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The 25 Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Movies Streaming on Netflix [Winter 2021]

The 25 Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Movies Streaming on Netflix [Winter 2021]

To some, science-fiction and fantasy may seem like polar opposites. Technology versus magic, the future versus the past, artificial intelligence versus dragons and mythical beasts. There’s more to these genres than you might realize at first glance, however. Both genres can be used to show parables, or teach lessons about our own modern age. Science-fiction in the 1960s used then-modern ideas and looked to combat racism and other discrimination; fantasy, meanwhile, has recently done the same, looking to create worlds where our own problems can be diminished or dealt with. The two genres also have plenty of crossover appeal, often mixing and stirring genres in a way that some fans may not even realize. Star Wars, for example, is  as much a fantasy series as it is a science-fiction series, using the setting of space but the tropes of fantasy films to combine the two genres into one.

Whether you’re looking for a brand-new fantasy adventure in the land of dungeons and dragons, a comic book-esque tale of heroes and villains, or a slow-paced, deep-thinking sci-fi parable, we’ve got twenty-five examples of the best science-fiction and fantasy movies on Netflix for winter 2021.

Okja

Okja

By Bong Joon Ho

star 7.3/10

by IMDb Rating

Okja is another Netflix-exclusive film, and the second English-language film made by Bong Joon-ho, the director of South Korean films The HostMother (neither of which should be confused with the American films of the same name), and Snowpiercer. Like SnowpiercerOkja is an action-adventure film that uses its plot as a major metaphor for a real-life lesson, this time concerning factory-farming and the concept of environmentalism. The film may not be subtle with its messaging, but that doesn’t stop it from being an excellent, spellbinding, and infinitely sad tale. The main character is played here by South Korean actress Ahn Seo-hyun, but don’t think you won’t see some recognizable faces. Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, and Jake Gyllenhaal all turn up here among their South Korean counterparts.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

By Edgar Wright

star 7.5/10

by IMDb Rating
Jupiter Ascending

Jupiter Ascending

By

star 5.3/10

by IMDb Rating

The Wachowskis are no strangers to abstract, odd films, but even by their standards, Jupiter Ascending is a crazy film. Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis) was born under signs that predicted future greatness, but her reality as a woman consists of cleaning other people’s houses and endless bad breaks. Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered hunter, arrives on Earth to locate her, making Jupiter finally aware of the great destiny that awaits her: Jupiter’s genetic signature marks her as the next in line for an extraordinary inheritance that could alter the balance of the cosmos. Though the film received negative reviews and was a bomb at the box office, female sci-fi fans have developed a cult following around the movie.

Snowpiercer

Snowpiercer

By Graeme Manson

star 6.9/10

by IMDb Rating
Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider

By Mark Steven Johnson

star 5.2/10

by IMDb Rating

No one’s going to proclaim Ghost Rider to be one of the best superhero movies ever made, but with Nicolas Cage in the center of the production and a thrilling turn from Peter Fonda as Mephistopheles. Cage stars as Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stuntman who sold his soul to the devil to save his father from cancer. Cursed to roam the night as the fiery Ghost Rider, Johnny can walk between both the mortal world and hell itself. Tasked with destroying Blackheart (Wes Bentley), a demon looking to overthrow Mephistopheles in order to rebuild hell in his image, Johnny has to fight against both Blackheart and the Devil himself if he has a chance of regaining a normal life.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

By

star 8.2/10

by IMDb Rating
Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth

By Guillermo del Toro

star 8.2/10

by IMDb Rating
A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story

By David Lowery

star 6.8/10

by IMDb Rating
Directed by filmmaker David Lowery (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Pete’s Dragon), A Ghost Story is one of the saddest indie films of 2017. When a musician (Casey Affleck) passes away after being involved in a car accident, he becomes a ghost, returning to his suburban home. Unable to communicate with her in his spectral state, the ghost finds he has become unstuck in time, forced to watch passively as both the woman he loved and the life he knew slips away. As he finds himself floating aimlessly through time, connected only to the location of his house, the ghost watches as others leave their mark on the house he once called home.
About Time

About Time

By Richard Curtis

star 7.8/10

by IMDb Rating

Directed and written by Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral), About Time is a romantic-comedy tinged with science-fiction elements, weaving together a charming story that delivers a great love story and a father/son tale. When Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) is 21, his father (Bill Nighy) tells him a secret: The men in their family can travel through time. Although he can’t change history, Tim resolves to improve his life by getting a girlfriend. He meets Mary (Rachel McAdams), falls in love and finally wins her heart via time-travel and a little cunning. However, as his unusual life progresses, Tim finds that his special ability can’t shield him and those he loves from the problems of ordinary life.

Mad Max

Mad Max

By George Miller

star 6.8/10

by IMDb Rating

George Miller was as unlikely as anyone to become a major Hollywood director. Despite attending medical school to become a doctor, he took up an interest with film early on, crafting his early student film Violence in Cinema: Part I in 1971. It wasn’t until 1979 that Miller would release his first feature-length film, Mad Max. Shot in Miller’s home country of Australia and starring then-unknown Mel Gibson, Mad Max is a much smaller film than those who’ve only seen Max’s later adventures may assume. Set in a dystopian future without oil, Max, a Main Force Patrol officer, finds himself plunged into the world of vengence when his wife and son are hunted down and murdered by a local biking gang.

Stardust

Stardust

By Matthew Vaughn

star 7.6/10

by IMDb Rating

Before Matthew Vaughn won the hearts of comic book fans everywhere with his adaptations of Kickass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsmen, he directed this 2007 fantasy adventure film Stardust. Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, Vaughn established a full ensemble cast for his film, including Sienna Miller, Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong, Ricky Gervais, and Robert De Niro. When a young man named Tristan ventures into a realm of fairies to retrieve a fallen star in order to win the heart of his beloved Victoria, he finds himself caught up in a quest for power. Tristan discovers a woman named Yvaine, whose powers the king’s sons seek to secure the throne, all while an evil witch wants to use her power to enhance her youth and beauty.

Hardcore Henry

Hardcore Henry

By Ilya Naishuller

star 6.7/10

by IMDb Rating

To understand Hardcore Henry, you’re best off watching the trailer. The film is shot in first-person, and if the trailer alone is enough to make you motion-sick, you might want to steer clear. If you can make it through, Hardcore Henry, is a fascinating, flawed experiment in filmmaking. Taking inspiration from parkour and video games, Hardcore Henry follows the titular protagonist, a silent man who awakens in a Russian laboratory without memories of his past. Before he can learn about his new abilities, the lab is stormed by an armed militia. Determined to rescue the woman who claimed to be his wife, Henry sets off through Russia, fighting thugs along the way.

Total Recall

Total Recall

By

star 5.4/10

by IMDb Rating

From director Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop, Basic Instinct, Showgirls), Total Recall is one of those near-perfect science-fiction action films that simply doesn’t exist anymore. The film follows Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a bored construction worker in the year 2084 who dreams of visiting the colonized Mars. He visits “Rekall,” a company that plants false memories into people’s brains, in order to experience the thrill of Mars without having to travel there. But something goes wrong during the procedure; Quaid discovers that his entire life is actually a false memory and that the people who implanted it in his head now want him dead.

Midnight Special

Midnight Special

By Jeff Nichols

star 6.6/10

by IMDb Rating

Director Jeff Nichols is no stranger to critical acclaim, with both Take Shelter and Mud being placed on numerous best-of lists during their year of release. The filmmaker managed to get two of his films released in 2016, and while Loving is a quiet bio-drama about race relations in the 1960s, Midnight Special is the sci-fi film that earns its spot on our list. Reunited with Michael Shannon (Take Shelter), Midnight Special tells the story of a man and his son (Jaeden Lieberher) who head out on the run from both religious extremists and the government, after the boy demonstrates his ability to hold supernatural powers.

A Clockwork Orange

A Clockwork Orange

By Stanley Kubrick

star 8.3/10

by IMDb Rating
The Spiderwick Chronicles

The Spiderwick Chronicles

By Mark Waters

star 6.5/10

by IMDb Rating
Inception

Inception

By Christopher Nolan

star 8.8/10

by IMDb Rating
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

By

star 6.9/10

by IMDb Rating
Hugo

Hugo

By Martin Scorsese

star 7.5/10

by IMDb Rating
The Endless

The Endless

By

star 6.5/10

by IMDb Rating

The Endless is far from an easy watch, but that hasn’t stopped critics from praising the film as one of the best indie sci-fi horror films of the last decade. When brothers Justin and Aaron receive a video cassette in the mail from Camp Arcadia, they’re forced to reckon with a haunted past that each of them remembers differently. While Aaron remembers his time in Camp Arcadia as a harmless commune, Justin swears that the group was a UFO death cult, from which they’d barely escaped a decade earlier. Drawn back to the cult, the two brothers are faced with unexplainable horrors that threaten to tear them apart forever.

Zathura

Zathura

By Jon Favreau

star 6.2/10

by IMDb Rating

At first glance, Zathura might sound like a Jumanji rip-off, only set in space. Two kids get sucked into a board game and find themselves in over their heads? Right out of Jumanji. And of course, you’d be right, but only if you aren’t familiar with the original books the films are based from. Jumanji author Chris Van Allsburg wrote Zathura as a sequel to Jumanji, and although Zathura‘s film adaptation stands on its own, it’s still a fascinating adventure for any fans of the jungle classic. This adaptation stars a young Josh Hutcherson, alongside Dax Shepard and Kristen Stewart.

We Can Be Heroes

We Can Be Heroes

By Robert Rodriguez

star 4.7/10

by IMDb Rating
Real Steel

Real Steel

By Shawn Levy

star 7.0/10

by IMDb Rating

Real Steel might not be an official Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots film, but it’s undoubtedly what comes to mind in this sci-fi boxing film. Based on a 1950s short story—which had previously been adapted as a Twilight Zone episode—Real Steel follows Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), a former boxer who lost his chance at a title when the field shifted towards boxing robots. Charlie works as a small-time promotor for the reimagined sport, scraping by as best he can. When he’s approached by his estranged son Max, the two work together to build and train a championship robot for one last shot at winning a title fight. Despite its goofy premise, the film received solid reviews from critics and was a major box office hit.

See You Yesterday

See You Yesterday

By Shawn Levy

star 7.0/10

by IMDb Rating

Netflix’s trips into original sci-fi have been pretty mixed, but See You Yesterday escapes the trend with a thrilling coming-of-age story mixed with a social message—the sign of a great sci-fi tale. The film follows C.J. Walker, a teenage science prodigy who spends her time working on her latest invention with her best friend Sebastian: backpacks that allow for time travel. When the invention finally works, they’ll be put to the test when tragedy strikes. C.J.’s brother is shot by a police officer, pushing the duo to alter the past without destroying the future. Michael J. Fox has a cameo appearance in his final film role before retirement.

The End of Evangelion

The End of Evangelion

By Stefon Bristol

star 5.2/10

by IMDb Rating

Neon Genesis Evangelion is often called one of the best anime to ever air, period. With just 26 episodes, the series was able to weave a story that worked on both a literal and allegorical level, combining giant mecha battles with themes of Christianity, depression, and existentialism. The ending of the series is famously controversial, and the aptly-named The End of Evangelion film works as a parallel ending, designed to be watched following the original series (also streaming on Netflix). Picking up  where the 24th episode ended, the film follows Shinji Ikari, the pilot of Evangelion Unit 01, as he defends against the Angels in a final stand.

William Sattelberg

Feb 3, 2021

201 Articles Published

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