Science-fiction is arguably the best genre in the entire cinematic arena. It’s an incredibly flexible and encompassing field that allows writers, filmmakers, and actors to show off their creativity without being hampered by the confines of other genres. All sci-fi films can have elements of action, drama, romance, adventure, and mystery (with the best ones having a mixture of sub-genres) without blurring the lines; the same cannot always be said the other way around. In essence, science-fiction is a genre that offers something for everyone.
With that in mind, we’ve gone through the available sci-fi films that are currently streaming on Netflix to provide you with a range of movies for a variety of tastes. If you’re looking for something family-friendly to watch with the kids, or something action-packed to share with friends, or something unusual that you’ve never even heard of before, we’ve got you covered. We’ll update this list on the regular, so be sure to check back in as we rotate through the sci-fi films streaming on Netflix now!
We’ll be updating this list on a monthly basis as new titles become available. In the meantime, be sure to visit these other related articles linked below:
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Image via The Weinstein Company
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writers: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson
Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton
Before the TV series by the same name arrives on TBS (of all places) in 2020, you’ll want to check out Snowpiercer on Netflix ASAP. Set in a future where a climate-correction experiment gone wrong has killed all life, the last lucky few members of the human race travel aboard the Snowpiercer, a globetrotting train. However, mankind resorts to the same evils that divided themselves against each other for millennia, leading to a class structure that separates and segregates the travelers all along the length of the train. With conflict among the classes comes the escalation to violence and the discovery of awful, awful truths.
Snowpierecer is damn close to a perfect movie. It perfectly encapsulates many if not all of the evils of society and the primitive forces that drive human beings, even those who claim themselves to be civilized. The cinematography is one-of-a-kind owing to the stretched and linear nature of the train itself, forcing the camera and the audience to watch along as the narrative unspools in a side-scrolling manner. The action unfurls in unique and captivating, if gut-wrenching, ways, all the more powerful because of the social struggles that act as the backdrop. It’s truly remarkable storytelling, top to bottom and tip to tail. Seek it out sooner than later. – Dave Trumbore
Image via Netflix
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Writers: Bong Joon Ho, Jon Ronson
Cast: Ahn Seo-Hyun, Tilda Swinton, Steven Yeun, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Giancarlo Esposito, Lily Collins
One of the highest-profile movies to hit Netflix but bypass a traditional theatrical rollout was Okja, Bong Joon Ho‘s follow up to 2013’s Snowpiercer. It’s an eviscerating takedown of both the modern agricultural industry and the intertwined science of genetic engineering. The story takes the science to extreme and, at times, ridiculous proportions and makes no attempt to portray beneficial real-world achievements in an equal light. However, the moral of the story is hard to miss: Humans who play God soon lose their very humanity.
Okja follows the title character, a genetically engineered super-animal raised naturally/organically in South Korea by caretaker Mija. Since Okja is the choicest of the bred animals, multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation seeks to take back their property and study it exhaustively in order to recoup their investment and improve their stock, both agriculturally and financially. Mija does everything in her power to bring her friend back home, though animal rights activists, hired corporate muscle, and even the media will complicate matters. It’s a tough watch at times, especially for those on the front lines of the fight for animal welfare, but it’s a lesson worth repeating just the same. – Dave Trumbore
Image via Well Go USA
Writers/Directors: Zach Lipovsky, Adam B. Stein
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Grace Park, Amanda Crew, Lexy Kolker
I’m going to save one of the major things that wows me about Zach Lipovsky and Adam B. Stein’s Freaks for the very end of this blurb because I would suggest jumping into this story knowing as little as possible. But, do know that this is one of the best character-driven sci-fi thrillers of 2019. The movie features a show stopping performance from Lexy Kolker as seven-year-old Chloe. She’s spent her entire life completely isolated from the world inside her home with her father, Henry (Emile Hirsch). He’s always told her that the outside world is a dangerous place, but the older Chloe gets, the more tempted she becomes to venture out – and then she finally does. Okay, are you ready for that semi-spoilery detail to further emphasize how wildly impressive this film is? Here it goes; I love a good big budget superhero film as much as anyone, but if you’re looking to see what can be accomplished with a limited budget in the genre, Freaks is an absolute must see. It’s one of those movies that’ll have you leaning in more and more with its early curiosities before absolutely exploding with creativity as Chloe discovers more and more about her reality. – Perri Nemiroff
Image via TriStar Pictures
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Writers: Ronal Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, and Gary Goldman
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside, and Ronny Cox
If you’re in the mood for a great throwback 80s/90s sci-fi actioner, you cannot possibly go wrong with Total Recall. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a construction worker who suddenly finds himself thrust into the world of espionage involving a colony on Mars. It’s crazy and weird and funny and thrilling, and Schwarzenegger is perfectly cast. Get your ass to Mars! – Adam Chitwood
Image via XYZ Films
Writer/Director: Liam O’Donnell
Cast: Frank Grillio, Jonny Weston, Bojana Nvakovich, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Antonio Fargas, Lindsey Morgan, Betty Gabriel
Beyond Skyline is a special kind of WTF. Of all the movies to spawn a franchise, I never would have guessed the much-derided 2010 sci-fi pic Skyline could pull it off, much less that the follow-up film would be such a gleeful, globe-trotting action-packed adventure. A proud, pulpy B-movie featuring aliens that rip the brain right out of your skull, Beyond Skyline stars Frank Grillo as a cop at odds with his son (Jonny Weston) when an alien attack sends them scrambling for their lives. Once the aliens make contact, the film ricochets through settings and characters at a breakneck pace, packing in a paperback book series worth of sci-fi lunacy into a single feature film that travels from subterranean tunnels to the nuclear wasteland of Los Angeles to an alien ship, and all the way to Laos, where Mark teams with rebels to battle the alien threat. You’ve got Frank Grillo playing hero with a baby in one hand and a space-blaster on the other, Antonio Fargas as a Vietnam vet who calls everybody “bitch”, Iko Uwais and Yaya Ruhain beating the shit out of giant aliens, and there’s even an honest-to-god Kaiju battle. Beyond Skyline won’t be for everyone, but if you love a bananas B-movie, the feature debut from writer-director Liam O’Donnell ticks all the right boxes. – Haleigh Foutch
In the Shadow of the Moon
Image via Netflix
Writer/Director: Jim Mickle
Jim Mickle‘s sci-fi crime thriller somehow slipped under the radar this year despite being on Netflix and being a generally engrossing, well-executed science fiction tale. Boyd Holbrook stars as a police officer who stumbles into horrendous series of crimes and winds up locked in the cat-and-mouse change that will define decades of his life… and mix him up in some twisted, tragic time-travel saga that could save the future of the country. An obsessive crime drama that mostly keeps it lowkey despite the extreme stakes, In the Shadow of the Moon has an occasional unfortunate habit of thinking it’s more ahead of the audience than it really is, but its still an intriguing, engrossing, and technically well-executed time-travel saga that’s well worth digging into. — Haleigh Foutch
Image via Warner Bros.
Director/Writer: Jeff Nichols
Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, and Jaeden Martell
If you’re into grounded, indie sci-fi movies you’ll want to check out Midnight Special. This underrated 2016 film takes place in Texas and follows a father (Michael Shannon) who is forced to go on the run with his son (Jaeden Martell) when it turns out his son has special powers. Chased down by both the government and a cult, the bond between father and son is tested in various ways. Adam Driver plays an NSA communications analyst who has his own vested interest in the boy, and while this sounds like the plot of a superhero movie, Nichols approaches the material in an extremely realistic and grounded manner. It’s a Sundance movie with stunning performances and minimalist visual effects, putting a heavy focus on character over plot twists or giant set pieces. And Shannon gives a deeply soulful turn as the boy’s father. – Adam Chitwood
Image via Netflix
Director: Duncan Jones
Writer: Michael Robert Johnson
Cast: Paul Rudd, Alexander Skarsgard, and Justin Theroux
Mute is a weird-as-hell movie, but if you’ve ever wanted to see Paul Rudd play a despicable character and knock it out of the park, this is for you. The second in an unofficial trilogy of loosely connected films, Mute follows in the footsteps of Duncan Jones’ Moon and takes place in the year 2035. Alexander Skarsgard plays a mute bartender named Leo searching for the woman he loves who has mysteriously disappeared. Rudd and Justin Theroux, meanwhile, play pretty deranged surgeons who play a major role in the film. Mute is a gnarly film that doesn’t exactly offer up an optimistic portrait of the future, but if you’re on its wavelength it’s a darkly fun ride. – Adam Chitwood
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