40 Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy Movies Streaming on Netflix – January 2017
Hey, all you Sci-Fi fans. If you’re looking for some great sci-fi flicks, you can find lots of favorites on Netflix. We maintain a list that is updated every month with all of our favorite Netflix movies or what we think to be 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 40 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. 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 film.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a blend of science fiction, romance, psychological thriller and comedy. It won the Academy Award for best screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Kate Winslet was nominated for best actress. It tells the love story between shy, soft-spoken Joel (Jim Carrey) and extrovert Clementine (Kate Winslet). When Joel learns that Clementine has had her memories erased after their painful breakup, he decides to do the same, but changes his mind, too late.
This French Silent Film is probably the earliest film made in the Sci-fi genre. Georges Melies plays Professor Barbenfoullis, one of a group of astronomers who builds a capsule and makes a trip to the Moon, landing in the moon’s eye. There they meet Sellenites and other interesting characters. It is the most famous of over 500 films made this pioneering auteur.
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 it is centuries behind ours and stuck in the middle ages. The main character assumes the identity of Don Rumata and sets up residence with the intention of infiltrating the society and helping them to advance. It’s gory, grotesque and grim, but if you can stomach it, it’s also great.
Made in 1927, the original film was one of the first science fiction features ever made. The first release was 153 minutes long. It was criticized for its long length and the perception of a Communist message, and was cut to 118 minutes. Over the years, many restorations were attempted, but the original film was lost until 2008, when a damaged copy of it was found in an Argentinian museum.
Metropolis tells a love story that takes place in a dystopian future between Freder, the rich son of the ruler of the city, and Maria, a poor worker who meets him when she tries to show the children how the rich people in the city live. Together, they attempt to bridge the divide between classes, but Freder is tricked into believing that a robot of Maria is really her, and watches her burned before discovering she was a fake.
One of the most interesting remakes was set to a 1980s soundtrack by Giorgio Moroder, a music producer, in 1984. It featured a soundtrack by rock artists Freddy Mercury, Adam Ant and others. Finally, in 2010, the original was 95% restored and is now available on Netflix.
Re-Animator is a Sci-Fi/Horror Film based on the novella by H. P. Lovecraft and is considered a cult classic. The film employs an effective mix of humor and gory horror, initially earning the film an X rating, after which it was edited to its current R rating. Scientist Herbert Weiss has discovered a fluid that brings dead tissue back to life. He persuades a fellow student and his fiancé to join him in his experiments by bringing back the student’s dead cat.
The Avengers are divided when the government decides to regulate superheroes, and Captain America and Ironman are on different sides of the argument. War rages between the two Avengers Teams while a new villain emerges.
This Post-Apocalypse/Action-Adventure/Sci-Fi/Comedy follows the adventures of The Kid in an alternate 1997 world called “The Wasteland.” He teams up with an arm-wrestling cowboy and a mysterious girl, Apple, to defeat the sadistic overlord, Zeus.
A hilarious blend of comedy and science fiction. 20 years after a popular science fiction TV show goes off the air, some real aliens confuse the show with historical records, and kidnap the crew at a fan convention. Now the crew has to help the aliens fight a real war against a deadly adversary. The ship the aliens have recreated for them works just like the one from the TV show, so the actors know what to do, as they get ready to deliver the performances of their lives.
Originally written as a screenplay, the novel was published in 1985 after production stalled, and plans for the film were resurrected in 1989. Jodie Foster plays Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) scientist who discovers evidence of extraterrestrial life and is chosen to make the first contact.
In an experiment-gone-awry, a scientist switches heads and right arms with a fly. At first, he retains his human consciousness, gradually losing himself as the fly takes over. Unable to live with what he's done, he asks his wife to crush his head and right arm. When she is accused of murder, no one believes her until incontrovertible evidence is discovered.
This movie blends several genres, including Drama, Action/Adventure, Science Fiction and Fantasy to deliver an exciting adventure. Tristan lives in the Village of Wall, aptly named for the wall that separates the cozy, safe village from the magical and dangerous world beyond. He wants to win the heart of the prettiest girl in the village, Yvaine. When they see a shooting star, Tristan promises he’ll fetch it for Yvaine to prove his love. Once he finds the star, however, it turns out to be a beautiful, magical young woman who was injured in the fall. She has many secrets and powers that make her valuable, and place her in mortal danger as she is pursued by the King’s sons, a trio of witches, Captain Shakespeare and others.
Robinson Crusoe on Mars is the science fiction version of the novel Robinson Crusoe written in 1719 by Daniel Defoe. Commander Christopher “Kit” Draper (Paul Mantee) and Colonel Dan McReady (Adam West) head for Mars, but they are forced to use up their remaining fuel to avoid colliding with a large meteor. They have no choice but to land in their one-man lifeboat pods. Draper lands safely and finds a cave in which he takes shelter, somehow able to acquire what he needs to survive. He makes excursions from the cave, and comes across the dead body of McReady. He also finds Mona, their monkey, who leads him to another cave and a pool of water in which edible plant sausages grow. The loneliness wears on him, and Draper gradually loses his grip on reality. He watches his out-of-fuel spaceship orbit overhead, and imagines he sees McReady. When he finds what he believes is a murdered alien, he sets his ship to self-destruct so it won’t call attention to his presence if their are enemies here. When a spaceship lands, he hopes it is a rescue ship sent from Earth, but discovers it’s aliens with what appear to be human slaves. One of the slaves escapes and becomes Crusoe’s “Friday.”
This Dark Fantasy Martial Arts Film was a commercial failure that has since become a cult classic. A 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 is the macho truck driver who agreed to pick her up for his friend, when she is kidnapped from under his nose.
When Kris is kidnapped by a thief who injects her with larva and hypnotizes her in order to steal everything she owns, 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. Once the pigs and orchids become involved, it really gets interesting.
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 ensure her living with chronic pain and needing a shot every two hours to breathe.
This is a long, complicated and extremely ambitious Arthouse/Sci-Fi Drama that takes on the idea that every time we make a decision, we make the opposite decision in an alternate world, and 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 118th 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 each of them, 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.
This film is a loosely based adaptation of the 1820 story by Washington Irving. Ichabod Crane (Depp) is a New York City police constable sent to investigate a series of murders by the Headless Horseman. According to local lore, the Horseman was a mercenary from the American Revolutionary War who rides a black steed in search of his missing head. Of course, Crane doesn’t believe the myth until he comes face to face with the Horseman. The son of one of the victims takes Crane to the cave where a local witch resides, and she points him to the Tree of the Dead, which happens to be the location of the Horseman’s grave. Crane discovers the Horseman’s head has been removed from the grave. While courting Katrina Van Tassell (Christina Ricci), he forms a conspiracy theory, concluding that whoever took the head must be responsible for the murders.
The combination of Burton’s special effects, an excellent performance by Johnny Depp and gorgeous cinematography elevate this film from good to exceptional.
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 and uncontrollable crying, 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. An epidemiologist, Susan (Eva Green), falls in love with Michael (Ewan McGregor), a chef, and they turn to each other to help them cope with the mounting loss of their senses.
Spectral was set for theatrical release in the fall of 2016, but was pulled by the gunshy producers and released by Netflix. It’s an enjoyable, supernatural fantasy war film that at times lapses into what feels like a first-person-shooter video game. The movie has 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. Mark Clyne, a DARPA engineer, is called in to consult, and walks into what seems to be a near-deserted city. In the end, the narrative is light on character and depends too much on wordy explanations, while ultimately relying on standard “Hollywood Science” dependent on flipping the right switch at the right time.
A team of six astronauts embarks on a multi-year mission to investigate a moon of Jupiter called Europa, which is suspected of being able to sustain life. This indie uses the found-footage technique effectively and holds the viewer’s attention through alternating narrative threads while staying true to the rules of the found-footage format.
This Arthouse & International Sci-Fi Drama/Psychological Thriller by Lars von Trier is considered a masterpiece among many film scholars and critics. Justine (Kirsten Dunst) is a bride, hiding her depression from her new husband, Michael (Alexander Skarsgard), at her sister Claire’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) urging. At the same time, the planet Melancholia is on a collision-course with Earth.
A low-budget, indie drama about the accidental discovery of time travel. Shane Carruth wrote, directed, produced and starred in the film, choosing not to dumb it down for the audience, since he is a former engineer with a degree in Mathematics. The result is a cerebrally challenging film in which two friends, Abe and Aaron, make trips back and forth six hours into the past, which begins to get very complicated as there are more than one of each in different time levels.
The Road is a Post-Apocalypse Drama starring Viggo Mortensen of Lord of the Rings fame. A man and his son are abandoned by the boy’s mother 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 Smit-McPhee brighten the otherwise bleak world of the film.
This film was a box office flop that attracted cult following once it was released on VHS. It marks the first film appearances of both Ethan Hawke and River Phoenix, and tells the story of three young teenagers who build a spaceship after one of them dreams the schematics.
Barbarella is tasked by the President of Earth to locate the scientist, Durand Durand, who has invented a weapon that might prove lethal to the human race if it fell into the wrong hands. Her quest entails interplanetary travel, trading sex for assistance and falling into peril.
This Horror/Action film is the second of three and widely considered the best of the series. Blade, the main character played by Wesley Snipes and based on the Marvel Comic, is a human-vampire hybrid who engages in a fierce battle with a powerful mutant vampire who plans to wipe out the human race and create a new vampire super-race using The Reaper virus.
A 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, forcing them into a race against time to break the loop and escape with the technology intact.
Based on the beloved 1993 novel by Lois Lowry. The Receiver of Memory is the only person who knows about the past in this dystopian society. Jonas, at 16, is appointed the new Receiver of Memory, which is a great honor, but also a great mystery. The old Receiver becomes the Giver, as it is his responsibility to pass his memories onto Jonas in the right amount so that he can absorb them and contain all the pain they hold within himself. Jonas soon learns about Rosemary, the girl who was supposed to become Receiver of Memory 10 years ago, but couldn’t handle the job. Instead, she asked to be “released,” which as Jonas learns, is actually death by lethal injection. While going through the process of training by the old Receiver, Jonas develops a close relationship with Gabriel, a sick child their family is taking care of temporarily. When Gabriel is scared or upset, Jonas shares his happy memories to soothe the child. When Gabriel is deemed unfit, and scheduled to be released, Jonas knows that means they will kill the child. Instead of letting that happen, he teams up with the Receiver of Memories and they make a plan to save Gabriel while releasing the memories back to the people.
The impoverished residents of an East Village tenement are threatened with eviction by an evil real estate developer, when a group of alien fix-its show up and help them battle the developers.
Blue-collar deep-core oil drillers are sent by NASA to stop a gigantic asteroid on a collision course with Earth. 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 under 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, was the highest grossing film of 1998, despite negative reviews. If you are able to suspend your disbelief at the silliness of the setup and the obvious Hollywood tropes employed, it’s a fun ride.
Travis Freeman is a local football star and high school junior from Corbin, Kentucky. An unexpected bacterial meningitis infection is discovered after severe headaches, and Travis is rushed to the hospital for surgery to remove the infection, leaving him blind. His cheerleader girlfriend dumps him, and Travis is faced with a decision to go to a special school for the blind or stay in Corbin. With a lot of help from his friends, he stays in Corbin and is eventually able to rejoin the football team and help them advance to the state playoffs. Based on a true story.
Star Trek: Nemesis is the tenth film in the Star Trek franchise and the fourth and last to star the cast of the spin-off series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Upon release, it was both a box office and critical disappointment. En route to the honeymoon of Riker and Deanna Troi, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise discovers scattered parts of B4, an earlier version of Data. Shinzon has been appointed as new Romulan leader, and Captain Picard is sent there to negotiate for the Federation.
This action/Horror/Science Fiction film is the first in a series that tells the history of the ongoing war between vampires and lycans (short for lycanthrope, or werewolves).
Kate Beckinsale plays Selene, a vampire Death Dealer hunting lycans. She falls for a human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) who is being targeted by the lycans. Once he is bitten by a lycan, she has to decide whether to do her duty and kill him or to protect him from her species.
Extensive mythology and stylish Gothic visuals were some of the more positive aspects, although the film received generally negative reviews.
The sequel continues the war between the vampires and lycans, in a convoluted story that was panned even worse than the original. However, Kate Beckinsale is stunning and fans of the franchise won’t be disappointed.
Based on the series of Young Adult Fantasy Novels by bestselling writer James Patterson, the central character of Maximum Ride is Max, who can fly. Otherwise, she and her family of orphans, who also fly, are just normal kids until Angel, the youngest, is kidnapped.
In this anime film, it’s either “far in the future or perhaps in the distant past.” 500 Billion humans have been exiled from Earth. Now the planet is in the hands of the Gaia Coalition and has become the most valuable resource in the galaxy. Captain Harlock, immortal, is locked in perpetual battle against the coalition. He and his crew aboard 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, David and Ryan, search for the breakthrough that leads to fame and fortune. When a third, female 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 to implant thoughts in people’s brains. While Ryan joins with the agency, David takes off for Cambodia, where he studies under a monk to develop mental powers to keep the technology from being weaponized.
V for Vendetta is a dystopian political thriller written by the Wachowskis of The Matrix fame. It’s based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore. Hugo Weaving plays V, the anarchist freedom fighter against the neo-fascist regime. In this alternate Britain, a corrupt and abusive totalitarian regime is imprisoning people in concentration camps and running England with a secret police. Evey (Natalie Portman) is the working class woman who gets caught up in the mission.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley as a couple who finds each other after the world learns that it is ending in three days. The film explores the different ways people react to their upcoming deaths. Some people take drugs and party endlessly, some fall apart, while Dodge (Steve Carell) goes about his business as usual. When he notices his neighbor, Penny (Keira Knightley) crying because she broke up with her boyfriend for making her miss her last opportunity to see her family in England, he tells her he knows a way to get her there. They take a road trip that turns romantic.