If you’re looking to satisfy a sci-fi craving and have exhausted your Isaac Asimov collection, you might want to queue up Netflix. The streaming service is regularly acquiring new sci-fi and fantasy movies that should please most fans of alternative futures. Here are eight of the best sci-fi movies on the service right now.
1. War of the Worlds (2005)
Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg teamed for this adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel about an alien invasion, with Cruise’s single-father character trying to keep his son and daughter from becoming casualties. For a scene in which Cruise is seen speeding away from an extraterrestrial assault, Spielberg asked effects artists to throw in a shot of an exploding bridge and have it done in time for a Super Bowl spot that was four weeks away. (They did it.)
2. Dune (2021)
Denis Villeneuve mounted this well-received adaptation of the Frank Herbert classic about warring families on the hunt for valuable spice, which was originally filmed by David Lynch in 1984. A sequel, Dune: Part II, is due in 2024. Villeneuve has said a third film might be made, as well. There’s certainly no shortage of source material: Roughly 23 Dune novels have been published, as well as several short stories.
3. Anon (2018)
In a not-too-distant future, citizens are fitted with ocular implants recording their every move. At least, that’s what this dystopian existence promises. Instead, a detective (Clive Owen) encounters a woman (Amanda Seyfried) who doesn’t seem to have a documented past or present. Director Andrew Niccol was also behind 1997’s Gattaca.
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. Beyond Skyline (2017)
This low-budget sci-fi actioner stars Frank Grillo as an L.A. cop determined to ward off malevolent aliens. Filming was so rushed to accommodate Grillo’s tight schedule that some of the practical creature designs weren’t ready in time, leading to some CG shots.
6. Bird Box (2018)
Sandra Bullock navigates a world in which the presence of mysterious creatures has 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 star in a film about a world in which a pill grants unpredictable superpowers for a finite period of time. Project Power was originally going to be shot in Portland, Oregon, but co-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 2023.