UPDATED: The Netflix Original films Apostle has been added to our list of the best movies on Netflix Australia. Read more about it on page 2!
If you’re new to Netflix and want to find the best movies to watch, or you’re tired of browsing the app for 30 minutes before finding something to watch, you’ve come to the right place. With thousands of movies at your disposal, it’s easy to get stuck in binge-watching mode, but finding the honest-to-goodness best films can be a bit of a hassle.
In an effort to determine the best of the best, we’ve put together a list of the greatest possible films you can watch – curated by TechRadar editors and backed up with ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes – so that you don’t have to sift through the muck. We’ll keep this best-of list up to date with the latest movies that are must-watch, so you waste zero screen time searching.
As tech enthusiasts, it’s perhaps unsurprising that we’re obsessed with science fiction here at TechRadar. From glorious space operas to mind-bending films that make you think, there’s something for everyone on our list of the best sci-fi movies on Netflix Australia.
If you’ve seen writer-director Alex Garland’s previous sci-fi masterpiece, Ex Machina, you’ll know to expect a wild ride with his follow-up, Annihilation. Based on the highly regarded novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation follows a group of women who set off on an expedition into an environmental disaster zone where the laws of nature don’t apply. Natalie Portman leads the pack as a biologist searching for her missing husband, and she’s joined by Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez and more. Though the film has only just been released in theatres in the US, Australia is lucky enough to be one of the countries getting the film on Netflix right away. Equally brainy and terrifying, Annihilation has all the makings of a modern science fiction classic.
Rogue One: A Star Wars story
As the first Star Wars anthology film, Rogue One had some pretty lofty expectations to live up to. Rather than try to replicate the formula that made The Force Awakens such a smashing success, director Gareth Edwards delivered a proper war film, one that had more in common with Saving Private Ryan than The Empire Strikes Back. Remember in A New Hope when the Rebellion got its hands on the Death Star plans that would lead to victory at the end of that film? Rogue One is about the group that stole those plans. Yes, it is a Star Wars prequel film, but don’t worry – there’s no Jar Jar Binks in sight.
Edge of Tomorrow
A terrific science fiction war film starring Tom Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow plays like a cross between Halo and Groundhog Day, where the Cruiser is thrown directly into an alien war only to die almost immediately and then forced to repeat the day over and over, becoming a little more battle-hardened each time. Joining him is Emily Blunt, playing a tough-as-nails soldier who helps Cruise figure out a way to close this never-ending time loop and end the war for good. Backed by a terrific script and some fine chemistry between Cruise and Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow is a fantastic special effect extravaganza that should please both sci-fi and action fans.
The film that put both director Neill Blomkamp (Elysium) and star Sharlto Copley (Powers) on the international stage, District 9 is an ingenious science fiction Apartheid allegory that puts marooned aliens in South African concentration camps. An anti-alien pencil pusher (Copley) has his whole world turned upside down when he is sprayed with some kind of liquid that is slowly turning him into an alien, and now he has to team up with one of the “prawns” he so despises if he has any hope of turning back to normal. Hilarious, action-packed and filled with flinch-worthy body horror moments, District 9 is an instant classic that rightfully earned a best picture nomination at the Oscars.
The kind of smart science fiction film that Steven Spielberg used to make in his ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ heyday, Midnight Special continually offers a sense of wonder as its story unfolds. Without spoiling too much, the film centres on Roy (Michael Shannon), a father who must protect his special son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) from both the US government and a cult after it’s discovered that the boy has otherworldly powers. Along for the ride are Alton’s mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) and Roy’s close friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton). With surprises around every corner, you never really know where Midnight Special is going, though what you can expect are some truly terrific performances and a mind-blowing finale. Fans of Stranger Things should check this out.
What if you could prevent murders before they’ve occurred? More importantly, what would you do if you were due to be sentenced over a murder you haven’t committed yet? That is the premise of Steven Spielberg’s spectacular sci-fi film, Minority Report. Loosely based on the Philip K. Dick story of the same name, the film sees Tom Cruise play the head of a futuristic ‘Precrime’ Division tasked with stopping murderers from carrying out their violent actions. They can do this thanks to the psychic abilities of three siblings known as ‘Precogs’. But what happens when this trio of soothsayers predicts a murder carried about by Cruise himself? Spoiler alert, he runs! A visually stunning film that’s filled with ingenious and forward-thinking technological ideas that will likely become a reality in years to come, Minority Report is intense and action-packed.
While other films from the same time period have struggled to stay relevant, The Terminator remains as interesting and unique as it was 33 years ago. An undisputed classic of intense, unrelenting action, The Terminator kickstarted the career of uber-director James Cameron, who would go on to direct such classic blockbusters as Aliens, Titanic, Avatar and, of course, Terminator 2L Judgment Day. If you’re looking for a retro masterpiece that holds up to modern-day cinema standards, you can stop searching – The Terminator is a must-see for any fan of science fiction, action and horror.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
A triumphant return to the screen for the Star Wars franchise, The Force Awakens sees the characters we love from the original trilogy, like Han Solo, Chewbacca and Leia, set off another adventure with a new generation of wonderful characters. Ironically, for a series set among the stars, Director J.J. Abrams brings the franchise back to Earth by dialling down the CGI that hobbled the prequel trilogy – this is a Star Wars movie that uses real locations and sets, as well as puppets and actors in costume, to recreate the spirit of Episodes IV through VI. Featuring thrilling action, incredible special effects and terrific performances, The Force Awakens is the best Star Wars film in over 30 years.
It took an agonising seven years for director Alfonso Cuarón to follow his masterful last film, Children of Men, but what an incredible follow-up! With Gravity, he sure did stick the landing (ahem) and hit this one right out of orbit (I’ll let myself out). This nail-bitingly intense film, in which Sandra Bullock’s character must use her wits to survive in space after a catastrophic shuttle accident, is a technical marvel – the kind of film that wows even the likes of James Cameron, who called Gravity “the best space film ever done.” A perfect marriage of drama and special effects, Gravity is an absolute classic.