Are you looking for the best sci fi movies to stream on Netflix right now? The service itself is basically the stuff of science fiction — a huge repository of motion pictures, available to watch at the push of a button. Time travel to any era in cinema history (more or less)! 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.
So let’s take a look at the newest releases in sci fi streaming on Netflix, including true classics of the genre like Blade Runner and Back to the Future: Part III, as well as more recent hits like Ex Machina and Snowpiercer. This list features high-concept stories for fans of all kinds to watch. The newest additions to the list will be added at the top and marked with an asterisk.
Best Movies on Netflix by Genre:
Please note: This list pertains to U.S. Netflix subscribers. Some titles may not currently be available on international platforms. This article is frequently amended to remove films no longer on Netflix and to include more horror films that are now available on the service.
The Matrix (1999)*
The sequels may have dulled its appeal somewhat, but the original The Matrix remains a bona fide sci-fi classic. Nowhere outside of the anime realm have we seen such an effective blend of cyberpunk, martial arts and philosophy. The film stars Keanu Reeves in his most iconic role since Ted “Theodore” Logan, playing a solitary hacker who discovers his entire world is a digitized illusion and he may just be the messiah destined to save humanity from its machine oppressors.
Minority Report (2002)*
Hollywood has a long history of adapting Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novels, and Minority Report is still one of the best. We’d expect nothing less from director Steven Spielberg. This high-concept thriller stars Tom Cruise as a futuristic cop who relies on a trio of precognitive psychics to stop crimes before they happen. But when he’s accused of murder, Cruise’s John Anderton goes on the run (often literally) to prove his innocence.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982)
It may not have been fully appreciated in its own time, but Blade Runner now stands as one of the best and most important sci-fi movies ever made. Equal parts cyberpunk thriller and neo-noir detective movie, Blade Runner hits on many of the most popular themes of the genre. What does it mean to be human? What happens when androids become so lifelike it takes a trained expert to tell the difference? With the release of director Ridley Scott’s “Final Cut,” a true classic has been made that much better.
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
For whatever reason, Netflix currently only has the third and final chapter in the Back to the Future trilogy available to stream. That’s unfortunate for anyone not already familiar with these movies, but we’ll take however much of Marty McFly and Doc Brown Netflix is able to dole out. Back to the Future Part III is a worthy conclusion to the series, one that drags both heroes back to the Wild West for another time-defying fish out of water scenario. It may not reach the heights of the original, but it’s superior to the comparatively uneven Part II.
You’d think Christopher Nolan would have a tough time following up The Dark Knight, but instead he gave us Inception. This high-concept sci-fi action movie unfolds in the realm of dreams, with Leonardo DiCaprio starring as Cobb, an international fugitive who orchestrates mental heists. Nolan’s singular talent for combining mind-bending storytelling with crowd-pleasing action and stunning imagery has never been more on display.
The Lobster is far from the most approachable or mainstream-friendly film on this list, but we’d expect nothing less from director Yorgos Lanthimos. Fans of dystopian sci-fi hungry for something quirky and different will find exactly that in this darkly hilarious look at life in a world where singles have 45 days to either find a romantic partner or be transformed into an animal. Both Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz deliver top-notch performances as budding lovers struggling to build a relationship against the backdrop of a very strange and oppressive world.
Snowpiercer is easily one of the best comic book adaptations that most viewers don’t even realize is a comic book adaptation in the first place. Acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon-ho made his English language debut here, chronicling a post-apocalyptic world where a handful of survivors (played by Chris Evans, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer and others) make their way through a frozen wasteland aboard an eternally moving train. Naturally, the class divide still exists in this terrible future, and the film focuses a great deal on contrasting the squalor of the rear cars with the decadent luxury of the train’s more privileged passengers.
Before he won an Oscar for directing the horror fairy tale The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro brought his oddball sensibilities to Hellboy, an adaptation of Mike Mignola’s award-winning comic book series. Ron Perlman is perfect as the title character, a demon from hell who was raised by humans to protect us from supernatural forces. The plot is perfunctory but the monster effects are spectacular, the action is cool and the lead performances by Perlman and Selma Blair, as a firestarter who can’t trust herself, are easy to fall in love with.
Ex Machina (2015)
Oscar Isaac stars as a brilliant billionaire inventor, who invites one of his low-level peons, played by Domhnall Gleeson, to his secluded estate. But this isn’t a friendly visit. He’s actually here to test the humanity of Isaac’s new invention, a realistic robotic woman named Ava, played to perfection by Alicia Vikander. As they question the robot’s humanity, and what it means to be human, we gradually realize that what they really can’t figure out is the female mind. Brilliant performances and a thought-provoking screenplay make Ex Machina one of the best sci-fi films of the century so far.
Under the Skin (2013)
An alien entity takes the form of Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin, stalking the streets, picking up lusty men and dragging them into a dark, inky abyss from which there is absolutely no escape. Jonathan Glazer’s experimental sci-fi film is unusually constructed, and looks and sounds like nothing else most people have seen, and Johansson gives an uncanny performance as an entity who struggles to understand what it means to be human, and to look outwardly beautiful.
In an extremely recognizable future, in which people live their lives through their phones and computers, and are so divorced from human intimacy that they have to hire people like Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) to write their personal correspondence for them, a new operating system seems more human than human beings. So it is that Theodore connects to, and falls in love with an artificial intelligence named Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). As directed by Spike Jonze, Her examines the melancholy of human disconnection in an increasingly connected world, and the complex way that emotions and romance will evolve as technology exceeds our psychological understanding.
How We Choose the Best Sci Fi Movies on Netflix
Science fiction is a wide-ranging genre, and one that can sometimes be difficult to pin down. We try to focus on sci-fi movies that have a time-tested reputation like Blade Runner and The Matrix, as well as those movies that scored well on aggregate sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. In some cases, we may pick more critically divisive movies like Under the Skin that we still feel are worth checking out. The one common thread is that all these movies explore the intersection of humanity and technology in a unique way.