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The All-Time Best Sci-Fi Movies You Can Stream Right Now: The Matrix, Harry Potter & More
Here’s the list you need when only the absolute cream of the science fiction movie crop will do.
If all our half-dozen subscription plans to streaming services could guarantee unfettered access to every science fiction movie classic since the dawn of time, we’d have no need for lists like this one. But thanks to the willy-nilly whims of streaming deals from one season to the next, you can never be sure which must-watch movie icons come bundled in with that monthly fee.
That’s why we’ve stepped in to round up the cream of the cinematic crop of all-time greatest science fiction flicks you can actually stream right now — and, most importantly, where to find them. We’ll update the roster as some titles fall off and others that we really, really wanted to include here find their way back onto the streaming dial at some point. But if you just can't wait to plunge into the film class-worthy deep end of the classic sci-fi movie pool, consider this your handy cheat sheet guide.
The All-Time Best Sci-Fi Movies You Can Stream Right Now
The Matrix (Peacock)
He’s beginning to believe! Few movies of any genre, nearly a quarter century after their release, can claim the kind of game-changing influence on present-day filmmakers and audiences like Neo’s original unplugging from The Matrix. Despite sequels that never managed to live up to the expectations set by the Wachowskis’ landmark 1999 first film, Keanu Reeves’ initial outing as The One routinely rates at or near the top of nearly everyone’s list of the greatest sci-fi movies ever made. Of all the effects-heavy sci-fi flicks released before the turn of the new millennium, The Matrix — for both its chains-breaking story and its groundbreaking visual effects — still holds up as an eternal dystopian allegory that seems to stand outside of time.
Asteroid City (Peacock)
It’s not the first movie alien he’s ever played, but it’s safe to say that Jeff Goldblum’s shy, spindly Asteroid City extraterrestrial is definitely his quirkiest. Director Wes Anderson’s signature quirks abound, in fact, in this painterly version of a 1950s desert stop where sci-fi forebodings overshadow a self-contained meta-verse of totally relatable human drama. From brainiac science kids to a singing cowboy to a jaded actress in need of a thrill, Asteroid City comes loaded with one of Anderson’s biggest-ever ensembles of A-listers, including Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Maya Hawke, Bryan Cranston, Jason Schwartzman, Margot Robbie, Matt Dillon, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, and — of course! — Goldblum himself.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Peacock)
If you’re awed by Rupert Grint’s killer grown-up turns in present-day projects like Servant and Knock at the Cabin, then it’s an absolute mind warp to go back to the first Harry Potter film and see the magic these kids — back when they were kids — brought to Hogwarts right from the beginning. The 2001 movie that started it all feels both fresh and nostalgic today, with each new fantasy beat widening the invitation to just suspend all disbelief and get fully invested in Butterbeer, Quidditch, Hagrid, and house-sorting. Best of all, you don’t have to be a reader to grasp the Wizarding World’s insanely deep magic-verse; Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone happily uncovers each all-important lore secret faster than you can say Revelio. Feeling like a full-scale Hogwarts movie binge? Stay spellbound on Peacock, where the original Harry Potter movie-verse is currently streaming its entirety.
Jurassic Park (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Steven Spielberg’s first dino spectacle is still the best. Jurassic Park stomped straight through the box office and right into sci-fi cinematic history on its 1993 release, roaring up a perfectly-synthesized mix of groundbreaking effects, scale-tingling scares, and high-concept questions about what we humans could — or should — try to do with all our biotech ambitions. Like most of Spielberg’s best movies, you don’t have to put on your thinking cap to appreciate Jurassic Park as a purely adrenalized thrill ride… but, in the same mind as Jeff Goldblum’s introspective Dr. Ian Malcolm, it claws deep into laying out the unsettling implications of messing with Mother Nature.
The Thing (Peacock)
Directing legend John Carpenter changed the sci-fi horror landscape for good with The Thing, his ice-cold 1982 classic reimagining of 1950s creature feature The Thing From Another World. Switching out the earlier film’s alien plant menace for a body-mimicking E.T. that picks off researchers at an isolated Arctic research station, The Thing leaned heavily into practical effects to achieve some of the biggest scares in cinematic history. With a killer cast led by Kurt Russell as the intrepid pilot tasked with taking the dwindling team’s survival into his own hands, it’s not just one of Carpenter’s best films — it’s a must-watch sci-fi horror masterpiece that still rates among the best creepy features ever committed to celluloid.
2001: A Space Odyssey (Max)
Stanley Kubrick’s genre-defining glimpse inward at humanity and outward toward its most distant awakenings never seems to age. Even in an entertainment world overrun with sci-fi films that bear the influence of his 1968 masterpiece, 2001: A Space Odyssey endures with a timeless purity whose epic visuals, man-versus-machine thrills, and search for transcendence all combine for a cinematic history lesson that, incredibly, continually feels present-day fresh from one generation to the next.
Let the Right One In (Peacock)
The original 2008 movie that spawned a small supernatural phenomenon, director Tomas Alfredson’s slow-burn meditation on the unseen complications of vampire survival leaves viewers with a different slate of takeaway emotions than your typical fangs-and-frights flick. Fans today may be more familiar with Matt Reeves’ bigger-budget 2010 remake Let Me In, but there’s something irreplaceably surreal and ambient about the original movie's harrowing, haunted, and oddly meditative snowbound setting.
The Last Unicorn (Peacock)
It’s easy to lapse into nostalgic reverie at the mere memory of having seen The Last Unicorn as a kid, but grown-ups owe it to themselves to revisit the Rankin/Bass-produced 1982 fantasy classic, a perfectly-paced animated adventure whose stature has only grown over time — thanks in no small part to a standout voice cast that assembled Mia Farrow (as the titular pony of legend), Alan Arkin (as sidekick Schmendrick), Jeff Bridges (as unwavering love interest Prince Lír), Angela Lansbury (as sly witch Mommy Fortuna), and Christopher Lee (as the aptly-named, down-and-out King Haggard).
The Super Mario Bros. Movie (Peacock)
It’s-a here! Mario (Chris Pratt), Luigi (Charlie Day), Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) and the whole Nintendo gang gobbled up box office coins like Goombas earlier this year with The Super Mario Bros. Movie. Now the family-friendly, game-based blockbuster — complete with the creative blessing of Mario mastermind Shigeru Miyamoto — is boppin’ and sockin’ it to big baddie Bowser (Jack Black) with powered-up platforming panache on Peacock. You’ll laugh, you’ll fly, and you might even cry at Black’s now-iconic “Peaches” singalong lullaby… but however you slice it, the Mushroom Kingdom beckons with Easter eggs aplenty, all hatched from more than 40 years’ worth of Mario gaming greatness.
She’s tiny, she’s sassy, and she’s learning to think way beyond the bounds of her protective-pal A.I. programming. Yep, when M3GAN decides it’s time to throw hands, there’s nothing you can do but run. Allison Williams (Aunt Gemma) and Violet McGraw (Cady) vie for human control over Gemma’s next-level tech creation in what easily proved to be the most entertaining horror hit of early 2023, as M3GAN danced, pranced, and inevitably pounced on anyone who even looked at Cady the wrong way... including her own flesh and blood. Pick your streaming flavor: the slightly-racier unrated edition, or the original theatrical version. Either way, our favorite killer android is stalking your every move in both the theatrical and deep-cut unrated versions of M3GAN.
Mud, blood, and a hopeless jungle footrace that’s unfairly weighted in favor of the alien with a monopoly on all the deadly stalker tech: John McTiernan’s 1987 Predator might be billed as a sci-fi action film, but for our money, it’s also one of the scariest movies out there. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dialogue-sparse cat-and-mouse chase with a near-omnipotent space visitor wrung tons of tension from a plot that relied more on visual, often wordless storytelling as the observant camera kept viewers glued to their seats. Watch it again with fresh eyes that forget all the familiar franchise lore that the movie’s since inspired, and relish just how chilling the original Predator still feels as Dutch and the gang slowly realize what they’re really up against.
Equal parts spooky, funny, and awe-inspiring, Ghostbusters remains one of cinematic history’s most beloved and perennially-revisited franchises. Producer/director Ivan Reitman’s original 1984 classic boasted an absolute dream cast, with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson anchoring all the intrepid specter-snatching hijinks as the iconic quartet of tech-assisted ghost hunters who snuffed out New York’s most stubborn, mischief-minded spirits. Just in time for Halloween season to kick into gear, Peacock is featuring not only the 1984 original, but the hilarious 1989 sequel, Ghostbusters II, as well.
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Paramount+)
We’re a long way from Fantasy Island in 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, with the late Ricardo Montalban trading his warm TV smile for a power-signaling space mullet as titular villain Khan Noonien Singh. Fans widely regard The Wrath of Khan as one of the Star Trek franchise’s greatest films, which gets no argument from us. It’s one of the deepest and most emotionally relatable movies in the entire Trek canon, tying a believably-motivated baddie — something fans of the TV series couldn’t always take for granted — to the iconic old-school cast of Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest of the Enterprise gang.
Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back (Disney+)
Stream all the Star Wars movies to your heart’s content at Disney+, but if you’re just looking for a quick-one-shot dip back into the original trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back will forever be your best bet. Looking both backward and forward within the immense sci-fi universe George Lucas had birthed with its 1977 predecessor, Empire elevated the series from a single majestic space opera to an insanely rich saga whose canonical ripples suddenly seemed to extend to the very edges of the galaxy. The stellar but simple themes of Episode IV expanded in The Empire Strikes Back in ways we still never tire of — from twisted family secrets, to tragically fated love, to finding the deepest wisdom in places — and faces — where you’d never think to look.
Looking for even more great sci-fi films? Head over to Peacock and check out the entire stellar collection streaming right now!