Aliens are most likely among us, at least that’s what we learned—or confirmed—in 2017. That revelation mostly flew under the radar as we dealt with other chaos in the world, but we’ve longed to connect with extraterrestrials for centuries. If you’re looking for movies about aliens, Netflix has an interesting selection of fictional takes and documentaries. Here’s a rundown of some of the best alien movies on Netflix, from dramas to comedies and documentaries.
The best alien moves on Netflix
1) The Cloverfield Paradox
Netflix surprised subscribers during the 2018 Super Bowl and dropped the third installment of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot-produced series in their laps. It attempts to tie together the universes of 2008’s Cloverfield and 2016’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, and hands us some theories on how those monsters landed on Earth, as a team of scientists hovers above the planet trying to find a new source of energy. But in this timeline, their mission might have accidentally welcomed an alien invasion. Obsessives will have a fun time finding all the Cloververse connections.
2) Men in Black
This 1997 Tommy Lee Jones-Will Smith film spawned a franchise, but the original flick about two agents trying to avoid an alien invasion holds up 20 years later. The ‘90s were full of action comedies about alien invaders, and Men in Black leads the pack in terms of staying power. A reboot of the original is even in the works.
3) Europa Report
This 2013 indie is something of a sleeper hit, combining found footage with artful thriller. Six astronauts are sent to explore Jupiter’s moon, Europa, funded by a private company, but of course, things don’t go as planned. We know right away that the mission lost contact with Earth, but unraveling exactly what happened—and what they encounter—is more meditative than horrifying.
4) Batteries Not Included
The ‘80s produced a handful of charming alien movies made to appeal to kids and adults, and if you’re a child of the ‘80s, this one probably holds a special place. Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy are a sweet old couple who discover tiny flying saucers in their decaying apartment building. The special effects aren’t great, but the aliens are cute! And they want to help! And have a sense of right and wrong!
5) Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?
Ah, 1995. Remember when we had the mental space to obsess over Roswell and whether that newly released alien autopsy footage was real? It was later revealed to be a hoax, of course, but this 1995 doc explores a time in pop culture when we wanted to believe (it originally aired on Fox, home to The X-Files) and the 1947 Roswell UFO crash provided the perfect illusion. Plus, Star Trek’s Jonathan Frakes hosted.
6) Aliens: Zone of Silence
A horror film lightly disguised as a documentary, Aliens: Zone of Silence also goes the found-footage route. After a woman’s brother and his friend disappear from an area of the Mexican desert called Zona del Silencio, she travels to the site to try to figure out what happened. Big mistake! She camps the desert alone, heightening the tension and making every shadow and sound even more unnerving.
7) Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The sequel to 2014’s adaptation hits a more emotional center, as protagonist Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) tries to find his father. It also ups the number of colorful alien species on screen. Most notably, we see the Watchers—an ancient race of observant aliens that originally appeared in the Marvel comics—in one scene with Stan Lee, and in the credits. Their appearance supports a fan theory that Lee has been playing Uatu, the main Watcher, in all his cameos.
Moon is one of the best sci-fi movies of the 21st century. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an astronaut working a solo mission on the moon. With his assignment nearing its end, Sam finds out that his replacement is… himself. The more Sam tries to figure out the true nature of his work, and himself, the more his world upends. This is the best work of Rockwell’s career, and he has a blast playing multiple versions of his character. Director and co-writer Duncan Jones delivered a top-tier debut with Moon, and the resourceful filmmaking marked him as a bright new voice. But this is Rockwell’s show, and he crushes it. —Eddie Strait
In Alex Garland’s adaptation of Annihilation, we still get to explore Area X, a quarantined area of land besieged by mysterious environmental changes. That’s about where the similarities to the book end. The film uses author Jeff VanderMeer’s spectral setting to get in its characters’ heads. Natalie Portman plays Lena, a biologist and former soldier who is grieving the loss of her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac). He was sent into Area X on a secret mission and feared dead, but he suddenly returns home—altered. Lena’s mission there is one of truth and redemption, but Portman plays her with appropriate detachment. We don’t really know her true motives, and fellow travelers Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Cass (Tuva Novotny), Josie (Tessa Thompson), and Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have their own reasons for going on an apparent suicide mission. —Audra Schroeder
* Available March 12 internationally. No release date has been set for Netflix subscribers in the U.S.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.
Also published on Medium.
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