The 16 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now

For when you really need to escape reality.

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Michael Stillwell

Science fiction is the ultimate big-tent genre: It's a vehicle for action-adventure spectacle, cultural criticism, horror, comedy, even romance (and sometimes all those genres in one). Luckily, Netflix's offerings run the gamut.

[Related: The 2019 Sci-Fi Film Guide]

1 of 16
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Steven Spielberg’s predecessor to E.T. has as much wonder as the director’s previous film Jaws had terror. Spielberg reportedly wrote the script to the mood of the song “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and its enchanting ending, when humans communicate with the extraterrestrial mothership using the universal languages of light and sound, is very much in the spirit of the launch of the Voyager probes (and their Golden Records), which preceded the release of the film by mere months.

2 of 16
The Truman Show (1998)

Like the best science fiction, scarcely two decades later you can hardly tell this movie—about a constantly broadcast life and the global network of regular people obsessed with it—was science fiction at all.

3 of 16
Eight Legged Freaks (2002)

Because every good genre begets at least one B movie worth watching.

4 of 16
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

The Wikipedia page calls this a “science fiction romantic comedy psychological drama.” Yeah, that about covers it.

5 of 16
Serenity (2005)

Joss Whedon’s very good practice run for his about a ragtag team of buddies saving the world.

6 of 16
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

R.I.P. .

7 of 16
Children of Men (2006)

With all , this was the movie that ushered in long single takes, à la True Detective () and Birdman (the whole thing).

8 of 16
District 9 (2009)

More than lived up to

9 of 16
Moon (2009)

A bleak, futuristic movie about the greed of corporations spreading to the moon. But not that futuristic: It’s set on the far side, and we just got there.

10 of 16
Watchmen (2009)

A superhero movie in which the only superhero with actual superpowers is the result of a nuclear accident, Watchmen is a consideration of the relationship between humans and the technologies that could usher in a post-human age, as well as a cerebral deconstruction of the superhero genre—from before the superhero genre was seemingly the only genre left.

11 of 16
Her (2013)

Novel talking software, “Theodore Twombly,” Chris Pratt, Arcade Fire, that mustache—Her is perfectly of its moment. And yet, six years on, it feels as relevant as ever.

12 of 16
Under the Skin (2013)

The strangest, most beautiful, terrifying, and empathetic movie of this decade.

13 of 16
Ex Machina (2014)

Incredibly economical in its exploration of the issues of ethics and security surrounding A.I. and robots, Ex Machina has only five characters and three settings and yet manages to capture exactly how the tech bros would fail us.

14 of 16
Okja (2017)

Two words: super pig.

15 of 16
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

At a minimum worth watching for the sheer inventiveness and visual splendor of the battle on the salt planet Crait. We're big fans.

16 of 16
Black Panther (2018)

You already know all about Black Panther. You’ve probably seen it more than once. What can be added to what’s already been said? We’ll just say that aside from everything else it is, it’s actually a pretty cogent examination of what might happen if one nation were to possess a resource so valuable as to supercharge its technological development.

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