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15 best sci-fi movies on Hulu that you can watch right now

15 best sci-fi movies on Hulu that you can watch right now https://ift.tt/bk9mGSZ Zendaya in

Science fiction can run the gamut from far-flung space adventures to journeys to the bottom of the ocean. The genre can introduce us to awe-inspiring robots, horrific extraterrestrials, or harrowing experiments. Whether the sci-fi ranges from the mostly true to the truly outrageous, there's always fun to be had in this sandbox. But how to pick which to watch?

Hulu's got a wide selection of movies, but how to know the best from the rest? We've got you covered.

Here's the best sci-fi movies now streaming on Hulu.

1. The Creator

John David Washington and Madeleine Yuna Voyles in "The Creator."
Credit: 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Writer/director Gareth Edwards broke onto the sci-fi scene in a big way with the 2010 invasion thriller Monsters. Since then, he's taken big swings at some of sci-fi's flashiest franchises, such as 2014's Godzilla and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In this wildly ambitious 2023 offering, he and screenwriter Chris Weitz have carved out a world all their own, one in which humans and AI robots are at war. John David Washington stars as a soldier whose allegiances are challenged when he meets Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles), a robot unlike any he's seen before. She's a child, and she could well be the path to a future of coexistence — as long as they can survive the attacks of the relentless Colonel Howell (Allison Janney). Full of jaw-dropping visuals, including a terrifying warship, The Creator is a gift to sci-fi fans. But beyond the film's dazzling futuristic flourishes, the emotional story at its core is what will keep you hooked. — Kristy Puchko, Film Editor

How to watch: The Creator is now streaming on Hulu.

2. Melancholia

In this haunting exploration of hopelessness, Kirsten Dunst plays a reluctant bride facing the end of the Earth. A compelling blend of apocalyptic stakes and deep, precise understanding of grief make Melancholia an all-time great perspective on what it means to confront nothingness. It’s certainly the most cynical title on this (or really any) list, but offers a nihilistic catharsis for audiences who seek that sort of thing. Come for the promise of some truly stunning visuals, stay for the unique atmosphere you can really only get here. — Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

How to watch: Melancholia is now streaming on Hulu.

3. Akira

Plenty of people have heard of Akira, or have at the very least seen enough of the sci-fi anime classic's iconic motorcycle to have an association with that title. But have you ever sit down and watched it? It's time to correct that if not. Akira isn't just one of the best anime stories ever told, it's also a shoo-in for virtually any "greatest sci-fi of all time" round-up that gets put together. The story, adapted from the manga created by Katsuhiro Otomo (who also directed), follows Shotaro Kaneda, leader of the Capsules biker gang, as he fights to save his telekinetic friend Tetsuo Shima from forces that want to exploit those abilities. The plot eventually spins outward into a much bigger cyberpunk-fueled story set against the backdrop of a dystopian "Neo-Tokyo" in 2019. — Adam Rosenberg, Former Weekend Editor

How to watch: Akira is now streaming on Hulu.

4. Gone in the Night

Missing Stranger Things? Then you'll appreciate this trippy thriller starring Winona Ryder as a middle-aged botanist whose romantic getaway with her younger beau (John Gallagher Jr.) goes sideways thanks to some unexpected guests. Out of the film's 2022 SXSW debut — back when it was called The Cow — we raved about Gone in the Night, cheering its dizzying blend of sci-fi thrills and rom-com charm. "Through all these twists and genre turns, Ryder is our reliable guide. She deftly dances through the demand for a wry joke, a wistful smile, a worried glance," I wrote in my review. "With savage wit and sophisticated twists, Gone in the Night is a must-see, whether you treasure great thrills or whether you rightly worship at the temple of Winona Ryder." — K.P.

How to watch: Gone in the Night is now streaming on Hulu.

5. Sea Fever

Craving a mix of science fiction and folk horror? Then you'll relish this excellent indie from writer/director Neasa Hardiman. Set aboard an Irish trawler, Sea Fever follows Siobhán (Hermione Corfield), a marine biology student assigned to survey any marine life this fishing crew comes across. But when something strange surfaces, the superstitious crew and the academic outsider are at odds over how to react. Whichever side you're on, you'll relish the tension as characters scramble to make sense of the ocean's unknowable possibilities. Though this low-budget affair doesn't boast the flashy monsters of studio flicks, Hardiman delivers enough glimpses and teases that you'll definitely be hooked. And the crackling cast, which includes Connie Nielsen, Dougray Scott, Olwen Fouéré, Jack Hickey, and Ardalan Esmaili, shares a chemistry that makes you feel a part of the crew, for better or worse. — K.P.

How to watch: Sea Fever is now streaming on Hulu.

6. Alien

Sigourney Weaver in "Alien."
Credit: Robert Penn / 20th Century Fox / Kobal / Shutterstock

Alien isn't just one of the best space movies of all time — it's also one of the best movies of all time, full stop. Thanks to Ridley Scott's direction and visual design led by Swiss artist H.R. Giger, this science-fiction horror film is genuinely creepy and claustrophobic, taking our intrinsic fear of dark and narrow corridors and using it to masterful effect.

In a lot of ways, Scott's sci-fi behemoth set a template for future space movies. The sense of isolation, the rapidly diminishing crew, the fear of AI, the body horror — all of these are tropes we've seen cropping up again and again over the years, including in some of the other films on this list. And while many of these descendants deploy those ideas well, few have managed to make the same gory splash that Alien did. (As a side note, Aliens — the second movie in the franchise — is also very much worth a watch).* — Sam Haysom, Deputy UK Editor

How to watch: Alien is now streaming on Hulu.

7. Europa Report

On the surface, Europa Report has all the elements of a standard space horror hybrid: There's the voyage to find other life, a case of mysterious lights, and the rapidly escalating tension that comes from realising things are about to go horribly, horribly wrong.

But despite all that, Sebastián Cordero's thriller doesn't feel generic. The film's found-footage style gives it the same sense of realism that made The Blair Witch Project so creepy, and the central mystery of the lights — coupled with a crew that keeps getting picked off — builds a sense of suspense that ratchets up nicely as the film progresses.

Remember, just because something looks beautiful, doesn't mean it isn't deadly.* — S.H.

How to watch: Europa Report is now streaming on Hulu.

8. Something in the Dirt

Co-directors/co-stars Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead play Los Angeles neighbors who are drawn together by a glimpse of the supernatural in this Sundance favorite. Something in the Dirt uses a cerebral sci-fi premise to explore the complicated bond between its heroes. Here, a frustrated loner and a happy-go-lucky drifter find unexpected community and purpose by happenstance. Naturally, they decide to make a documentary about their findings. Thus, this movie is revealed to be a mockumentary, where the crew keeps quitting, the re-enactments become increasingly (and purposefully) sketchy, and the answers to its big questions aren't guaranteed. The result is a film that is trippy, unsettling, and sometimes sharply funny.* — K.P.

How to watch: Something in the Dirt is now streaming on Hulu.

9. Crimes of the Future

Léa Seydoux, Viggo Mortensen, and Kristen Stewart in "Crimes of the Future."
Credit: NEON

Now into his sixth decade of making movies, director David Cronenberg proved with 2022's Crimes of the Future that he's still got that wow-slash-ick factor that turned his last name into an adjective. In an unspecified near-future, the government's struggle to control its populace through our bodies has reached a new level of weirdness thanks to people like Saul Tenser (Cronenberg muse Viggo Mortensen), a performance artist who has the ability to sprout new organs willy-nilly thanks to "accelerated evolution syndrome." 

Aside from Saul, who is in constant discomfort because of his syndrome, most humans don't feel pain or get sick, possibly due to some kind of genetic mutation. Thus, Saul's performance art with his partner Caprice (Léa Seydoux) consists of eroticized surgery; she removes his errant organs on stage for a rapt live audience. Cut and repeat.

Plot-wise, the twosome find themselves drawn into a bizarre murder mystery involving a young boy who'd somehow developed the ability to consume and fully digest plastic, and a burgeoning underground movement of people eager to make a similar leap up the evolutionary chain themselves. Politics, sex, surgery, the fellating of open wounds, furniture that looks like it would give H.R. Giger a headache — this is as classic Cronenberg as it gets. And did I mention it's all played to be deadpan hilarious? If you're unsure, just watch the comedic tour de force that Kristen Stewart is giving as a whacked-out government employee, and she'll clue you in. — Jason Adams, Entertainment Reporter 

How to watch: Crimes of the Future is now streaming on Hulu.

10. Planet of the Apes (1968)

Three astronauts, including the ever-blustering George Taylor (Charlton Heston), wake up from deep hibernation when their spacecraft crash-lands on an unknown planet hundreds of light years away from Earth. They quickly realize just how bizarre this new world is, where humanoids are ruled by a race of talking gorillas on horseback. Taylor, revealing he can speak the apes' language, quickly finds himself the pet project of chimp scientist Zira (Kim Hunter) and her fiance Dr. Cornelius (Roddy McDowall). But nobody puts Charlton Heston in a corner, baby, and soon enough he's sparked a man-versus-ape revolution.

The story is probably familiar to you, given they've been making and remaking these movies for decades. But the original is still the best as far as I'm concerned. Yes, the monkey suits are primitive compared to the latest films' cutting-edge CGI. But you just can't beat the original shock ending, even if the past six decades of pop culture have gone out of its way to spoil and dilute it. Not even Heston and his "damn dirty apes" blather can ruin the film's fun; indeed, a big part of the enjoyment comes from laughing at his straight-man-as-camp performance, which manages to make those rubbery monkey masks truly seem more lifelike. — J.A.

How to watch: Planet of the Apes (1968) is now streaming on Hulu.

11. The Host

The best thing that Parasite director Bong Joon-ho does in his 2006 giant monster movie The Host is toss the rules of Giant Monster Movies out the window right at the start. After a brief prologue that hilariously blames everything horrible that's about to happen on the United States government, this South Korean rollercoaster ride kicks into high gear with its giant amphibian-like monster leaping out of a river and terrorizing an enormous crowd of people in the brightest of broad daylight. There's no waiting an hour for a quick glimpse of a monster's elbow in this one!

From there, we insinuate ourselves with a food vendor named Park Gang-du (legend Song Kang-ho) and his family, including his teen daughter Hyun-seo (Go Ah-sung) and his kick-ass archery expert sister Nam-joo (Bae Doona). During its attack, the monster snatches Hyun-seo and takes her down to its sewer-based lair, and the rest of them must come together to figure out how to rescue her. The film is action-filled, yes, but also contemplative with regards to modern Korean society, filled with the sort of off-kilter tension that we've now come to expect from the Oscar-winning director. — J.A.

How to watch: The Host is now streaming on Hulu.

12. Dual

An existentially deadpan sci-fi allegory about the emptiness of modern living, Dual stars deadpan queen Karen Gillan as an unhappy young woman who soon finds even more reason to be unhappy – namely, that she's dying. In order to spare the feelings of her boyfriend Peter (Beulah Koale) and mother (Maija Paunio), she takes the advice of her doctor and agrees to be cloned; once she dies, her clone can step in and take her place, and her loved ones won't have to mourn at all. Sarah just has to spend some of her final remaining months teaching said clone how to be her, is all.

Unfortunately, Sarah's "loved ones" are kind of fed up with Sarah's bullshit and quickly come to like her less-moody clone much better. When Sarah finds out her doctor was wrong and she's going to live after all, her clone and Sarah's family team up to force Sarah into the titular duel, wherein the original person and their redundant clone have to fight each other to the death. After all, you can't have two of the same person walking around. That'd be nuts!

As Sarah trains for the battle with a combat expert (Aaron Paul), the act of suddenly having to care about her own survival awakens something in her. And writer/director Riley Stearns (The Art of Self-Defense) mines the mundane malleability of human existence for all its worth in this flatly affected, funny-between-the-lines satire. What separates us from not-us turns out to be not much at all in Stearns' hands — just some spit and sadness. But mostly spit. — J.A.

How to watch: Dual is now streaming on Hulu.

13. The Abyss 

James Cameron's 1989 underwater epic The Abyss sees a ragtag group of oil drillers (led by Ed Harris as Bud) team up with a feisty scientist named Lindsey (played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) — who just happens to be Bud's ex-wife, cue drama — and a group of SEALs to find out what the heck happened to a submarine that suddenly sunk beside a deep ocean trough. Quickly, they discover there is a totally different and mysterious presence in the area, some sort of glowing life form that can bend and shape water to its will.

Unfortunately, this bonding between lifeforms is interrupted as all hell breaks loose, as it's wont to do in action movies. SEAL team leader Coffey (Michael Biehn) begins to feel the effects of high-pressure nervous syndrome, which is making him increasingly paranoid and dangerous. From there, the movie becomes a race against time with our good guys trying to stop the crazed-out Coffey from full-on nuking the friendly sea creatures.

There are famously two cuts of the film; the cut that you'll find streaming on Hulu is the shorter one and not the special edition, but don't worry — this is James Cameron we're talking about, so "shorter" still means a full two hours and 20 minutes of awe-inspiring action filmmaking with thrilling visuals. Ones that still to this day hold (dare I say) water.  — J.A.

How to watch: The Abyss is now streaming on Hulu.

14. Dune

Zendaya and Timothee Chalamet in "Dune."
Credit: Warner Bros / Moviestore / Shutterstock

A twisted space opera on a scale basically heretofore unseen, Denis Villeneuve's first Dune movie lays the Arrakis-set groundwork solid as a rock. Balancing the epic against the intimate with fine-tuned precision, Villeneuve nails the overripe tale of the Atreides clan (daddy Oscar Isaac, mother slash space witch Rebecca Ferguson, and baby boy Timmy Chalamet) clashing with the diabolically pasty Harkonnens, all over the trippy worm poop called "Spice" that fuels that galaxy. 

And now that we've seen Part Two, the impossible has been realized: The massive 2021 film suddenly feels kind of small in comparison? Because Dune and Dune: Part Two are basically two halves of one really long whole, it's difficult to just watch one without the other. But thankfully both films are now streaming, with the second one over on Max. So, go ahead and make a (literal) day of it. Zendaya will thank you. (Because she's barely in the first one.) — J.A.

How to watch: Dune is now streaming on Hulu.

15. Idiocracy

The most prophetic science-fiction film ever made! Unfortunately. King of the Hill creator Mike Judge's 2006 comedy Idiocracy imagines an America 500 years in the future, where the non-stop consumption of sports drinks and an innate distrust of education has turned the populace into a rabble of drooling morons who vote for an egotistical reality TV star to be their president. Cringing yet?

Chosen by the modern-day military because of their unimposing averageness, librarian Joe (Luke Wilson) and sex worker Rita (Maya Rudolph) are guinea pigs in an experimental suspended-animation test. But right after they're frozen, the military base is closed. Joe and Rita are forgotten about as society decays around them; they're accidentally woken up 500 years later and immediately confronted by the stupidest future imaginable. 

Idiocracy has proved with time to be the satire we deeply needed — in fact, earned — once the optimistic futurism of the past gave way to the infuriating realities of our anti-intellectual present. At least Judge made it funny, which is more than we can say for the real world! — J.A.

How to watch: Idiocracy is now streaming on Hulu.

UPDATE: May. 22, 2024, 2:24 p.m. EDT This article was updated to reflect the latest streaming options.

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