Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix

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Science-fiction is arguably the best genre in the entire cinematic arena. It’s an incredibly flexible and encompassing field that allows writers, filmmakers, and actors to show off their creativity without being hampered by the confines of other genres. All sci-fi films can have elements of action, drama, romance, adventure, and mystery (with the best ones having a mixture of sub-genres) without blurring the lines; the same cannot always be said the other way around. In essence, science-fiction is a genre that offers something for everyone.

With that in mind, we’ve gone through the available sci-fi films that are currently streaming on Netflix to provide you with a range of movies for a variety of tastes. If you’re looking for something family-friendly to watch with the kids, or something action-packed to share with friends, or something unusual that you’ve never even heard of before, we’ve got you covered. We’ll update this list on the regular, so be sure to check back in as we rotate through the sci-fi films streaming on Netflix now!

We’ll be updating this list on a monthly basis as new titles become available. In the meantime, be sure to visit these other related articles linked below:

Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now | Best Movies on Netflix Right Now | Best Horror Movies on Netflix Right Now | The Best Animated Movies on Netflix Right Now | Best Animated Series on Netflix Right Now | The Best Anime Movies on Netflix Right Now | The Best Anime TV Series on Netflix Right Now | Best Movies on Amazon Prime Right Now | Best TV Shows on Amazon Prime Right Now

Snowpiercer

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Image via The Weinstein Company

Director: Joon-ho Bong

Writers: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson

Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton

Before the TV series by the same name arrives on TBS (of all places) in 2020, you’ll want to check out Snowpiercer on Netflix ASAP. Set in a future where a climate-correction experiment gone wrong has killed all life, the last lucky few members of the human race travel aboard the Snowpiercer, a globetrotting train. However, mankind resorts to the same evils that divided themselves against each other for millennia, leading to a class structure that separates and segregates the travelers all along the length of the train. With conflict among the classes comes the escalation to violence and the discovery of awful, awful truths.

Snowpierecer is damn close to a perfect movie. It perfectly encapsulates many if not all of the evils of society and the primitive forces that drive human beings, even those who claim themselves to be civilized. The cinematography is one-of-a-kind owing to the stretched and linear nature of the train itself, forcing the camera and the audience to watch along as the narrative unspools in a side-scrolling manner. The action unfurls in unique and captivating, if gut-wrenching, ways, all the more powerful because of the social struggles that act as the backdrop. It’s truly remarkable storytelling, top to bottom and tip to tail. Seek it out sooner than later. – Dave Trumbore

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Image via Universal

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writer: Melissa Mathison

Cast: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, C. Thomas Howell, and Robert MacNaughton

Leave it to Steven Spielberg to make two of the most iconic “first contact” movies ever made from two entirely different points of view. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was about a man wishing to leave humanity behind to further investigate alien life, but E.T. is the story of a young boy who befriends a stranded alien, with each teaching the other the power of compassion and empathy. It’s also a brilliant divorce story, as single-parenthood looms large over the entire film’s proceedings. If this movie doesn’t make you cry, something may be wrong with you. – Adam Chitwood

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

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Image via Focus Features

Director: Michel Gondry

Writer: Charlie Kaufman

Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst, and Tom Wilkinson

Quite possibly one of the most impactful “breakup” movies ever made, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind also Charlie Kaufman’s only Oscar-winning screenplay despite nominations for a number of his other brilliant works. Wholly unique, Eternal Sunshine stars Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet as an estranged couple who have opted to have each other erased from their memories, but as Carrey’s character goes though the experience, reliving the memories one by one as they slip away, he begins to have regrets. There’s a wonderful analog approach to how Michel Gondry visualized this sci-fi story, and the performances by Carrey and Winslet remain stunning. Kaufman is truly one of the medium’s most unique and gifted screenwriters—only he could come up with a story this odd yet also so endearing. – Adam Chitwood

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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Image via Sony Pictures

Directors: Bob Perischetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Writers: Phil Lord, Rodney Rothman

Cast: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Zoe Kravitz, John Mulaney, Kimiko Glenn, Nicolas Cage, Kathryn Hahn, Liev Schreiber

“Anyone can wear the mask.” That’s the theme of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Versewhich makes it not just one of the most inspiring superhero movies ever made, but also one of the most important. While the film’s protagonist is Miles Morales, a mixed race high school student living in New York City who gets bit by a spider and gains superpowers, the movie expands the world into a “multi-verse” as various Spider-People from other dimensions come into Miles’ life. Spider-Gwen, Spider-Ham, Spider-Man Noir all have different backgrounds and motivations, but they all rose above adversity to become the hero their world needed. The crux of the film is the relationship between Miles, who’s not yet ready to lead, and an alternate universe Peter Parker, who’s going through a mid-life crisis and reluctantly mentors the young, new Spidey. It’s an endearing, hilarious, and touching the relationship, and the film is packed with themes of friendship, heroism, and family that make it a tremendously positive viewing experience for youngsters. – Adam Chitwood

Okja

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Image via Netflix

Director: Bong Joon Ho

Writers: Bong Joon Ho, Jon Ronson

Cast: Ahn Seo-Hyun, Tilda Swinton, Steven Yeun, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Giancarlo Esposito, Lily Collins

One of the highest-profile movies to hit Netflix but bypass a traditional theatrical rollout was Okja, Bong Joon Ho‘s follow up to 2013’s Snowpiercer. It’s an eviscerating takedown of both the modern agricultural industry and the intertwined science of genetic engineering. The story takes the science to extreme and, at times, ridiculous proportions and makes no attempt to portray beneficial real-world achievements in an equal light. However, the moral of the story is hard to miss: Humans who play God soon lose their very humanity.

Okja follows the title character, a genetically engineered super-animal raised naturally/organically in South Korea by caretaker Mija. Since Okja is the choicest of the bred animals, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation seeks to take back their property and study it exhaustively in order to recoup their investment and improve their stock, both agriculturally and financially. Mija does everything in her power to bring her friend back home, though animal rights activists, hired corporate muscle, and even the media will complicate matters. It’s a tough watch at times, especially for those on the front lines of the fight for animal welfare, but it’s a lesson worth repeating just the same. – Dave Trumbore

Freaks

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Image via Well Go USA

Writers/Directors: Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein

Cast: Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Grace Park, Amanda Crew, Lexy Kolker

I’m going to save one of the major things that wows me about Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s Freaks for the very end of this blurb because I would suggest jumping into this story knowing as little as possible. But, do know that this is one of the best character-driven sci-fi thrillers of 2019. The movie features a show stopping performance from Lexy Kolker as seven-year-old Chloe. She’s spent her entire life completely isolated from the world inside her home with her father, Henry (Emile Hirsch). He’s always told her that the outside world is a dangerous place, but the older Chloe gets, the more tempted she becomes to venture out – and then she finally does. Okay, are you ready for that semi-spoilery detail to further emphasize how wildly impressive this film is? Here it goes; I love a good big budget superhero film as much as anyone, but if you’re looking to see what can be accomplished with a limited budget in the genre, Freaks is an absolute must see. It’s one of those movies that’ll have you leaning in more and more with its early curiosities before absolutely exploding with creativity as Chloe discovers more and more about her reality. – Perri Nemiroff

Total Recall

Image via TriStar Pictures

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Writers: Ronal Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, and Gary Goldman

Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, and Ronny Cox

If you’re in the mood for a great throwback 80s/90s sci-fi actioner, you cannot possibly go wrong with Total Recall. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker who suddenly finds himself thrust into the world of espionage involving a colony on Mars. It’s crazy and weird and funny and thrilling, and Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast. Get your ass to Mars! – Adam Chitwood

Beyond Skyline

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Image via XYZ Films

Writer/Director: Liam O’Donnell

Cast: Frank Grillio, Jonny Weston, Bojana Nvakovich, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Antonio Fargas, Lindsey Morgan, Betty Gabriel

Beyond Skyline is a special kind of WTF. Of all the movies to spawn a franchise, I never would have guessed the much-derided 2010 sci-fi pic Skyline could pull it off, much less that the follow-up film would be such a gleeful, globe-trotting action-packed adventure. A proud, pulpy B-movie featuring aliens that rip the brain right out of your skull, Beyond Skyline stars Frank Grillo as a cop at odds with his son (Jonny Weston) when an alien attack sends them scrambling for their lives. Once the aliens make contact, the film ricochets through settings and characters at a breakneck pace, packing in a paperback book series worth of sci-fi lunacy into a single feature film that travels from subterranean tunnels to the nuclear wasteland of Los Angeles to an alien ship, and all the way to Laos, where Mark teams with rebels to battle the alien threat. You’ve got Frank Grillo playing hero with a baby in one hand and a space-blaster on the other, Antonio Fargas as a Vietnam vet who calls everybody “bitch”, Iko Uwais and Yaya Ruhain beating the shit out of giant aliens, and there’s even an honest-to-god Kaiju battle. Beyond Skyline won’t be for everyone, but if you love a bananas B-movie, the feature debut from writer-director Liam O’Donnell ticks all the right boxes. – Haleigh Foutch

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In the Shadow of the Moon

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Image via Netflix

Writer/Director: Jim Mickle

Jim Mickle‘s sci-fi crime thriller somehow slipped under the radar this year despite being on Netflix and being a generally engrossing, well-executed science fiction tale. Boyd Holbrook stars as a police officer who stumbles into horrendous series of crimes and winds up locked in the cat-and-mouse change that will define decades of his life… and mix him up in some twisted, tragic time-travel saga that could save the future of the country. An obsessive crime drama that mostly keeps it lowkey despite the extreme stakes, In the Shadow of the Moon has an occasional unfortunate habit of thinking it’s more ahead of the audience than it really is, but its still an intriguing, engrossing, and technically well-executed time-travel saga that’s well worth digging into. — Haleigh Foutch

Midnight Special

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director/Writer: Jeff Nichols

Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, and Jaeden Martell

If you’re into grounded, indie sci-fi movies you’ll want to check out Midnight Special. This underrated 2016 film takes place in Texas and follows a father (Michael Shannon) who is forced to go on the run with his son (Jaeden Martell) when it turns out his son has special powers. Chased down by both the government and a cult, the bond between father and son is tested in various ways. Adam Driver plays an NSA communications analyst who has his own vested interest in the boy, and while this sounds like the plot of a superhero movie, Nichols approaches the material in an extremely realistic and grounded manner. It’s a Sundance movie with stunning performances and minimalist visual effects, putting a heavy focus on character over plot twists or giant set pieces. And Shannon gives a deeply soulful turn as the boy’s father. – Adam Chitwood

Back to the Future

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Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writers: Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale

Cast: Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Crispin Glover

Back to the Future is one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, plain and simple. 1985 classic Back to the Future is a lot of things at once: a comedy, a sci-fi movie, a teen movie, a touching family drama. The fact that it works so well on so many different levels is a testament to Robert Zemeckis’ talent as a storyteller,  as is the fact that it still feels relevant to what it’s like to be a teenager 25 years after it was released. The story basically posits what would happen if you went to high school with your parents, as teenager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is sent back in time to prevent a catastrophic event, only to continue running into his parents at their high school. It’s one of the most fun and purely entertaining films ever made. – Adam Chitwood

Cloud Atlas

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Image via Warner Bros.

Directors/Writers: Lana Wachowski, Lily Wachowski, and Tom Tykwer

Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Aarcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant

One of the most ambitious movies of the last decade and, yes, also a little divisive, Cloud Atlas is something that has to be seen to be believed. But fair warning, this movie is not for everyone. This nearly three-hour epic traverses time and space, telling six stories set in different time periods and locations but featuring a similar company of actors. It’s no surprise this film is the brainchild of The Matrix directors Lana and Lily Wachowski, and they directed this wildly ambitious adaptation alongside Tom Tykwer. The result is a sci-fi epic, historical drama, tragic romance, crime thriller, and comedic farce all rolled into one, and with a cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugh Grant, there is always something interesting happening onscreen. It’s a weird movie to be sure, with a structure that’s more in line with a symphony rather than a traditional film, but if you give yourself over to the experience you may just find yourself moved in surprising ways. – Adam Chitwood

Her

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director/Writer: Spike Jonze

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Chris Pratt

Filmmaker Spike Jonze’s 2013 film Her garnered a few snickers when the premise was revealed: A story of a man who falls in love with his operating system. But when folks got a look at the film, they weren’t laughing. Her is one of the best films of the decade—a deeply felt, gorgeous, heartbreaking story of love, loneliness, and what it means to be a human on the planet Earth. Joaquin Phoenix delivers a phenomenal lead performance, and Scarlett Johansson is magnificent in the voice role of Samantha. The cinematography by Hoye van Hoytema is warm and inviting, the score by Arcade Fire is immensely moving. This is a film that’s pretty much perfect from top to bottom, and by the end you my find yourself in a puddle of tears over just how darn beautiful the whole thing is. Do yourself a favor and give Her a shot. – Adam Chitwood

Mute

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Image via Netflix

Director: Duncan Jones

Writer: Michael Robert Johnson

Cast: Paul Rudd, Alexander Skarsgard, and Justin Theroux

Mute is a weird-as-hell movie, but if you’ve ever wanted to see Paul Rudd play a despicable character and knock it out of the park, this is for you. The second in an unofficial trilogy of loosely connected films, Mute follows in the footsteps of Duncan JonesMoon and takes place in the year 2035. Alexander Skarsgard plays a mute bartender named Leo searching for the woman he loves who has mysteriously disappeared. Rudd and Justin Theroux, meanwhile, play pretty deranged surgeons who play a major role in the film. Mute is a gnarly film that doesn’t exactly offer up an optimistic portrait of the future, but if you’re on its wavelength it’s a darkly fun ride. – Adam Chitwood

Jurassic Park

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Image via Universal Pictures

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writers: Michael Crichton and David Koepp

Cast: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, B.D. Wong, Samuel L. Jackson, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, and Wayne Knight

A sci-fi classic that does a tremendous job of making the impossible feel completely real, Jurassic Park is quite simply one of the best films ever made. It’s a story of man’s hubris gone wrong—a tale as old as time, but with dinosaurs. Steven Spielberg’s handle on tone and tension here is masterful, as the film opens by previewing the terror to come before settling the audience into the comfort and wonder of Jurassic Park. Then all hell breaks loose, Laura Dern is a badass, and Jeff Goldblum is unforgettably strange. It’s one of those great films that’s not only perfect, it’s highly rewatchable. So whether it’s your first time or your 50th, you’re guaranteed to enjoy it. – Adam Chitwood

V for Vendetta

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Image via Warner Bros.

Director: James McTeigue

Writers: The Wachowskis

Cast: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, and John Hurt

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, 2005’s V for Vendetta is a delightful anti-fascist screed that, uh, has some pretty direct ties to American politics of the last 15 years or so. It takes place in 2027 UK in a world ravaged by a second civil war in the U.S., with the U.K. now being ruled by a Nordic supremacist and neo-fascist. Natalie Portman plays a young woman who crosses paths with a masked vigilante only known as V (Hugo Weaving) after he hijacks the British broadcasting system and encourages citizens to rise up against their government. It’s pretty striking stuff, with Portman and Weaving playing well off of one another as she essentially takes up an apprenticeship under his wing. The Wachowskis wrote the film in response to the Iraq War and the George W. Bush administration, but it’s as relevant today as it was back in 2005. – Adam Chitwood

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