Sometimes you just want to escape your real life and get immersed in the futuristic, mind-bending worlds of science fiction. Luckily, Netflix has you covered.
The streaming site has a strong selection of sci-fi movies to choose from. Standouts include genre classics such as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” and “The Matrix,” as well as the dimension-hopping superhero film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” There are also numerous science fiction thrillers available to stream, such as “Inception.”
Here are 16 great sci-fi movies you can stream on Netflix right now.
Note: Numerous Netflix titles drop off the service monthly, so the availability of titles below may change.
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“The Matrix” boasts mind-bending action and the internet’s boyfriend Keanu Reeves.
Netflix description: “A computer hacker learns that what most people perceive as reality is actually a simulation created by machines, and joins a rebellion to break free.”
Why you should watch: With its mind-boggling world-building and ambitious, martial arts-inspired action sequences, the Wachowskis’ tech odyssey captivated audiences when it first hit theaters in 1999.
With the recent Keanu Reeves renaissance in full swing thanks to the “John Wick” franchise, the Netflix rom-com “Always Be My Maybe,” and more, now is as good a time as any to get acquainted with one of the actor’s most well-known roles.
“The Lobster” is a quirky satire of our society’s obsession with coupledom.
Netflix description: “In a near-future world, single people are hunted and forced to find mates within 45 days, or be turned into animals and banished to the wilderness.”
Why you should watch: While the basic premise of “The Lobster” sounds reminiscent of a dystopian version of “The Bachelor,” the film soon morphs into a strangely moving rumination on the struggle to find love in a society rooted in aspirational coupledom.
Fans of director Yorgos Lanthimos’ most recent movie “The Favourite” will likely enjoy the similar brand of absurdist tragicomedy on display here.
Oscar-winner Bong Joon Ho’s “Snowpiercer” is bound to appeal to fans of “Parasite.”
Netflix description: “The Earth’s remaining inhabitants are confined to a single train circling the globe as revolution brews among the class-divided cars.”
Why you should watch: “Snowpiercer” has the same sharp class-structure criticisms that defined director Bong Joon Ho’s best picture-winning “Parasite,” delivered within an ultra-violent, absurdist post-apocalyptic world that’s thrilling to experience.
Marvel fans are also sure to enjoy seeing actor Chris Evans in the lead role of grizzled rebel Curtis, a character worlds away from Captain America.
“Ex Machina” features standout performances by Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander.
Netflix description: “A coder at a tech company wins a week-long retreat at the compound of his company’s CEO, where he’s tasked with testing a new artificial intelligence.”
Why you should watch: Smart, sleek, and unsettling, “Ex Machina” uses artificial intelligence to explore how our preexisting ideas about gender and sexuality factor into our understanding of what it means to be human.
There’s also a trio of standout performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac, and Alicia Vikander. Plus, it has a great Isaac-centric dance sequence.
“Her” is a moving story about love in the digital age.
Netflix description: “In a Los Angeles of the slight future, a lonely writer develops a relationship with ‘Samantha,’ an insightful and sensitive artificial entity.”
Why you should watch: As technology continues to transform our world, movies must grapple with its positive and negative effects in a nuanced way. “Her” manages to do just that, following the budding romance between recently single writer Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) and sentient voice operating system Samantha (Scarlett Johansson).
Through exploring their unconventional relationship, the movie unpacks the extent to which the bonds we form and maintain online compare to in-person connections, an easily compelling topic for contemporary, tech-savvy audiences.
“Inception” is a stunning sci-fi thriller that will make you question your reality.
Netflix description: “In this mind-bending sci-fi thriller, a man runs an espionage business built around entering the subconscious of his targets to mold their thoughts.”
Why you should watch: Following up the Oscar-winning superhero drama “The Dark Knight” is no easy task, but director Christopher Nolan certainly rose to the challenge with “Inception.”
Featuring a star-studded cast led by Leonardo DiCaprio, the film is a visually stunning blockbuster with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing until the end.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is a vibrant, dimension-hopping superhero movie for the entire family.
Sony Pictures Animation
Netflix description: “After being bitten by a radioactive spider, Brooklyn teen Miles Morales gets a crash course in web-slinging from his alternate-dimension counterparts.”
Why you should watch: Yes, “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” is also a superhero movie, but its vibrantly imaginative exploration of parallel universes is part of what makes it so great.
Remixing the superhero origin story with the introduction of multiple Spider-Men, “Into the Spiderverse’s” message that anyone can be a hero appeals to adults and kids alike.
In “Under the Skin,” Scarlett Johansson plays a new kind of femme fatale.
Netflix description: “A seductive alien prowls the streets in search of prey: unsuspecting men who fall under her spell, only to be consumed by a strange liquid pool.”
Why you should watch: Scarlett Johansson leads “Under the Skin” as an alien femme fatale in this mesmerizing original movie, making it one that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss.
With its intriguing premise and a career-best performance from Johansson, the indie film is as absorbing as it is horrifying.
If sci-fi horror is your thing, check out the inventive “Cloverfield.”
Netflix description: “A going-away party in Manhattan is interrupted when a mysterious monster of epic proportions launches an attack on New York City.”
Why you should watch: One of the most original science fiction projects of the 2000s, this J.J. Abrams-produced monster movie stands apart by using a first-person, found-footage perspective not commonly seen in the sci-fi genre.
The result is a mashup of “Blair Witch Project” and “Godzilla” that calls to mind 1950s monster movies — in the best way.
“Okja” is another standout sci-fi story with real-world implications.
Netflix description: “A gentle giant and the girl who raised her are caught in the crossfire between animal activism, corporate greed, and scientific ethics.”
Why you should watch: Before “Parasite,” Bong Joon Ho also wrote and directed “Okja.” Stars like Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton round out the genre-defying adventure, in which a young South Korean girl (Ahn Seo-hyun) fights to rescue her beloved, genetically engineered “superpig” from the clutches of an exploitative, multinational conglomerate.
Deftly balancing its satire of corporate evil, coming-of-age narrative, and intercontinental action sequences, “Okja” is an eclectic, engrossing movie experience.
“April and the Extraordinary World” is an imaginative, kid-friendly steampunk adventure.
Netflix description: “After the world’s top scientists disappear, orphaned April secretly forges ahead with a family experiment and gets tangled up in a vast conspiracy.”
Why you should watch: “April and the Extraordinary World” follows a girl who lives in an alternate, steampunk version of France and tries to carry on her family’s mission of creating a serum that grants its users immortality.
Animation fans will undoubtedly relish the movie’s blend of whimsical design and steampunk aesthetics, while children are bound to delight in its zanier elements — a talking cat, anyone?
“Solo: A Star Wars Story” explores the origins of iconic “Star Wars” character Han Solo.
Netflix description: “A young Han Solo tries to settle an old score with the help of his new buddy Chewbacca, a crew of space smugglers, and a cunning old friend.”
Why you should watch: “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is the only “Star Wars” movie that isn’t solely available to stream on Disney Plus, making it a solid pick for Netflix users who want to visit a galaxy far, far away without committing to another streaming service.
It’s also worth watching for Donald Glover’s magnetic performance as a young, enviably fashionable Lando Calrissian.
“Advantageous” is an underrated indie film about uploading one’s consciousness.
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Netflix description: “In order to keep her job at a biomedical engineering firm that prizes youth, a middle-aged woman must submit to a drastic experimental procedure.”
Why you should watch: Jacqueline Kim stars in this underrated futuristic gem as Gwen, a single mother who agrees to be one of the first test subjects in a procedure that transfers a person’s consciousness into a new body. Having recently been fired in a world where women (particularly older women and women of color) have few opportunities, she goes through with the procedure to ensure that her daughter Jules (Samantha Kim) has a brighter future.
“Advantageous” uses the sci-fi trope of uploading one’s consciousness to grapple with the timely issues that give women fewer opportunities to support themselves and has an ending that will stay with you long after the movie finishes.
“Back to the Future” is a must-see ’80s blockbuster featuring time travel.
Netflix description: “Eccentric inventor Doc Brown turns a DeLorean into a time machine that inadvertently sends his young friend, Marty McFly, 30 years into the past.”
Why you should watch it: This sci-fi classic perfectly balances its wacky, lovable characters, madcap time travel adventures, and sweet exploration of growing up and realizing that your parents were once just like you. “Back to the Future” is one of the most enduring ’80s blockbusters, and has a fantastic soundtrack to boot.
“Back to the Future Part II” imagines a futuristic version of 2015 that’s fun to critique in the present.
Netflix description: “Marty and Doc are at it again in this sequel to the 1985 blockbuster as the time-traveling duo head to 2015 to nip some McFly family woes in the bud.”
Why you should watch it: Although “Back to the Future Part II” never quite holds a candle to its beloved predecessor, it’s well worth watching for its imaginative rendering of the then-future.
Since 2015 is already a year of the past, it’s also particularly fun to note what the movie got right and wrong about life in the 2010s (for better or for worse, we still haven’t quite figured out flying cars yet).
“E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” is a classic Steven Spielberg family film with a lovable alien.
Netflix description: “A lonely suburban boy befriends a gentle alien and tries to help it return home while protecting it from government forces that are in pursuit.”
Why you should watch it: “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” remains a beloved ’80s family film for a reason — with its inventive sci-fi thrills, lovable alien character, and warm yet uncondescending portrait of childhood, it’s equally fun and affecting for audiences of all ages.
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