Last Updated: February 12th
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 10 of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix streaming to watch right now, taking you from the moon, the farthest reaches of space, and to the outer fringes of reality itself.
10. 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.
9. John Dies At The End (2012)
John Dies at the End may be hard to define, genre-wise, but it’s pretty undeniably science fiction. While this Don Coscarelli film may fall well short of being this generation’s Evil Dead 2, (or maybe even this generation’s Bubba Ho-Tep), it pretty deftly scratches the same itch. Hallucinations induced by alien substances, phantom limb powers, journeys across both time and dimension, some truly wonderful effects work, and an all-time “scoffing disbelief” performance by the master of scoffing disbelief, Paul Giamatti, make this one well worth your time. If you haven’t checked this one out before (and the box office receipts would tell you that few have), take 100 minutes and find out why the title of the film is anything but a spoiler.
8. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
With Disney and Netflix squaring up against each other in what’s shaping up to be a streaming service war, it’s unclear what future, if any, the Star Wars films will have on the service. But for now you can enjoy Rogue One, the first of a series of anthology films set alongside the action of the main saga. This one concerns the attempt to secure the plans to the Death Star that preceded Star Wars: A New Hope, following Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as she joins a ragtag bunch of rebels determined to beat the odds and strike a blow against the Empire, no matter the cost. Directed by Gareth Edwards — but with significant reshoots overseen by Tony Gilroy — it’s an unusual entry in the series, one not afraid to plunge into the dark, morally ambiguous underside of the Star Wars universe while still remaining very much a Star Wars movie.