5 movies like Netflix's 'Spaceman' but better

Adam Sandler as Jakub in Spaceman
(Image credit: Larry Horricks/Netflix)

"Spaceman" doesn't feel like a typical Adam Sandler movie. His long-term deal with Netflix has produced plenty of his signature lowbrow comedies. Sure, he's also branched out into more dramatic roles, but people usually expect Sandler to be funny. That might be why his new film, the moody sci-fi drama “Spaceman,” has been frustrating to viewers, despite its consistent presence in the Netflix top 10.

The movie stars Sandler as a depressed, lonely astronaut and Paul Dano as the voice of a strange arachnid alien who serves as a sort of space therapist. It’s confounding and repetitive, and critics have responded with indifference. Our senior streaming writer Malcolm McMillan was also critical of the movie in his review

Anyone who’d rather watch a Sandler comedy will find plenty to choose from on Netflix. That's easy. But for viewers who were hoping for a more substantive sci-fi head trip, here are five movies like Netflix's 'Spaceman' but better to check out right now.


Of the two film adaptations of Polish author Stanislaw Lem’s landmark sci-fi novel, director Steven Soderbergh’s 2002 version of "Solaris" starring George Clooney is probably a better introduction for anyone intrigued by the meditative tone of “Spaceman.” Clooney provides an accessible entry point for this contemplation of grief and obsession, playing a psychologist assigned to investigate the failure of a mission on a remote space station orbiting an alien planet.

Clooney’s Chris Kelvin discovers the strange effect the planet has on the inhabitants of the space station. This unknown world seems to create lifelike doppelgangers of people who have passed away, and Kelvin begins seeing a replica of his late wife (Natascha McElhone). Soderbergh balances the stark, elliptical drama of Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 adaptation (which you can stream on Max now) with a more streamlined narrative, delivering an engrossing sci-fi story that also ponders the meaning of existence. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 66%
Buy or rent now on Apple or Amazon 


Sam Rockwell plays a lonely man on a solo space mission in Duncan Jones’ impressive debut feature, which provides more humor than “Spaceman,” along with a livelier non-human sidekick and a fascinating twist. in "Moon," Rockwell’s Sam Bell is the sole operator of a mining operation on the moon, where he’s nearing the end of his three-year stint. His only companion is a disturbingly chipper robot named GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey), which may not be as helpful as it appears to be.

Rockwell captures the anguish and yearning of such a prolonged period of isolation, as Sam finds renewed purpose when he starts to learn the truth about his mission. Like Sandler in “Spaceman,” he’s the only person onscreen for much of the movie, and he keeps the audience invested in Sam’s fight for physical and emotional survival.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Buy or rent now on Apple or Amazon 


Director Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life” is one of the most affecting movies ever made about aliens providing life lessons to humans. Amy Adams gives one of her best performances as linguist Louise Banks, who is recruited to lead efforts to communicate with mysterious aliens that have recently arrived on Earth.

Through the process of learning the aliens’ language, Louise experiences a new kind of consciousness, which helps her process her own personal struggles and better navigate world conflicts. In "Arrival," Villeneuve tells an expansive story about humanity facing a global threat, via an intimate, character-driven drama. The relationship between Louise and fellow scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) holds the key to understanding the aliens’ hopes for humanity’s future.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Stream now on Paramount Plus

‘No One Will Save You’ 

Not only is Kaitlyn Dever essentially the only actor in this sci-fi thriller, but she also delivers her entire powerhouse performance virtually dialogue-free. In "No One Will Save You," she plays Brynn, a reclusive young woman who lives alone in a rustic, rural home, where she makes and sells crafts and seems to shun human interaction. When hostile aliens invade Earth, Brynn’s trauma provides her with the ideal defense mechanism against their takeover of humanity.

Fighting back against the aliens proves to be a cathartic experience for Brynn. While it’s not nearly as calm as astronaut Jakub’s experience with Hanuš the spider in “Spaceman,” it’s far more engaging, thanks to the inventive and exciting work from writer-director Brian Duffield. Duffield mixes suspenseful set pieces with sci-fi grandeur, along with a surprisingly strong emotional connection to a protagonist who never speaks.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
Stream now on Hulu

‘High Life’

French auteur Claire Denis would never make a conventional sci-fi movie, but this exploration of sexuality and extreme human behavior is consistently mesmerizing and unexpected. Denis brings together an impressive cast for her intergalactic provocation, with Juliette Binoche as a deranged scientist conducting experiments on convicted criminals sent on a deep-space mission. Robert Pattinson plays a stoic prisoner who resists her manipulation, with Mia Goth and Andre Benjamin as his fellow inmates.

Dibs is the opposite of the sedate, empathetic Hanuš, engaging in devious trickery and violent confrontations from her position of authority. “High Life” is brutal yet beautiful, especially as the ship travels closer to a black hole and Pattinson’s Monte experiences strange phenomena that Denis depicts with abstract wonder. For anyone who thought “Spaceman” didn’t go far enough with its space madness, “High Life” is the perfect alternative.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 82%
Stream now on Max

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Josh Bell

Josh Bell is a freelance writer and movie/TV critic based in Las Vegas. He's the former film editor of Las Vegas Weekly and has written about movies and TV for Vulture, Inverse, CBR, Crooked Marquee and more. With comedian Jason Harris, he co-hosts the podcast Awesome Movie Year.