Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time

Dystopian Movies

Massive dehumanization, totalitarian government, rampant disease, post-apocalyptic terrains, cyber-genetic technologies, societal chaos and widespread urban violence are some of the common themes in dystopian films which bravely examine the ominous shadow cast by future.

A dystopia is a fictional society that is the antithesis or complete opposite of a utopia, an ideal world with a perfect social, political and technological infrastructure. A world without chaos, strife or hunger. A world where the individual potential and freedom is celebrated and brought to the forefront.

In contrast, the dystopian world is undesirable with poverty and unequal domination by specific individuals over others. Dystopian films often construct a fictional universe and set it in a background which features scenarios such as dehumanizing technological advancements, man-made disasters or class-based revolutions.

Ranking the List

We thought it would be interesting if we could coagulate the most commonly cited dystopian movies and rank them not to preference, but to an average score made up of both Rotten Tomatoes (RT) and IMDB ratings.

As you all will probably know, the Internet Movie Database allows movie fans and registered users to rate each movie from 1 to 10 and the final score is said to reflect the general audience’s view of the movie. In contrast, Rotten Tomatoes rates their movies by collecting and tabulating the reviews given by professional film critics.

We’ve taken both ratings, added them together and found an average score for each film. Each of the films are then ranked according to this average score. We’ve also included links to the IMDB and RT profile for each movie so you can learn more about the movie.

50. Equilibrium (2002)

Equilibrium

In the nation of Libria, there is always peace among men. The rules of the Librian system are simple. If you are happy, you will be arrested. If you cry, the law will hunt you down. If you read a contraband book or so much as look at a smuggled painting, you’ve committed a crime. To keep the peace, citizens must take their daily doses Prozium, a powerful designer drug that stops feelings dead and keeps everyone on an even keel. Refuse to take the drug and special police will find you. (Directed by Kurt Wimmer)

IMDB: 7.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 4.7 | Average: 6.2

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49. One Point O (2004)

One Point O

Set in the near future, this is the story of a computer programmer, Simon J., who discovers that his employer intends to use him as a test subject in a dangerous experiment testing a new advertising technique which causes Simon to be plagued by mysteriously empty brown packages, a sense of paranoia and a craving to drink lots and lots of milk. (Directed by Jeff Renfroe and Marteinn Thorsson)

IMDB: 5.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.5 | Average: 6.2

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48. Starship Troopers (1997)

Starship Troopers

In the distant future high school kids are encouraged to become citizens by joining the military. What they don’t know is that they’ll soon be engaged in a full scale war against a planet of alien insects. The fight is on to ensure the safety of humanity. (Directed by Paul Verhoeven)

IMDB: 6.8 | Rotten Tomatoes: 5.7 | Average: 6.25

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47. Rollerball (1975)

Rollerball

In the year 2018, Jonathan E is a superstar of a sport called Rollerball, which is a combination of rugby, roller derby, hockey and motorcycle racing. Rollerball is a sport run by the Energy Corporation, one of many such conglomerates running the planet in a time when countries and individual governments are obsolete. The corporations provide the population with everything that they need–food, a crime-free environment, mood-altering drugs–as long as they don’t rock the boat and don’t ask too many questions. (Directed by Norman Jewison)

IMDB: 6.4 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.1 | Average: 6.25

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46. Death Race 2000 (1975)

Death Race 2000

In a boorish future, the government sponsors a popular, but bloody, cross-country race in which points are scored by mowing down pedestrians–with bonus points for the elderly! Five teams, each comprised of a male and female, compete using cars equipped with deadly weapons. (Directed by Paul Bartel)

IMDB: 5.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.6 | Average: 6.25

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45. Idiocracy (2006)

Idiocracy

Joe Bauers, an Army librarian, is judged to be absolutely average in every regard, has no relatives, has no future, so he’s chosen to be one of the two test subjects in a top-secret hibernation program. He and hooker Rita were to awaken in one year, but things go wrong and they wake up instead in 2505. By this time, stupid people have outbred intelligent people; the world is (barely) run by morons–and Joe and Rita are the smartest people in America. (Directed by Mike Judge)

IMDB: 6.4 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3 | Average: 6.35

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44. Strange Days (1995)

Strange Days

Lenny Nero sells dreams and hustles nightmares, dealing in real-life experiences through a new technology that makes every sensation immediate. But on the eve of the new millennium, Lenny and his street-savvy friend and conscience, Mace, are suddenly caught in a deadly fantasy of conspiracy, murder and betrayal–plunging them into the bleak heart of the nightworld he has always inhabited. (Directed by Kathryn Bigelow)

IMDB: 6.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.0 | Average: 6.45

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43. Logan’s Run (1976)

Logan’s Run

In a 23rd-century world of pleasure and perfection, Logan’s job is to kill anyone past the age of 30. But when his turn for sacrifice comes (at age 30), he decides to flee the bubble-domed paradise and find a mythical “sanctuary” that lies outside. (Directed by Michael Anderson)

IMDB: 6.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.2 | Average: 6.45

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42. I Robot (2004)

I Robot

It’s 2035 A.D., where robots are everyday objects and are programmed to live alongside humans. Detective Del Spooner is called out to investigate the apparent suicide of the scientist behind these robots, Dr. Alfred Lanning. Spooner suspects that the death might not be a suicide, but the result of one of the robots. All robots are programmed by three laws, but Spooner starts to wonder if a robot can in fact feel emotions, and possibly murder. But if Spooner’s suspicions are true, he is going to have a hard time convincing everyone. (Directed by Alex Proyas)

IMDB: 7.0 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.0 | Average: 6.5

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41. Soylent Green (1973)

Soylent Green

New York City in the year 2022 the population is over 40 million. Without enough food to feed the masses–most of it must be manufactured in local factories. The dinner choices are between Soylent Blue, Soylent Yellow, or Soylent Green. When William Simonson an executive in the Soylent Company, is found murdered, police detective Thorn is sent in to investigate the case. (Directed by Richard Fleischer)

IMDB: 7.0 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.0 | Average: 6.5

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40. A Boy and His Dog (1975)

A Boy and His Dog

A post-apocalyptic tale based on a novella by Harlan Ellison. A boy communicates telepathically with his dog as they scavenge for food and sex, and they stumble into an underground society where the old society is preserved. The daughter of one of the leaders of the community seduces and lures him below, where the citizens have become unable to reproduce because of being underground so long. They use him for impregnation purposes, and then plan to be rid of him. (Directed by L.Q. Jones)

IMDB: 6.5 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.6 | Average: 6.55

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39. Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)

1984

A fine and stunning screen adaptation of George Orwell’s prophetic 1948 novel about a world in which the government completely controls the masses by controlling their thoughts, altering history and even changing the meaning of words to suit its needs. (Directed by Michael Radford)

IMDB: 7.1 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.3 | Average: 6.7

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38. Artificial Intelligence: AI (2001)

AI

Sometime in the distant future, after the polar icecaps have melted, major flooding has devastated most major cities. Technology has advanced to the point where people depend for many tasks on robots with highly sophisticated artificial intelligence; including companion robots which replace friends, lovers or children. n this futuristic fairy tale, “David”, a highly-advanced robotic boy, hopes to become a real boy so that he can win back the affection of the human mother who abandoned him. (Directed by Steven Spielberg)

IMDB: 6.8 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.6 | Average: 6.7

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37. Silent Running (1972)

Silent Running

A botanist has spent eight years aboard the space freighter “Valley Forge” preserving the only botanical specimens left from Earth under huge geodesic domes. When he receives orders to destroy the project and return home, he rebels and hijacks the freighter, killing his fellow crewmen, injuring himself, and plunging the craft into the gaseous rings of Saturn. (Directed by Douglas Trumbull)

IMDB: 6.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.7 | Average: 6.7

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36. A Scanner Darkly (2006)

A Scanner Darkly

Set in a future world where America has lost the war on drugs, an undercover cop, Fred, is one of many agents hooked on the popular drug Substance D, which causes its users to develop split personalities. Fred, for instance, is also Bob, a notorious drug dealer. Along with his superior officers, Fred sets up an elaborate scheme to catch Bob and tear down his operation. (Directed by Richard Linklater)

IMDB: 7.2 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.5 | Average: 6.85

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35. Escape from New York (1981)

Escape from New York

The island of Manhattan has been turned into the world’s largest maximum security prison, a place where the worst of humanity is sent to rot. The U.S. Government finds itself in a major crisis when the president’s plane crash lands in New York only days before a vital peace summit between major warring nations is to take place. Only war hero turned felon Snake Plissken can save the day, and he is offered a simple deal for his work: save the president and live, fail to save him and die. (Directed by John Carpenter)

IMDB: 6.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.8 | Average: 6.85

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34. THX 1138 (1971)

THX 1138

THX 1138 is a chilling look at a 25th-century totalitarian state where mankind is stripped of any individuality. People are numbered drones, and a government-enforced program of sedating drugs controls the populace. The story’s title character, THX, is a factory worker whose life is irrevocably changed when he stops taking his mind-numbing drugs. (Directed by George Lucas)

IMDB: 6.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.0 | Average: 6.85

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33. They Live (1988)

They Live

Set in the future, a drifter discovers that alien beings are controlling the minds of the masses by use of subliminal messages urging apathy and obedience. Nada, a down-on-his-luck construction worker, discovers a pair of special sunglasses. Wearing them, he is able to see the world as it really is: people being bombarded by media and government with messages like “Stay Asleep”, “No Imagination”, “Submit to Authority”. (Directed by John Carpenter)

IMDB: 6.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1 | Average: 6.9

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32. District 13 (2004)

District 13

In 2010, the dangerous districts in the periphery of Paris are surrounded by walls, and the dwellers do not have school, hospital and even police in the area, which are ruled by drug lords. In the 13th District, Leito is a honest man that lives in a clean building and does not permit drug dealers nearby his neighborhood. When he destroys one million Euros in heroin of Taha Bemamud, the criminal abducts Leito’s sister Lola and the corrupt police arrests Leito. (Directed by Pierre Morel)

IMDB: 7.0 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.0 | Average: 7.0

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31. War Of the Worlds (1953)

War of the Worlds

H.G. Well’s classic novel is brought to life is this tale of alien invasion. The residents of a small town are excited when a flaming meteor lands in the hills. Their joy is tempered somewhat when they discover it has passengers who are not very friendly. The movie itself is understood better when you consider it was made at the height of the Cold War – just replace Martian with Russian. (Directed by Byron Haskin)

IMDB: 7.2 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1 | Average: 7.15

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30. Dark City (1998)

Dark City

A cop tries to help an amnesiac fugitive, suspected of being a serial killer, to discover the truth about his past. He finds that his memories and his reality as he knows it are, in fact, artificial creations controlled by a fiendish underworld of ominous beings knows as The Strangers. (Directed by Alex Proyas)

IMDB: 7.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.7 | Average: 7.2

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29. Total Recall (1990)

Total Recall

What is reality when you can’t trust your memory? Set in the year 2084, an Earthbound construction worker keeps having dreams about Mars. A trip to a false memory transplant service for an imaginary trip to Mars goes terribly wrong and another personality surfaces. When his old self returns, he finds groups of his friends and several strangers seem to have orders to kill him. He finds records his other self left him that tell him to get to Mars to join up with the underground. The reality of the situation is constantly in question. Who is he? Which personality is correct? Which version of reality is true? (Directed by Paul Verhoeven)

IMDB: 7.3 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1 | Average: 7.2

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28. Mad Max (1979)

Mad Max

George Miller’s vision of an apocalyptic future set in the wastelands of Australia. Total social decay is just around the corner in this spectacular cheap budget gang orientated road movie. Where the cops do their best to lay down the law and the outlaw gangs try their hardest to defy the system. Leather clad Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) husband, father and cop turns judge, juror and executioner after his best friend, wife and baby are killed. Here we see the final days of normality of a man who had everything to live for, and his slip into the abyss of madness. With its astounding car stunts, unbelievable bike chases and constant ultra violence Mad Max is the antihero on the road to vengeance and oblivion. (Directed by George Miller)

IMDB: 6.8 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.6 | Average: 7.2

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27. On The Beach (1959)

On The Beach

After a mysterious nuclear war, most of the world has been wiped out save for Australia. A US submarine, commandeered by Peck, surfaces only to be shocked by the apocalypse. With a black radioactive cloud fast approaching the only surviving continent, the survivors make serious introspection into their lives as they await their fates. (Directed by Stanley Kramer)

IMDB: 7.5 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1 | Average: 7.3

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26. Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Fahrenheit 451

In a dark futuristic world, literature, reading, and independent thought have been outlawed. The government has gone so far as to employ a special league of firemen to burn all books on sight. But when one otherwise obedient fireman (Oskar Werner) meets an intriguing revolutionary (Julie Christie), she provokes him to question the legitimacy of his actions. Tensions mount when he blatantly transgresses the very laws he’s employed to enforce. (Directed by François Truffaut)

IMDB: 7.1 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.5 | Average: 7.3

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25. Gattaca (1997)

Gattaca

In the near future, where corporations screen their employees based on their genetic makeup, a man with a congenital heart condition tries to assume the identity of a former athlete with perfect genes in order to fulfill his dream of traveling in space. (Directed by Andrew Niccol)

IMDB: 7.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.9 | Average: 7.3

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24. Metropolis (2001)

Metropolis

Set in the future, Metropolis is a grand city-state populated by humans and robots, the co-habitants of a strictly segmented society. Amidst the chaos created by anti-robot factions, detective Shunsaku Ban and his sidekick Kenichi are searching for rebel scientist, Dr. Laughton, to arrest him and seize his latest creation, a beautiful young girl named Tima. When they locate them, Shunsaku quickly comes to realize that the eccentric scientist is beyond their reach, protected by a powerful man and his fierce desire to reclaim a tragic figure from his past. (Directed by Rintaro)

IMDB: 7.3 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.5 | Average: 7.4

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23. V for Vendetta (2005)

V for Vendetta

Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked vigilante known only as “V.” Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he detonates two London landmarks and takes over the government-controlled airwaves, urging his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about V’s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself – and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plot to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption. (Directed by James McTeigue)

IMDB: 8.2 | Rotten Tomatoes: 6.8 | Average: 7.5

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22. Planet of the Apes (1968)

Planet of the Apes

When Colonel George Taylor (Charlton Heston) crash lands his spacecraft on what seems to be an unfamiliar planet, he is captured and held prisoner by a dominant race of hyperrational, articulate apes. However, the ape community is riven with internal dissention, centered in no small part on its policy toward humans, who, on this planet, are treated as mindless animals. Befriended and ultimately assisted by the more liberal simians, Taylor escapes – only to find a more terrifying obstacle confronting his return home. (Directed by Franklin J. Schaffner)

IMDB: 7.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1 | Average: 7.5

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21. The City of Lost Children (1995)

The City of Lost Children

Just off the coast of a dank, teeming harbor town, a horrible scientist named Krank lives on a mist-shrouded rig. He is aging prematurely because he lacks one vital function: the ability to dream. Krank’s henchmen, a community of Cyclops, kidnap children from town and bring them to Krank so that he can harvest their dreams, invade them, and make them his own. (Directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

IMDB: 7.8 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2 | Average: 7.5

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20. Akira (1988)

Akira

On July 16, 1988, Tokyo was destroyed by what was believed to be a new type of bomb, triggering World War III. Thirty-one years later, in 2019, Neo-Tokyo has arisen from ashes under Japan’s new political system; but the glittering city is built on foundations of poverty, ignorance and despair. Kaneda is a bike gang leader whose close friend Tetsuo gets involved in a government secret project known as Akira. On his way to save Tetsuo, Kaneda runs into a group of anti-government activists, greedy politicians, irresponsible scientists and a powerful military leader. (Directed by Katsuhiro Ôtomo)

IMDB: 7.8 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2 | Average: 7.5

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19. RoboCop (1987)

Robocop

In the not-to-distant-future, a newly transfered Detroit police officer is remade into an indistructable cybornetic cop after being dismembered by a gang of thungs in an abandoned warehouse. Reborn as Robocop he is programed to serve and protect the citizens of Detroit and eliminate the rampant crime in the city streets so that a massive city-wide reconstruction project can get underway. But once he has completed his task, he sets his sites on the corruption inside Securities Concepts Inc.- the corporation that created him. (Directed by Paul Verhoeven)

IMDB: 7.4 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.6 | Average: 7.5

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18. Battle Royale (2000)

Battle Royale

Japan at the start of the new millennium. The country is in a state of chaos, violence by rebellious teenagers in schools is completely out of control. The government hits back with a new law: every year a school class picked at random will be cast away on a desert island to fight it out among themselves. The rules are simple: it lasts three days, everyone gets water, food and a weapon and only one may survive. (Directed by Kinji Fukasaku)

IMDB: 8.0 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.1 | Average: 7.55

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17. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Ghost in the Shell

Set in the year 2029 and following World Wars III and IV, a Japanese-led Asian block dominates world affairs. The alliance maintains its international supremacy through its elite security force whose cybernetically enhanced operatives tackle an array of hi-tech terrorists and other threats to international security. Major Motoko Kusanagi, a cybernetically augmented female agent, has been tracking a virtual entity known as the Puppet Master with her crack squad of security agents. (Directed by Mamoru Oshii)

IMDB: 7.8 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.3 | Average: 7.55

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16. Pleasantville (1998)

Pleasantville

Pleasantville is a 1950s sitcom enjoying cult status on a contemporary cable channel. David loves it, but his sister Jennifer is too hip. When a mysterious TV repairman gives them a new remote control, the pair are transported into the world of Pleasantville like it or not. They find themselves trapped in an alternate reality where the town exists in black and white–in a white bread world without passion or violence. (Directed by Gary Ross)

IMDB: 7.5 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.6 | Average: 7.55

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15. Serenity (2005)

Serenity

In the future, mankind has consumed planet Earth, called “Earth-that-was”, and moved to other planets and satellites. A new order is established with the totalitarian government of the Alliance, which fights and wins a war against their opponents, the independents. When Dr. Simon rescues his teenager telepathic sister River Tam from the claws of the Alliance, they are sheltered by a group of mercenaries and smugglers in the spacecraft Serenity, led by the former war hero Captain Malcolm ‘Mal’ Reynolds. (Directed by Joss Whedon)

IMDB: 8.0 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2 | Average: 7.6

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14. Twelve Monkeys (1995)

12 Monkeys

The year is 2035 and humankind subsists in a desolate netherworld following the eradication of 99% of the Earth’s population, a holocaust that makes the planet’s surface uninhabitable, and mankind’s destiny uncertain. A desperate group of scientists secure a reluctant volunteer, Cole, to embark on a dangerous mission back to the year 1996, where they hope he can help unravel this apocalyptic nightmare. (Directed by Terry Gilliam)

IMDB: 8.0 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.2 | Average: 7.6

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13. Alphaville (1965)

Alphaville

An American private-eye is rocketed through space into a city run by a dictator scientist. Lemmy Caution arrives in Alphaville, a futuristic city on another planet and finds his very American character is at odds with the city’s ruler, an evil scientist named Von Braun, who has outlawed love and self-expression. (Directed by Jean-Luc Godard)

IMDB: 7.2 | Rotten Tomatoes: 8.0 | Average: 7.6

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12. The Trial (1962)

The Trial

Josef K wakes up in the morning and finds the police in his room. They tell him that he is on trial but nobody tells him what he is accused of. In order to find out about the reason of this accusation and to protest his innocence, he tries to look behind the facade of the judicial system. But since this remains fruitless, there seems to be no chance for him to escape from this nightmare. Based on a novel by Franz Kafka. (Directed by Orson Welles)

IMDB: 7.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.4 | Average: 7.65

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11. Sleeper (1973)

Sleeper

In 1973, health food store owner Miles Munroe enters the hospital for a routine gall bladder operation. When he expires on the operating table, Miles’ sister requests permission to cryogenically freeze her brother’s body. After 200 years, Miles is unwrapped by a group of scientists and awakens to a Brave New World of deadening conformity, ruled with an iron fist by a never-seen Leader. (Directed by Woody Allen)

IMDB: 7.2 | Rotten Tomatoes: 8.1 | Average: 7.65

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10. Delicatessen (1991)

Delicatessen

Set in the indeterminate future, a landlord who happens to be a butcher starts slaughtering humans to feed his starving tenants, a practice which outrages a guerilla group living in the sewers beneath the city streets. (Directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

IMDB: 7.9 | Rotten Tomatoes: 7.7 | Average: 7.8

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9. Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report

In Washington, D.C., in the year 2054, murder has been eliminated. The future is seen and the guilty punished before the crime has ever been committed. From a nexus deep within the Justice Department’s elite Pre-Crime unit, all the evidence to convict–from imagery alluding to the time, place and other details–is seen by “Pre-Cogs,” three psychic beings whose visions of murders have never been wrong. (Directed by Steven Spielberg)

IMDB: 7.7 | Rotten Tomatoes: 8.0 | Average: 7.85

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8. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)

The Road Warrior

The first sequel to Mad Max takes place after nuclear war has destroyed Australia. Max lends his aid and protection to a small band of survivors who are losing their struggle to protect an oil refinery under siege by a band of savage, mohawked marauders. (Directed by George Miller)

IMDB: 7.5 | Rotten Tomatoes: 8.3 | Average: 7.9

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