Netflix doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to making good science fiction movies. Sure, the streaming giant scored deals with Hollywood legends Martin Scorsese and Noah Baumbach, along with rising movie-makers like Ava Duvernay, but the selection of original sci-fi films on the service still leaves something to be desired.
Back in 2018, I called Extinction Netflix’s “first great sci-fi movie.” In the years since, the company has released a few memorable science fiction hits and way more duds. By now, there’s a sea of original sci-fi to choose from, and we decided it was time to rank them once and for all with some help from 1,234 of our readers via an online poll.
Here are the results: The 16 best original sci-fi movies on Netflix, ranked by over 1,200 Inverse readers…
16. The App (2019)
At the bottom of our list with just seven votes out of 1,234 is The App. This Italian drama about a famous actor who becomes obsessed with the dating app on his phone doesn’t really qualify as science fiction, even if it seems to be imitating Her at times.
15. IO (2019)
A depressing sci-fi dystopic about one of the last humans left on Earth, IO is beautiful to look at but painful to watch. The movie stars Margaret Qualley (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) as a scientist who remained on Earth after everyone else evacuated for space and Anthony Mackie (Marvel’s new Captain America) as a stranger who shows up in a steampunk hot air balloon. I actually kind of liked this one, but considering its dark tone, I can’t say I’m surprised it only got 14 votes for best Netflix sci-fi movie of all time.
14. Mute (2018)
Despite a cast that includes Paul Rudd, Paul Theroux, and Sam Rockwell, Mute only got 16 votes. The story of a mute bartender in a futuristic version of Berlin apparently didn’t resonate with sci-fi fans, but I can’t help but wonder if this universally hated movie might just be a cult classic in the making.
13. TAU (2018)
TAU stars Gary Oldman as the voice of an evil AI smart-home, but that’s about all this sci-fi thriller has going for it. With just 18 votes, TAU may be too complicated for its own good. (Just try watching the trailer and tell me you understand what this movie is about.)
12. iBoy (2017)
This story of a teenage boy who accidentally gets pieces of his smartphone embedded in his head and becomes a walking computer is just ridiculous enough to work. iBoy also stars Maisie Williams, which may explain how it earned 20 votes for Netflix’s best sci-fi despite flying under pretty much everyone’s radar.
11. Anon (2018)
Described by Inverse as “Clive Owen’s Black Mirror,” Anon takes place in a near-future where everyone’s memories are recorded. As a result, crime has been wiped out, and privacy with it. With just 20 votes, Anon is another forgettable B-tier sci-fi movie from Netflix. But considering the cast, which also includes Amanda Seyfried, it may be worth another watch.
10. See You Yesterday (2019)
See You Yesterday mixes time travel hijinks with social justice themes to tell a powerful sci-fi story. When a young girl invents time travel just before her brother is shot and killed by the police, she uses her new power to try to save him. Michael J. Fox also shows up for a necessary Back to the Future nod. Despite all this, See You Yesterday only got 21 votes in our best original sci-fi from Netflix poll. Still, top 10 isn’t bad.
9. ARQ (2016)
This climate change thriller stars Robbie Amell as an engineer in a future where the oil has run out. After discovering a new energy supply, he’s attacked by a gang of masked intruders looking to steal his new invention. It sounds like a winner, but with just 21 votes, ARQ fails to live up to its premise.
When a scientist played by Robert Redford proves the afterlife is real, it leads to a surge in suicides as people decide to opt-out of this life and skip to the next one. Also starring Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Jesse Plemmons, Robert Redford, and Mary Steenburgen, The Discovery is a fun concept that falls flat with poor reviews. It earned just 25 votes in our poll of over 1,200 sci-fi fans.
7. Spectral (2016)
Soldiers fight a supernatural enemy in this Netflix original starring Rose Byrne. 50 votes, not bad for a movie no one seems to remember.
6. Rim of the World (2019)
When aliens invade, a group of kids at a summer camp is the only thing standing between Earth and total annihilation. A played out idea milked for one more joy ride. 55 votes.
Starring Mike Colter, Michael Peña, and Lizzy Caplan, Extinction is an alien invasion sci-fi thriller with a twist you won’t see coming. I’m still a fan of this movie, but with just 63 votes, I’m clearly in the minority. Still, Extinction is worth your time if you haven’t seen it before and don’t know how it ends.
Released as a post-Super Bowl surprise, The Cloverfield Paradox is a disappointing entry in the anthology series that might have killed the Cloverfield franchise once and for all. But with a huge marketing campaign and a fun cast including Chris O’Down and Daniel Brühl, this movie managed to reach more viewers than most of Netflix’s sci-fi originals. As a result, it earned 69 votes out of 1,234.
We’re entering triple digits now, starting with 104 votes for this eerie Hilary Swank thriller. As Inverse put it: “This emotional sci-fi is the reason Netflix exists.” In other words, it’s a B-tier movie that’s absolutely worth your time. If you haven’t seen it before, kick back and enjoy I Am Mother.
It’s hard to argue against Will Smith in a buddy cop movie with an orc, and the fact that bright also addresses issues of police corruption elevates this beyond just another cheesy sci-fi flick. With 123 votes, Bright came in second. Considering its Rotten Tomatoes critics score, that may say more about Netflix’s selection than it does about the actual movie.
What other movie could possibly occupy the top spot than Birdbox? This isn’t just Netflix’s biggest sci-fi movie, it’s one of the company’s biggest releases ever, inspiring a viral meme that may or may not have been engineered by Netflix and giving the original author a chance to write a sequel to his 2014 novel. At 257 votes, almost a quarter of our participants consider this to be Netflix’s best sci-fi original ever. I’d suggest checking it out, but there’s a very good chance you’ve seen it already.