The film industry has long been obsessed with outer space—even before men walked on the moon. In fact, the first film on space dates all the way back to 1902 with the French silent film, A Trip to the Moon. Since then, we’ve come a long way from the days of outerwordly black-and-white movies made with cardboard cutouts. Nowadays, the best movies about space travel push the boundaries of special effects and the human imagination, which is why we love them so much.
Now, let’s get one thing straight about space movies: You don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy them. While some films take us Earthlings to new planets inhabited by new creatures (I’m looking at you Star Trek!), other films are no work of fiction at all—First Man and Apollo 13 are based on very real stories and will leave you shook to the core.
So the next time you’re in need of a little escape from the issues that plague our world, look no further than this list of the best space movies. Each film on this list will take you somewhere you’ve never been before, all without leaving your couch. These films all reference space in some shape or form, but they also range in subject matter and genre—so whether you prefer a comedy or drama, we’ve got you covered. Ahead in no particular order, are 47 films that will take you to a galaxy far, far away.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
In 1968, Stanley Kubrik's 2001: A Space Odyssey debuted to underwhelming reviews. Years later, the film became a cult-classic for cinephiles and sci-fi fanatics. 2001 takes you on the ultimate trip. I'm not saying you should be stoned while watching this, but I'm not not saying that.
Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, which features a star-studded cast—Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, and a young Timothée Chalamet, to name a few—is easily one of the most successful space movies of the decade. The film follows Cooper (McConaughey) who's on a journey through the galaxy to find a potential new home for humankind.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Planning a trip that's out of this world? Don't panic. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005) has you covered. Martin Freeman, Mos Def, Zooey Deschanel, and Sam Rockwell make this hilariously dysfunctional cast heroes of the galaxy. This movie has everything: singing dolphins, a two-headed president, and the answer to the eternal question—what is the meaning of life?
WALL-E tells the story of the last robot left on an uninhabitable Earth filled with trash. Relatable, no? Though dialogue is limited, the film is visually stunning and a sentimental. Come for the Pixar animated cuteness, stay for the feels.
Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)
Zetus Lapetus! This Disney Channel Original Movie is a standout in the collection of space cinema. Zenon (Kristen Storm) has been grounded by her parents...to Earth. When trouble strikes on the space station, Zenon has to save her parents and best friend Nebula (Raven-Symoné) before it's too late. Let us not forget the special performance by intergalactic superstar Prota Zoa.
Space Jam (1996)
NBA legend and one of the greatest athletes of all time, Bugs Bunny, stars opposite Michael Jordan in this 1996 sports cinematic masterpiece. Bunny and his cartoon comrades take Jordan out of basketball retirement to defeat theme park owner, Swackhammer (Danny freakin' DiVito!).
From the space auteur Ridley Scott, this first film in the Alien franchise is as gripping as it is visually captivating. Ellen Ripley (Madame Sigourney Weaver) and her copilots attempt to escape an extraterrestrial who's boarded their spacecraft. The film's biggest takeaway? Always listen to a woman when she has a plan!
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
When this movie debuted, everyone thought Chris Pratt is...hot? In this Marvel film, Star-Lord (Pratt) joins fellow convicts Rocket the Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), Drax, Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and Groot (Vin Diesel) to return a stolen orb to safe hands and, well, save the galaxy.
The Star Wars Franchise
Jedis, Droids, Wookiees, oh my! The 9+ films in the Star Wars franchise are the most successful in the galaxy, so we are contractually obligated* to put them on this list. If you haven't seen any of them by now, what asteroid have you been living under?
*Not obligated whatsoever
Hidden Figures (2016)
Hidden Figures tells the story of unsung NASA heroes Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—three Black women who fast-tracked the space race and helped launch man into orbit for the first time. Are we surprised women were behind one of NASA's most successful events? Absolutely not...but we love to see it!
Amy Adams is a linguistics professor called to lead a team of scientists attempting to communicate with an alien spaceship that landed on Earth. Her performance is breathtaking (talk about Oscars robbery), especially considering her main co-star was...an alien.
If you love Sam Rockwell, Moon is a slow-burn movie you'll need to see. Did I fall asleep midway? Sure. But when I woke up and restarted, I was glad I did. Astronaut Sam Bell (Rockwell) is finishing up a three-year assignment when an accident causes him to see double. Trouble ensues when Rockwell faces a clone of himself onboard. I hate when that happens!
Men in Black (1997)
Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are the secret agents sworn to keep the Earth safe from all things extraterrestrial. Man vs. alien, what could possibly go wrong? A lot! Only thing this movie is missing? Sigourney Weaver!
Blade Runner (1982)
The original Blade Runner, another Ridley Scott classic, follows Deckard (Harrison Ford) who's sent to Earth on the hunt for escaped Replicants. When he falls in love with a Replicant woman, things will never be the same.
Ad Astra (2019)
Did I watch this movie just to see Brad Pitt look like a disgruntled hot zaddy in a space uniform? Maybe, what of it? Ad Astra follows Pitt's character as he searches for an answer for his missing astronaut father. It's gripping and beautiful. Brad Pitt's best performance? No, but what compares to Brad Burn After Reading Pitt?
This Russian film in which Kris Kelvin starts seeing his late wife aboard the space craft is a cult-classic. This psychological thriller was later remade in 2002 starring George Clooney. I watched the remake; stick to the original.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)
Rogue One could be grouped in with the Star Wars franchise, but Felicity Jones is just too badass in this movie to not recognize it on its own! Rogue One is set just before A New Hope and follows Jyn Erso (Jones) as she leads the rebel alliance to steal plans to the Death Star. We love to see galactic feminism!
Director Alfonso Cuarón's cinematic masterpiece, Gravity, is awe-inspiring and completely unrealistic. The film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in my worst nightmare—alone and floating aimlessly in outer space. You'll be on the edge of your seat the whole time riding that anxiety high.
First Man (2018)
First Man is the story of Neil Armstrong's (Ryan Gosling) journey to space with the support of his wife (Claire Foy). The film depicts Armstrong's spacewalk and the advancements of mankind. It's...slow, but Foy's performance is gripping and Gosling is not too bad to look at!
The Martian (2015)
If you thought the world was short on films about white male astronauts, think again! The Martian, based on the best-selling novel, follows an astronaut (Matt Damon) stranded on Mars as he attempts to stay alive. Think The Circle except its Damon talking to his webcam about his plants.
High Life (2018)
From director Claire Denis, High Life is trippy masterpiece. Robert Pattinson attempts to survive an endless mission in outer space. It's artistic and definitely not made for the faint of heart.
Star Trek (2009)
Based on the hit 1960s TV series, the first Star Trek movie in the 2000s trilogy follows James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) on a journey to the final frontier. If you watched the show, it's nostalgic glory. If not, sit back and watch sexy Pine take control.
Apollo 13 (1995)
Based on the true story of the Apollo 13 mission, Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, and Kevin Bacon's characters fight to stay alive when malfunctions take place mid-mission.
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
One of the best films in the Marvel franchise (@ me, I dare you!), Thor: Ragnarok finds Thor (Chris Hemsworth) on a junk planet, the name of which I honestly can't remember. He tries to save Asgard alongside Hulk (hot daddy Mark Ruffalo!), Loki, and Valkyrie. Directed by Taika Waititi (JoJo Rabbit, What We Do in the Shadows), this movie will make you laugh out loud.
Lucy in the Sky (2019)
Lucy in the Sky follows astronaut Lucy Cola (Natalie Portman) on her mission to space. The film is a slow-burn, but visually stimulating and a cult favorite.
Another Ridley Scott sci-fi thriller! Prometheus stars Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender as they search for other sentient beings in the universe. What could possibly go wrong?
Treasure Planet (2002)
Based on Treasure Island, this animated film is about a treasure hunt across the galaxy in a space ship. Sails included.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
This indie-flick stars David Bowie as an extraterrestrial who's found his way to Earth and falls in love with a human while trying to save his home planet. The '70s weren't necessarily the prime decade for cinema, but Bowie is iconic in this film. It will make you think, What did I just watch?
When an asteroid is destined for Earth, who better to save the day than Billy Bob Thorton and Bruce Willis? Also starring Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler, Armageddon is one of sci-fi's favorite space movies. The best part of the film? Aerosmith's original song, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing."
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
One of the original space films, The Day the Earth Stood Still is an essential watch for sci-fi cinephiles. Chaos ensues when an alien, alongside his large robot, visits Earth to deliver a message that will change all of humankind. This movie was remade in 2008 with a young Keanu Reeves. Still, watch the original.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, and yes, Madame Sigourney Weaver star in this 1999 space comedy about TV astronauts forced by aliens to help save their planet. It's funny in the "you had to see it in the '90s" sort of way.
I Am Mother (2019)
I Am Mother is the story of a young girl raised by a robot. When an outsider (Hilary Swank) arrives, the girl is forced to decide between who to believe: her robotic caretaker or a fellow human.
When James Cameron's Avatar came out in 2009, did I see it in 3-D IMAX? Yes. Does it need five sequels and a Disney World Theme Park? Absolutely not. Let me sum up this film in a few words: war, blue, alien sex. Still, it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Californians are under attack by flying saucers in this 1959 cult classic. Their plan? Resurrect corpses of a Hollywood cemetery in a Frankenstein-style fashion.
A Wrinkle in Time (2018)
In A Wrinkle in Time, based off the beloved Madeleine L'Engle novel, two young kids travel the universe in search of their missing father. Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah help the children on their mission. The film itself is a visual marvel, hair and makeup are iconic to say the least, but the performances fall flat and it doesn't match the hype.
For those who loved the '80s, Spaceballs, the famous parody of Star Wars, pokes fun at every sci-fi movie made. It's okay to love it—even not ironically.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
If you haven't seen Jupiter Ascending, now is not the time. Mila Kunis is Jupiter Jones, an alien, opposite Channing Tatum, who is half canine, half human. (I wish I could make this up.)
From the SNL sketch to the big screen, Coneheads follows a family of aliens who've found a home in Jersey and try to live a normal life. Another film with a cult-following, this movie caters to lovers of old SNL and Dan Aykroyd.
It Came from Outer Space (1953)
The 1953 classic film depicts an alien invasion. Townspeople begin to disappear and are replaced by alien versions. Think: Invasion of the Body Snatchers meets The Twilight Zone. An essential watch for space cinephiles.
The Astronaut's Wife (1999)
A former astronaut (Johnny Depp) returns to Earth after a mission but isn't quite the same. His wife (Charlize Theron) begins to notice his strange behavior, and drama ensues.
LIFE stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Renolds in this sci-fi thriller in which a new life form begins to develop aboard the International Space Station.
October Sky (1999)
Jake Gyllenhaal has weirdly been in a lot of movies about space. In October Sky, he plays the real NASA scientist Homer Hickham, who was inspired to go into rocketry after the Sputnik launch.
Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya make this movie worth the watch alone, but the action in this sci-fi flick is pretty cool, too. We couldn't tell you exactly what goes down in the movie (the plot is a tad complicated) but think of it as Game of Thrones set across the universe. Instead of fighting over the Iron Throne, the warring families are fighting over... spice?
There's nothing like watching a badass woman lead in a male-dominated field. Jodie Foster stars as Ellie, a scientist who uncovers an intergalactic message and has to work to discover its meaning. It's an eerily creepy watch, but one that will have you questioning what exactly is beyond our planet.
Adapted from Iain Reid’s 2018 novel of the same name, this movie is a bit like an extended episode of Black Mirror: It tells the story of a married couple, Hen and Junior—played by Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal—who learn that Junior has been chosen to travel to space for a trial run of a new space colony. In his place, Hen will have a robot who looks and acts like Junior to keep her company. It’s as much a portrait of a complicated marriage as it is an unsettling sci-fi tale, and Ronan’s quiet performance bridging the two is particularly perfect.
If you can get past the murky morality of this movie’s premise—a man (Chris Pratt) who wakes up on a spaceship traveling to a new planet proceeds to wake up a fellow traveler (Jennifer Lawrence) after becoming smitten with her video profile, essentially condemning her to die with him before the ship arrives at its destination—it’s essentially a tale of finding love in a (truly) hopeless place, as the great prophet Rihanna foretold.
This 2022 Pixar flick took a very meta approach to the “origin story” trend. It’s not, as you might expect, the story of the toy Buzz Lightyear before he met Woody and the gang. Instead, it’s the story of the fictional human astronaut Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Chris Evans), who was the subject of a kids TV series in the Toy Story universe, after whom Andy's beloved Buzz Lightyear action figure was modeled. Confused yet?