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.
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.
1. Cloud Atlas
Adapted from a David Mitchell novel of the same name, Cloud Atlas is an epic sci-fi film featuring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Jim Broadbent. The film takes you through the stories of six seemingly unconnected people. Their lives connect through generations, spanning across five centuries and coming from different corners of the world. This complex film explores human connections in an intricate and captivating way no other has, which is what makes it one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix.
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.
3. Ex Machina
After writing the screenplays for Sunshine and Dredd, novelist Alex Garland took the director’s seat for the sublime sci-fi thriller Ex Machina. The movie follows Blue Book (a.k.a. Basically Facebook/Google) employee Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) who is invited to visit the secluded, futuristic home of the company’s reclusive genius CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), who just so happens to have created an AI humanoid robot (Alicia Vikander) capable of passing the Turing Test. The result is a stylish, cerebral dive into what makes us truly human.
4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Ignore the stupid petitions, The Last Jedi is the best installment in Star Wars movie franchise since Return of the Jedi. The eighth episode in the Star Wars saga and the second entry in the sequel trilogy, The Last Jedi bravely refreshes the Star Wars formula by putting its new heroic trio — Rey (Daisy Ridley), Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Finn (John Boyega) — front and center, while also staying true to the series’ legacy. Luke Skywalker’s (Mark Hamill) sort-of-triumphant return to the big screen is judged perfectly and Adam Driver’s superb work finally puts Kylo Ren on the same level as the franchise’s many other memorable villains. Watch it, you must.
5. The Lobster
Finding love is hard enough, but imagine a world where you had to find that spark of romance in no more than 45 days or risk being transformed into an animal. This absurdist dystopia is brought to life in a humorous, yet moving fashion in The Lobster — the work of Greek visionary Yorgos Lanthimos, who also created the Academy Award-winning film The Favourite. Starring Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz, The Lobster is an idiosyncratic love story that beautifully skewers the harsh realities of dating in the Tinder age.
6. 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.
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.
8. V For Vendetta
The Wachowskis scripted this adaptation of the classic comic book from writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd for this 2005 film, and it was directed by James McTeigue, the assistant director for all of the Matrix movies. While Moore has disavowed this movie, don’t let that stop you. The film version of V for Vendetta is a powerful work of drama, set in a near future version of Britain that’s ruled by a fascist state. One man, wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and calling himself V, has decided to fight this oppressive government, while also trying to rescue, and then recruit a woman to his cause.
Hugo Weaving gives an excellent performance as V, even though we almost never see his face. Natalie Portman is his equal as Evey, a scared young woman who is transformed into something else because of V.
9. Solo: A Star Wars Story
The origin story of iconic smuggler Han Solo bombed at the box office, but the flawed spin-off is a decent sci-fi romp. It stars Alden Ehrenreich as Solo, and fills in the backstory on how and why he became the smuggler we all know and love. It also showcases the moment he meets a young Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover) and first steps aboard the Millennium Falcon. If you held off on watching this because you heard it doesn’t live up to the rest of the saga, watch it now on Netflix to find out why you were wrong.
10. 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. However, this “movie” is, in fact, 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 will end, and of course, 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.
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.
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