Whether it’s aliens, tech smarts, genetic oopsies, or time travel that pushes your buttons, sci-fi movies deliver. Sci-fi takes the unlikely, backs it up with science, and delivers entertainment that leaves you thinking this could actually happen. And us? We keep going back for more.
Sci-fi films have a flavour for every mood. If you’re looking for your next sci-fi fix, from horror to humour, here is a selection of 10 of my favourites.
1. Interstellar (2014)
A grim vision of global ecological collapse – which apparently involves lots of dust – paints the desperate backdrop for mankind’s scramble to find a new home. Did I mention the dust? Matthew McConaughey is an astronaut that volunteers for the scouting trip, leaving his family behind – cue tugging on the heartstrings.
The drama plays out in space as the team faces impossible choices, and on earth as scientists scramble to keep the mission on track to save humanity. Time bends and loops back on itself in ways that our brains can’t fully comprehend, but thrills our geekiness. There is an epic quality to this movie that matches the size of the problems facing mankind and feels like a foreshadowing of a future we may face. Few similar movies have matched Interstellar’s breathtaking vision.
Director: Christopher Nolan
2. Annihilation (2018)
If you like your sci-fi on the gory side, this one’s for you. Lena (Natalie Portman) is a scientist whose husband went missing, then came back with his memory wiped. Determined to find out what caused this, Lena and a team of scientists enter the undefined iridescent forcefield known as The Shimmer. Nobody knows where it came from, but one thing is clear – it affects all who enter.
On the inside, things get seriously twisted – hybrid animals, human-shaped plants are just the start of the weirdness. In a way that’s been likened to cancer, the team starts succumbing to an other-worldly influence. While the premise seems simple, there’s a philosophical element for those who love to ponder the deeper meanings.
Director: Alex Garland
3. Passengers (2016)
What would you do if you’re the only one on a 120-year interplanetary journey whose sleeping pod malfunctions and wakes you up 90 years too early? After a year of being awake in isolation, engineer Jim (Chris Pratt) decides to wake a fellow passenger for company. With 90 years of their journey still to go, his actions effectively sign her death warrant. Should he tell her the truth, or shouldn’t he? Nothing like a tidy moral dilemma to up the stakes.
Arguably, a less than action-packed story, this one is a gentler take on sci-fi that provokes lots of ‘what would I do’ thoughts. It brings to the table beautiful camerawork and scenery, a doomed space romance, and the added excitement of a nuclear reactor fire to liven things up a bit toward the end.
Director: Morten Tyldum
4. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)
A sci-fi movie reminiscent of Groundhog Day in which we see Major William Cage (Tom ‘On your feet, maggot’ Cruise), an army PR expert who finds himself forced into the combat zone on the frontline in Germany. He is killed within minutes and wakes up at the start of the day again. He is forced to live the same day over and over in an effort to save the world from an alien invasion.
Emily Blunt is a magnificent tough chick in her role as Special Forces warrior, Rita Vrataski. With great action sequences, cool blue alien blood and a decent thread of humour throughout, Edge of Tomorrow is one we dust off to rewatch every so often.
Director: Doug Liman
5. I Am Legend (2007)
Survival movies always have an impact but this one hits hard. Both subtle and brutal, I Am Legend had us on the edge of our seats forgetting to breathe. We should have known. Anytime they put a dog in a movie prepare to have your heart shredded, right?
Will Smith delivers a stellar performance as the brilliant, yet haunted Dr Robert Neville, the sole survivor of a virus gone wrong that turns people into blood-hungry mutants. His mission is to create a vaccine from the immunity in his blood and find any other survivors. Combining hectic tension builds, jump-scares, action, science and all the feels, I Am Legend is a non-stop ride that we keep coming back to.
Director: Francis Lawrence
6. Independence Day (1996)
A classic alien invasion movie, Independence Day draws together a mixed bunch of characters who all have to team up to defeat the invaders. Who can forget Will Smith dragging an alien carcass across the desert, yelling at it for smelling bad? And the drunkard crop duster, known for spraying the wrong fields who manages to sober up at the end to fly against the aliens.
As far as sci-fi movies go, this one has feel-good action written all over it with themes of heroism and sacrifice winning in the end.
Director: Roland Emmerich
7. The Martian (2015)
I’m beginning to sense a theme here, much of successful sci-fi seems to revolve around the tyranny of finding yourself alone. To be fair, Matt Damon’s version of ‘alone’ in The Martian is the planet Mars, many light-years from Earth. He’s left behind accidentally when his co-astronauts assume he’s dead and start the home trip without him.
With limited supplies, he has to figure out how to stay alive on a lifeless planet long enough to be rescued. With grit and humour, he sciences the heck out of problem after problem in a way that is impressive and satisfying to watch. If you look up the phrase ‘against all odds’ in the dictionary, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Matt in an astronaut suit.
Director: Ridley Scott
8. The Fifth Element (1997)
Set in a messed up future 200 years from now, The Fifth Element puts the fate of the world in the hands of a taxi driver (Bruce Willis) when a strange woman falls into his cab. She draws him into her quest to find four stones which together, can bring peace on Earth.
Between the exotic sets, strange creatures, and a soundtrack that sets the whole movie to a rhythm, The Fifth Element is an oldie but a goodie. Fair warning – this is a movie that people either love or hate.
Director: Luc Besson
9. Avatar (2009)
A paraplegic Marine is sent to Pandora on a mission to befriend the local alien tribe. Co-opted to secretly provide intel to the military heavyweights, he finds himself torn between protecting his new home and serving the world he comes from with the hopes of regaining the use of his legs. Culture and military clash in a devastating battle and our boy Jake (Sam Worthington) has to dig deep to figure out how to fix it.
Director: James Cameron
10. MIB (1997)
Men in Black turned a serious genre on its head and proved just how much fun chasing aliens can be. Born from the comic book series, MIB is a secret organisation that manages all extraterrestrial beings on earth. They keep the aliens in line and make sure the people remain blissfully ignorant. Considering the fact that the alien being causing trouble, in this case, is a giant cockroach, ignorance is truly bliss.
Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in suits, wielding witty banter and alien guns … this is comic sci-fi gold.
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
I hope you enjoyed this slightly off-beat mix of recommendations -it’s our favourite Sci-Fi movies list. If you’d like to find more Sci-Fi movies to stream and find the best subscription combos for services, then, head on over to our free Bob App sign up page. Get front row seats for finding the best sci-fi action across services!