Note: We originally published this piece timed to the release of Alien: Covenant, but we’re boosting the rankings because it’s never a bad time to talk about the glory of Alien and most of the films are now streaming on HBO Max.
There’s something you should know before you read this list. I love Alien movies. Love them. Even the “bad” ones. Which makes ranking them a little tough. Sure, there are a few that are no question. My top spot and my last spot are unequivocal, subject only to the unlikely chance that an extraordinarily bad or downright extraordinary Alien film knocks them from their spots. But the middle ground gets tricky as someone who genuinely takes delights in all things Xenomorph and who cherishes the way in which the Alien franchise has been allowed to unfold in weird, unpredictable directions.
Ridley Scott‘s 1979 Alien, the Dan O’Bannon scripted classic that launched it all, is an impeccable, refined masterwork of tension that redefined what a sci-fi horror could be. Likewise, James Cameron broke and reforged the mold of sci-fi action with Aliens, creating a template that filmmakers are still riffing on to this day. Since then, from David Fincher‘s unfairly maligned Alien 3 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s wild ride Alien: Resurrection, through the less inspired Alien vs. Predator days, and Scott’s unconventional return to the franchise thirty years later, the Alien films have always evolved with unpredictable and adventurous ambition, even in the face of infamous studio interference. Rarely has a franchise ever been so utterly strange, throwing one curve ball after the next.
But ranking is the order of the hour, so I’ve put together a list of all eight Alien movies to date, ranked from worst to best. Or as I like to think of it when it comes to Alien movies, least awesome to most awesome. Check out the list below.