Earth is a beautiful planet, but that doesn't mean we always love every single day living on it. Honestly, there are days when it seems like the best thing we could possibly do as a species is abandon this rock and start over from scratch somewhere new. (Just me?) Star Trek got it right when it described space as " the final frontier," but, while the time when humans will set out to explore this great, big universe is fast approaching (thanks, SpaceX!), that time is still, tragically, not right now.
But, just because we can't board intergalactic spaceships and hit a giant red warp speed button to jet around the universe (yet—DARE TO DREAM, people), there are still ways to explore the cosmos from the comfort of our own living rooms. Luckily for any cosmo-nuts out there, film history is full of truly amazing movies about other planets, intrepid astronauts, alien species (of both the nice and friendly and definitively not nice and friendly varieties), and these movies are out there, just waiting to be added to your Netflix queue to serve as fuel for your space-loving imagination.
Here, we're offering up some of the best space movies of all time, from science fiction classics like Star Wars to non-fiction space stories like Apollo 13. Because here's the thing that science fiction nerds have known for years: Space movies can be anything we can imagine. They can be serious, like 2001: A Space Odyssey. They can be hilarious, like Galaxy Quest. They can be inspirational, like Hidden Figures. When it comes to space movies, even the sky is not the limit.
Star Wars (1977)
Now that Disney owns the rights to Star Wars, we're well on our way to having approximately a bajillion movies set in the story's universe, but the original trilogy, which kicked off with 1977's A New Hope, will always be a classic.
The Martian (2015)
It's always been fun to imagine super-futuristic space travel, but The Martian proved that it's also fun to imagine what space exploration will be like in the not-so-distant future. The movie offered a pretty realistic, scientifically-backed look at what surviving on another planet would actually entail.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
If you prefer your space movies to come with near nonstop laughs, then stream Galaxy Quest now. The movie focuses on the washed up cast of a Star Trek-esque TV show, who are enlisted by a group of actual endangered aliens to help save their people.
Apollo 13 (1995)
This Best Picture winner tells the story of a real-life space adventure—the 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission, which nearly ended in disaster for the American astronauts on board.
Hidden Figures (2016)
Very real space drama doesn't have to involve actually boarding a rocket, and just because most astronauts in movies are boring white dudes does mean that boring white dudes deserve a monopoly on space-based glory. Hidden Figures tells the real story of the black women who worked as mathematicians for NASA in the 1960s and were instrumental in America's journey to put a man on the moon.
Star Trek (2009)
The original Star Trek TV series put an unprecedented emphasis on diversity and representation when it premiered in 1966. That legacy has continued throughout the franchise, including the newest film series, which kicked off with 2009's reboot of the story and an amazing cast that includes Zoe Saldana, John Cho, and Chris Pine.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
When you picture a "space epic," the movie you're picturing in your head is 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's required viewing for sci-fi lovers and film buffs alike.
Part gorgeous animation. Part robot love story. Part harrowing look at mankind's future. If there's anything WALL-E doesn't have, we can't figure out what it is.
The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)
This movie focuses on a team of scientists working in space to perfect a new technology that could solve Earth's energy crisis—but which could also throw them into a terrifying alternate reality. Win some, lose some, right?
Some movies make kids want to be astronauts. Gravity, in which almost all of the astronauts die in a freak accident in space and Sandra Bullock has to desperately space walk her way to safety all while risking the very real possibility of accidentally floating off into space to die, might have the opposite effect.
Zoe Saldana is apparently perfect for space movies. In 2009, she appeared in the Star Trek reboot and Avatar, which focused on a group of terrible, corporate humans hellbent on destroying an entire culture to mine their planet for a resource.
Even the tagline for Alien—"In space, no one can hear you scream"—is iconic. The movie, which stars Sigourney Weaver as one of cinema's ultimate badasses, Ripley, is an absolute classic.
On the surface, Interstellar is about a group of scientists looking for a planet that can serve as humanity's next home. But, since it's directed Christopher Nolan, the plot is obviously much more complicated and twisty than that.
Space Jam (1996)
Do you hear that? It's your childhood nostalgia calling. The amazingly absurd plot of Space Jam, in case you somehow managed to forget, involves an evil alien trying to kidnap the Looney Toons to force them to be an attraction in his weird theme park. The Looney Toons can only get out of the situation by winning an intergalactic game of basketball, which the aliens try to cheat at. The solution? Bring in a ringer in the form of basketball legend Michael Jordan. Obvi.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
If you see a delightfully bizarre space story and lean in hard, then The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and the hilarious 1979 Douglas Adams novel on which it's based) is the version of the universe you need in your life.
Men in Black (1997)
Humans don't always have to go to space for a good space movie. Sometimes, elements of outer space come to Earth instead. Men in Black takes the basic "aliens are among us" concept and imagines how the government would handle that. Answer: By recruiting a painfully cool '90s era Will Smith to help secretly police earth's alien population, that's how.
Blade Runner (1982)
When it comes to dystopian-skewing portraits of Earth's space travel-infused future, Blade Runner is the reigning champion.
The Fifth Element (1997)
In the pretty-distant future, a Great Evil is posed to destroy the world and life as we know it unless the mysterious Fifth Element can combine with the other four (earth, water, air, fire—everything you can bend in Avatar: The Last Airbender). Said element arrives on earth in human form (Milla Jovovich in peak form) and ropes a flying taxi cab driver from NYC into joining the cause. As you do.
Ad Astra (2019)
Brad Pitt as a hot, brooding astronaut on a mission to solve the mystery of his also-an-astronaut father's disappearance 30 years ago? You had us as hot and brooding.
This Mel Brooks classic is a direct spoof of the original Star Wars trilogy, so watch that first as a refresher first for the best, most laugh-filled experience.
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
The plot shouldn't even matter to you, because this family-friendly epic features Reese Witherpoon, Mindy Kaling, and freaking Oprah as mysterious astral beings.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
In addition to being the amazing Zoe Saldana's third appearance on this list, Guardians of the Galaxy redefined what we collectively thought a superhero movie could be.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One was Disney's first go at a standalone Star Wars story and it definitely delivered. Plus the story, which takes place just before the events of A New Hope, added some (although still not really enough) much-needed diversity to the Star Wars universe, which has historically been a lot whiter than it seems like the galaxy could possibly be. Like statistically impossible levels of whiteness.
No setting screams "here's a place to contemplate the impact of solitude" like space, right? In Moon, Sam Rockwell plays an astronaut who spirals into a personal mental, emotional, and possibly physical crisis as he nears the end of a three-year assignment mining solo on the moon. Give Rockwell all the awards, please.
The Wandering Earth (2019)
This Chinese sci-fi epic takes place in a future in which the sun is expanding and the people of Earth have built enormous thrusters to help physically move the planet out of harm's way. Yes, that sounds like the plot of a spoof movie, but The Wandering Earth isn't that. The movie actually has amazing reviews and a lot of heart.
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