Amazon’s extensive library of science fiction movies includes everything from major blockbusters to low-budget curiosities, all involving favorite sci-fi tropes like futuristic visions, space travel, and alien visitors. Here are 10 good sci-fi movies to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Update, 5/4/23: Bill & Ted Face the Music, District B13, The Double, The Hunger Games, and Star Trek: Into Darkness all left Prime Video, so we’ve replaced them with five new picks.
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
There’s no shortage of low-budget ingenuity on display in Japanese sci-fi comedy Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. Presented as a single continuous shot, it’s an intricately plotted yet goofy story about a café owner who discovers that a pair of monitors in his business and his upstairs apartment are linked by a two-minute time loop.
Seeing two minutes into the future may not sound all that useful, but the filmmakers come up with escalating scenarios that cleverly tie together as more characters discover the strange technology. It’s a sweet, funny movie about a lo-fi, low-key form of time travel.
Shrouded in secrecy at the time it was released, Cloverfield offers an innovative take on the disaster movie, using a found-footage approach to depict a monster attack on New York City from the perspective of average citizens. Director Matt Reeves sticks close to a group of friends as they attempt to find safety after a massive creature starts destroying the city.
Away from the promotional hype, Cloverfield is an intense, immersive sci-fi thriller, with impressive creature design and characters worth caring about as they flee from certain doom—while filming every minute of it.
Lovecraftian horror combines with space exploration in Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon. A starship crew discover terrors from another dimension when they’re sent to investigate a missing vessel that has suddenly and inexplicably reappeared.
Sam Neill is mesmerizing as the scientist who’s been driven beyond madness, with Laurence Fishburne as the responsible captain who must stop him from unleashing further evil. The movie is an entertainingly over-the-top cross between Alien and Hellraiser, with memorable imagery that makes up for the narrative absurdity.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The original 1956 adaptation of Jack Finney’s sci-fi novel is a classic, but the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers stands right alongside it. Each movie uses the concept of alien “pod people” replacing humans as an allegory for social issues of its time.
Donald Sutherland stars as a San Francisco health inspector who attempts to raise the alarm about the alien presence, but struggles to find anyone who will believe him. It’s a chilling story of authoritarian takeover, with one of the most memorable endings in cinema history.
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Jordan Peele mixes the horror and social commentary of his first two films with a larger-scale sci-fi story in Nope. Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya star as a pair of siblings who’ve inherited a horse ranch and animal entertainment business from their late father.
As they struggle to make their way on the fringes of Hollywood, they become convinced that a strange cloud formation above their land is actually an alien craft. Peele examines the toxic drive for spectacle and fame, while creating an exciting, awe-inspiring spectacle of his own.
J.J. Abrams crafts a tribute to the movies of his youth (particularly the early work of Steven Spielberg) in Super 8, named after the film stock preferred by amateur movie-makers. In 1979, the Super 8 camera being used by a group of teens working on their own homemade film production accidentally captures something no one was supposed to see.
Those teens get caught up in a government conspiracy to hide alien activity, and Abrams treats the story with a sense of wonder that is lovingly Spielbergian.
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The Vast of Night
The low-budget sci-fi drama The Vast of Night gets a lot of mileage out of its characters for just talking about strange things happening. Director Andrew Patterson’s debut feature is framed as an episode of a Twilight Zone-style TV series and often plays out like a radio drama. The movie follows two teenagers in a small town in 1950s New Mexico over the course of one uncanny night.
Patterson uses long takes and elaborate tracking shots to place the audience right alongside the characters as they investigate mysterious phenomena.
Zach Galifianakis gives an unexpectedly subdued performance as a corporate drone in an absurdist retro-futuristic society in Visioneers. He plays George Washington Winsterhammerman, a “level three tunt” at the nonsensical Jeffers Corporation, who experiences growing discontent with his place in life. Visioneers is a dry, surreal comedy about the nightmare of corporate conformity, but it’s also a tender story about emotional connection, as George and his family, friends, and co-workers find small moments of happiness amid their warped environment.
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A young couple discovers that moving to the suburbs can turn into a bizarre nightmare in sci-fi horror movie Vivarium. Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) just want to take a tour of a new housing development, but they’re left stranded in the seemingly endless and abandoned subdivision, with no means of escape. They eventually form a sort of pseudo-family with a mysterious, fast-aging child left in their care, even as their efforts to break free from their inexplicable predicament become more desperate and chaotic.
The War of the Worlds
The first feature film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic novel of alien invasion, the 1953 version of The War of the Worlds moves the setting to contemporary Southern California, where a scientist desperately searches for a way to defeat the extraterrestrial invaders.
There are some admirably bleak sequences of humanity’s despair in the face of an unstoppable enemy, balanced out by plenty of hokey but charming character interactions. The pioneering special-effects work may look a bit cheesy at times, but most of the movie is still remarkably effective.