Top 5 Alien Movies That Will Make You Believe in Extraterrestrial Life

The best alien movies include Arrival, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and District 9

By Rick Gonzales | Updated


The question has always been – are we alone out here? Does Earth’s humanity represent the only life forms in our solar system? The numerous UFO sightings over the past few decades seem to tell us we are not, as do a number of wonderful films that attempt to show us what our world may look like if those beings from outer space would finally reveal themselves to us. In fact, we have the top 5 alien movies that will make you believe in extraterrestrial life.


5. Contact (1997)

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Contact is what happens when one’s faith determines one’s future. The film, one of the more thought-provoking of the Top 5 alien movies, comes from the mind of author Carl Sagan, whose credentials included astronomer, cosmologist, planetary scientist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, Cornell professor, and science communicator.

Best known for the research he conducted on the possibility of extraterrestrial life, Sagan first wrote the novel, then penned the script with his wife, Ann Druyan.

The film stars Jodie Foster as Dr. Ellie Arroway, an employee of the SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) program whose job it is to listen to radio emissions from space in hopes that there is something out there. Her job is about to go away when the President’s science advisor, David Drumlin (Tom Skerritt) deems the research futile.

But Arroway’s research is saved when billionaire S.R. Hadden reaches out to her and asks her to continue her research at the Very Large Array in New Mexico. This proves fruitful when Arroway discovers a signal from deep space, a star system called Vega that sits 26 light-years away.

She also discovers that the radio signal contains 63,000 pages of encoded data that includes designs for a machine that when built appears to be some type of transportation for a single person.

As Arroway prepares to be that one person to test the machine, her faith as an atheist is called into question by Christian philosopher Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey) resulting in her being removed from consideration and the task handed over to Drumlin. This whole thing changes when a terrorist’s bomb kills Drumlin and destroys the machine.

Much to Arroway’s delight, Hadden informs her of a second machine, one that she now finds herself in. When she comes out on the other side, her first contact with an alien is with someone she immediately recognizes – her father. The alien has assumed a familiar life form and then explains to her that her journey was a way of setting the stage for humanity to join the other aliens throughout space.

When Arroway returns, she is convinced she was gone for 18 hours and that she spoke to an alien being. Unfortunately, the recording device she carried shows nothing but static. Did she really see and experience contact with an alien?

4. The Thing (1982)

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As far as alien movies go, John Carpenter’s The Thing remains one of the best, most horrific, and most frightening of the Top 5. Carpenter’s gory remake was based on the 1938 novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell and loosely based on the 1951 film, The Thing from Another World.

Carpenter’s film takes us to the cold confines of Antarctica and an American research outpost where a team of researchers resides. Their isolated life begins to turn for the worse when they spy a Norwegian helicopter chasing a sled dog through the snow. The helicopter begins to fire upon it but can’t hit it. As the dog makes it to the Americans and safety, the helicopter is blown up.

Kurt Russell stars as R.J. MacReady and with the outposts Dr. Copper (Richard Dysart), they fly to the Norwegian outpost where they discover the base burned to the ground and the charred remains of humans. Amongst the remains, they also find one of something not human.

They bring back the non-human remains to study, not knowing what they just invited into their base. Meanwhile, the sled dog begins to mutate in the kennel, infecting the other dogs. The men at the base team up to kill the mutation, but not before part of it escapes. What they are slowly beginning to realize is that whatever the thing is, it has the ability to replicate humans and it doesn’t plan on stopping.

Now everyone is at risk and since the thing can be an exact replicate, the group must determine who has been infected and who hasn’t. Carpenter expertly turns up the tension as, one by one, the group gets smaller and smaller as the Thing takes over.

3. District 9 (2009)

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District 9 is the directorial debut of filmmaker Neill Blomkamp, who also wrote the alien movie script with Terri Tatchell, and tells the story of a man who is in charge of relocating aliens from one internment camp to another who also finds himself on the run when he begins to change into one of the aliens.

Sharito Copley stars as Wikus van de Merwe, the man in charge of taking a large camp filled with aliens and moving them to another camp. Twenty years earlier, a large spaceship appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa. After three months of it just sitting in the sky, investigators find their way in and discover a million dying aliens. The government brings them down to Earth and sets them up in a camp called District 9.

The chase is on as the promise to reverse his mutation is given to Wikus if he will only help Christopher and CJ escape. They claim they can come back in three years’ time because of their limited fuel supply, but when they do, they will help reverse the mutation. Wikus, now fully mutated, is left to wonder if they ever will return to help him. This fantastic alien movie is just begging for a follow-up.

Over the years, the internment camp turns into a slum, with the locals complaining about how dirty the aliens are and how they drain the resources from humans. As the relocation begins, one of these aliens, Christopher, along with his son CJ, has devised a plan to escape after having found enough alien fuel for their escape. Wikus arrives to serve an eviction notice but in doing so, he discovers a hidden container with the alien fuel in it and is accidentally sprayed in the face for his troubles.

Shortly after, Wikus begins to mutate into an alien “prawn.” He then finds himself on the run with Christopher and CJ and also discovers he now has the ability to operate Prawn weapons, something the government has been keen to learn about. Now Wikus is truly a wanted man as the government would like to study him before he fully transforms.

2. Arrival (2016)

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What happens when 12 UFOs land at different locations around Earth? Panic, of course, especially when no one knows why they are there or what they may be planning. To help try to figure it out, the military recruits linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) as well as physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to come to Montana where one of the crafts sits.

Banks and Donnelly’s immediate goal is to try to find a way to communicate with the alien species. After getting on board the craft and making contact with two aliens, Banks begins to study their language well enough to ask them why they have landed on Earth. Their answer, as best as Banks can interpret, is “offer weapon,” which China thinks means “use weapon.”

Tensions are now high between half the globe and the aliens. A group of rogue soldiers then plant a bomb inside the Montana spacecraft of which Banks and Donnelly are unaware. Right before the bomb explodes, the aliens give them another, more complex message. The aliens then eject the pair as the bomb goes off.

What Arrival gives us is a look at how we learn to communicate with an alien species. Will we consider them friendly or hostile and maybe even more importantly, how will they see us? Arrival is one of the Top 5 alien movies that will make you believe in extraterrestrial life.

1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

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Steven Spielberg is one of the most influential directors ever to bring movies to the big screen. After a slate of TV movies, Spielberg hit it out of the park with Jaws in 1975. It was such a massive hit that audiences were wondering if he had it in him to match the success of Jaws. Boy did he ever.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was his follow-up, one of the Top 5 alien movies to be produced. Spielberg brought over Richard Dreyfuss from the Jaws set to star as Roy Neary, whose run-in with a UFO starts an obsession that will end at Devils Tower in Wyoming. Melinda Dillon is Jillian Guiler, a single mom who also has an experience with a UFO, one a bit more traumatic than Roy’s, as her 3-year-old son is abducted by a UFO.

As Roy’s obsession grows, it begins to worry his wife Ronnie (Teri Garr) to the point where she finally takes their three children and leaves him. It isn’t until Roy sees a news report of a train wreck near Devils Tower, a report that Jillian also sees, that Roy realizes part of his obsession has something to do with Devils Tower and it is there he is supposed to go. Jillian also has the same feeling and she too heads for Wyoming.

When Roy and Jillian arrive at Devils Tower, they realize they aren’t the only ones who have a connection with the UFOs. The military rounds up most of the travelers who are there because of the UFOs, but Roy and Jillian avoid them and make it to the military site just as the UFOs appear.

One always wonders what it would be like to have contact with an alien race and in Spielberg’s alien movie, the contact comes via light and sound from an electrical keyboard. Their appearance, when we finally see them, is alien, but friendly and welcoming. So much so that Roy decides he wants to join them, so he boards the UFO.

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