The constantly refreshed Netflix library offers plenty of incredible movies to choose from and it caters to all different kinds of movie fans. That includes the ever-popular sci-fi genre. Cyberpunk, steampunk, space opera, superheroes, science fantasy, dystopian, utopian, time travel — all science fiction genre’s greatest hits are represented on Netflix.
As with horror films on Netflix, however, there are plenty of duds out there that aren’t worth your viewing time. To help you choose the perfect celluloid escape to other worlds and dimensions, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best sci-fi movies on Netflix that are streaming right now.
Best sci-fi movies on Netflix:
Editor’s note: We will update this post as more great Netflix sci-fi movies are added to the service’s catalog and others are removed.
Inception was released ten years ago, but this Christopher Nolan film still ranks amongst the best sci-fi movies to date. Starring top-notch actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, Inception experiments with the concepts of dreams and reality in a mind-bending narrative.
DiCaprio and Levitt deal in corporate espionage by infiltrating the subconscious of their targets using experimental military technology. They enter dream worlds and steal valuable information for money. However, the actual plot kicks in when they’re tasked with incepting a new idea into someone’s brain, a challenge that will ultimately blur the lines between their own dreams and reality.
Sam Rockwell is at his best in Moon, a hard-core sci-fi mystery about a lonesome astronaut who single-handedly runs a facility to mine alternative fuel on the Moon. The Earth is suffering from an energy crisis and it’s up to astronaut Sam Bell (Rockwell) to operate the Sarang Station on the far side of the Moon.
He is all alone in the mostly autonomous facility, except for a robot helper named GERTY. At the end of a long three-year stint, Bell is finally ready to go home when, out of nowhere, he finds a doppelganger of himself inside a crashed rover.
Spike Jonze’s Her is part romantic drama, part hipster-fest, with just enough sci-fi sprinkled on top to make this list. It’s about a timid man (Joaquin Phoenix) who upgrades his virtual assistant to be artificially intelligent. Over time, he develops a romantic relationship with the AI’s disembodied voice, which names herself Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). Despite the lack of any physical contact, the film is uniquely intimate and provides an interesting commentary on modern human relationships.
Jonze reportedly had the idea when interacting with an AI chatbot in the early 2000s. His solo screenwriting debut earned him an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, plus a nomination for Best Picture.
4. See You Yesterday
A Netflix original, See You Yesterday is a story of time travel. But if you’re thinking “Back To The Future,” think again. The film is not the fun, adventurous ride you’re imagining. Instead, it’s a tale of desperation that’ll make you feel sorry for the protagonists — two teenagers who happen to invent a time-traveling backpack. Instead of using their invention for something fun, the duo has to take it upon themselves to save a friend and a brother who dies in a wrongful police encounter.
5. I Am Mother
I Am Mother is a sci-fi thriller about a young girl (Clara Rugaard) who is being raised in isolation by Mother (Rose Byrne), a robot tasked with the responsibility of repopulating the Earth after the near extinction of humankind. Things go horribly wrong when a stranger (Hilary Swank) enters the mix and challenges everything the robot has taught the young girl about the outside world.
This 2013 movie from famed Korean director Joon-ho Bong has an unusual setting: a train that is traveling on what seems to be an endless track around the world, through a snowy post-apocalyptic Earth. The train’s lower class passengers, led by Chris Evans, are trying to get their way into the upper-class portion of the train, where the rich and privileged people, like the character played by Tilda Swinton, reside.
This is a movie that offers up commentary about class, poverty, and more inside an entertaining movie, and that makes it one of the best sci-fi films on Netflix.
7. Bird Box
A strange force eliminates the population of the world. If you see it, you tend to kill yourself. So what must Malorie (Sandra Bullock) do to get herself and her two toddlers to safety? Her last option is to flee to the only safe place left and seek sanctuary from the deadly force. But to survive, she and her kids must undertake a perilous two-day journey blindfolded. Will they survive? Watch this Netflix original sci-fi thriller to find out.
Limitless is not your typical sci-fi space-adventure kinda movie like its name suggests. Instead, the only sci-fi element in the film is a pill that gives you super-human intelligence. Bradley Cooper plays a not-so-successful writer whose life turns around when he takes a pill that helps him access and use 100% of his brain. Obviously, he becomes super-intelligent and makes a lot of money, but every drug has a side effect. In this case, it’s danger.
9. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Black Mirror is one of the best original TV shows on Netflix, but its creator and writer Charlie Brooker decided to release a great Black Mirror feature film in late 2018 on Netflix as well. This is great news on its own, as we get to watch how developing a fictional video game starts to affect the reality of its programmer.
This movie is an interactive experience, as you will be asked in the middle of the narrative to make choices that will affect the storyline. There are several different ways the storyline can end, and once you reach it, you can always start over again and make different choices to see if you can get to all of the endings.
10.Under the Skin
Although Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin was a box office flop, the visually engaging film is easily one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix. Scarlett Johansson delivers a fantastic performance as an alien being who preys on hitchhikers in Scotland. It can be slow and ponderous, but it does give a unique spin on the otherwise tired genre of alien creature flicks.
These are our choices for the best sci-fi movies on Netflix. We’ll update the list with new titles once they hit the streaming service.