Gather round, sci fi aficianados and casual fans of space and aliens. Here’s a roundup of the best sci fi movies on Netflix right now. Look no further than the nation’s favorite streaming service, because there’s a rotating crop of good sci fi on Netflix.
1. E.T. The Extraterrestrial
Steven Spielberg’s classic about a friendly lost alien is one of the most loved and recognizable movies ever made, an intrinsic part of pop culture. It’s a story about empathy and extraterrestrial friendship as a boy finds and befriends a lovable alien. With a wonderful blend of heart and tragedy and suspense, it’s a perfect movie about childhood.
This silent German Expressionist film helped define the science fiction film genre. In a dystopian future, society is rigidly divided into rich and poor, and through this landscape jaunt mad scientists and robots against the backdrop of an unfolding love story. Trippy but mesmerizing.
3. The Iron Giant
At the height of the Cold War, a boy discovers a giant iron robot in the woods — and then has to keep him a secret. Undeservedly overlooked, it’s a gorgeous, bittersweet fable.
4. Captain America: Civil War
Superhero movies probably aren’t the first thing you think of when you hear “sci fi.” Yet, this one falls solidly in that genre. Director Joss Whedon delivered bombastic action sequences, convincing tension, and a reasonable amount of heart in this successful construction of a turning point in the Avengers saga.
Sci films without any action can be a tough sell, but this 1997 film starring Jodie Foster is incredibly resonant and well-made. It’s based on a Carl Sagan book of the same name, and is the story of a SETI scientist who believes aliens are trying to contact Earth. Strong special effects underscore a surprising ending. One of the best sci fi movies on Netflix, but also in general.
6. Escape from New York
Like Bruce Willis’s John McClain, Kurt Russell’s Snake Plissken is a defining figure in action film history, though he’s a much more classic antihero than Willis’s cop. The movie is set in a dystopian 1997 New York City, in which Manhattan Island has been turned into a maximum security prison run by criminals. When the President crash-lands there and is captured, criminal Snake Plissken is sent in to retrieve him. Iconic.
A list of good sci fi on Netflix has to include this. Michael Bay with a solid script can take a movie far, and this movie had it all: the end of the world, a good to great cast, and a tense, tightly written plot. A team of oil drillers fronted by Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck try to save the world from a giant killer comet.
8. V for Vendetta
A minor sci fi classic for its clever concept and compelling, straightforward portrayal of fascism, V for Vendetta is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore. Directed by the Wachowskis, it stars Natalie Portman as an ordinary woman living in a dystopian Britain who gets caught up in the clash between freedom fighter V (Hugo Weaving) and the government.
9. Upstream Color
This critically-acclaimed indie follows a woman who’s kidnapped and, without her knowledge, infected with a parasite. She bonds with a man who is undergoing the same thing. It’s a strange but inspired film.
10. The Road
A man and his son struggle through a post-apocalyptic landscape in a film that brought Cormac McCarthy’s acclaimed novel to life. Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee deliver powerhouse performances as they showcase the complex connection between father and son. The two encounter strange people and various obstacles as they head toward the coast. Bleak but absolutely gripping.
11. World of Tomorrow
This Oscar-nominated short film won awards at film festivals across the world. A four year old girl meets her clone from the future, and the film uses her experience as a lens to trace a tragic story about the fate of the human race. Brief and brilliant, the visuals in particular weave a breathtaking spell. A rare find among the sci fi on Netflix.
12. The Day the Earth Stood Still
Ignore the remake with Keanu Reeves: the 1951 original is a poised, brilliant story about the ideological ripples of an extraterrestrial landing in America. The event causes shockwaves across the country, including government chaos, and the movie’s themes include Christianity and communism.
Guillermo del Toro directed this adaptation of the classic comic. Ron Perlman is Hellboy, a demon who brings down other monsters, including undead Nazis, with the help of his team, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Selma Blair is his pyro-kinetic love interest.
Somewhere between an action and a found-footage horror lies this distinctly unique Norwegian comedy. Trolls walk the earth – dangerous and terrifying – and a trio of Norwegian film students stumble upon them.
15. The Host
This is not the dreadful American movie starring Saoirse Ronan, but a semi-allegorical monster movie from famed South Korean director Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer). When a young girl is snatched away from her father by a giant monster that emerges from the River Han and sets out destroying Seoul, her entire family sets out to locate the beast and bring her back.
Rogue One director Gareth Edwards made this indie film prior to fame, with an epic story. A crashed space probe over Mexico births giant aliens and take over most of the country. A man is assigned to escort his boss’ daughter through the infected zone to safety in the U.S.
Another critically-loved move from the director of Upstream Color, this is an indie about the accidental discovery of time travel, and its consequences. Director Shane Carruth, a former engineer and mathematician, put very complex ideas into the plot, as two friends make trips back and forth between the present and six hours into the past.
18. Deja Vu’
Tony Scott expertly blends action and sci fi in this suspenseful film starring Denzel Washington. A top-secret team brings ATF agent Doug Carlin on board after a devastating terrorist attack. Working with them to look back in time to prevent the crime, Carlin takes matters into his own hands when he realizes he can prevent the crime and save the life of a woman he thinks he knows.
Haunting and intense, writer-director Jennifer Phang sets her film in the near future, in which unemployment has taken over the population. Brilliant Gwen is a spokesperson for the Center for Advanced Health and Living, where she sells cosmetic procedures. She’s also a single mother, and to ensure her daughter’s future when her job is threatened, she agrees to an experimental body-swapping procedure to make her look younger and more racially ambiguous, even though the procedure has severe side effects.
20. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
The end of the world is happening in three days, and Dodge (Steve Carell) will do anything to find his high school sweetheart. His neighbor Penny (Keira Knightley) is desperate to get back to her family in England. The unlikely pair embark on a road trip of self-discovery and loss as they face the world’s end.
Enjoy your explorations of the good sci fi movies on Netflix! Keep in mind their collection is constantly changing, and we’ll be periodically updating our list of the best sci fi movies on Netflix as it does.