In this magical age of entertainment on demand, there’s nary a moment when you can’t dial up a movie that scratches pretty close to the satisfying spot of your science fiction viewer’s itch. But if you’re the type who falls deep down the movie-menu rabbit hole of endless, time-consuming scrolling, sometimes it’s nice to have a shorter, sweeter, super-convenient slate to pick from.
That leaves us with the list below, which serves as a curated selection of the best science fiction film titles available to stream right this second, and taken from across the ever-widening myriad of on-demand platforms. From Peacock to Prime Video to Paramount+ and every other digital point beyond, you can’t help but pick a winner from our laser-brained list of sci-fi greats… and you won’t have to waste half an hour poking around in the nether reaches of your chosen streamer’s never-ending movie menu.
Bridging the original Steven Spielberg Jurassic trilogy with the dino havoc of the present day, the first film in the Jurassic World trio that ended last summer with Jurassic World Dominion sets the stage for fresh mayhem with a cast led by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Unfolding 22 years after Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park, things on Isla Nublar feel deceptively tranquil as the humans finally seem to have pulled off John Hammond’s harebrained early vision of establishing a working dinosaur theme park… until, that is, life finds a way to spectacularly tear up their plans with giant reptilian claws. — Jurassic World is streaming on Peacock.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
You can’t have a science fiction movie list without at least one Star War (or, for that matter, a Star Trek — which we’ll warp to farther down). All the mainline Star Wars movies are available ‘round the clock on Disney+, but our pick here is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a standalone entry in the Lucasfilm galaxy that feels like a timely complement to the recently-concluded (and spectacular) first season in the Diego Luna-starring Andor series (also on Disney+). Desperate Star Wars struggles never feel more real than they do here, with Cassian Andor (Luna) and Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) wending toward a shared fate that puts a tragic human face to every seemingly-anonymous personal sacrifice that the Rebellion ever demanded of its fighters. Rogue One is a Star Wars one-shot film done right, hitting loads of lore marks (including Darth Vader!) that won’t leave longtime fans feeling bereft of the traits that make the overall franchise such a powerful Force in the sci-fi movie-verse. — Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is streaming on Disney+.
The only drawback to watching Dune at home is not getting to see it on a screen that’s at least as big as a wall. The first installment in Denis Villeneuve’s epic sci-fi adaptation of Frank Herbert’s literary classic makes Arrakis look every bit as expansive as Herbert’s story always framed it, stretching the sands of House Atreides’s adopted desert planet to the limits of their Lawrence of Arabia-inspired horizons. Bring a serious state of mind to this one: Like most of Villeneuve’s best movies, Dune is all about slow-burn drama and high-stakes atmosphere, an approach that feels right at home in the hands of a killer cast featuring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem. — Dune is streaming on HBO Max.
There’s nothing quite like Nope, Jordan Peele’s sky-scanning ode to big-screen scares and the wide-eyed Hollywood movie magic behind them. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer head up an eclectic cast pinned down at an old-timey California tourist ranch, foregoing every escape impulse against extraterrestrial danger, and all just to catch an on-camera glimpse of the strange goings-on that seem stubbornly shrouded — for a time, anyway — in the looming clouds above. Nope mixes genres to terrific effect, making it far more than a mere science fiction movie, and Peele’s gift for storytelling has that rare, uncanny way of drawing you out of reality and right into the midst of the action. Look no further if you like your sci-fi flicks served with a heaping slice of immersion (and horror). — Nope is streaming on Peacock.
Alex Garland’s freaked-out sci-fi horror tale of alien-enabled plant life is a kaleidoscopically colorful fever dream chock full of grotesque terrors. In Annihilation, Natalie Portman plays an ex-military biologist with a serious case of lingering grief; one that finds the opposite of satisfying closure as she sets out across an infested floral landscape to uncover the mystery of how her husband really died. As you can guess, what she finds instead is ferally wild and out of this world. Part sci-fi conspiracy tale, part psychological horror mystery, and all atmospherically creepy from start to finish, Annihilation is the stuff of screaming technicolor nightmares… especially if they involve botany that’s anything but benevolent. — Annihilation is streaming on Paramount+.
The Tomorrow War
Like Dune, The Tomorrow War was conceived as a big-budget sci-fi movie spectacle before the COVID-19 pandemic muddled the studio’s original plans for a proper big-screen release. Debuting directly at Amazon, it delivered theatrical-scale thrills and big casting names (led by Chris Pratt) in an action-heavy tale about a present-day soldier drafted into time-leaping service to stave off a future alien threat. Family is front and center in a story that, like any good time travel movie, puts Pratt’s hero in touch with older versions of the people he knows and loves. Don’t let the (sort of) happy ending fool you into a sense of finality: The Tomorrow War lays down a rich layer of founding lore for a science fiction franchise that, owing to the first film’s success, is already looking toward a future sequel. — The Tomorrow War is streaming on Prime Video.
Okay, we’ll admit it: We just want you to watch Christopher Nolan’s trippy, layered stack of dream-state drop-ins so you can write your own synopsis and deliver a definitive explanation of Inception’s insanely labyrinthine sci-fi plot. Like Following, Memento, and Tenet, it’s the kind of mind-twisting Nolan movie that you can’t just watch one time: In many ways, your first run-through is only a gateway to repeat viewings that lead to infinite discovery and “aha!” moments you’ll definitely miss at first pass. The acting talent here is as good as it gets: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy and more head up this futuristic tale of corporate espionage where specialists mine their high-value targets’ dreams for hush-hush intel. — Inception is streaming on Hulu.
Ex Machina marked the start of Alex Garland’s big-time career, introducing fans to the director’s penchant for next-level dystopia in a tightly-wound, intimately-cast story about how far one person will go to invest their deepest human emotions in a robot. Some of cinema’s most time-honored android tropes are there (like Domhnall Gleeson’s human protagonist wondering if perhaps he’s just a robot too). But Ex Machina has a different endgame in mind than your typical AI-propelled story about a lifelike synth in possession of seductive powers. With a cast that features Alicia Vikander as the seductive synth in question, alongside a never-better Oscar Isaac, Ex Machina is the kind of unsettling science fiction that tends to stay with you long after the credits have rolled. — Ex Machina is streaming on HBO Max.
Sometimes you just wanna kick it old school on an alien planet with a lunky dude who’s entering his antihero redemption-arc phase. That’s just what Vin Diesel delivers in 2000’s Pitch Black, the film that launched The Chronicles of Riddick franchise and, in hindsight, served up more imaginative sci-fi ideas than the memory-haze of the film’s two-decade legacy might suggest. Diesel plays the ex-merc inmate Richard B. Riddick, gifted with a special sight that uniquely positions him to either save or abandon his human captors after things go sour on a space journey that crash-lands on a creature-infested world. The chance to prove his humanity against the alien threat is just the ticket for helping Riddick leave his criminal past behind for good… if, that is, he can keep those burly rogue impulses in check. — Pitch Black is streaming on Peacock.
The Adam Project
The Adam Project spins a time-traveling tale whose dystopian sci-fi setting ends up being the perfect backdrop for a family that finds itself in more than one kind of crisis. Ryan Reynolds plays a pilot from the future who learns a ton about the impact that missed connections can have on a person’s life, navigating a story that shifts between his adult dilemma and the moments from his younger days that led to his need to fly back to the past in the first place. Reynolds’ funny gift for wit goes a long way to lighten the heavy mood (especially when he’s cracking wise with his younger self), and there’s tons of heart radiating from an A-list cast that also includes Jennifer Garner, Katherine Keener, Mark Ruffalo, and Zoe Saldaña. — The Adam Project is streaming on Netflix.
The Vast of Night
There’s a smattering of Super 8, a little bit of Close Encounters, and whole lot of wide-eyed Steven Spielberg-style excitement in The Vast of Night, an Amazon original that follows an eminently likable cast of high schoolers to the very edge of an alien discovery. Set in a rural 1950s New Mexico town buzzy with all the optimism that post-war tech inspired in decades past, The Vast of Night teams a confidently in-his-lane high school DJ (played by Jake Horowitz) and a switchboard-operating intrepid female friend (Sierra McCormick) who squad up for a self-guided sleuthing excursion to find the source of a mysterious radio signal. More than most sci-fi films, The Vast of Night nails the voyeuristic feel of being along for the exhilarating teenage ride as the kids head out into the darkness to learn just how out-there and strange the truth really might be. — The Vast of Night is streaming on Prime Video.
Helmed by Top Gun: Maverick director Jospeh Kosinski, Tron: Legacy is such a well-realized visual feast that you don’t even need the audio track to just sit back and gawk at its linear, mind-of-a-computer setting. That’d be a shame, of course, because Disney’s 2010 sequel to the original 1982 Tron features a completely bespoke soundtrack from digital auteurs Daft Punk that matches its dark-edged science fiction trappings better than any other genre movie we can name. The story lives up to the Legacy designation, too, returning Jeff Bridges to his original Tron role in a tale that puts father and son on a years-in-the-making collision course with family destiny. — Tron: Legacy is streaming on Disney+.
Monsters is the film that showed what director Gareth Edwards could do with a shoestring sci-fi budget years before Disney handed him the pricey keys to the Death Star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Laced with a familiar sense of desperation as a man and woman try to outrace an uncontained alien infestation across the U.S.-Mexico border, Monsters lives up to its name with effectively terrifying tentacled freaks who hide a weakness that, once discovered, lands with the same satisfying feel that animates the climax of fellow us-against-aliens flicks like M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Balancing horror with more sci-fi sights than most indie-scaled movies can claim, Monsters throws a ton of fresh twists into the milieu of same-y survival stories that pair unlikely adventurers on a shared trek through the worst of an impending apocalypse. — Monsters is streaming on Hulu.
Only a director like Luc Besson could assemble a sackful of familiar tropes about tech-fueled human transcendence and concoct an action-packed sci-fi film with plausibility-defying plot holes you’ll be happy to forgive. Scarlett Johansson plays Lucy‘s titular hero, a reluctant woman who gains next-level powers after an experimental drug mishap unlocks her full genetic potential. And unlock it it does, as Johansson’s character transforms into an ass-kicker extraordinaire, delivering superhuman body blows set against a sleek, cyber-cool backdrop with visual effects orchestrated by ILM. If you’re an enjoyer of Johansson’s fighting side from her Black Widow assassin’s role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, think of Lucy as an all-Johansson, all-the-time set piece that gives her full combat repertoire a chance to shine on the brightest science fiction stage. — Lucy is streaming on Peacock.
Star Trek Beyond
The new-look crew of the Enterprise found its firmest footing yet in 2016’s Star Trek Beyond, a film that smartly plucked Starfleet’s finest out of the heavens and set them down on solid alien terra firma for a thrilling face-to-face fight against a slithery alien species. Idris Elba did the reptilian honors as the snaky homeworld’s dictator, augmenting a stacked Star Trek cast that seemed to signal a bright franchise future for Enterprise mainstays Chris Pine (Cpt. Kirk), Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldaña (Uhura), Karl Urban (Leonard McCoy), co-writer Simon Pegg (Montgomery Scott), and the late Anton Yelchin (Chekov) in one of his final big-screen roles. This is your go-to movie when it’s time to convince that reluctant Star Trek watcher in your life (and don’t we all know at least one?) who grouses that the franchise should be less talk and more action. — Star Trek Beyond is streaming on Paramount+.
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‘Jurassic,’ ‘Dune,’ ‘Trek,’ and more: 15 of the best sci-fi movies you can stream right now
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