It’s hard to imagine it now, but there was a time when a service like Netflix Streaming was the stuff of science fiction. It’s a repository of motion pictures, available to watch at the push of a button. It’s a magical, wonderful concept, and the only thing that would make it better is if they actually had all the movies you want. But that’s where we come in with our monthly updates on the best new movies on Netflix.
Here you’ll find the best sci fi movies on Netflix right now. Many of the best films in the genre are absent from the service lately, but there are still plenty of gems among the new releases in sci fi that are streaming on Netflix right now. From the fantastical to the dystopian, the funny to the frightening, there’s plenty worth watching. Undisputed classics, underrated b-movies, family-friendly flicks and ultraviolent action awaits you in our picks for the hottest new sci fi movies on Netflix Streaming! (And head over here to find out what’s new to Netflix this month or here for the best horror movies streaming on Netflix right now.) When you’re done here, be sure to also check out our list of the 25 Best Adult Cartoon TV Series Ever and our picks for the 25 Best Heist Movies of All Time.
Update: This article has been amended to remove films no longer on Netflix, and to include more sci fi classics that are now available on the service.
Please note: This list pertains to U.S. Netflix subscribers. Some titles may not currently be available on international platforms.
Best Sci Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now:
One of the great low-fi sci-fi thrillers, Vincenzo Natali’s Cube begins with a group of strangers waking up inside of a giant cube. On each wall of the cube is a doorway to… another cube. And so on, and so on. What’s worse, some of the cubes contain horrifying death traps. The mystery is tantalizing, the characters are intriguing (especially as they turn on each other), and the skill with which this simple, unsettling story is told is absolutely remarkable.
In 2001, Disney tried to make a different kind of animated adventure, and it was basically their version of Stargate. Atlantis: The Lost Empire tells the story of an idealistic dreamer named Milo (Michael J. Fox) who thinks he knows the way to the lost city of Atlantis, but once he and an intrepid team of explorers get there, the real adventure begins. The film was a box office disappointment when it first came out, but it’s good enough – and beautifully animated enough – to have earned a big cult following.
The residents of a rundown apartment building are being forced out of their homes, but when they discover a family of pint-sized UFOs living on their rooftop, their story starts to change. *Batteries Not Included is one of the oddest sci-fi movies on Netflix, and treats robotic extraterrestrial life the way most movies would treat a litter of adorable stray cats, but the novel visual effects and a fantastic cast of characters make it a unique, family-friendly treat.
In the future, to keep juvenile delinquency down, a class of students gets chosen every year to go to an island, wear explosive collars, and fight until only one of them is left standing. Kinji Fukusaku’s bleak but exhilarating sci-fi thriller has all the action and gore you could want from an exploitation flick, and all the blistering insight you could want from a serious sci-fi classic. It’s brutal and brilliant.
The anxieties of a precocious teen take on a strange, malevolent form in Donnie Darko. Specifically, they take the form of a guy in a bunny suit. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as the title character, who begins to detach from reality and commit seemingly impossible crimes that may have something to do with time travel. Richard Kelly’s debut feature is ambitious and cynical, and a unique subversion of the typical teen movie formula.
Everyone focuses on the “ghosts” part of Ghostbusters, but Ivan Reitman’s classic comedy wouldn’t exist without futuristic technology capable of capturing those specters in the first place. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson star as working class supernatural investigators who use fantastic technology to find fantastic beasts. It’s just as funny as you remember.
Jerks! In! Space! James Gunn brought his oddball sensibilities to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, which of course are about a group of damaged and antisocial outcasts who band together, against their wishes, to save the universe. The action is fun and the humor is hilarious, but the real draw here is how seriously Gunn and his ensemble cast take these bizarre creations. A humanoid tree will make you cry. Mark our words.
Brad Bird’s beautiful animated adaptation of Ted Hughes’s The Iron Man tells the story of a young boy who befriends a gigantic robot. The robot is capable of ultimate destruction, but he’s treated with such love and kindness that he becomes a hero instead. A lovely, smart family adventure with a big heart, and a tearjerker of an ending.
Earth is secretly home to space alien immigrants, and it works out pretty great thanks to the Men in Black, a secret organization which keeps the peace, and keeps mankind in the dark. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones star in a film that could have easily been a dumb action movie, but instead reveals itself to be a witty workplace comedy, where the work just happens to be in the realm of whimsical science fiction.
This is the original sci-fi epic, and a film to which almost every subsequent sci-fi movie owes an enormous debt. Fritz Lang’s silent classic tells the story of a futuristic society divided into a carefree upperclass, and an oppressed lower class. When a mad scientist schemes to start a war, using a robot that looks exactly like a religious leader, he brings the world to the brink of total devastation. Metropolis is huge, fascinating storytelling, with images that have been burned into the brains of sci-fi fans for nearly a century.
Before Sam Rockwell won his Academy Award, he was stranded on the moon. Duncan Jones’s debut feature stars Rockwell as a miner, maintaining an outpost on the moon all by his lonesome. Just when the loneliness seems unbearable, something impossible happens, which changes his life forever. To ruin Moon’s secrets would be a shame. See it for yourself and marvel at its cleverness.
Some post-apocalyptic movies are more depressing than others. The Road is frequently considered one of the biggest downers of the genre, but that’s meant as a compliment. Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee star as a father and son who struggle to stay alive in a harrowing wasteland, a task that may be futile, or impossible.
Before the rebels blew up the Death Star in Star Wars: A New Hope, a ragtag team of misfits had to band together and steal the Death Star plans in the first place. That’s the clever idea of this ambitious interquel, which treats the popular universe as the backdrop for a heroic war movie filled with moral questioning and heroic sacrifice. We know exactly how Rogue One has to end, but getting there is a lot of fun.
Jude Law stars as a daring adventurer in a futuristic world, modeled closely after the pulp sci-fi stories of the 1930s, in the intriguing but often overlooked Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Giant robots are attacking our cities, and only Sky Captain and the intrepid reporter Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) can save the day. Imaginative storytelling and innovative visual effects, which helped pave the way for bigger, more popular films shot entirely against a green screen, make Sky Captain an amusing and historically significant sci-fi film.
James McTeigue’s adaptation of Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s brilliant dystopian thriller, about an anarchist taking down a fascistic British government, gets a lot of things right. Hugo Weaving cuts a spectacular figure as the faceless but charismatic antihero, Natalie Portman carries most of the film as a woman whose world gets turned upside down, and overall the film’s message feels as relevant (sadly) as ever. The ending misses the graphic novel’s point by a country mile, but otherwise V for Vendetta is probably the best adaptation of Moore’s iconic work, and it still comes recommended.
So there you have it: what to watch on Netflix right now in the world of sci fi movies. Check back here each month for new titles as Netflix adds them!