First Contact!

Movies about "first contact" with aliens, both friendly and decidedly not.
Updated September 29, 2022
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Arrival [2016 film]
Denis Villeneuve
Based on Ted Chiang's 1998 short story "Story of Your Life," Denis Villeneuve's Arrival is a mind-bending journey into alien contact, human frailty, grief and comparative linguistics.
Attack the Block [2011 film]
Joe Cornish
South London teenagers fight aliens in this small-budget British sci‑fi comedy. The talented cast includes a pre-Star Wars John Boyega.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind [1977 film]
Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg followed Jaws (1975), his first major box-office success, with this epic science fiction adventure about a disparate group of people who attempt to contact alien intelligence. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is an electrical lineman who, while sent out on emergency repairs, witnesses...
Released only two years after Jaws,Close Encounters cemented Steven Spielberg's reputation as a young director with talent and range.
Contact [1997 film]
Robert Zemeckis
An astronomer discovers a signal from another planet and is chosen to go into space on a new spaceship and find its source.
Based on Carl Sagan's 1985 novel of the same name, Contact stars Jodie Foster as a driven radio astronomer and Matthew McConaughey as a conflicted spiritual advisor in a tense and thought-provoking exploration of human limitations and alien possibilities.
Super 8 [2011 film]
J. J. Abrams
Writer/director J.J. Abrams teams with producer Steven Spielberg for this period sci-fi thriller set in the late '70s, and centering on a mysterious train crash in a small Ohio town. Summer, 1979: a group of young friends are filming a Super-8 movie when a pickup truck derails a speeding train. When...
J. J. Abrams' small-town, big-budget Super 8 feels like a Spielberg movie—in fact Spielberg co-produced—with themes of friendship, loss, and coming of age.
Signs [2002 film]
M. Night Shyamalan
Two brothers wake up one morning and find their dogs barking wildly, and one's children wandering in the corn fields. A mysterious pattern of crop circles have appeared overnight, and the men now must deal with unexplained events.
M. Night Shyamalan's charming but spooky masterpiece.
War of the Worlds [2005 film]
Steven Spielberg
An earth-shattering adventure that both "rivets and amazes" (Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune), War of the Worlds reunites superstar Tom Cruise and Academy Award-winning director Steven Spielberg for one of the most awe-inspiring cinematic experiences of all time! A contemporary retelling of H.G....
Spielberg brings Wells' iconic novel to New York City. Stars include Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning and Tim Robbin.
2001: A Space Odyssey [1968 film]
Stanley Kubrick
A space voyage to Jupiter erupts in disaster when the ship's computer goes mad. Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
Kubrick's imagining of Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 novel. Features first contact, malevolent artificial intelligence, and one of the most mind-bending ending in film.
The War of the Worlds [1953 film]
Byron Haskin
H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds had been on the Paramount Pictures docket since the silent era, when it was optioned as a potential Cecil B. DeMille production. When Paramount finally got around to a filming the Wells novel, the property was firmly in the hands of special-effects maestro George Pal....
Byron Haskin's 1955 film moves H. G. Wells' classic from London to small-town California. Special effects are primitive but terrifying.

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