1. Blade Runner 2049 (2021)
The dystopian world of Los Angeles remains just as bleak and cold as it did in 1982’s Blade Runner. The lives of Replicants, artificial beings, seem to have improved as they’re now employed by the police force to combat rogue Replicants under the title of Blade Runner. The film follows Replicant Blade Runner Officer K (Ryan Gosling). He slowly unravels a new level of corruption which leads him to track down former Blade Runner Rick Deckard, reprised by Harisson Ford. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Dune, Arrival), this Academy Award-winning sci-fi sequel (winning for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects) features eye-popping visuals by cinematographer Roger Deakins and boasts a cast that additionally includes Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Mackenzie Davis, and Dave Bautista.
2. The Adam Project (2022)
The 12-year-old Adam thought his life was lonely and uneventful until he gets a visit from his future self. As the young Adam attempts to convince the old Adam to divulge his future, the two will team up on a time travel adventure that involves space ships, energy weapons, and questioning fate. This family-friendly sci-fi action-adventure comes from director Shawn Levy (Free Guy) and stars Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Walker Scobell, Catherine Keener, and Zoe Saldaña.
3. Inception (2010)
Between directing The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan directed one of the trippiest original sci-fi movies ever made. Inception takes place in a future where dreams can be entered and tampered with. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Cobb, a thief with experience in tampering with dreams to extract information. His latest mission, however, finds him trying to implant thoughts rather than steal them. This mind-bending adventure features gravity-distorting visual effects, exciting action sequences, and an all-star cast that includes Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine.
4. Her (2013)
Writer and director Spike Jonze (Where The Wild Things Are) takes an emotional and cerebral route in exploring technology. Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore, a lonely writer who finds himself infatuated with the latest virtual assistant of an AI program. The AI, named Samantha and voiced by Scarlett Johansson, treats him with so much love and respect that he forms a romantic relationship with her. But how far can such a relationship go when it’s bound by technology? Her taps into this deeper questioning of what it means to be human and the depths to which we seek love, treated with tenderness and philosophical empathy.
5. Okja (2017)
Before Bong Joon-ho won the Academy Award for Best Picture for his class-divide drama Parasite, he directed this dark satire on the future of environmentalism and animal rights. When the world faces a food shortage, a corporation develops a super pig creature. One of these creatures, dubbed Okja, is taken from his home in South Korea and transported to America. Following him to America is Okja’s owner, Mija, trying to free her pet from being ground up for consumption. In addition to featuring strong special effects of the titular creature and strong commentary on environmentalism, the film also features a stellar cast that includes Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Steven Yeun.
6. The Platform (2020)
Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s directorial debut of The Platform is a blunt and thought-provoking allegory of the societal structure. The film takes place in a dystopian future where people can opt to take part in an experiment where they’re trapped within a concrete room with one other occupant. There’s a hole in the middle of the room where food is lowered on a platform every day. The catch is that the only food left is from whatever the rooms above you do not eat. The further down you are, the less food you get. The lead character of Goreng questions the experiments and aims to witness just how deep the platform will descend. Having debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and winning the People’s Choice Award for Midnight Madness, this vicious sci-fi has perhaps the boldest commentary on class divide.
7. Space Sweepers (2021)
In the future, starships have led to a different way of life. The Spaceship Victory makes its money by chasing after debris in space. Their latest haul reveals a little girl who they soon discover is an android of great value to the UTS Space Guards. What starts as a ransom situation soon turns into a full-blown battle of starships, explosions and nanobots. Noticed as South Korea’s first space blockbuster, the special-effects heavy sci-fi epic comes from director Jo Sung-hee (Phantom Detective) and stars Song Joong-ki, Kim Tae-ri, Jin Seon-kyu, and Yoo Hae-jin.
8. Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Boots Riley has directed one of the most provocative and wild sci-fi movies to call out capitalism. Lakeith Stanfield plays Cash, a call-center employee who finds a way to tap into a white-person voice. His ability to manipulate customers takes him far within the corporation he serves leading him down a surreal route of class warfare. The film also contains one of the strangest sci-fi twists that dare not be spoiled here. It’s one of the most unexpected third acts of any film you’ll see on Netflix.
9. The Wandering Earth (2019)
As the fifth-highest-grossing Chinese film of all time, The Wandering Earth has more than enough exciting action and grand sci-fi spectacle to compete with any American blockbuster. The film takes place in a dark future where Earth seems doomed with a failing sun. Humanity makes one last effort to save their planet by dragging it into another solar system. But the journey is one that has much danger and leads to a heavy loss of life. This exciting sci-fi action picture comes from director Frant Gwo (My Old Classmate) with a cast that includes Qu Chuxiao, Li Guangjie, Ng Man-tat, Zhao Jinmai, Wu Jing, and Qu Jingjing.
10. The Mitchells Versus The Machines (2020)
In this animated sci-fi comedy from first-time director Mike Rianda, a family finds itself drifting apart as the oldest daughter Katie (Abbi Jacobson) heads off for film school. She used to love her dad, Rick (Danny McBride), but she’s grown less loving of him over time. He takes a road trip to college with the family as a last-ditch effort to salvage their familiar bond. At the same, humanity comes under attack by a sentient machine that activates robots who enslave humanity. It’s up to the Mitchells to save the planet and also grow as a family. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, this fast-paced and highly stylish animated adventure comes from producers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie) with a voice cast that includes Maya Rudolph, Eric André, Olivia Colman, and Fred Armisen.
11. Mobile Suit Gundam: Hathaway (2021)
Set long after the events of Mobile Suit Gundam, this spin-off sequel continues the real-robot anime genre of mecha and politics. The Earth Federation has won the war over the space colonies of Zeon that battled for independence from Earth. But with Earth now under direct control by the Federation, corruption and environmental erosion becomes a bigger issue. Noa Hathaway, the son of a decorated Federation leader, finds himself compelled to fight back against the Federation in a deadly game of spy tactics and giant-robot action. This is the first of a new series of Gundam movies and it’s already off to an amazing start with astounding animation and writing.
12. Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus (2019)
Nickelodeon’s cult hit Invader Zim finally received the revival and closure movie it deserves. Enter the Florpus continues the comedic antics of Zim, a misfit alien sent on an impossible errand to ready Earth for an alien invasion. His tactics are constantly observed and thwarted by the social outcast Dib, devoting his entire childhood to proving Zim is an alien. Not only does Dib fail, but it seems that Zim may have succeeded in preparing Earth for an invasion. He also creates a black hole. Loaded with surreal animation styles and a darkly surreal tone, the film presents much of the bizarre nature that Zim fans have come to know and love about one weird alien’s mission against humanity.
13. Looper (2012)
Before writer/director Rian Johnson directed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he took his first steps into sci-fi with his third film, Looper. The story concerns time travel as hitmen of the present are tasked by higher powers from the future to kill victims sent back through time. The killer Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has gotten used to the experience and rarely questions who he is targeting. That all changes when his latest victim just happens to be the older version of himself, played by Bruce Willis. What follows is a trippy and twisty tale that merges the sci-fi concept of time travel with the neo-noir elements of an action-thriller.
14. Oxygen (2021)
Director Alexandre Aja (Crawl) once more brings some claustrophobic tension but this time more into the realm of science fiction than horror. Oxygen stars Mélanie Laurent as Elizabeth, a mysterious woman who awakens in a pod. She doesn’t remember how she got there and tries to find a way out of her enclosed environment. The only person she can talk to is MILO, the computer system voiced by Mathieu Amalric, who refuses most of her requests. She’s kept in the dark about where she is and struggles to find out more about who she is and what she’s doing there. There are plenty of twists that come about in this bottle movie that brings a lot of tension and a ticking clock of one woman’s survival in seemingly her own grave.
15. See You Yesterday (2019)
C.J. Walker is a teenager with a love of science that leads to her cracking the code for time travel. Her latest investigation allows her to travel back to a certain point in time. She makes it her mission to stop an incident of police brutality that killed her brother. But trying to prevent such a tragedy is tougher than she thinks and leads to some unintended consequences. This social science fiction drama comes from first-time director Stefon Bristol with Spike Lee producing. The film would win the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
16. Stowaway (2021)
Three astronauts are well on their way to Mars for their latest round of scientific tests in outer space and on other planets. What they didn’t count on was a fourth person being on board their spaceship. Now a tough call needs to be made of either trying to find a way for the ship to handle four crew members or toss the stowaway overboard. And it only gets tougher when malfunctions starts happening aboard. Directed and co-written by Joe Penna (Arctic), this tense sci-fi thriller stars Anna Kendrick, Daniel Dae Kim, Shamier Anderson, and Toni Collette.
17. What Happened To Monday (2019)
A future of overpopulation has led to humanity restricting the number of kids that parents can have, limiting to one kid to one family. A group of identical septuplets struggles to survive in a world that doesn’t want them, leading to a dark adventure of finding one of their missing sisters. Drawing from such inspirations as Children of Men and Blade Runner, this dystopian thriller comes from director Tommy Wirkola (Dead Snow) with a cast that includes Noomi Rapace, Willem Dafoe, and Glenn Close.
18. Synchronic (2020)
Steve and Dennis are two paramedics in New Orleans who find themselves cleaning up horrific murder scenes with unexplained deaths. When the daughter Dennis goes missing, Steven makes it his mission to find out where she went. What he discovers is a trippy means of traveling through random parts of time, visiting ancient history and times of civil unrest. Somewhere within the timeline is a missing girl and Steve aims to peel back all of the time to find her. This mysterious sci-fi thriller comes from directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless) and stars Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan.
19. A Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (2019)
If you’re seeking some sci-fi for the littlest ones in the family, look no further than the Shaun the Sheep movie, Farmageddon. Despite such a pun, this is actually a rather charming and sweet stop-motion film based on the iconic silent character from Aardman Studios, known for the Wallace and Gromit series of animated shorts. The film finds Shaun trying to help a lost alien find his way back home. In addition to being a wholesome sci-fi adventures, there’s plenty of nods to science fiction in pop culture to keep the adults entertained.
20. Fast Color (2019)
The future of the American Midwest looks rather bleak when no rain is to be had. Eight years have passed and not a drop of hydration has fallen from the sky. A key to reviving the world may lie in the superpowers of a mysterious girl. But that girl not only has to deal with being hunted by the government but resolve issues with her family as well. This indie sci-fi drama comes from director and co-writer Julia Hart (Miss Stevens) and stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney, Christopher Denham, and David Strathairn.