Last Updated: January 9th
The sci-fi genre currently splits the difference between niche entertainment and the mainstream, providing diehard nerds and folks looking for a simple good time with a common ground on which they can unite and share in their enthusiasm. There was a time when tales of aliens, space travel, and robots were believed to be the strict province of four-eyed basement dwellers, but the truth is that everybody can find something to enjoy in the weird world of science fiction. The best sci-fi works in both universal truths and hyperspecific detail, using fantastical yet fully-realized worlds to tell stories about our own.
Netflix‘s selection of good sci fi movies isn’t exhaustive , and it errs mostly on the side of direct-to-video embarrassments, but there are still plenty of pictures worth exploring nestled among the sequels and paycheck-generators. Keep on scrolling for 15 of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix streaming to watch right now, taking you from the moon, to the farthest reaches of space, to the outer fringes of reality itself.
15. Advantageous (2015)
Jennifer Phang, a bold new directorial voice who will move onto higher-profile work as soon as the industry catches up with her, envisions a future where the societal powers-that-be disproportionately undervalue women’s labor and practically cast them aside once they’ve begun to show signs of aging. What makes this “sci-fi” and not “just how the world is” is that protagonist Gwen (played by co-writer Jacqueline Kim, the joint recipient of Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for Collaborative Vision with Phang) has the option to transfer her consciousness into a younger and fitter body. Phang hits on a lot of the same theoretical points that John Frankenheimer covered in his classic Seconds, but lends this meditation on the modern obsession with youth an intersectional slant by virtue of her identity as a Korean-American woman. Densely packed with ideas and boasting impressive special effects relative to its humble budget, Advantageous is a godsend to young girls with creative ambitions on a galactic scale.
14. The Fly (1958)
Vincent Price was usually the most difficult-to-ignore element in any film in which he appeared, but this 1958 film about a teleportation experiment gone horribly awry pretty much ensures he’ll be upstaged by its strange monster, a human with a fly’s head. David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake brought that director’s obsessions with bodies and identity to the same plot — both films adapt George Langelaan’s short story — but the original remains a chilling creature feature that’s similarly tuned into the idea that the reckless exploration of science has consequences.
13. Barbarella: Queen Of The Galaxy (1968)
A cursory Google search indicates that not enough infants have been named “Barbarella” to qualify for appearance on national statistics surveys, which is an outrage, but the B-movie classic’s influence still runs deep. It’s not just that the internationally-produced oddity gave a young Jane Fonda one of her all-time greatest roles, or inspired George Lucas to create Princess Leia’s iconic slave getup; the long delay between Barbarella‘s shunned original run and its victory lap re-release 10 years later as a certified cult object provided generations of idiosyncratic visions with hope that they could find an audience who’d appreciate them for their weirdness, not in spite of it.