15 Best Sci-Fi Movies Like Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049‘s Oscar-winning cinematography and effects go a long way in making it one of the most visually stunning science-fiction movies of recent years, and it can leave its fans wondering if there are any movies within the genre that can live up to its incredibly high standard. Those that found themselves swept up by the dystopian look of the movie, and Roger Deakins’ breathtaking photography, should make sure to also check out these similarly gorgeous–as well as frequently grim and brutal–sci-fi movies too.

Blade Runner 2049 may have a long way to go before it can claim the kind of certified cult status that the original enjoys, but several years on, its fan base is still steadily building. This is no doubt in part because of how the movie’s visual style clearly drew a lot of inspiration from the classics of the science-fiction genre. The best movies like Blade Runner 2049are all shining examples of what science-fiction movies can be when they’re being made by a team of people who really care about the genre.



15 Arrival (2016)

Available to stream on YouTube, Pluto TV, and Plex

Just less than a year prior to the wide release of Blade Runner 2049, director Denis Villeneuve released another critically-lauded and Oscar-nominated science-fiction thriller film, Arrival. The movie views a nerve-wracking first contact situation with aliens through the lens of communication and linguistics, with the movie’s sparse set design, haunting music, and stand-out cinematography instantaneously establishing Villeneuve as a leading name in the sci-fi genre. Fans of Blade Runner 2049‘s breathtaking scope will find a lot to love in the movie’s wide shots.

14 Oblivion (2013)

Available to stream on Peacock

Though by no means anywhere near as minimalist as the similarly-themed science-fiction movie that it’s so often compared to–Duncan Jones’ also-terrific film Moon–writer and director Joseph Kosinski forged an aesthetically enveloping vision of the future with this ambitious epic.

Oblivion realistically shares its core themes with a number of sci-fi movies, both Moon and Blade Runner 2049 included, with its story about a discontented engineer (Tom Cruise) in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, gliding over a ruined Earth and fixing menacing drones. It’s an interesting play on the neo-noir deconstruction of the hero narrative seen in Blade Runner 2049, as Cruise’s character begins to understand the real plot behind his uneasily tranquil life as well as the reality of his own importance in the world.

13 Ex Machina (2014)

Available to stream on HBO Max

Artificial intelligence, identity, exploitative behavior, and psychological manipulation are explored in this stylistically slick thriller from longtime sci-fi movie fan-favorite screenwriter Alex Garland, who also made his directorial debut on the project (Though actor Karl Urban has since claimed that Garland secretly directed the movie Dredd released in 2012).

The plot follows a low-level big tech employee (Domnhall Gleeson) who’s flown out to the reclusive lair of his enigmatic boss (Oscar Isaac) only to discover that he will be used as an assistant in the so-called ‘Turing test’ of a new and advanced humanoid AI (Alicia Vikander). As his conversations with the convincing machine progress, questions of loyalty and safety begin to grow as the bizarre situation becomes increasingly sinister.

RELATED: 11 Sci-Fi Movies To Watch If You Loved Ex Machina

12 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Available to stream on HBO Max

Few movies can be argued to be as influential as Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and even fewer of them still are from the sci-fi genre. Revolving around humanity’s quest to understand a mysterious monolith discovered buried on the Moon, the story is most remembered for its nail-biting conflict between the crew of a deep space exploration vessel sent to investigate the phenomena and the unforgettably murderous AI system on board that turns against them. Many–perhaps even most–of the creative ideas in the best movies like Blade Runner 2049 can be directly traced back to it as a point of origin.

11 Stalker (1979)

Available to stream on Prime Video and HBO Max

Another hugely influential science-fiction classic, yet a polar opposite to the filmmaking of most of the other best movies like Blade Runner 2049, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker is both grindingly slow and achingly beautiful.

The plot concerns the titular ‘Stalker’ (Alexander Kaidanovsky), a kind of guide or smuggler who brings patrons into a non-descript ‘Zone’ created by unknown means and possessing otherworldly powers. However, as much as that may sound like a springboard for high-concept action and adventure, that’s about as much story as Stalker ever gives the audience despite being roughly the same length as Blade Runner 2049. It is, instead, a predominantly still and silent meditation on philosophical concepts which, when coupled with Alexander Knyazhinsky’s astonishing cinematography, sparked a long-running fascination for it among cinephiles.

10 Annihilation (2018)

Available to stream on Showtime and Paramount+

Alex Garland’s ambitious sci-fi horror movie clearly drew a lot of inspiration from Tarkovsky’s Stalker but injects a Hollywood action-thriller element for a decidedly more mainstream–but still quite thought-provoking–ride. Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s novel of the same name, Annihilation follows a small team of scientists investigating an inexplicable phenomenon surrounding a crashed meteor. The movie takes a number of abstract concepts and visualizes them in often monstrous forms, but always slows down to make sure the audience can have a good look. Rob Hardy’s cinematography brings out the most hallucinatory aspects of the descent into alien-fueled madness within the movie’s own version of an unforgettably mysterious, sinister, and otherworldly ‘Zone’.

9 A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Available to stream on Pluto TV and Paramount+

As extensive as their personal and professional relationships were, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg aren’t overwhelmingly similar in a creative sense. The work of one can come off as being almost nihilistic while the other is notably sentimental most of the time. This no doubt contributed to the audience’s initial feelings of tonal confusion with the finished product of Spielberg and Kubrick’s collaboration but, over time, A.I. Artificial Intelligence has proven itself as an ethereal movie experience that floats above most things that are considered achievable within the genre today.

The story of the movie follows a robot programmed to be a young son to two parents whose own son has been cryogenically frozen due to a terminal illness. After being eventually abandoned by them, he then embarks on a dreamlike journey to become a real boy. Fans of the action in Blade Runner 2049 may be left wanting, but fans of the themes and visuals certainly won’t.

8 THX 1138 (1971)

Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

The feature debut of Star Wars director George Lucas displays the talents of a filmmaker who would go on to irrevocably alter the medium 6 years later. Following a man (Robert Duvall) in a futuristic dystopia, the film demonstrates a boundless dexterity with the visual trickery required to create a fictional world much larger than could actually be constructed and often taps into some of the ideas prevalent in Philip K. Dick’s original novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” that the Blade Runner movies leave out. Like most of Lucas’ work, it’s something that’s been progressively tinkered with over the decades, but its original nightmarish tone still shines through.

7 Logan Noir (2017)

Available to stream on Disney+

Though in its original theatrical form Logan is a good-looking movie, the black and white version, Logan Noir, really draws attention to the lighting of certain scenes not to mention glossing over some of the blemishes left by the superhero genre’s need for lots of digital effects shots. James Mangold’s pensive take on superheroes in this violent road movie Marvel’s Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) creates a cuttingly real dystopia that’s often indistinguishable from the current time period but mercifully littered with some impressively emotional landscapes befitting of its Western theme. There’s also a familiar theme of progeny that perhaps comes from Logan and Blade Runner 2049‘s shared co-screenwriter, Michael Green.

6 Her (2013)

Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

In so many ways, Spike Jonze’s Her is the exact opposite of Blade Runner 2049. One paints an overwhelmingly cold and bleak portrait of the future as a cautionary tale while the other paints something much more representative of contemporary reality that seems almost inviting. Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is so warm, and often enveloping, that it eases the viewer into Her‘s vision of the near future. It allows the audience to feel something more readily for its lonely characters lost in a sea of people and information through its story about a lonely man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with an advanced AI.

5 Tron: Legacy (2010)

Available to stream on

Before Oblivion, Joseph Kosinski’s very belated sequel to the 1982 cult Disney movie Tron updated the idea for a modern audience and transformed its famous digital world into something as visually striking as the original’s pioneering effects. Against much darker backgrounds, the essential blue/orange color scheme really pops in sparse neon while Oscar-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda marries modern computer-generated effects with Kosinski’s eye for architecture. The story sees the son of the original movie’s protagonist (Garrett Hedlund) travel into his father’s (Jeff Bridges) digital world to battle his nefarious alter ego and fans of the cityscapes in Blade Runner 2049 will have plenty to ogle.

4 The Fountain (2006)

Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

Darren Aronofsky’s quest into mortality via historical fantasy, romantic drama, and science-fiction is a spellbinding experience thanks in no small part to the movie’s ingenuity with macro-photography in lieu of digital effects. The overall approach of practical over digital taken by Aronofsky and director of photography Matthew Libatque results in a rare high-concept, lower-budget, sci-fi that still holds up over a decade later when overabundant digital effects would have surely aged the film horribly. Its segmented story about the various lives of a man (Hugh Jackman) throughout time will work best for fans of Blde Runner 2049‘s most mind-bending moments.

3 Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010)

Available to stream on Crackle

Writer and director Panos Cosmatos’ love letter to the sci-fi horror of yesteryear is a loving reconstruction of outmoded styles and captivatingly sinister color palettes. Set mostly in the underground laboratory of a New Age cult as a young woman (Eva Allan) tries to escape its clutches, Beyond the Black Rainbow utilizes grainy 35mm photography for more than just nostalgia’s sake and creates a wholly unique experience that’s enhanced by its psychedelic rock soundtrack and unrelentingly darker moments, which fans of Blade Runner 2049’s more horrific elements are sure to get a kick out of.

2 Interstellar (2014)

Available to stream on Paramount+

Christopher Nolan’s modern take on the space exploration movie benefits hugely from the same warm romantic kind of colors that director of photography Hoyte van Hoytema brought to Her the previous year. Following a team of astronauts on a mission to find a new habitable world as the Earth slowly dies, so much of the story concerns the coldness of space and feelings of hopelessness in the face of entropy.

RELATED: 15 Space Movies To Watch If You Love Interstellar

However, Interstellar is, at its heart, quite a sweet and sentimental movie that’s designed to rouse the spirits rather than dampen them. Fans of the more uplifting moments of Blade Runner 2049 will be in tune with its distinct tone as well as its focus on building a tangible future world for the audience to inhabit.

1 Alien (1979)

Available to stream on

Anyone looking for the best movies like Blade Runner 2049 should, of course, see Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner, but the director’s first foray into science-fiction is perhaps even more important to the development of the genre and arguably even more good-looking. Scott’s classic sci-fi horror movie, Alien, has barely aged at all over the past four decades, with its production design remaining as fascinating to fans now as it was back in 1979.

H.R. Giger’s famous combination of organisms and mechanisms bleeds into more than just the iconic monster design. The swallowing of humans into machinery is one of the biggest themes of the movie, and it’s realized throughout all of its aspects, from the sets to the story. The plot sees the worn-out crew of a commercial spaceship hauling cargo fall victim to an aggressive organism and the film’s theme of life becoming expendable when weighed against capital would carry over into the original Blade Runner. Fans of Blade Runner 2049 are obligated to experience it at least once.

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