Hey, all you sci-fi fans. If you’re looking for some great flicks that take you to another world, you can find lots of favorites on Netflix. We also maintain a list that is updated every month with all of our favorite Netflix movies, and what we think are the best shows on Netflix right now.
Whether you’re looking to re-watch an old classic or have your world rocked by a new Hollywood blockbuster, here’s a list of the top science fiction films streaming on Netflix now:
This charming short film stole critics' hearts and swept the film festivals, winning too many awards to list. It's the bittersweet, melancholy story of a four-year-old earthling, Emily Prime, who is contacted by her third-generation clone from far in the future, also named Emily. If you’ve got a spare quarter of an hour, you’ll be glad you watched this.
No, it's not a medical drama. Doctor Strange is the Marvel universe's wizard superhero, who got his own movie as a prelude to his (presumably, eventually) joining up with the Avengers. The plot looks a lot like Iron Man, but instead of piloting a robot suit and shooting missiles our hero (Benedict Cumberbatch) bends the fabric of reality in fabulously trippy ways.
This Russian sci-fi film was adapted from the novel of the same name by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. It tells the story of a team of 30 scientists who travel to another planet identical to Earth, except that it is centuries behind ours and stuck in the middle ages. The main character assumes sets up residence with the intention of infiltrating the society and helping them to advance. It’s a gory, grotesque and grim story, but if you can stomach it, it’s also great.
Made in 1927, Metropolis is one of the first science fiction features ever made. It was an incredibly ambitious special effects project at the time. Metropolis tells a love story set in a dystopian future, where dramatic class divisions keep the rich in walled gardens in the sky and the poor in a ground-level industrial slum. Mad scientists, robot impostors, and trippy industrial imagery make this a sci-fi journey to remember. It was criticized at the time for its long length and perceived Communist message, and was cut down by 40 minutes. Over the years, many restorations were attempted, but the original film was lost until 2008, when a damaged copy was found in an Argentinian museum.
This is one of the most recent Marvel superhero teamup movies. It brings in most of the heroes featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far, and introduces a few new ones, too: specifically Spider-Man and the Black Panther. The Avengers are divided when the government decides to regulate superheroes, and Captain America and Iron Man end up on different sides of the argument. It mostly serves as an excuse for what Marvel is best at: a spectacular battle royale between their most colorful characters.
This post-apocalypse action-adventure sci-fi comedy is a weird blend of adult sensibilities with nostalgia for 80s kids' adventure movies. The plot follows the adventures of The Kid in an alternate 1997 world called “The Wasteland.” There he teams up with an arm-wrestling cowboy and a mysterious girl named Apple, to defeat a sadistic overlord named Zeus.
At the end of the 19th century, two stage magicians (Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale) fall into a cycle of rivalry and revenge. As they try to uncover each others' secrets to outdo and destroy one another, their tricks push the boundaries of what's possible. Their search for new illusions brings them to the lab of Nikola Tesla (David Bowie), who warns, "You're familiar with the phrase, 'Man's reach exceeds his grasp?' It's a lie. Man's grasp exceeds his nerve."
This classic mad scientist story stars Vincent Price, David Hedison, and Patricia Owens. In an experiment-gone-awry, a scientist working on a teleportation device manages to transform himself into a monster, combining his body with the body of a fly. At first he retains his human consciousness, but he gradually loses himself as the fly takes over. His wife, who tried futilely to save him, tells the story in flashback.
In this comic book adaptation, Hellboy is a demon from another dimension, accidentally summoned by Nazis but raised by a kindly scientist. Now he keeps the world safe as part of the secret Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, fighting monsters alongside his pyrokinetic girlfriend and a psychic aquatic humanoid named Abe Sapien. It's a pretty wild ride, all in the lush visual style of director Guillermo del Toro.
This silly fantasy martial arts film was a commercial failure but has since become a cult classic. A mysterious green-eyed Asian woman arriving from China is abducted by the ghost of a 3,000-year-old warlord who needs her to break a curse. Kurt Russell plays the macho truck driver who agreed to pick her up for his friend, and ends up following her into a weird world underneath San Francisco to rescue her.
Kris is kidnapped by a thief who hypnotizes her in order to steal everything she owns, and then injects her with a strange larva. She wakes up with no memory of what happened, but a year later meets a man who, unbeknownst to either of them, has been through the same experience. Is this really their story, or is it about the parasite they both share? Once the pigs and orchids become involved, it really gets interesting.
In the near future, Gwen is a spokesperson for the Center for Advanced Health and Living, where she sells cosmetic procedures. Unfortunately, she is earning little and desperate to ensure her daughter, Jules’ happiness. She agrees to an experimental body-swapping procedure to make her look younger and more racially ambiguous, even though the procedure will cause her chronic pain and require her to get a shot every two hours to breathe. The story that unfolds is thoughtful, unnerving, and maybe too realistic.
This is a long, complicated and extremely ambitious arthouse sci-fi drama. It takes on the idea that every time we make a decision, we make the opposite decision in an alternate world, so that there are infinite dimensions of lives playing out in infinite ways. Jared Leto is terrific as Nemo (which means “Nobody” in Latin) at age 35 and also on his 118 birthday. Since he’s the oldest human left alive in a world of immortals, he is being interviewed and narrates the story as it unfolds to the reporter. He shares three different versions of his lives in which he loves a different woman and has different houses and kids. The movie boasts excellent performances, beautiful cinematography with repeating imagery, and a compelling roller coaster of an adventure.
A global epidemic causes the human race to lose their senses, one by one. Each time, the loss of a sense is predicated by a tidal wave of emotions--a specific and different one each time. First, there is a wave of sadness, followed by the loss of the sense of smell. Each time a sense is taken away, the human race adjusts and continues their lives, albeit with a sense of great loss. During all this an epidemiologist (Eva Green) falls in love with a chef (Ewan McGregor), and they turn to each other to cope with the mounting loss of their senses.
Spectral was set for theatrical release in the fall of 2016, but was pulled by gunshy producers and released by Netflix. It’s an enjoyable, supernatural fantasy war film that lapses at times into what feels like a first-person-shooter video game. It manages a gritty, realistic, urban feel reminiscent of Black Hawk Down. In the story, a special-forces soldier comes across a ghostlike figure in the ruins of a Moldovan city. A DARPA engineer, is called in to consult, and walks into what looks like a near-deserted city to help the army find its invisible enemy.
A team of six astronauts embarks on a multi-year mission to investigate Jupiter's moon Europa, which is suspected of being able to sustain life. (In real life, scientists still think Europa might harbor life.) This movie uses the found-footage technique effectively and holds the viewer’s attention through alternating narrative threads while staying true to the rules of the format.
In this classic from Steven Spielberg, a visiting alien is stranded on Earth, and a young boy named Elliot takes him in. They have adventures as Elliot tries to keep his strange guest a secret. Ultimately it's up to Elliot to help "E.T." contact his own kind and get off Earth before government scientists who want to experiment on him get hold of him.
Primer is a low-budget indie drama about the accidental discovery of time travel. Shane Carruth wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film. As a former engineer with a degree in mathematics, he also chose not to dumb it down much for the audience. The result is a cerebrally challenging film where two friends, Abe and Aaron, make trips back and forth between the present and six hours into the past. It begins to get very complicated as there are more than one of each of them in different times.
The Road is a post-apocalyptic drama starring Viggo Mortensen of Lord of the Rings fame. It's based on the novel by the same name by the brilliant Cormac McCarthy (who also wrote No Country for Old Men). After some sort of catastrophe fills the sky with ash, a man and his son are abandoned in the wilderness and set out for the coast, hoping it will be warmer there. They have many adventures along the journey as they struggle to survive. Fantastic performances by Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee brighten the otherwise bleak world of the film.
The found-footage fantasy Trollhunter exists in a world somewhere between The Blair Witch Project and This is Spinal Tap: sometimes scary, sometimes archly funny, and usually ridiculous. A trio of Norwegian film students set out to record an exposé about bear poaching, but instead they find out that Norway is home to legendary, dangerous creatures.
In this Netflix Original, a young couple protecting a revolutionary new energy source are caught in a time loop, where they relive a violent home invasion on repeat. The movie becomes a race against time to break the loop and escape with the technology intact.
Based on the beloved 1993 novel by Lois Lowry, The Giver follows a boy named Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) through a futuristic dystopia where only one person is allowed to know about the past: The Receiver of Memory. At age 16, Jonas is appointed the new Receiver of Memory. The old Receiver of Memory (Jeff Bridges) tries to give him the knowledge he needs. But seeing his society and its evils from the outside for the first time, Jonas is faced with a choice.
The impoverished residents of an East Village tenement are threatened with eviction by an evil real estate developer, when a group of tiny alien fix-its show up and help them battle the developers. The aliens, which seem to be tiny flying saucers, are the real stars of the movie. Steven Spielberg executive produced this family sci-fi movie, which happens to be the screenwriting debut of Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille).
NASA discovers that a number of meteors and debris were released from the asteroid belt, including one that is roughly the size of Texas and scheduled to hit the Earth in 18 days. If the asteroid collision happens, the human race will become extinct, so NASA scientists hire the oil riggers, led by Harry Stemper (Bruce Willis), to drill 800 feet into the asteroid and blow it up with a thermonuclear detonation. Armageddon was an international box office success, and the highest grossing film of 1998, despite negative reviews. If you can suspend your disbelief at the silliness of the setup and the obvious Hollywood tropes, it’s a fun ride.
Based on the series of Young Adult Fantasy Novels by bestselling writer James Patterson, Maximum Ride shows the adventures of a group of superpowered orphans. Despite being able to fly, they all try to live as normal children until Angel, the youngest, is kidnapped by another superpowered group called the Erasers.
This computer-animated movie is based on a popular manga and anime series, set either “far in the future or perhaps in the distant past.” After 500 billion humans have been exiled from Earth, the planet is in the hands of the Gaia Coalition and has become the most valuable resource in the galaxy. The immortal Captain Harlock is locked in perpetual battle against the coalition. He and his crew of the Arcadia Battleship are the only hope for humankind.
Listening is an independent film about two broke grad students who invent mind-reading technology. Working together in a garage full of borrowed scientific equipment, the two best friends search for the breakthrough that leads to fame and fortune. When a third student gets involved, she provides the inspiration that leads to success—and serious complications. Enter the secret government agency that intends to weaponize the technology to not only read minds, but implant thoughts in people’s brains.
V for Vendetta is a dystopian political thriller directed by the Wachowskis of The Matrix fame, and based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore. Hugo Weaving plays V, an anarchist freedom fighter against the neo-fascist regime that controls an alternate Britain. As a totalitarian regime is imprisoning people in concentration camps and running England with secret police, a regular woman (Natalie Portman) gets caught up in V's mission. But V is a complicated figure, who might just be as sinister as the government he fights against.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World explores the different ways people react to their upcoming deaths, when they learn the Earth will be destroyed in three days. Some people take drugs and party endlessly, some fall apart, while Dodge (Steve Carell) fixates on reuniting with his highschool sweetheart. When he notices his neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley) crying because she broke up with her boyfriend for making her miss her last chance to see her family in England, he tells her he knows a way to get her there. They take a road trip to try to find what both of them are looking for before the world ends.
Arguably the most influential science fiction film ever made, The Day the Earth Stood Still explores how Earth in 1951 would react to a visitor from another planet. Do they mean us harm? Can they be sure that we don't mean them harm? Even in the face of mysterious aliens, humanity is its own greatest enemy.