Science fiction films have become the norm in mainstream entertainment nowadays. From the big-budgeted blockbuster events to the under-the-radar indie gems, there has been a variety of sci-fi that audiences can enjoy. And gladly, many platforms offer that variability that niche loyalists and casual audiences can enjoy.
Netflix has offered a broad selection of science-fiction films and TV shows. And they always present some new addition to their catalog of the greatest sci-fi movies every month. With that, here are the 10 best of those movies in the genre right now. As a disclaimer, both Netflix originals and non-Netflix movies will count.
10 I Am Mother (2019)
I Am Mother is a post-apocalyptic thriller about a teenage girl (Clara Rugaard), dubbed as “Daughter”, who was raised by a robot dubbed as Mother (Rose Byrne), designed to repopulate the earth with preserved human embryo. Mother raised the girl inside a protected bunker. But their routines are disrupted when the Daughter discovers a woman (Hilary Swank).
This Australian production mixes elements from Ridley Scott’s filmography and weaves into a thought-provoking coming-of-age fable of a girl sensing her purpose. Add that with impressive effects, and this is an underrated classic.
9 Total Recall (1990)
Paul Verhoeven is a skilled filmmaker who is able to infuse social satire into any genre. Take his 1990 science-fiction classic Total Recall, where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who decides to implant a memory of a Mars trip to his brain. However, he realizes that he may have a past encounter in it, resulting in a goose chase.
Based on a Philip K. Dick short story, expect Verhoeven tackles deep concepts about human perception and scientific ethics. And it is one of Arnold’s best sci-fi projects.
8 The Platform (2020)
The latest film on this list, The Platform is a Spanish thriller about a man named Goreng who was sent unknowingly into the “Vertical Self-Management Center”, where residents are assigned in floors and switched up every 30 days. Their source of food is from a descending platform that provides nothing but leftovers. Soon, madness takes over the lower floors.
Social commentary movies became dominant with the likes of Parasite, Ready Or Not, and Knives Out. The Platform fits well to that spectrum by combining the premises of Cube and Snowpiercer.
7 District 9 (2009)
Speaking of social commentary, District 9 is a 2009 Peter Jackson production about an alien species known as “prawns”, whose spaceship hovers over Johannesburg and whose civilization are sent to a refugee camp: District 9. The film follows government agent Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) who, during a sting operation, gets infected with a fluid that turns him into a prawn.
At its time, District 9 was lauded for its balance of societal themes and gritty science-fiction elements that Neill Blomkamp found at his best.
6 Okja (2017)
Science-fiction films are truly perfect outlets for provocative social commentary. This is what four-time Oscar winner Bong Joon-ho took this advantage for his dyad of sci-fi films. The latest of which is his first Netflix project, Okja, that tells the story of a girl named Mija who engages in a mission to rescue her super pig Okja from a ruthless corporation, led by Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton).
This adventure film juggles elements from child’s fable to corporate espionage to devout environmentalism. And despite the tonal shifts, Bong delivered them effectively.
5 Snowpiercer (2014)
Still in the realm of social satire auteur Bong Joon-ho, Snowpiercer is adapted from a French graphic novel entitled Le Transperceneige that is set on a post-apocalyptic future where the entire world is frozen from a failed attempt of climate engineering. The last of humanity is stored in a moving engine where the elites and the less fortunate are separated. However, Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) leads a rebellion against the front occupants.
Both thriller and engaging, Snowpiercer presents the basics of socially aware science-fiction and expands on its challenging elements. And of course, Netflix also offers a new take on Snowpiercer, with a recent series of the same name.
4 Mad Max (1979)
Not out of the woods yet with social commentary sci-fi. Mad Max presents a portrait of a slowly collapsing society and succumbing to a corrupt dystopia. The titular Max (Mel Gibson) is an ill-tempered policeman with a rage fit. He soon finds himself in a feud against a violent motorcycle gang, resulting in a raucous survival of the maddest.
Mad Max is easily a landmark in dystopian sci-fi that paved the way for other movies in the genre and gave the keys for George Miller to start a robust franchise.
3 Jurassic Park (1993)
Science-fiction aficionados can thank Steven Spielberg for turning the genre into a major player in mainstream cinema. And on Netflix, there is his 1993 classic Jurassic Park. Based on the Michael Crichton novel, it tells the story of a group of scientists who are assigned by a wealthy philanthropist to an island filled with dinosaurs. However, the prehistoric animals get loose, and chaos ensues.
Like many others, Jurassic Park is a landmark sci-fi thriller for its revolutionary effects, subtle commentary and memorable characters. A global franchise was then established for many to adore.
2 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind takes the concept of selective memories being able to be erased on one’s mind and infuses it in a tragic romance of a couple breaking up and wanting to forget each other. However, the romantic feelings between Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) are proven to be indelible, and it becomes a challenge for Lacuna to overcome.
As expected from Charlie Kaufman’s smart script and Michel Gondry’s surreal direction, anticipate a subversive romance that gives a mesmerizing outlook of relationships, emotions, and existentialism. Its acclaim is worth deserving.
1 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
Finally, there is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Yes, it counts as science-fiction for its multiverse elements. In this smash-hit animated Spider-Man film, this movie adapts the origin story of Miles Morales, who, after receiving powers from a radioactive spider, encounters other Spider-Men from different universes and must help them return to their respective locations.
What can be said from this groundbreaking animated film, aside from its innovative animation, intense action, sharp script, unforgettable characters and stellar vocal performances? It may be the best Spider-Man movie yet.
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