The best Netflix sci-fi movies in December 2022

(L to R) Zachary Quinto as Spock and Chris Pine as Kirk in Star Trek, one of the best Netflix sci-fi movies
(Image credit: Paramount)

Let's be frank: talking about the best sci-fi movies on Netflix is akin to promoting "the best affordable apartments in New York City." Netflix is filled with plenty of good to great shows and movies, but finding great sci-fi films on the service — at least right now — is not easy. 

That said, we've got 10 sci-fi movies you can stream on Netflix right now, and we're saying that while doing our best to not confuse sci-fi with fantasy. Some of these films may have less sci-fi elements than the others — they can't all be Star Trek — but each fits the bill in its own way. And to help you filter them down further, we're including Rotten Tomatoes critics ratings scores. We're not of the belief that the review-aggregator site is an ultimate arbiter of taste, but it can prove informative.

Also, we've put a few of these films at the top of this list because they're about to leave, and we want to make sure you watch them while you still can. Here are the best sci-fi movies on Netflix, so watch them while you still can!

The best Netflix sci-fi movies right now

Elysium (2013)

(L to R) Jodie Foster (as Defense Secretary Jessica Delacourt) watches as Terry Chen (as a technician) operates on Matt Damon (as Max) in Elysium

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

In Elysium, sci-fi is used to deliver a story of how class structures divide us, and it's not hard to believe that director Neill Blomkamp believes subtlety wasn't right for this one. In 2154, the super-rich live in the Elysium space station, while the middle class and poor commoners are stuck in a miserable way on Earth, which is in tatters. This leads Max (Damon) to risk his whole life — which is already in danger — for a cause that could bring parity to humanity. Of course, the rich above him don't really want to give up their superiority. Compared poorly to Blomkamp's District 9, but still a solid flick, Elysium is one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix — but it is leaving soon, on Dec. 31!

Rotten Tomatoes score: 64%
Stars: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura, William Fichtner
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Men in Black (1997)

(L to R) Tommy Lee Jones as K, holding a neuralyzer, while Will Smith as J watches in Men In Black

(Image credit: AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo)

For a second time in the same decade (hi, ID4), aliens learned you don't mess with Will Smith. Men in Black saw James Darrell Edwards III (Smith) become 'J' as he learned about a secret organization that's kept life on our planet going, and keeping alien life a secret. Agent K (Jones), his guide to this world, has a world of experience that he's not exactly excited to divulge. This inventive movie, filled with aliens of all shapes and sizes, is filled with great CGI, memorable extraterrestrial beings and an impressive cast. But just like Elysium, we have to warn you — Men In Black is leaving soon, on Dec. 31!

Rotten Tomatoes score: 91%
Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino, Vincent D'Onofrio, Rip Torn
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Star Trek (2009)

Zoe Saldaña as Uhura in Star Trek (2009)

(Image credit: AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo)

One of the best examples of how reboots can be great, JJ Abrams' Star Trek dropped an excellently cast team into long-beloved roles. Part of its charm comes from seeing a young (and still brash) James T. Kirk, played by Chris Pine. You may know that character best from William Shatner's version, but Pine's youthful confidence fits the character perfectly. Even better, though, Zachary Quinto's Spock is an excellent foil. Bolstered by a strong script that starts on a gripping emotional beat, the only issue with Star Trek is that its sequels didn't live up to expectations. That said, again, watch it now! — Star Trek is leaving soon, on Dec. 31!

Rotten Tomatoes score: 94%
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldaña, John Cho, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Eric Bana
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The Platform (2020)

Two men scraping themselves up onto a ledge in The Platform

(Image credit: Netflix)

A sci-fi movie where the futuristic elements are a little more minimal and subtle, The Platform is a dystopic horror movie where jails have become even less humane. Food is distributed via a large floating platform that descends through a series of cells that are stacked on top of each other. Two people share each cell, and this system is so broken that the prisoners on the lower levels — who get food last — are driven to risk it all. The Platform feels like what could happen if a Black Mirror episode were even more depressing.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 79%
Stars: Iván Massagué, Antonia San Juan, Zorion Eguileor, Emilio Buale. Alexandra Masangkay
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Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-man on the train top in Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures/Marvel Enterprises)

Science fiction and superheroes don't often fit together in the same sentence, but Spider-Man 2 is our pick for one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix with good reason. The mentor and mentee connection built between super-scientist Otto Octavius (Molina) and Peter Parker (Maguire) is pitch-perfect, as is how it twists and turns when Otto turns villainous. But it's not all science, as Mr. Parker's decision whether or not to leave his Spider-suit in the trash can creates amazingly emotional moments, such as the speech that his Aunt May (Harris) gives him.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Alfred Molina, Rosemary Harris
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The Mitchells vs The Machines (2021)

The Mitchell family in a car surrounded by a chaotic blue glow in The Mitchells vs the Machines

(Image credit: Netflix)

So far, this list has given folks some movies that families can watch together, but little that actually feel made for families. That's where Netflix Original The Mitchells vs The Machines comes into save parents and kids everywhere. This family adventure begins with one last vacation before daughter Katie (Jacobson) goes off to college, which is a surprise for Katie, as her father (McBride) decided that the family needs a vacation. And he's tired of all the tech that his kids fill their eyes with. Then, dad's worries come true, as a race of super-power robots rises up. Only through working together can the Mitchells beat the Machines.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 97%
Stars: Abbi Jacobson, Danny McBride, Maya Rudolph, Mike Rianda, Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen
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End of Evangelion (1997)

Rei Ayanami in End of Evangelion

(Image credit: Collection Christophel / Alamy Stock Photo)

A warning: this is not one to watch with kids. That said: get in the Eva, Shinji, it's time to watch the final chapter of Evangelion, the series where children pilot giant mechs that they're not exactly emotionally ready to operate. Yes, you'll want to watch the series first — don't worry, it's on Netflix — but once you're ready, you'll want to see Shinji and his fellow Eva pilots' latest adventure. A huge success at the box office and on home video, End of Evangelion also won tons of critical praise for its mix of action and surrealism. It also courted controversy with its sexual content, especially that one scene early on.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 90%
Stars: Megumi Ogata, Casey Mongillo, Kotono Mitsuishi, Carrie Keranen, Megumi Hayashibara, Ryan Bartley, Yūko Miyamura, Stephanie McKeon
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A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Malcolm McDowell (as Alex) walks through a tunnel with his fellow Droogs in A Clockwork Orange.

(Image credit: Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Whole essays have been written about whether or not A Clockwork Orange is science fiction. Most of the movie, as you'll see, revolves around young thug Alex (McDowell) and his fellow gang members called 'Droogs.' But when Alex finds himself in prison, and subjected to an aversion therapy named The Ludovico Technique, we find the film's signature piece of speculative science — a.k.a science fiction. Subjected to videos that break his violent tendencies, Alex leaves a changed man — and one who is less capable because of it. One of director Stanley Kubrick's finest works, A Clockwork Orange is a bold film partially because The Ludovico Technique doesn't seem too far-fetched. 

Rotten Tomatoes score: 88%
Stars: Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Adrienne Corri, Miriam Karlin
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Sorry to Bother You (2018)

Lakeith Stanfield as Cassius in Sorry to Bother You

(Image credit: Annapurna Pictures)

Similarly to A Clockwork Orange, Sorry To Bother You may be seen as more 'surrealist' than science-fiction. At first, the only unnatural thing about Sorry to Bother you is its tendency to break the fourth wall, and how Cassius Green (Stanfield)'s voice turns into David Cross' voice when he's doing his job. What's Cassius' job? Well, in need of money, Cassius becomes a telemarketer, and affects a "white voice" in order to get things done. Weird, but not sci-fi. Well, things change as Cash discovers how the WorryFree company manages to find its labor. This mind-bending moment may be called many things by many people, but sci-fi fits. Moreover, Sorry to Bother You also earns a spot on this list because it's quite the achievement for first-time director Boots Riley. How many people arrive with a hilarious, well-cast film that's bursting with a lively soundtrack? Sorry to Bother You is more than just one of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix, it's also a great movie. For more laughs, check out our list of the best comedies on Netflix.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 93%
Stars: LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews, Patton Oswalt, David Cross
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Don't Look Up (2021)

don't look up trailer

(Image credit: Netflix via YouTube)

Some would call Don't Look Up — a comedy about the world's farcical response to a planet-threatening crisis that feels similar to how climate change has played out so far — more science than fiction. Either way, this ensemble comedy proved popular when it dropped on Netflix, painting targets on everyone's back, to highlight how complicit everyone can be. Things get odder, though, when a billionaire decides that we can't destroy the comet heading for Earth, because it can be mined for trillions of dollars of rare elements. So, he pitches using unproven technology to break the comet into pieces, which supposedly won't be devastating once they enter our orbit Divisive, as some find its humor deft and others see it as ham-fisted, Don't Look Up is the kind of science fiction that those plugged into the news may want to watch.

Rotten Tomatoes score: 56%
Stars:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Rob Morgan, Jonah Hill, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep
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Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.