My husband reads quantum physics based science books for fun so it is no surprise that sci-fi films and series entertainment are popular in our household. Here are our recommendations, including anything based on a story by Philip K. Dick.
Recommended Sci-Fi Series on Amazon Prime
Counterpart (2017-2019) Two seasons starring J.K. Simmons in two roles. Starz cancelled it but watch it anyway. Riveting alternate universe story.
The Expanse (2015 – ): Don’t be discouraged by the first season it gets better. Highly rated.
Upload (2020, May 1): Sci-fi, Rom-com, Mystery. You may not know the actors but they do a good job. 10 episodes in Season one. After a 45 minute start, the rest of the episodes are about 30 minutes. Amazon Original.
Tales from the Loop (2020): Each dramatic episode is a complete story but at the same time a piece of the whole. Final (8th) episode directed by Jodi Foster.
Undone (2019 Sept 13 – ) Rotoscope. Time travel. Starring Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) and Rosa Salazar. Eight 23 minute episodes in Season One – goes very quickly. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with 48 reviews.
Good Omens (2019): Starring Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm and Frances McDormand as the voice of God. British. Heartwarming importance of friendship. Humor. Interesting bits of bible history.
Man in the High Castle Season 1 – 2 available, Season 3 trailer is live. At first we resisted Season 2 because we were so relieved that Season 1 ended on a high note. We ended up binge watching Season 2 once we got started. Traveling between parallel universes is a lure. From the short story by Philip K. Dick.
BrainDead (2016): Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tony Shaloub. Black political sci-fi humor. Very enjoyable. Originally produced for CBS. Appeared in 2018 on Amazon Prime.
Humans 2.0 (2015 – ) Now in Season 2
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (2018): First two episodes Real Life and Autofac have the highest IMDB ratings. All independent stories.
Falling Skies (2011 -) 5 seasons, 52 episodes. TNT in the US, Mostly Fox and FX worldwide, Star in Japan.
Dark Matter (2015 – 2017): Space, adventure, drama, mystery, women power. Cancelled Oct 2017 by Syfy to the disappointment of fans. 39 episodes, 3 seasons. Also on Netflix. Canadian production.
Recommended Sci-Fi Series and Films on HBO:
Made for Love (April 2021): Black comedy starring Cristin Milioti (from the excellent Palm Springs on Hulu); Ray Romano as her father; Billy Magnussen as the reclusive owner of Gogle.
Raised by Wolves (2020): Androids “Mother” and “Father” tasked with raising human children on the nearby Kepler-22b planet. Dystopian earth has warring atheists and sun believers, the sun worshipers send arks into space. “Mother” is the power woman central figure in this excellent drama.
Yesterday (2019): Entertaining Music Dramedy related to music of the Beatles
Watchmen (2019, October -): Alternate reality, sci-fi, based on graphic novel starring Regina King, Tim Blake Nelson, Don Johnson, Jeremy Irons
WestWorld (2016 – ): Be sure to watch through Season 3 which aired in 2020.
The Skin I Live In (2011): film by Pedro Almodóvar, starring Antonio Banderas as a plastic surgeon. Thriller.
Recommended Sci-Fi Series on Fox
The Orville (2017): Created by and starring Seth MacFarlane. Catch up with Fox On Demand (which includes commercials), start recording to your DVR. Thursday nights. Season finale was December 7th.
Recommended Sci-Fi Series on Netflix Streaming
The One (2021): British actors we don’t know but we found this series entertaining. Frankly it got middling reviews. LGBQ.
Away (2020): Hillary Swank
Outlanders Seasons one through three from Starz. Time travel. Filmed in Scotland. A sexy, romantic, treat with plenty of fighting (including swords) for the guys
Russian Doll (2019 Feb): Dramedy mystery with enough parallel universe reference to intrigue sci-fi fans starring Natasha Lyonne (Orange is the New Black) who also co-created with Amy Poehler and Leslye Headland. Eight 30 minute episodes. Natasha Lyonne’s best friend Chloë Sevigny appears as her mother late in the series.
– Stranger Things (2016 – ) Now in Season 2. starring Winona Ryder, David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown. 2017 multiple Emmy nominations and some minor wins.
– Dark Matter (2015 – 2017): Space, adventure, drama, mystery, women power. Cancelled Oct 2017 by Syfy to the disappointment of fans. 39 episodes, 3 seasons. Also on Amazon Prime. Canadian production.
Verge and Cinemablend on the cancellation.
– Black Mirror (2015 – ): Our recommendations on which episodes to watch first and which to skip
– Travelers (2016): One season so far. We are currently left hanging
– Limitless (2015 – 2016): based on the film. 22 episodes. Originally on CBS. CBS canceled Limitless in May 2016. Also on Amazon Prime. Bradley Cooper appears in the series. The star, Jake McDormand is charming.
Watch the Limitless film first! Available on Netflix DVD. Or Amazon Prime for $2.99
– 3% (2016 – ): In Portuguese with English subtitles. Season one in 2016. Season 2 anticipated in 2018. Lauded by Nerdist. “There’s a ton of talk online about the Turing twists of Westworld and the linguistic lore of Arrival, but there should be a lot more conversation around Netflix’s Brazilian sci-fi pressure cooker 3%.”
– Continuum (2012 – 2015): Time travel cop show. Also on Amazon Prime Video. Corporations have taken over the world. We start in 2077 and go back to 2012. This is a Canadian production. Originally on “Showcase” in Canada. Ran on SyFy in USA 2013 – 2015.
– The 100 (2014 – ): 71 episodes. Also on Amazon Prime Video. Continuing on The CW. Thursdays 9pm. But unknown when Season 5 continues with episode 5.5. Elements of Lost, Lord of the Flies. “Set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization, when a spaceship housing humanity’s lone survivors sends 100 juvenile delinquents back to Earth in hopes of possibly re-populating the planet.”
Variety says The 100 gets good in Season 3. IMDB 7.8 as of August 2017. We’re currently enjoying Season 1.
– The Good Place (2016 – ): Quirky metaphysical comedy. Originally on NBC. Good start but couldn’t keep our attention in the most recent season
Recommended Sci-Fi Series on Apple TV
For All Mankind (2019 – ) 2021 in second season. Heavy on family drama side but worth watching. Alternate universe in space race where the Russians get to the moon first. Hot Joel Kinnaman (but he doesn’t take his shirt off in this one like he does in Hanna). Female Empowerment. A bit of LGBQ.
Netflix Streaming Sci-Fi We plan to See
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018): Netflix Original. Only got 5.6 on IMDB so not in a rush.
The Road (2009): Charlize Theron, Viggo Mortenson post-apocalyptic world, sci-fi genre is not official
Recommended Sci-Fi Films on Netflix Streaming
What Happened to Monday (2017): Netflix Original Film. Starring Noomi Rapace (outstanding in SEVEN roles!), Willem Dafoe and Glenn Close. female power, importance of family, action thriller
Rogue One (2016): Star Wars. female power
The Giver (2014): Romance based on a book by Lois Lawry. Starring Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges
World of Tomorrow (2015) short – only 10 minutes long
In Your Eyes (2014): romance
Mr. Nobody (2009): starring Jared Leto
Secondary but Watchable Sci-fi. 6.3 or more on IMDB
Tenet (2020): Created by Christoper Nolan who has done much better things. Time inversion. Lots of action. Challenging to follow. Almost no character development. 7.4 on IMDB.
Altered Carbon (2018): First episode, you will likely not understand what Martha Higareda is saying. That aspect improves. Series has avid fans but a lot of violence.
Intransit (2016): “A short sci-fi love story” 30 minutes
Bright (December 22, 2017): Netflix Original starring Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Lucy Fry Budget $90M. Cop buddy film with Humans, Elves, Orcs, Fairies and more in an alternate Los Angeles.
The Discovery (2017): film starring Robert Redford, Jason Segel, Rooney Mara, Mary Steenburgen. Netflix Original.
Arq (2016): Sci-fi thriller. indie film. No A-Listers in the cast but entertaining
Time Lapse (2014): Sci-fi thriller indie film. No A-Listers in the cast but entertaining
Recommended Sci-Fi Films on Amazon Prime
Marjorie Prime (2017): starring John Hamm, Geena Davis, Tim Robbins, Stephanie Andujar from the play by John Harrison so it’s conversation intensive but excellent. Romantic.
Arrival (2016): starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Remmer. female power.
Terminator Genisys (2015): starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (IMDB 6.5 Aug 2017)
Sci-Fi Films on Amazon Prime We Plan to See
Goliad Uprising (2012): sci-fi thriller. 6.8 on IMDB Aug 2017, No A-Listers in cast
LIVE (2019): Black Mirror inspired short written, directed and starring Taryn O’Neill.
(whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for 10+ years). 12 minutes long.
Recommended Sci-Fi Films and Series on Netflix DVDs
Star Trek Discovery (2019 -): from CBS All Access. Excellent series and great making of bonus features. Season one and two on Netflix DVD’s. You’ll need CBS All Access to get Season three, which is currently running
Gemini Man (2019): Starring Will Smith (2 roles), Clive Owen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Panned by many critics but we liked it. Coming of age. Excellent bonus features with lots of making of details.
Ad Astra (2019): Starring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones. Rotten Tomatoes shows critics liked it, audience not so much. Seems like the audience was expecting an action movie. Brief parts with Donald Sutherland and Liv Tyler.
An appreciative review from Ann Hornaday at Washington Post.
Outlanders Season 4. The first 3 seasons are on Netflix Streaming and on Starz which is now running Season 5.
Get Out (2017): Oscar Best Picture nominee. Not classic sci-fi genre but touches of it with the mystery thriller. Classified as horror but we disagree.
Wonder Woman (2017): starring beautiful people: fantasy adventure. Gal Gadot, Chris Pine. Acclaimed for its Female Power with the female action hero and a female director, Patty Jenkins. Also starting Robin Wright.
Arrival (2016): starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Remmer. female power. good bonus features Also on Amazon Streaming.
Colossal (2016): Starring Ann Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis. Difficult to categorize (Bob the Movie Man). Just see it!
Space Between Us (2016): Gary Oldman, Britt Robertson coming of age
Morgan (2016): Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rose Leslie; small parts by Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Giamatti.
The Martian (2015): Matt Damon
Age of Adaline (2015): Romance. Harrison Ford
Lucy (2014): Thriller. Written and directed by Luc Besson. Starring Scarlett Johanson and Morgan Freeman. Filmed in Taipei, Paris and Berlin.
About Time (2013): Romantic time travel comedy. starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy
Looper (2012): starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012): Time travel. warm comedic indie film.
Limitless (2011): Bradley Cooper. There is also a TV show based on this film
Inception (2010): starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page
Perfect Sense (2011): starring Ewan McGregor as an executive chef. Sci-fi romance.
Paul (2011): comedy, sci-fi. starring Simon Pegg, Jason Bateman, Seth Rogan (voice), Sigourney Weaver
A Scanner Darkly (2006): Story by Philip K. Dick. Created by Richard Linklater in Rotoscope. Starring Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr, Woody Harrelson. Cameo by Alex Jones. DVD includes 2 bonus features: film commentary and making of. Ebert’s review: theguardian.com/film/2006/aug/18/animation.keanureeves
Recommended Sci-Fi Films and Series on CBS All Access
Star Trek Discovery (2019 -): Excellent series and great making of bonus features. Season one and two on Netflix DVD’s. You’ll need CBS All Access to get Season three, which is currently running
Sci-Fi Films on Netflix DVDs We Plan to See
Coherence (2013): Mystery, sci-fi, thriller. 90 minutes. 7.2 IMDB August as of 2017. No a-listers
Unrecommended Sci-Fi on Streaming
Penitent Man (2010): sci-fi drama. 6.9 on IMDB Aug 2017, No A-Listers in cast. Amazon Prime Video. Pointless talky film.
Recommended Sci-Fi on DUST (YouTube Sci-fi Channel)
DUST is hosted by YouTube and they’re hoping you will upgrade to avoid watching two ads before the start of your film.
@WatchDUST is their Twitter handle. youtube.com/c/watchdust is their YouTube Channel.
Good Sci-Fi Streaming Films are a Challenge to Find
For some reason recent, highly rated sci-fi films included with streaming packages is slim pickings. The good films are reserved for Netflix rental DVD’s or pay per view on pay platforms. We are collecting films to show you here. Please let us know if you’ve found any we missed (2010 or later) in the comments here, through Twitter @LindaSherman or through our Contact Us page.