Netflix August 2019: The 11 Best Sci-Fi Movies and Shows to Watch
'Stranger Things' is only the beginning of this summer's sci-fi.
Stranger Things Season 3 might be the highlight of Netflix’s summer, but the streaming platform isn’t letting up as we head into August 2019 with new seasons from The CW’s iZombie and The 100. In case you missed it last month, there’s also the gripping new series Another Life starring Battlestar Galactica alum Katee Sackhoff.
In recent months, the streaming platform has also gotten new seasons of originals like Black Mirror and Dark, while also adding a classic anime in the form of Neon Genesis Evangelion. We’ve got all of these recommendations and more in this August’s round-up of Netflix’s best sci-fi, whether that means series or movies.
If you’re hankering for a taste of tomorrow this August, here are the 11 best pieces of science fiction on Netflix with a focus on the new, exciting, and original — but more importantly, we’ll always have the very best recommendations.
11. Another Life, Season 1
One part Arrival, one part Battlestar Galactica (thanks to lead Katee Sackhoff), Netflix’s new original series Another Life never quite resonates as well as it should, but it still makes for a solid sci-fi outing.
After an alien artifact lands on Earth and begins projecting a beacon out into the far-off reaches of space, a crew of humans are tasked with tracking down the signs of intelligent alien life. What they find might be more than they hoped — and not necessarily in a good way.
10. Wu Assassins, Season 1
At the cross-section of sci-fi and action fantasy lies Wu Assassins, a new Netflix original magical kung fu series with an almost entirely Asian ensemble cast.
In it, one young San Francisco Chinatown chef discovers he’s the avatar of the ancient “Wu Assassin.” He’s destined to take down a mysterious criminal organization that boasts its own supernatural powers. With a hip-hop track boasting the likes of Snoop Dogg, Wu Assassins has a distinct style that almost makes it feel like a Fast & Furious series with supernatural elements.
- Wu Assassins will be released on Netflix August 8, 2019.
9. The 100, Season 6
One of The CW’s best non-Arrowverse programs, The 100 is a veritable YA dystopian drama with a hard sci-fi premise. Following the nuclear apocalypse, a portion of humanity took to a series of connected space stations to survive the radiation. Almost a century later, supplies are diminishing, and a group of 100 delinquent children is sent down to test survivability on Earth’s surface.
That premise doesn’t sound sustainable for six full seasons, and yet The 100 still thrives on The CW. Season 6 ends in early August and hits Netflix a week later, exploring a new life for the violent cast of characters on a brand-new planet. Will the people adapt to a drastically new lifestyle? Hint: Nope.
- The 100 Season 6 will be released on Netflix on Wednesday, August 14, 2019. Spend that extra time between now and then catching up.*
8. iZombie, Season 5
The CW sends Season 5 of its best zombie drama to Netflix in early August — just one week after the series finale airs on cable. iZombie began as a quirky procedural drama light on the horror with the main character eating peoples’ brains to gain access to their memories, therefore helping to solve murders.
But as the series evolved and more zombies were created, iZombie was elevated to something closer to True Blood with political commentary about a persecuted minority — just with a lot less bite. Season 5 expands into full-on human versus zombie war as it aimed for a thrilling conclusion to the series.
- iZombie Season 5 will be released on Netflix on August 9, 2019.
7. Stranger Things
‘80s nostalgia never looked as cool as it does in Netflix’s Stranger Things, a sci-fi dark fantasy series set firmly within the decade of arcades and power rock ballads. Government conspiracies set amidst the backdrop of the Cold War come into focus in the generic town of Hawkins, Indiana. There, in a government lab where questionable men tried to weaponize a young psychic, they ripped open a portal to a dark dimension called the Upside Down.
Stranger Things follows a wide cast of characters, mainly a group of young D&D-loving kids who get swept up into the adventure that will have them fighting for their loves against a demonic new enemy.
In Season 3, they discover that the sinister Mind Flayer from the Upside Down remains in the real world exerting its influence in a way that could be more dangerous than ever before.
6. Neon Genesis Evangelion
One of the most famous and beloved anime of all time landed on Netflix in late June. For the first time ever since its debut in 1995, all 26 original Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes are now available to stream in one place, along with The End of Evangelion film and the bonus extended episode EVANGELION: DEATH (TRUE)². Altogether, the series is a must-watch for any anime fan.
This complex sci-fi universe grapples with heady concepts like existential uncertainty in familiar mecha anime trappings: Humans pilot giant robots to fight monstrosities. Neon Genesis Evangelion uses this familiar premise as a vehicle to explore how religion influences culture, particular one on the brink of apocalypse. But more importantly, this groundbreaking sci-fi epic established tropes you’ll recognize from across anime and even live-action sci-fi.
Two companion films, The End of Evangelion and EVANGELION: DEATH (TRUE)², are also available on Netflix.
5. Cities of Last Things
Cities of Last Things is the fascinating, melancholic look at a normal life gone horribly wrong that quietly landed on Netflix earlier in July. As told through a series of three snapshots shown in reverse chronology, the story begins with the suicide of Zhang Dong Ling several decades in the future (that’s where the sci-fi comes in). Each section of the film examines a series of extraordinary events that led him to this decision, flexing a unique vibe as it shifts from sci-fi to noir to a more traditional moody drama.
4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
We’ve gotten more Spider-Man movies in the last 20 years than any other solo superhero, yet somehow Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse was able to do something surprising, exciting, and totally fresh. Spider-Verse functions as an origin story for Miles Morales, a black-hispanic teenager who’s bitten by a different radioactive spider than the one that gave Peter Parker his powers.
Netflix just added this Oscar-winning animated feature film in June, and it’s a must-watch for all superhero fans out there, especially because of the way it explores the science behind the multiverse.
3. The Wandering Earth
After its February release, The Wandering Earth rapidly became the second-highest grossing film in Chinese box office history. The Mandarin-language sci-fi action movie is set in a distant future where the Sun is primed to expand into a red giant that will consume the Earth. Rather than build an arc to travel far away, humanity instead straps a bunch of huge jet engines to the planet to blast it out into space for a 2,500 year journey to a new home.
Reviews for The Wandering Earth are mostly mixed, but such a ridiculous concept winds up being a lot of fun for casual viewers. The biggest surprise, however, is how seriously the film addresses the real-life science at play.
In Her, the always-excellent Joaquin Phoenix plays a man who falls in love with a disembodied A.I. voice — think of a hyper-advanced Siri or Alexa with Scarlett Johansson’s voice who can learn at an exponential rate. Set in the near-future of Los Angeles, Her explores the depression of a sensitive guy mourning the end of a long-term relationship. He fills an emotional void with an A.I.
What sounds like a bit of a crazy premise is sold by filmmaker Spike Jonze as nothing short of delicate tenderness. Her won Best Original Screenplay at the 86th Academy Awards, making it a must-see for any fan of science fiction.
1. Ex Machina
A programmer from a massive tech company wins a contest and gets to visit the company’s brilliant billionaire founder on his remote compound. As it turns out, that founder’s been developing an A.I. with a realistic synthetic body and needs someone else to help … test it. Ex Machina goes from quirky to strange to creepy to horrifying with enough cerebral tension to make you question whether you’re a human yourself.
I didn’t know what “edge of your seat” really meant in terms of thrillers until I saw Ex Machina in the theater. Anyone who enjoyed Alex Garland’s Annihilation will probably like this, his previous feature, even more — it’s a master class in pacing and tension for any fan of good film.