I recently discovered, through an unscientific process driven by my own dorkdom, that 1982 remains the high point of creative, unusual, and commercially successful science fiction and fantasy film-making. For in that year, a huge run of genre films was released, and most of them remain classics to this day.
Why 1982? I think there were several contributing factors, but the biggest one was Star Wars. After two films, the franchise was well-established as an essential entertainment staple. There had been numerous space-opera knockoffs, most of them flops (Starcrash, Battle Beyond the Stars, The Black Hole). But the success of Star Wars had made studios suddenly receptive to new ideas in fantasy storytelling. Filmmakers who grew up on comic books and pulp fiction were allowed to indulge their influences in the arena of their own medium. And in 1982 all of this came to fruition.
In chronological order, here are the major science fiction and fantasy releases of 1982: