Netflix January 2019: The 11 Best Science Fiction Movies and Shows to Watch
A new year, a new Netflix.
Netflix is really taking the whole “new year, new me” mantra to heart in 2019 because the streaming giant has a ton of new sci-fi shows and movies alongside some top-notch classics.
Every Indiana Jones movie ever just hit Netflix, and that includes the amazing and the cringeworthy. Do those count as sci-fi? One of them has aliens, so maybe all the fantastical elements come from aliens. There’s also a new Black Mirror experience that’s neither an episode nor a movie. Not to mention three of the most iconic superhero movies of all time: The Dark Knight, Watchmen, and Avengers: Infinity War.
The next time you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow, here are the 11 best pieces of science fiction on Netflix with a focus on the new, exciting, and original — but more importantly, the good recommendations. Because it’s the New Year, we’re looking at strictly new shows and movies added in December or later.
11. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is another entry in Netflix’s popular sci-fi horror/thriller anthology series, except it’s also kind of a standalone movie — and it’s also a visual choose-your-own adventure, allowing viewers to make choices as the story progresses. Is it a movie? Is it an episode? I really don’t know, but I do know that it’s 100 percent science fiction.
The story follows a young programmer, Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), who questions the nature of reality in the year 1984 as he creates a video game based on a branching narrative novel, Bandersnatch. The book’s author, Jerome F. Davies, went insane and murdered his wife. Will Stefan do something similar? Maybe!
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch can last anywhere between 40 and 90 minutes and has five possible endings.
10. Bird Box
Bird Box hit Netflix back on December 21, and this piece of apocalyptic sci-fi horror became the talked-about counterculture streaming hit for anyone sick of all the saccharine, feel-good holiday classic. Starring Sandra Bullock, Bird Box is Netflix’s answer to A Quiet Place, and feels like a fusion between that and The Happening (when plant life made everybody commit suicide).
A woman and her children have to make a perilous journey through a forest and down a river while blindfolded, all because whoever looks at the mysterious alien monsters plaguing humanity kills themselves.
9. The Dark Knight
What is there to say about Christopher Nolan’s iconic and undeniably excellent second Batman movie? No DC Comics film will ever match this outing in terms of gravitas and thematic potency. Christian Bale plays an excellent conflicted protagonist here, convincing us that Batman is his real identity and Wayne is the mask he wears. But the film is worthy enough just on the merit of Heath Ledger’s unnerving performance as the Joker.
8. Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War hit Netflix on Christmas day, but even though Thanos’ arrival feels like old news in the New Year, it’s still a noteworthy addition to the streaming platform’s ever-growing lineup of science fiction. Netflix dubs Thanos an “intergalactic sociopath” who is hellbent on annihilating one-half of the universe’s population, and it’s up to all the heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to fail at stopping him.
7. Godzilla (2014)
This, the 30th Godzilla movie ever, doesn’t need much in the way of introduction. A big lizard demolishes cities but also defends humanity from other nasty creatures.
Gareth Edwards, who gained acclaim writing and directing Monsters (2010) and even more with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, helped launch a new kaiju universe with this Godzilla reboot in 2014. For almost the entire first half of the movie, we don’t actually see much in the way of big monster action. Instead, the perspective focuses more on the people impacted by the destruction, similar in some ways to the original Cloverfield.
In this way, Godzilla is really surprising and a tense thrill ride that focuses on the human aspects of the story.
6. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Arc
Harrison Ford plays the whip-smart archaeologist with a whip named Indiana Jones, racing against Nazis to uncover a religious artifact before they use it to take over the world.
Can the Indiana Jones movies even be considered sci-fi? Well, the terrible Kingdom of the Crystal Skull involved aliens, so retroactively that means we’re operating in a sci-fi universe, right? The original three are all great films, with Raiders of the Lost Arc widely considered the all-time best. Netflix scooped up the entire series as of January 1, 2019 so everyone might as well add them all to their list.
Long before Captain America: Civil War made modern audiences question whether society would have to regulate superheroes if they really existed, there was Watchmen, a dark and gritty superhero ensemble movie that came out only one year after Iron Man.
Based on the limited DC Comics of the same name, run written by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon, Watchmen is set in an alternate history at the height of the Cold War. When one masked hero is murdered, another vigilante investigates and uncovers a dark conspiracy that has huge consequences for the world’s future, bordering on the apocalyptic.
With a new Watchmen HBO series in production, there’s no better time to rewatch the film.
4. Shaun of the Dead
Shaun of the Dead is undeniably one of the greatest black comedies of all time, and it helped establish the zombie subgenre as a growing obsession long before The Walking Dead saturated us all in guts and gore. In this London-based misadventure, a hapless pair of losers in their early 30s wake up one day to the zombie apocalypse — and their plan for survival is to hole up at their local watering hole “and wait for all of this to blow over!”
Director Edgar Wright’s energetic visual style of storytelling and the infectious comedy chops of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost elevate Shaun of the Dead to something that everyone needs to see.
3. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Despite almost making $393 million globally, Solo: A Star Wars Story was dubbed a monumental flop by Lucasfilm and Disney’s standards. But even though the film’s lack of success is the reason why all Star Wars spin-offs were unceremoniously terminated, there’s no denying that Solo delivers a refreshing Star Wars adventure that feels unlike anything that’s come before it.
Solo stars Alden Ehrenreich in the origin story for Harrison Ford’s Han Solo from the original Star Wars trilogy, detailing how the character met Chewbacca and Lando Calrissian, and even how he came to own the iconic Millennium Falcon.
- Solo doesn’t hit Netflix until January 11, 2019.
2. Neo Yokio
Neo Yokio is best described with one potent question: What if Wes Anderson made a star-studded magical fantasy anime that was a satire of commercialism and the upper class? To be clear, Wes Anderson has nothing to do with Neo Yokio, but the series has the same colorful pallet and dry sense of humor.
In the future of an alternate history, a drowned New York becomes “Neo Yokio.” Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith) is the pink-haired “magistocrat” tasked with protecting the city from supernatural (mostly demonic) threats. Neo Yokio celebrates anime tropes, upper-class society, and classism just as much as it criticizes such things. If you delight in the truly weird, then don’t hesitate watching the hilarity that is Neo Yokio.
Season 1 debuted in September 2017, but a December 2018 holiday special kept Neo Yokio alive.
Travelers, a sci-fi series where time travelers send their consciousnesses back in time to prevent the downfall of society, is criminally underrated.
It becomes something of a spy thriller with a sci-fi twist as each Traveler communicates with the Director in the distant future to go on specific missions while maintaining their “cover.” In Season 3 — newly released in December — the titular Travelers have to work with the FBI after their existence is exposed to the world.