The 8 Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix Right Now

Anthony Mackie stars in 'Synchronic' (2020).
Anthony Mackie stars in 'Synchronic' (2020). / Well Go USA Entertainment

If you’re in the mood for some speculative fiction and have exhausted your Arthur C. Clarke stack, 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 eight of the best sci-fi movies on the service right now.

1. Pitch Black (2000)

Vin Diesel got his other major action franchise started with this thriller about a criminal named Riddick who becomes a reluctant hero when the ship he’s a passenger on crashes on a hostile planet. Diesel described the contact lenses he wears in the film as “hubcaps” that once got stuck in his eyes. An optometrist had to be called in from three hours outside of town to get them out.

2. Galaxy Quest (1999)

Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, and Sigourney Weaver star as a Star Trek-inspired cast of a fictional sci-fi series that find themselves mistaken for real space explorers by aliens. Director Steven Spielberg visited the set and suggested a romantic subplot be developed between Tony Shaloub’s character and Missi Pyle’s alien.

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 lower-budgeted 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, 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.