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25 Best Sci-Fi Movies On Netflix [May 2022]

There's never been a better time to be a fan of sci-fi movies — especially if you're one with a Netflix account. Though more and more streaming services make their debut every day, the one with the big red "N" logo remains a dazzling source of genre greatness. Whether you love futuristic military stories, speculative drama, or dystopian thinkers, Netflix has a flick for you. 

Wading through all the offerings Netflix presents takes precious time away from actually watching good movies, however. We here at Looper understand that struggle, so we've taken the time to assemble this list of stand-outs. These are the 25 best sci-fi movies available on Netflix, from space-faring sagas to post-apocalyptic fables.

Updated on May 2, 2022: Like all streaming services, Netflix rotates films on and off its platform. We'll keep you in the loop by regularly updating this list of sci-fi favorites to reflect the streamer's current offerings. Be sure to check back every month for the very best in Netflix sci-fi.

Blade Runner 2049

In the sequel to 1982's "Blade Runner," Ryan Gosling plays K, a blade runner for the LAPD whose job is to "retire" — i.e. kill –- rogue replicants. But during his work, K, a replicant himself, discovers that another one of his kind may have given birth, which shouldn't be possible. K's discovery could thus have dire consequences. 

Harrison Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard, who's been in hiding since the events of the first film, and director Denis Villeneuve brings new beauty to perpetually rainy Los Angeles and even to an irradiated Las Vegas. The atmosphere is enhanced by exceptional visuals and a moody score from Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. The film also frequently mirrors the original in ways that deepen its meaning.

Fast Color

Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) sets off earthquakes every time she has a seizure. After years of absence, she is finally making her way home — but Bill (Christopher Denham), a scientist who wants to study her, is hot on her heels. Once Ruth reunites with her mother, Bo (Lorraine Toussaint), things become clearer ... but also more complicated. "Fast Color" gets top marks for being gorgeously shot and absorbingly effective, as well as a showcase of three generations of Black women's lives. Not all superhero films are loud spectacles — some are quiet and contemplative, like "Fast Color."

  • Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney
  • Director: Julia Hart
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Freaks

Henry (Emile Hirsch) is a father who keeps his young daughter Chloe (Lexy Kolker), locked in their dilapidated house. She's not allowed to go outside, talk to outsiders, or get a frozen treat from Mr. Snowcone's (Bruce Dern) ice cream truck. Why all these restrictions? Chloe and Henry are "abnormals" — people with superpowers — who will be hunted down if they're discovered. This hidden gem is as exciting as it is thoughtful.

  • Starring: Emile Hirsch, Bruce Dern, Lexy Kolker
  • Director: Adam B. Stein, Zach Lipovsky
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 105 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters

"Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters" is the first of an animated trilogy featuring the famous kaiju in the villain role. Thousands of years after nearly destroying all humans, Godzilla reigns on Earth. The survivors of his wrath are forced to live on a spaceship, where they search for a new planet to call home. Joining them are two different alien races who tried to ally with Godzilla, but were also driven off-world — the King of the Monsters doesn't need help to rule. The humans and aliens decide to work together to retake the Earth from its monstrous master. Fans of anime and Godzilla should both enjoy this take on the classic kaiju.

  • Starring: Yûki Kaji, Kenta Miyake, Mamoru Miyano
  • Director: Hiroyuki Seshita, Kobun Shizuno
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 89 minutes
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Her

"Her" is buoyed by excellent performances and neat details (such as the high-waisted pants all men seem to wear) to show this is the not-too-distant future. Soon-to-be-divorced Theodore Twombly is unhappy, so he gets a new AI assistant who dubs herself Samantha. Twombly gradually falls in love with Samantha, in the process growing more emotionally mature though he doesn't quite realize it yet. What could've been a twee sci-fi rom-com is instead a profound exploration of how we develop our sense of self and what love is — or at least, what it could be.

The History of Future Folk

In the comedic "The History of Future Folk," the musical duo Future Folk (Nils d'Aulaire and Jay Klaitz) play their alter-egos, General Trius and The Mighty Kevin, two aliens who wind up on Earth. Trius is sent to wipe out humanity so his fellow Hondonians can emigrate before their own planet is destroyed. However, bluegrass music inspires him to take the name Bill and blend in. Inept assassin Kevin shows up to kill Bill and complete the mission, but he winds up falling in love with music as well. This ultra-low-budget movie is a feel-good musical and an overlooked gem.

  • Starring: Nils d'Aulaire, Jay Klaitz, Julie Ann Emery
  • Director: John Mitchell, Jeremy Kipp Walker
  • Year: 2012
  • Runtime: 86 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

I Am Mother

Human life has been wiped out, leaving Mother (Rose Byrne), a sophisticated robot, to repopulate the Earth. Mother lives underground with Daughter (Clara Rugaard), teaching her lessons, keeping her fed, and preparing her for a mysterious exam. Their existence is upended when Daughter lets in a woman (Hilary Swank) from the ravaged outside. "I Am Mother" is a contemplative and suspenseful film that leaves Daughter wondering who she should trust — if anyone.

  • Starring: Hilary Swank, Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne
  • Director: Grant Sputore
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Inception

Director Christopher Nolan hits another one out of the stratosphere in "Inception," which posits a world where people can insert themselves into other folks' dreams and steal secrets. It's a level of corporate espionage that Dom Cobb excels at, along with his team of crack dream-infiltrators. But there are downsides to this ephemeral thievery, including losing all sense of the real world. DiCaprio gives a heartbreaking performance as a man with more anguish than he lets on — anguish that puts his team in danger. The special effects are top-notch, and the film is filled with striking action set-pieces and affecting emotional beats.

  • Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Elliot Page
  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 148 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Level 16

Friends Vivien (Katie Douglas) and Sophia (Celina Martin) have lived their entire lives within a mysterious boarding school, where they are held to rigid rules involving skincare and vitamin-taking, yet never taught how to read. They believe they're being prepped for adoption, but as the girls soon discover, the truth is far more sinister. Vivien and Sophia must find out what's really happening before they are "adopted" — but what hope do two young girls have against a well-oiled machine? This feminist fable is thoughtful, surprising, and sharp.

  • Starring: Katie Douglas, Celina Martin, Sara Canning
  • Director: Danishka Esterhazy
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Looop Lapeta

"Looop Lapeta" is a remake of 1998's experimental German film, "Run Lola Run," with an added comedic dimension to alleviate the thriller's more intense moments. Savi, a former athlete, meets Satya, a criminal whom she falls for and who gets her into trouble. Savi's athletic career is cut short by a knee injury, but when she has to run around town to help save Satya, she puts her own pain aside. Events unfold multiple times as each ending resets Savi's day — will she get the outcome she desires, or is she destined to stay stuck in this loop forever?

  • Starring: Tahir Raj Bhasin, Taapsee Pannu, Shreya Dhanwanthary
  • Director: Aakash Bhatia
  • Year: 2022
  • Runtime: 131 minutes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Looper

In this gripping thriller, a crime syndicate uses time travel to dispose of its enemies. Assassins, known as "loopers," do the dirty work. It's a lucrative gig, but there's a catch: Each looper will eventually have to kill their older self to close their own loop. What happens, you might wonder, if the older self doesn't cooperate? That's what looper Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) must find out when he confronts his older self (Bruce Willis). Written and directed by Rian Johnson, "Looper" is a bracing blend of sci-fi storytelling and well-choreographed violence, with some added telekinetic peril thrown in.

  • Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt
  • Director: Rian Johnson
  • Year: 2012
  • Runtime: 119 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

The Mitchells vs. the Machines

Katie Mitchell (Abbi Jacobson), an aspiring filmmaker and tech-savvy teen, is preparing to leave home for college. When a family squabble erupts, Katie's dad Rick (Danny McBride) decides to haul his kin across the country on a road trip, rather than send Katie to school on an airplane. But while they're traveling, a war breaks out between robots and humans. The Mitchells must band together to save the day in this colorful, heartfelt film, which also earned accolades for its LGBTQ+ representation.

  • Starring: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph
  • Director: Michael Rianda
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 114 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Okja

The titular creature of this environmentally conscious film is a "super pig" who becomes close to Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), a young farm girl who raises Okja alongside her grandfather. Okja is part of an experiment by the Mirando Corporation, who are looking to breed oversized animals for enormous profit. Okja quickly becomes a pawn between corporate interests and animal rights activism, with little Mija caught in the middle. This hybrid fantasy-sci-fi film delves deeply into our relationship with animals and the food industry, as seen through the eyes of an innocent.

  • Starring: Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Director: Bong Joon-ho
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Oxygen

A woman with amnesia is trapped inside a pod that's slowly running out of air in this taut sci-fi thriller. Elizabeth (Mélanie Laurent) has no idea what's happening, or that her name is Elizabeth — she only knows that she needs to get out before she suffocates. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember the administrator code she needs to be released. Why is she in this pod? Why can't she remember anything? The answers are as complex as they are surprising. Genre great Alexandre Aja expertly directs Laurent, who gives a harrowing performance as Elizabeth.

  • Starring: Mélanie Laurent, Mathieu Amalric, Malik Zidi
  • Director: Alexandre Aja
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: TV-14
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

See You Yesterday

A pair of teen science prodigies in the Flatbush neighborhood of New York develop backpack time machines in "See You Yesterday." The film's hook is the deadly serious reason C.J. keeps going back in time — to prevent the death of her brother at the hands of the police. Of course, the more times she goes back, the more chances there are for things to go wrong. The film is carried by the charismatic Eden Duncan-Smith as C.J., as well as her castmates Danté Crichlow as her bestie, Sebastian, and Astro as her brother, Calvin. Sci-fi frequently takes on heavy topics, and director Stefon Bristol, adapting his short film of the same name into feature length, navigates the heaviness expertly.

  • Starring: Eden Duncan-Smith, Danté Crichlow, Astro
  • Director: Stefon Bristol
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 87 minutes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Sorry to Bother You

Director Boots Riley's "Sorry to Bother You" is a savage indictment of capitalism and systemic racism. The film takes place in an alternate universe where LaKeith Stanfield's Cassius Green and his girlfriend, performance artist Detroit, are living a life of financial struggle. Green takes a telemarketing job that seems to solve his money problems — he finds great success thanks to his ability to use a spot-on "white voice" — but leads to something much more bizarre and unsettling. "Sorry to Bother You" is one of those films where it's best to go in knowing as little as possible and let the film's substance and visuals carry you along to its surreal, brutal conclusion.

The Soul

A tale that mixes magical elements and hard science, "The Soul" posits that a human soul can be transferred from one person to another, via technological means. While this fantastical feat is attention-grabbing, "The Soul" puts its futuristic setting in the background, and focuses on what seems like a simple crime story. Liang Wen-Chao (Chang Chen) is an officer dying of cancer. He's working to solve the murder of an important businessman — but things aren't exactly what they seem. Soon enough, this whodunit becomes an intricate tale about human existence.

Space Sweepers

In the future of "Space Sweepers," Earth is a hellscape of pollution and the richest live off-world. The crew of the spaceship Victory collects floating detritus in space and sells the scraps. These "sweepers" exist on the margins, making money where they can. One day, the crew finds a young girl named Dorothy (Park Ye-rin) who they believe to be a very valuable and dangerous android. But is Dorothy really human? While "Space Sweepers" runs a bit long, its insights into class and power are worth the ride.

  • Starring: Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu
  • Director: Jo Sung-hee
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 136 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

Starship Troopers

Without a doubt, "Starship Troopers" is the funniest film ever made about fascism. Directed by Paul "RoboCop" Verhoeven, this sci-fi satire follows the adventures of Johnny Rico, a young man determined to join the Federal Services and go to war with an army of oversized and very angry space bugs. The result is brutal, bloody, and absolutely brilliant, as "Starship Troopers" takes dead aim at militarism and nationalism, largely with the assistance of darkly hilarious propaganda reels.

  • Starring: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, Denise Richards
  • Director: Paul Verhoeven
  • Year: 1997
  • Runtime: 129 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 66%

Stowaway

"Stowaway" presents one heck of a moral dilemma for the crew of a mission to Mars: Their ship only has enough oxygen for three people, but a fourth person is discovered on board. More troubles soon plague the mission when experiments go awry and supplies become even more limited. Tensions mount as the odds of survival for the entire crew diminish, leaving them to make an unthinkable choice. "Stowaway" presents a thorny issue with deep feeling, beautiful cinematography, and fantastic performances.

  • Starring: Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Toni Collette
  • Director: Joe Penna
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 116 minutes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 77%

Synchronic

A man-made drug called Synchronic is causing massive problems in New Orleans. Two paramedics, Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan), have a first-hand view of this, as they respond to calls of inexplicable deaths and accidents involving the drug. Soon enough, Steve discovers it has properties beyond just getting a user high: It allows them to travel through time. The concept of time travel contained in a pill is intriguing, and Mackie does a good job capturing Steve's growing understanding of how it works, even as his body deteriorates.

  • Starring: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton
  • Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Though it received lesser reviews than its predecessors, this thrilling and bleak flick has some of the best chase sequences in the entire "Terminator" franchise. Nick Stahl replaces Edward Furlong as an older, nomadic John Connor. His mother, Sarah, is dead, and Skynet's takeover seems inevitable. While John is too well-hidden to hunt, Skynet sends its best upgrade yet, the T-X (Kristanna Loken), to eliminate his allies. Luckily, the T-800 is back too — but will his might be enough? And is it too late to stop Skynet from destroying humanity anyway?

  • Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes
  • Director: Jonathan Mostow
  • Year: 2003
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

V for Vendetta

"V for Vendetta" is based on the graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. And as adapted by Lilly and Lana Wachowski and directed by James McTeigue, it's a near-operatic experience. Living in a hellscape dystopia where totalitarian neo-fascism rules in Britain and a virus runs rampant across Europe, the mask-wearing V emerges as an enemy of the state but a hero to the oppressed classes. A young woman named Evey becomes involved in V's plans after he rescues her, leading them to a shocking showdown with the powers that be. It's kind of like "Phantom of the Opera" meets "1984," and it has imagery and style to burn.

  • Starring: Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving, Stephen Rea
  • Director: James McTeigue
  • Year: 2006
  • Runtime: 132 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

The Wandering Earth

"The Wandering Earth," loosely based on the Liu Cixin novella of the same name, takes place far into the future, when the sun's expansion threatens to destroy the Earth. A daring plan is conceived, which sees astronauts work to move the entire planet into the Alpha Centauri system using Jupiter's gravity and a lot of engines. Naturally, things go wrong. This movie juxtaposes its cosmic crisis with the petty peccadilloes of humanity to tremendous effect. People will be people, after all, even as their literal world is coming apart.

  • Starring: Wu Jing, Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie
  • Director: Frant Gwo
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 125 minutes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

War of the Worlds

Steven Spielberg turns his formidable sci-fi directing skills to H.G. Wells' classic tale in this thrilling saga. "War of the Worlds" focuses on the Ferriers, particularly beleaguered father Ray. He's caring for his two children, Rachel and Robbie, while his ex-wife Mary Ann visits her parents. Unfortunately, this visit is dramatically interrupted when Earth is invaded by aliens. Ray must scramble to protect his kids as these terrifying visitors rain destruction upon the planet — but what hope does one man have against an extraterrestrial nightmare? This film is packed with amazing action set-pieces, fantastic performances, and excellent special effects.

  • Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Miranda Otto
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Year: 2005
  • Runtime: 116 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%