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How to Watch 15 of the Best Sci-Fi Movies for Free

Star Trek: First Contact (1996) - Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Data (Brent Spiner)

Find out the greatest science fiction movies you can watch for free. Right now a lot of people are at home. Entertainment can be hard to come by and expensive. But that doesn't mean you can't catch up on classic movies. I went through and fond some great classic sci-fi movies that are available through a variety of free services.

There are many truly great science fiction movies you can watch on various streaming services but I picked the ones that you can watch with your family and older kids. You're welcome to drop any suggestions in the comment section below for the other readers.

Some great sci-fi movies are available from subscription services like Disney+ and CBS All Access, but those aren't free so they're not included.

Some are old. Some are new. All are classics of film and worth much more than zero.

Note: Some of the services have a changing library, so please let us know in the comments if something changed.

1. Star Trek: First Contact (1996)

Star Trek: First Contact (1996) - Borg Queen (Alice Krige), Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart)

Available: Crackle, PopcornFlix

Directed by Jonathan Frakes

Summary: "Picard (Patrick Stewart) orders the Enterprise to follow the Borg back in time to stop them from destroying the 'Phoenix', Earth's first warp-speed vessel."

First Contact is widely regarded as the best Star Trek movie of the Next Generation era for its bold action scenes and emotional moments. Plus, it ties in nicely with the current Picard storyline.

2. Solaris (1972)

Solaris (1972)

Available: Kanopy

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky

Summary: "Based on Stanislaw Lem's novel, this 1972 allegory takes place on a space station near a mysterious planet."

Another masterful foreign film by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. This film weaves a beautiful and disturbing film. It's almost a meditation on the idea of self, love, and humanity. Years later Steven Soderbergh made a remake with George Clooney but the original still holds up.

3. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Source 

Available: Crackle

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Summary: "Power repairman Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) has an extraordinary encounter with a strange spacecraft while out on a call. Recurring visions of a mountain fuel an increasing obsession that drives him to an emotional breaking point. Desperate to understand what he has experienced, he finds an ally in Jillian (Melinda Dillon), a single mother who believes her son has been abducted by the aliens. Meanwhile, an international group of scientists led by French expert Claude Lacombe (Francois Truffaut) searches for a breakthrough in human-alien communication. Their collective quest culminates in a remote Wyoming rendezvous and an event of unequaled importance in all of human history."

One of Spielberg's most well-known works Close Encounters of the Third Kind intentionally subverts our understanding of alien encounters and the nature of obsession. Richard Dreyfuss delivers a mesmerizing performance. The film won two Academy Awards and was nominated for over a half-dozen more. It deserves it.

4. Gattaca (1997)

Gattaca (1997)

Available: Crackle

Directed by Andrew Niccol

Summary: "An engrossing sci-fi thriller about an all-too-human man who dares to defy a system obsessed with genetic perfection."

Niccol is an amazing director and is underappreciated. Gattaca is a perfect example. His thoughtful exploration of destiny, eugenics is one of the greatest science-fiction movies of all-time. From it's slow character-building to it's bitter-sweet ending Gattaca is an amazing ride. Hopefully, his upcoming Monopoly adaptation is just as good.

5. Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis (1927) - Maria / Maschinenmensch / The Machine Man (Brigitte Helm)

Available: YouTube, Kanopy (requires a free library membership)

Directed by Fritz Lang

Summary: "In a futuristic city sharply divided between the working class and the city planners, the son of the city's mastermind falls in love with a working-class prophet who predicts the coming of a savior to mediate their differences."

This movie is one of the early classics of Science Fiction. It’s a landmark of German expressionism regardless of the genre. It had a huge influence on movies like Tim Burton's Batman (1989).  Because of its age, the theatrical version is in the public domain. But a few years ago lost footage was incorporated into the film and it was re-released in 2004 and 2010. You can watch the original on streaming services.

7. A Trip to the Moon (1902)

A Trip to the Moon (1902) - The Moon (Georges Méliès)

Available: YouTube, Kanopy (requires a free library membership)

Directed by Georges Méliès

Summary: "Voyage Dans la Lune, Le/A Trip to the Moon (France, 1902), the screen's first science fiction story, was a 14-minute masterpiece, created by imaginative French director and master magician Georges Melies (1861-1938) in his version of the Jules Verne story. The silent film's plot, a light-hearted satire criticizing the conservative scientific community of its time, was inspired by Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (1865) and H. G. Wells' First Men in the Moon (1901)."

While the special effects and science are hopelessly outdated it's one of the most influential sci-fi movies ever made.

8. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) - David (Haley Joel Osment), Monica Swinton (Frances O'Connor)
Available: Pluto TV

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick

Summary: "Started by Stanley Kubrick and finished by Steven Spielberg, this project was adapted from Brian Aldiss's 1966 short story 'Super-Toys Last All Summer Long'. The film explores the idea of programming a child robot so that he is able to love.

While the movie is flawed it captures the spirit and magic of Kubrick and Speilberg. Plus, the eye-popping special effects still hold up. Plus, Spielberg knows how to tug on those heart-strings.

9. War of the Worlds (1953)

War of the Worlds (1953) - Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry), Sylvia Van Buren (Ann Robinson)

Available: Kanopy (requires a free library membership), Crackle, Pluto TV, PopcornFlix

Directed by Byron Haskin

Summary: "A small town in California is attacked by Martians, beginning a worldwide invasion."

This story has been remade countless times including the Tom Cruise remake. But this film still captures the wonder and magic of the original radio play.

10. La Jetée (1962)

La Jetée (1962)
Available: Kanopy (requires a free library membership), Vimeo 

Directed by Chris Marker

Summary: "Chris Marker has been challenging moviegoers, philosophers, and himself for years with his complex queries about time, memory, and the rapid advancement of life on this planet. Marker's La Jetée is one of the most influential, radical science-fiction films ever made, a tale of time travel told in still images."

The movie La Jetée (The Pier) is haunting in its direction and style. It inspired the Terry Gilliam film 12 Monkeys but it's far simpler style sets it apart.

11. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) - Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner), Spock (Leonard Nimoy)

Available: PopcornFlix, Crackle

Directed by Leonard Nimoy

Summary: "To save Earth from an alien probe, Admiral Kirk and his fugitive crew go back in time to 20th century Earth to retrieve the only beings who can communicate with it, humpback whales."

This movie completes the story arc starting in Wrath of Khan. But its sense of humor and playful style sets it apart as a wonderful film.

12. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)

Available: Pluto TV

Directed by Richard Fleischer
Summary: "A ship sent to investigate a wave of mysterious sinkings encounters the advanced submarine, the Nautilus, commanded by Captain Nemo."

A wonderful adaptation of Jules Verne's classic story. It also stars a young Kirk Douglas in one of his impressive films.

13. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984) - Rawhide (Clancy Brown), New Jersey (Jeff Goldblum), Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller)

Available: Roku, Vudu, Pluto TV

Directed by W.D. Richter

Summary: "Neurosurgeon. Physicist. Rock Star. Hero. Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) is a true 80s renaissance man. With the help of his uniquely qualified team, The Hong Kong Cavaliers, Buckaroo is ready to save the world on a moment's notice. But after his successful test of the Oscillation Overthruster – a device that allows him to travel through."

Buckaroo Bonzai is my favorite cult film. It's wacky, strange and tremendous fun. It might not be your cup of tea but everyone needs to take the strange journey with Peter Weller's band of misfits.

14. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Available: Crackle, Popcorn Flix, Pluto TV

Directed by Don Siegel

Summary: "Dr. Miles Bennell returns to his small-town practice to find several of his patients suffering the paranoid delusion that their friends or relatives are impostors. He is initially skeptical, especially when the alleged doppelgangers are able to answer detailed questions about their victim's lives, but he is eventually persuaded that something odd has happened and determines to find out what is causing this phenomenon."

Invasion of the Body Snatchers spawned a number of remakes. None have successfully captured the paranoia and terror of the original.

15. Starman (1984)

Available: Pluto TV

Directed by John Carpenter

Summary: "An alien (Jeff Bridges) takes the form of a young widow's (Karen Allen) husband and asks her to drive him from Wisconsin to Arizona."

A quirky performance by Jeff Bridges and marvelous chemistry between the two stars make this film a delight. It earned Bridges a "Best Actor nomination" for Oscar and Golden Globe.

What are your favorite sci-fi movies? Which ones have you seen for free? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author
Maurice Mitchell has been a passionate science-fiction fan of movies, television, books, and comics since age five. He and his twin brother Nigel created the site "The Geek Twins" to share that passion. Maurice has written and created infographics for sites like The Geek Twins and About.com. His work has been featured on sites like Business Insider, io9 Slashfilm and more.
Read more of his posts | Follow him on Twitter @Mauricem1972 
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