, leaving behind skyscrapers made of garbage in their wake.
9
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Warner Bros/Everett Collection
Ultraviolence, mayhem, and Alex rule the streets in Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess' novel. Malcolm McDowell stars as the movie's anti-hero, who undergoes traumatic aversion therapy to "cure" him of his violent ways.
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10
The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix (1999)
Warner Bros/Everett Collection
"Normal" reality is nothing more than a digital construct called The Matrix for humans in this action sci-fi movie. In truth, humans are born and bred to serve as batteries to power the intelligent machines who now rule the Earth.

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