William Shatner knows a thing or two about science fiction. Alongside Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and his co-star Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner helped to shape sci-fi’s impact on the best TV series, and, later down the line, on cinema.
With the first six of the 13 Star Trek movies in order, Shatner cemented James T. Kirk as a pop culture force of nature alongside Nimoy’s Spock. The pair’s dynamic was at the heart of each film, and The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home, and The Undiscovered Country are each among the best science fiction movies ever made. The Search for Spock might not be quite as good, but is still a brilliant adventure, while The Motion Picture is generally over-hated. Let’s just not talk about V.
Star Trek‘s resurrection, and the idea to bring it to the big screen, was predicated on Star Wars‘ success in the mid-to-late ’70s. The two franchises helped to bring sci-fi to mainstream audiences, injecting the genre with new life. So, what are the best movies in the sci-fi canon? Shatner has the answers.
In an article for The Daily Beast, Shatner curated a list of the ten best sci-fi films ever made, seen below:
- E.T. (1982)
- Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI (1977-1983)
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
- Spaceballs (1987)
- Alien (1979)
- Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
- Apollo 13 (1995)
- Avatar (2009)
- Contact (1997)
Steven Spielberg comes out particularly well, making up 20% of Shatner’s picks, while the actor also neglected to pick just one of the original Star Wars trilogy.
He did, of course, select a Star Trek movie, though not perhaps the one you’d expect. Of The Motion Picture, he praises the “character[s], plot, and good development”, while also reserving plaudits for the “wonderful, handsome, dynamic leading man who played the captain”. Whoever could that be?
Other notable comments from Shatner are about Alien, which he calls one of the “most frightening movies ever made,” and 2001, which he says is a “work of genius.”
It’s a pretty infallible list, even if he did choose the wrong Star Trek film. In fact, if you could only watch ten movies again for the rest of your life, and it were these ten, you wouldn’t be too unhappy.
For more on William Shatner, find out why The Voyage Home gave him anxiety and learn about the one question Stephen Hawking asked him. You can also see the status of the Avatar 3 release date if you’re an Avatar fan like Shatner, or the Star Trek 4 release date if you want to stick with Star Trek.
You can also read our thoughts on why the Star Trek trilogy is better than the Star Wars trilogy, and our interview with Strange New Worlds’ Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn, before seeing all the new movies that are set to come out through the rest of the year.