18 Best Science Fiction Movies to Stream on Netflix Now


Editor’s Note: This post is updated monthly. Bookmark this page and come back every month to see what other excellent Sci-Fi films join the Netflix roster.

Updated for August 2017

Sometimes it feels like science fiction is being replaced by mere “reality fiction” at an alarming rate. We’ve got the sum total of human knowledge in our pockets at all times so what’s left to surprise us?

Thankfully, sci-fi movies are catching up. A good science fiction film’s imagination is so boundless and creative that regardless of our current technological siutation, the themes and wonder of the movie still ring true.

Here we’ve gathered several science fiction films from Netflix that best exemplify the exciting, aspirational spirit of good sci-fi. Some are older classics, way ahead of their time and others are more modern showcases, able to fit our own technological boom into their narrative and stil amaze us. 

V for Vendetta

“Remember remember! The 5th of November, the gunpowder, treason, and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” V for Vendetta takes one of the strangest routes to being a crowd-pleasing sci-fi action movie ever. It’s an Alan Moore comic book adaptation in which the only threat to a futuristic dystopian British fascism is a guy in a Guy Fawkes mask.

related article: Why We’re Closer Than Ever to V For Vendetta’s Future

Still, somehow it works. And it works like CRAZY. V for Vendetta is an awesome, entertaining film. And not to mention that it’s suddenly timely since 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale are in-demand literature.

The Road

The notion that Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 post-apocalyptic masterpiece The Road was unfilmable was a popular notion around Hollywood…for three years. And thank God they got around to filming it as a good Cormac McCarthy adaptation will always have a place in the cinema. Viggo Mortensen stars as the unnamed “Man” and Kodi Smith-McPhee as his son. Together, they navigate a harsh, apocalyptic landscape after an unnamed world-ending event.

There is little dialogue in The Road and as a matter of a fact, there’s very little sound in general. The Road is one of the “smallest” science fiction stories possible and it’s a perfect example of how the genre can focus on the human rather than the larger than life. 


E.T. will make you cry. And if you don’t cry, you’re a jerk. The “lighter” half of Steven Spielberg’s two ’70s/’80s alien movies (the other of course being The Money Pit…alright fine, it’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind), E.T. is a love letter to the natural empathy of childhood.

Young Elliot should absolutely be afraid of the alien who suddenly shows up one day in his shed. He is indeed afraid for maybe like 20 seconds before realizing this is just another soul in a big scary, universe who chould be his friend.

Annnnnnnd I’m crying again.

Lost in Space

We’re going to be honest with you. Lost in Space is a mediocre film at best that received apocalyptically bad reviews. Here’s a choice quote from The Washington Post review: “A galactic slump of a movie that stuffs its travel bag with special effects but forgets to pack the charm.”

But we say that perception is unfair. Yes, Lost in Space is a strangely deadly serious adaptation of a fun, campy ’60s Star Trek knock-off. Still, it’s kind of…cool? Watch it for yourself and see how advanced the set and costume designs are for a “bad” ’90s film. That’s not even to mention the unexpectedly modern reliance on time travel as a plot point.

Ignore the wooden dialogue as much you can and appreciate a movie that at the very least produced some very cool toys


1927’s Metropolis can likely lay claim to being the first feature length science fiction film (1902’s A Trip to the Moon being the first non-feature). It’s legitimately amazing how “modern” it seems, too. Metropolis is a German silent film and tells the story of an urban dystopia in 2026 (woah, we’re almost there!). It’s more than a little influenced by the Communist revolution of the time.

related article: Metropolis – The Enduring Legacy of a Pop Modernist Dystopia

The film follows Freder, the well-off son of the city’s ruler and Maria, a poor worker and the relationship between them. Beyond just the modern influences, Metropolis is visually impressive with landscapes that are somewhere between steampunk and outright Biblical.


Movies from script outlines or books from Carl Sagan have a shockingly good track record. That’s the secret of Sagan’s success. He was as much a communicater and populist as he was a genius scientist.

1997’s Contact (released just one year after Sagan’s death) is a prime example of Sagan’s appeal. It stars Jodie Foster as Dr. Ellie Arroway, a scientist chosen to make “first contact” with extraterrestrial life. Contact features an excellent cast and is serious about maintaining its scientific bonafides. It’s a deceptively small but hugely consequential and entertaining story.

John Dies at the End

John Dies at the End is not just a movie for spoilers-in-titles enthusiasts. It’s also a deeply funny, wickedly creative science fiction flick. Even its origins are properly sci-fi. It began as a webserial from Cracked writer David Wong (real name Jason Pargin) and then made it’s way to becoming a novel and finally was adapted into a 2012 film.

John Dies at the End crams a remarkable amount of sci-fi trappings into one film. There are designer drugs that cause the user to time travel, monsters, and alternate dimensions. It’s a perfect distillation of the genre crafted by a fan.


Armageddon is an easy target to the disaster-movie-phobes and you should not listen to their lies. Sure, it’s directed by explosion fetishist Michael Bay. Sure, it’s essentially a two-hour music video for Aerosmith’s worst song. And sure, Roger Ebert counted it as one of his least favorite films.

But Armageddon also happens to rule. It’s both preposterous and preposterously entertaining. An asteroid is hurtling towards Earth and humanity’s only hope to save itself is NASA…and Bruce Willis’ team of oil drillers. They’ve got to land and drill a hole on the asteroid so the nuke will work, you see.

Armageddon definitely leans far more toward the “fiction” part of “science fiction” and every now and then that’s exactly what we need.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Calling The Day the Earth Stood Still “ahead of its time” is almost an insult to both the movie and time, itself. The Day the Earth Stood Still is so smart, so good, so progressive, so cool it basically exists outside of time.

A flying saucer lands in Washington D.C. and an alien named Klaatu (Michael Rennie) emerges from it. Klaatu has an important message that he must deliver to all of Earth’s leaders simultaneously. The U.S. military must sheepishly admit that given the current political climate, that might not be a possibility.

The Day the Earth Stood Still is undoubteldy an allegory but it’s such a richly-made, subtle work of art that there are many metaphors and lessons to be drawn from it. 

The Giver

Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver is likely many young people’s first introduction to science fiction. It’s sneakily done, too. The front of a novel featuring simply an old man doesn’t suggest that inside is a story of a utopia gone horribly awry where all feelings and memories are suppressed to create the “perfect” society.

The movie version of The Giver is an ultra faithful adaptation, right down to the black and white film. Jonas (Brenton Thwaite) is given the enviable job of “The Giver” in his society and must train with The Giver, himself (Jeff Bridges). The Giver will teach Jonas about the kind of pain and joy humans are really capable of experiencing. 

Upstream Color

Like writer/director/actor Shane Carruth’s debut feature Primer, Upstream Color is nearly impossible to describe. Here is our attempt at the plot. A man and a woman meet each other under mysterious circumstances and fall in love, while criminals and farmers utilize microscopic organism whose life cycle can bend human beings’ will. Also the organism grows up in certain plants and then pigs.

Ok, that sounds absurd. It is absurd but it’s also one of the better sci-fi romances ever committed to screen.

Like the other Carruth movie, Upstream Color doesn’t really care if it makes sense to you in the moment. Understanding it is what comes later after repeat viewings and deep Wikipedia dives. What’s truly important while you watch is how it makes you feel.


Monsters is the little indie monster movie that could. In this case the “could” means getting first-time director, Gareth Edwards, the Godzilla reboot job and then later on a job directing a little movie called Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Monsters, itself, however is plenty impressive regardless of what jobs it got its director. It does what should be nearly impossible: pull off a no-budget monster flick. It’s flashily directed and edited and is often truly intriguing and terrifying because of the monsters it doesn’t show.


Lars von Trier is a difficult, controversial dude. What can’t be denied is that the Danish director has some talent.

Melancholia is the second film in his unofficial “Depression” trilogy with the other two movies being Antichrist and Nymphomaniac. In many ways, Melancholia is the most overtly depressing. It stars Kirsten Dunst, Alexander Skarsgard and Charlotte Gainsbourg as citizens of an Earth doomed to be destroyed by a rogue planet colliding into it.

The film is brutally bleak and split into two parts so it’s certainly not the most accesible sci-fi. But sometimes sci-fi shouldn’t welcome you in. It should be difficult. 

The Fly

Director David Cronenberg made a name for himself with his 1986 version of The Fly when he did the impossible and made Jeff Goldblum unattractive. The original, however, is equally as gross and impressive especially considering its context within film history.

In this Vincent Price-fueled number a mad scientist accidentally creates a grotesque monster when a fly inadvertantly flies into his transportation machines. The Fly combines science fiction with straight-up body horror and is a bold statement from a time in which science was supposed to solve all the ills of the world, not make creepy fly monsters.

The Prestige

The Prestige occupies a fascinating place in the Christopher Nolan canon. It’s not part of a franchise like the Dark Knight films. It’s an an exciting indie like Memento or Insomnia. It’s not a huge budget sci-fi epic like Interstellar or Inception. It just kind of is. That doesn’t mean it’s not awesome, however. There’s an argument to be made it’s Nolan’s best (though I won’t make it. Inception ’til I die). Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale star as rival early 1900s magicians whose rivalry gets a little too serious. Why is it on the sci-fi list? Watch.

Marvel’s Doctor Strange

Marvel’s cinematic universe dipped its toe into the science fiction waters with the excellent space-Western Guardians of the Galaxy. Then it followed that up last year with the unambiguously mind-fuck-y sci-fi of Doctor Strange. Beneditch Cumberbatch stars as the eponymous Dr. Stephen Strange – a surgeon who ruins his hands in a car accident. His post-surgery career takes him to some ambiguously Eastern locations to learn the secrets of the universe…or in this case the multi-verse. Doctor Strange is yet another win for Marvel and a full investment in sci-fi storytelling.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It feels weirdly reductive to call a Star Wars movie a science fiction movie. Really they’re just…I don’t know, like movies, man. They’re fun and poignant and adventurous but they also feature distant galaxies and spaceships so they are most certainly science fiction. Rogue One deftly sets the tone for all future standalone Star Wars movies to come. Depsite a seemigly troubled production, this is a fantastic, fun and shockingly coherent film about rebellion in all its forms. 

The Matrix

Technically the entire Matrix “trilogy” is on Netflix as well so consider this three movies if you will but I imagine most of us will be more interested in The Matrix as a singular entity. The Matrix‘s impact has been dilluted by more than a decade’s worht of frail imitators (that could even include the sequels) and that’s a shame because as a science fiction film it’s a masterpiece. The story of Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his Alice in Wonderland-like journey into learning the truth about reality is endlessly fascinated. Even if it weren’t, however, the spectacular third act would make The Matrix a must-watch all the same. 

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