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The Best Sci-Fi Movies On Netflix Right Now

Whether you're someone who just likes staying home on the couch or someone who feels compelled to stay there for reasons of public health and safety, Netflix is a great resource for entertainment. It's a treasure trove of TV series and films of every conceivable genre, from beloved modern classics to little-known low-budget fare and everything in between. You could spend weeks doing nothing but streaming titles on Netflix and never run out of things to watch. The content library is just that vast.

Of course, with that vastness also comes the problem of navigating it. Netflix is happy to throw recommendations at you, but they're not always exactly what you're looking for. You can browse according to genre, but even then you're left with the paralysis of choice. There's simply so much there that it can be difficult to know where to press play. We're here to help. If you're looking for a science fiction fix, whether it's a big-budget space opera spectacle or an intimate artificial intelligence thriller, these are the best sci-fi movies on Netflix right now.


The monster movie is a time-honored part of science fiction filmmaking, and in the years after the found footage boom it seemed inevitable that filmmakers would start to merge the two to create a kind of kaiju docudrama. The biggest, most heavily hyped version of this arrived in the form of Cloverfield, Matt Reeves' handheld nightmare that depicts what happens when a giant creature attacks New York City overnight.

The creature itself and the resulting carnage it creates (both by itself and through its spawn) are reason enough to watch the film, which delivers scares on both a big and small scale with the kind of intensity that only found footage can really capture. The real genius of Cloverfield, though, is the way it goes deeper, the way it builds a story through character work, and the mysteries it leaves behind for you to ponder. There's a reason this rather intimate monster movie spawned a loosely connected franchise of genre films that fans are still obsessed with, and it all starts with the seeds planted in this film.


Spike Jonze movies have always defied easy classification. From the weird world of Being John Malkovich to the metatextual zaniness of Adaptation, his films always retain a sense of raw and honest humanity even when they're branching out into outlandish territory. Of all Jonze's films, though, Her might actually be the most human — which is saying something when you consider the subject matter.

Written by Jonze himself, the film is the story of a lonely man who finds himself striking up a friendship, and later an intense romantic relationship, with a sophisticated operating system he just bought. On the surface, this might seem like a rather one-note bit of storytelling, but the way Jonze explores the various implications of the relationship — through brilliant performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Scarlett Johansson — and the way the larger world responds to the same phenomenon. Beautifully crafted, oddly funny, and full of emotional surprise, Her is unlike any other major sci-fi film of the last decade.


Director Bong Joon Ho earned a major victory on the world stage in early 2020 when his film Parasite took Best International Feature, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Since then, film fans everywhere have been seeking out Bong's other work, but if you still happen to be a beginner, Snowpiercer just might be your perfect Bong Joon Ho gateway drug.

Like Parasite, the film is a darkly satirical look at class, but unlike that film, Snowpiercer leans heavily into science fiction. It's the story of the titular train, which carries the remnants of humanity in an endless loop around the world after Earth was left frozen in the wake of a cataclysmic event. Led by tremendous performances from Chris Evans, John Hurt, and Tilda Swinton, the film documents the rise of a resistance movement to take back the train from the upper class people who control it, and the resulting fallout. Like Parasite, it's an unexpected and often strange journey. It's also something all its own.

Under the Skin

Many of the best science fiction films draw us in and hold our interest because they build a world rich with lore. We get to experience not just a story, but a whole mythology. That's great not just because for its own sake, but because the right filmmaker knows how to exploit those expectations to make a different kind of sci-fi masterpiece, one that's light on answers and heavy on atmosphere.

Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin is exactly that kind of story, a dark and dread-filled journey into the life of a character we long to know and can't look away from. The film follows an unnamed woman (Scarlett Johansson in top form) as she travels through Scotland, picking up men and, somehow, consuming them for her own purposes. The sequences in which she confronts her victims are particularly effective, shifting from pedestrian to nightmarish on a dime, but perhaps what stands out most is the film's commitment to mystery. It's a film that invites you to put your own face on a faceless image, and that's sometimes the most compelling approach.

Ex Machina

In the years before making his directorial debut with Ex Machina, Alex Garland established himself as a smart, taut sci-fi writer through hits like 28 Days Later and Dredd. For his first film as director, he poured those instincts into a science fiction thriller exploring artificial intelligence, the hubris that goes hand in hand with genius, and what happens when it all collides in a creepy mansion that acts as a powder keg.

Ex Machina is the story of a programmer who wins a visit to the secluded home of an enigmatic tech genius (played with brilliant abandon by Oscar Isaac) who reveals to him that he's built a robot named Ava who might be able to pass the Turing test. Over the next several days, programmer and robot grow closer and closer, and it becomes clear that Ava is more than just smart. She's forming a plan, and her human keepers are part of it whether they like it or not. If you're looking for an intimate, tense sci-fi thriller with big ideas and big performances, Ex Machina is for you.

Jupiter Ascending

Even if they never made another movie ever again, the Wachowskis would be a part of sci-fi history thanks to their groundbreaking work on The Matrix, but one of the great joys of their careers has been watching what they've done with the clout and influence they gained through that film and its subsequent sequels. It would have been easy for them to play it safe, to make predictable films full of predictable ideas, and to simply keep churning out action blockbuster after action blockbuster. Instead, they just keep making weird stuff, and it's a delight to watch even if their films aren't your cup of tea.

Jupiter Ascending is the Wachowski version of a space opera, a sci-fi adventure that merges cool tech with a millennia-old dynastic struggle. It's got loads of palace intrigue and ornate costuming, but it's also got anti-gravity boots and weird spaceships that move like living pieces of origami. Best of all, though, is that the film just seems to ooze ambition in every single frame. It's what happens when talented filmmakers decide to really go for broke and make something so uniquely attuned to their sensibilities that a huge chunk of the audience just doesn't get it. Those who do get Jupiter Ascending, though, know that it's something very special.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

For a lot of people, Solo: A Star Wars Story is best-known as the Star Wars movie that didn't work, the first major misstep of the Disney era of the franchise. Yes, it underperformed at the box office, and yes the behind-the-scenes struggle to get it made at all might seem at first glance like an indication of chaos. Set all that aside, though, and the film is still very much worth a look, whether you're a diehard Star Wars fan or just a casual viewer.

Alden Ehrenreich is fantastic as a younger, more idealistic version of Han Solo, which is no small feat when you consider the shoes he had to fill. Even if young Han doesn't work for you, though, the film also features the delightful Donald Glover as young Lando Calrissian, oozing with charm and sporting perfect capes. Throw in an ensemble that also includes the great Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Emilia Clarke, Woody Harrelson, and more, and the cast alone is reason enough to watch. Throw in a compelling look at the underworld of Star Wars in the years before the Rebel Alliance formed, and you've got something memorable.

The Matrix Trilogy

In 1999, the Wachowskis released The Matrix, and science fiction cinema has never been the same since. The original film — about a young hacker who learns the world he knows is a simulation and he's been drafted as a messiah in a battle against humanity's machine overlords — offered us mindblowing wire work, groundbreaking visuals, and the kind of philosophical underpinnings that have come to define so many 21st century sci-fi blockbusters. The Matrix is an essential for sci-fi fans, for action movie fans, and for movie fans in general. And in the spring of 2020, it returned to Netflix.

But The Matrix is not alone in its return to streaming. You can also watch the two sequels — Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions — in preparation for Lana Wachowski's upcoming fourth film starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. Granted, they can't quite live up to the trailblazing impact of the original film, but they're better than you remember. Reloaded still has some of the best action sequences of the entire saga, and Revolutions is a classic case of time being very kind to a film that leans more heavily into the philosophy of its story than its predecessors.

Minority Report

For some reason, Minority Report feels like a somewhat minimized entry in the Steven Spielberg filmography now. Perhaps it's because pop culture's memory for sci-fi blockbusters keeps getting shorter, or perhaps it's because the film falls in Spielberg's career between the highlights of things like Jurassic Park and the more intriguingly divisive later period films like War of the Worlds and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Whether you haven't seen the film since it was released or you're just eager for something new to watch, Minority Report is well worth remembering.

The sci-fi action film stars Tom Cruise as a police captain working in a "PreCrime" division that predicts and stops murders before they happen, until one day a prediction reveals that he himself is set to be a murderer very soon. This intriguing setup allows Cruise to do some of his best "man-on-the-run" work in a career full of it, while also allowing Spielberg to simultaneously do high-concept science fiction and good old-fashioned chase movie action. The result is a tremendously entertaining sci-fi thriller.

District 9

Sometimes the best sci-fi films are the ones that can take a very direct metaphor and present it in a way that's both visually compelling and intellectually surprising, and District 9 is one of those films. Director Neill Blomkamp's breakout film, helped along by the endorsement of Peter Jackson, tells the story of an alien species who came to Earth and was eventually herded into internment camps by the South African government. Beginning with that premise, the film tells the story of a single government worker who undergoes profound physical and psychological changes after coming into direct contact with the aliens and their attempts to find freedom again.

District 9 was one of the most acclaimed films of 2009, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture and launching Blomkamp into a career that has since produced films like Chappie and Elysium. It remains one of the most respected and impactful sci-fi films of the 2000s, and helped spawn a new wave of thoughtful films about alien interactions with humans. It also introduced much of the world to the acting powerhouse that is Sharlto Copley.