If you’re looking for some speculative fiction and have exhausted your pile of Isaac Asimov books, you might want to consider tuning into Netflix. The streaming service is regularly acquiring new sci-fi and fantasy movies that should satisfy most fans of alternative futures. Here are 8 of the best sci-fi movies on the service right now.
1. Star Trek (2009)
J.J. Abrams pulled off the near-impossible feat of rebooting the original Star Trek with Chris Pine as Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock. To stir up interest for the film, Paramount pulled a bait-and-switch on fans in Austin in April 2009, promoting a screening of 1982's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan but surprising the audience with the new film instead.
2. Beyond Skyline (2017)
Frank Grillo leads the charge against alien invaders in this watchable actioner. Owing to a rushed production schedule, the film began shooting even before the creature suits were finished. Some wide shots have CGI aliens lurking as a result.
3. Men in Black (1997)
Tommy Lee Jones recruits Will Smith to monitor aliens for a shadowy government agency in Barry Sonnenfeld's hit comedy. Smith's title song for the movie was actually the first solo hit of his post-DJ Jazzy Jeff musical career.
4. Spectral (2016)
James Badge Dale and Bruce Greenwood are the last line of defense against an unseen and malevolent force in this military vs. paranormal action thriller. To achieve the movie's war-ravaged European setting, the film was shot in Budapest, Hungary.
5. Elysium (2013)
Matt Damon stars in this dystopian thriller about a man who struggles to stay alive after the affluent depart Earth for a luxurious space station. The lead role was originally earmarked for rapper Ninja (aka Watkin Tudor Jones) and then Eminem before director Neill Blomkamp approached Damon.
6. Bird Box (2018)
Sandra Bullock navigates a world in which the presence of mysterious creatures have forced humanity to avert their gaze, lest they go insane. With her two children, Bullock has to take action and make a dangerous trek to have any hope for survival. Though Trent Reznor scored the film, he was reportedly unhappy with the low mix of the music and dubbed the job a "f***ing waste of time."
7. Project Power (2020)
Jamie Foxx and Joseph Gordon-Levitt try to navigate a world in which a pill grants unpredictable superpowers for a finite period of time. The film was originally going to be shot in Portland, but directors Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost ultimately settled on New Orleans instead.
8. Synchronic (2020)
A new street drug is keeping paramedics Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan busy. But the real truth of the epidemic takes a surprising turn. See if you can spot the scene where the two actors are walking and talking down a street at night. It's in front of a house belonging to the late Anne Rice, author of Interview With the Vampire.
A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2022.