Greetings, Polygon readers!
We’re less than a hair’s breadth away from December, which means it’s almost time to say goodbye to 2023. If you’re searching for some sci-fi movies to watch on Netflix to whittle away the final days of November, you’re in luck: We’ve cherry-picked only the best of the best to stream this month.
Each month, we pick the best science fiction movies for you to watch at home on the platform, tailored to the time of year, what’s out in theaters, or just straight up vibes. This November, we have a spacefaring adventure with lots of action, the highly-anticipated follow-up to one of the most definitive animated features of the 2010s, and a beautiful black-and-white short film about a pair of orchard keepers living in the post-apocalypse.
Let’s get into it!
Director: Liam O’Donnell
Cast: Lindsey Morgan, Jonathan Howard, Daniel Bernhardt
If you tire of modern, all-VFX science fiction blockbusters, this one’s for you. With delightful practical alien suits and sets that immerse you in the movie’s universe from the start, the third movie in writer-director Liam O’Donnell’s trilogy is the best in the bunch.
Set after the events of Beyond Skyline (also on Netflix and worth watching, but you can safely skip the first one), Skylines follows superhero captain Rose Corley (Lindsey Morgan, in what should be a career-making performance) and her wise-cracking brother, Trent (Jeremy Fitzgerald), as they look to save billions of alien-human hybrids from a deadly disease. Coupled with the return of Yayan Ruhian (The Raid) and the additions of iconic action actors Daniel Bernhardt and Rhona Mitra, Skylines is top-tier modern genre filmmaking and a genuinely fun time at the movies. It’s recently been re-added to Netflix, so it’s the perfect time to watch it. —Pete Volk
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse
Directors: Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson
Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld, Oscar Isaac
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse arrived with the force of a bolt of lightning when it premiered in theaters back in 2018. This year’s sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, was one of the rare instances of lightning striking twice; A sequel that lives up to the out-sized expectations of its predecessor while raising the bar for American animated storytelling.
Even if you’re not a fan of Spider-Man, the film is an exhilarating universe-hopping sci-fi adventure about a young man’s journey to define his own identity and destiny apart from that of his many, many alternate universe counterparts. It’s a thrilling visual spectacle and a solid sci-fi flick to boot, one that makes the wait for its forthcoming sequel all the more palpable. —Toussaint Egan
Directors: Søren Lind, Larissa Sansour
Cast: Hiam Abbass, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Walaa Eltiti
If you’re searching for something that’s a little more unconventional than your typical big-budget sci-fi fare, this short film is a beautiful treasure tucked away at the back of Netflix’s streaming library. Set in a cavernous bunker beneath Bethlehem 30 years after a global ecological disaster, In Vitro centers on Dunia (Hiam Abbass), a 70-year old scientist on her deathbed, and Alia (Maisa Abd Elhadi), a clone of Dunia’s 30-year old self, and her immediate successor. Dunia has devoted the remaining years of her life to the cultivation of plants intended to reseed the surface with life.
Framed as a conversation between the two, the film explores the themes of time, memory, and heritage as the pair debate on what each of them owes to the past and the future. “We were all raised on someone else’s nostalgia,” Alia tells Dunia by her bedside. “The pain these stories cause are twofold, because the loss I feel was never mine.” It’s a captivating story not only of ecological renewal, but of intergenerational conflict, made all the more so for its stunning monochromatic cinematography and inventive split-channel presentation. —TE