Netflix’s selection of sci-fi films is one of its strongest departments, and it has a nice mix of classics like Terminator 2 or even Bladerunner alongside a number of newer, stranger films. Navigating the volume can be a little tricky, but the fact is that most of its selection makes for an enjoyable watch. Still, there are always going to be films that skip through the cracks, and that’s why it’s good to seek out recommendations. For a little help navigating that 3500+ movie inventory, these are some of our favorite selections.
Best Sci-Fi Movies On Netflix
Mars Attacks! (1996)
While not particularly appreciated on its release, Mars Attacks! has gone on to be regarded as one of the great sci-fi comedies. Directed by Tim Burton and featuring a truly off-the-wall cast of celebrities, the story is based on the comical TOPPS trading card series that told of an aggressive alien invasion. Bringing the vibe of old school sci-fi movies of the 1950s into the 1990s and turning the satire levels way up, this serves as a humorous counterpart to the much more serious Independence Day, released the same year.
Mobile Suit Gundam (1981)
A compilation film collecting the first part of the Mobile Suit Gundam series that kicked off in 1979, this is on a lot of must-watch anime lists for great reason. When humans colonize outer space to solve the issue of overpopulation, some of the furthest colonies branch off and a war begins in which much of the human population on Earth perishes. Enlisting the help of a teen boy named Amuro Ray to pilot the enormous fighter robot RX-78-2 Gundam, the door swings wide open to giant robot fights in space. Yet, by treating the pilots as regular soldiers fighting an ugly war, Gundam revolutionized its genre and became one of the most important anime series ever produced. All the Gundam films are great, but you’ve got to start somewhere.
A film that combines survival horror with sci-fi elements to create a disturbing romp, Sweetheart is a great watch for anyone that likes an ominous vibe to their sci-fi. Taking its audience on quite a ride through a handful of tropes while dropping in new twists along the way, this is an underrated great. Following Jenn after her boat capsizes and leaves her stranded, the film puts her face-to-face with a deep sea monster that comes ashore to hunt for prey. Naturally, the scariest part of this is when she encounters her fellow survivors from the wreck and they nearly lead to her death, but the fights between Jenn and the monster remain epic.
What Happened to Monday (2017)
In a dystopian future where the solution to overpopulation is to limit each household to only one child, twins and other births involving more than one child result in euthanization. A grandfather works to hide seven identical girls by having each go out one day of the week pretending to be the same person. Naturally, this goes haywire in this film, and a dystopian sci-fi action movie is born. There is no getting out of this write-up without commending Noomi Rapace’s juggling of the various personalities of each sister. Watching the women interact, it’s easy to forget that they’re all quite literally the same person offscreen. Further, it’s the characterization that makes the story click as well as it does, as each death is meaningful, felt through the other sisters.
AI Love You (2022)
In this futuristic world, AI is powered by human emotion. A worker at an advertising firm named Lana goes on agonizingly bad blind dates, not realizing that she already has a secret admirer. The AI of her office building Dob possesses the body of a particularly bad date and uses him to woo her with its encyclopedic knowledge of the things that she loves. A strange rom-com as well as a sci-fi movie in which a woman quite literally falls for a building, this is custom-made for anyone looking for a little more romance in their science fiction.
Fans of Bong Joon-Ho rejoice! This film features a massive cast with many celebrity appearances, and it tells a surprisingly heartwarming tale of a young girl named Mija and her beloved genetically-engineered superpig. Though the corporation that created Okja inevitably wants their creation back at a point, Mija fights them tooth and nail, showing the level of dedication a person can have for their pets.
The Book of Eli (2010)
After a nuclear holocaust destroyed much of the planet, the mysterious Eli travels cross country in order to deliver a book to a society that is attempting to preserve knowledge. There are a number of twists along the way so it’s best to steer away from spoilers, but there is no shortage of delight in watching Denzel Washington as Eli participate in some truly amazing action sequences as he travels through a grim and gritty apocalypse. Aesthetically pleasing and full of top-notch fight scenes, this is one of Washington’s most entertaining performances, but it also has a fair amount of commentary around the importance of historical archives.
I Am Legend (2007)
Based on the 1954 horror novel by genre giant Richard Matheson, I Am Legend follows The Omega Man (1971) and The Last Man on Earth (1964) as the third adaptation of the story to hit the big screen. Though none have particularly captured the moody ambiance of the novel, they are all entertaining in their own right. I Am Legend leans into the sci-fi action side of the story, following Will Smith’s take on Robert Neville. Neville is quite literally the last man on Earth (or so we believe) when a virus intended to cure cancer leaves the human race mindless, vampiric zombies. Attempting to find a cure while fighting the odds to survive, this movie is a good showcase for Smith while remaining a fun take on a classic, even if it’s not particularly loyal to the source material.
The Black Mirror TV series is well-known for telling a number of challenging sci-fi tales set in a not-so-distant future where technology is rapidly advancing but humans remain very much the same as we ever were. Surprisingly, when given the opportunity to create a feature-length experience, the series opted to go to the past, looking at the Choose Your Own Adventure style of storytelling as well as the popularization of home video game systems in the 1980s to create this bizarre, sometimes-unpleasant, always trippy take on the genre. Regardless of whether you enjoy Bandersnatch or not, the fact is that there’s nothing quite like it, and it must be experienced to be believed.
Married couple Vera and David move with their daughter Gloria into a house where seriously traumatic effects leading to several deaths occurred years before. One of the dead is a boy named Nico, who, during an electrical storm, appears to Vera through the TV. She urges him to avoid his death, then wakes up to a world completely changed in which her daughter was never born and her husband has married someone else. Haunting and strange, this film leans into the issues of using technology to change the timeline and features some brilliant performances along the way.
Anyone who loves Anthony Mackie’s portrayal as Sam Wilson in the MCU will be pleased to know that he’s a certified genre star, with break-out performances in Black Mirror, Io, and even Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. One of his best performances, genre or otherwise, remains Synchronic, in which he portrays a paramedic sent out to investigate a number of mysterious deaths. Apparently caused by a new designer drug, he takes the drug and discovers it has time traveling capabilities. An ominous film with likable protagonists, Synchronic is a must-watch in the realm of haunting time-travel movies.
Fast Color (2018)
In a desert that has not seen rain in eight years, we meet Ruth. Homeless and attempting to return home, her seizures cause earthquakes, which puts her in the crosshairs of a scientific researcher that immediately attempts to draw blood from her after pretending to be a potential friend. Reuniting with her mother, we discover that superpowers run in the family. Throwing a vital twist into superheroes as they’ve been portrayed on film up to now, Fast Color is one of the great hidden gems of sci-fi to have been released in recent years.
The Mitchells vs. the Machines (2021)
After an ugly fight between young filmmaker Katie and tech-phobic father Rick leaves her laptop destroyed, he tries to make it up to her by getting the family together in order to drive her to her new college. However, when a soon-to-be obsolete home robot decides to take vengeance upon her creator by launching all of humanity into space, the Mitchells find themselves suddenly on the run and fighting to survive. Featuring an all-star voice cast with the likes of Maya Rudolph, Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, and Eric Andre, this is a story of a family laying down their differences when it matters, but with plenty of chaotic robot fights in the mix.
A woman who has risen to the top of her field is primed to lose everything due to her status as “lesser” due to race and gender. She is fired suddenly due to simply aging out of the position according to her superiors, and the conditional privilege she experienced immediately vanishes as she fights to provide for her daughter. As with so many of the best sci-fi films, Advantageous is about a sci-fi premise, but the important part of the story is the human cost. By showing us a mother struggling with a series of complicated decisions she makes in order to protect her daughter while sadly failing to change the future that will require much the same from the child, the lines between reality and fantasy all but disappear.
Best Movies on Netflix by Genre:
Please note: This list pertains to U.S. Netflix subscribers. Some titles may not currently be available on international platforms. This article is frequently amended to remove films no longer on Netflix and to include more action films that are now available on the service.
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Best Sci-Fi Movies On Netflix – IGN