Ack Ack: Netflix’s ‘Encounters’ Success Brings Aliens Back Into Spotlight

Breaking Glass Pictures /Courtesy Everett Collection

The Netflix docuseries Encounters, which chronicles various stories of potential UFO sightings, is already a huge success, proving that viewers have never lost interest in onscreen accounts of extraterrestrial happenings. Here’s just a short list of some of the best shows and movies featuring various iterations of alien existence.


ROSWELL, Katherine Heigl, Jason Behr, Brendan Fehr, 1999-2002, Independence Day episode, first season

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection.

Roswell is synonymous with aliens at this point, ever since a 1947 recovery of mysterious debris by Roswell Army Airfield personnel. In the late 1990s, this supernatural teen drama, featuring a trio of high school students who were secretly aliens with superpowers, premiered on what is now The CW. It launched several careers, most notably Shiri Appleby and Katherine Heigl. It was rebooted in 2019 as Roswell, New Mexico, also on The CW.

Men in Black

MEN IN BLACK scene, Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, 1997.

Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection.

The trio of comedic sci-fi films that began with this one starred Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as secret agents who are part of a government organization monitoring and managing all alien encounters on Earth (then deleting the memories of those who encounter them).

Independence Day

INDEPENDENCE DAY, 1996. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection

Will Smith was all about the alien invasion theme in the 1990s. Here, he plays another lead character — this time a fighter pilot — who helps to save the world from space invaders. Who can forget that epic speech by the president (played by Bill Pullman)?

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

E.T., (aka E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL), from left, Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore,

Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Drew Barrymore became one of the most famous six-year-olds in the world after appearing in this iconic 1982 Steven Spielberg classic about a friendly alien who wants to “phone home.” Also starred the ever sweet Dee Wallace and Henry Thomas.


ALIEN, Sigourney Weaver, 1979, piloting the spaceship TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection.

Spawning several sequels, this classic sci-fi film follows a spaceship crew led by Sigourney Weaver that finds some unwelcome, unfriendly creatures when answering a distress call that turns out to be a warning.

The Thing

THE THING film still, Kurt Russell, 1982

Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection

Kurt Russell plays an Antarctica researcher whose team is hunted by a shapeshifting alien that takes on the appearance of its victims.

Edge of Tomorrow

EDGE OF TOMORROW, Tom Cruise, 2014. ©Warner Bros. Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Warner Bros. Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

This 2014 action thriller starring Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise is like Groundhog Day set in a hyper-intelligent alien takeover, as the soldier Cage must relive the same day over and over again until he’s able to figure out how to defeat these dastardly invaders.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers


Everett Collection

In this 1956 & 1978 horror film, a doctor learns that the population of his small town is being replaced by emotionless alien duplicates.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Close Encounters of the Third Kind film still of group standing in light, 1977

Courtesy Everett Collection

Another Spielberg-led alien adventure film that finds Richard Dreyfuss playing a regular Joe who stumbles upon a UFO and becomes consumed with the need for answers.

Mars Attacks!

MARS ATTACKS!, 1996. Alien with robot gun. ©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

This 1994 Tim Burton comedy starring Jack Nicholson and Annette Bening features Martians with a sense of humor invading Earth.

The War of the Worlds


Courtesy Everett Collection

Based on the classic H.G. Wells novel, this 1953 sci-fi thriller follows an alien invasion that begins in a small California town and spreads worldwide. It has been remade several times since, including a 2005 adaptation with Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, Lock Martin (front), 1951, TM & Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Cor

20th Century Fox Film Corp./Courtesy Everett Collection

An intergalactic ambassador named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) emerges from a mysterious ship in D.C. to tell the people of earth to live peacefully or be destroyed in this 1951 sci-fi film. Like everything else, it was also remade later, this time in 2008.

60s Sci-Fi Favorites
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60s Sci-Fi Favorites

March 2020

Do you remember all the great Sci-Fi TV shows of the ’60s?

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