Looking up at the night sky, do you like to imagine worlds far beyond our reach and our recognition? 2001: A Space Odyssey is amongst your favorite films? Tom Hanks’ performance in Apollo 13 blew you away? You’re in luck. Space movies have not dropped in popularity. On the contrary, they’re on a constant rise, with more and more smash hits every single year.
If there’s one downside to the abundance of movies about space right now, it’s that it’s impossible to sift through them all. How do you find the ones worth watching?
Don’t worry. You grab the popcorn and the remote — we’ll do the research for you. Keep reading for our list of the best space movies of the decade.
Best Space Movies
Movies on space, movies about Apollo 11, science fiction movies set in space… Sounds great? We’ve got the full scoop on the best ones. Take a break from the classics such as 2001: A Space Odyssey and try out the latest hits.
#1: The Martian (2015)
The Martian is a science fiction survival film. It’s directed by Ridley Scott and based on the equally successful novel by Andry Weir. The main character that the whole movie is built around is played by Matt Damon, supported by Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan, Donald Glover, and more.
The film follows Mark Watney and his crew as they land on Mars and set up a habitat in A.D. 2035. Their job involves exploring Mars and testing the planet for future missions. A severe dust storm forces the crew to evacuate. Unfortunately, Mark is struck by debris and wrongly presumed dead. The rest of the crew takes off and leaves the planet, leaving Watney all alone on Mars.
The rest of the movie tells you a story of Mark’s perseverance as he has to wait for the rescue mission, which could take years. He has no contact with the Earth, low oxygen, and a limited supply of food.
Matt Damon truly carries this amazing movie. Combined with a solid plot, a big dash of science that checks out, and some fantastic dialogue, this one is a must-see & one of the best space movies ever made.
#2: Gravity (2013)
Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two American astronauts. It’s a sci-fi thriller directed by Alfonso Cuarón, who also co-wrote, co-edited, and produced it under Warner Bros. Pictures.
The science-fiction movie’s plot begins on the NASA Space Shuttle Explorer. Clooney plays the shuttle’s commander, veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski. Dr. Ryan Stone (played by Bullock) is there to perform a series of hardware upgrades to the Hubble telescope.
As she and a few more crew members are on a spacewalk, they are forced to retreat due to a cloud of space debris. Before Stone makes it back to the spaceship, she is struck by debris and sent plummeting into space. Rescued by Kowalski, they eventually make it back onto the Explorer, only to find the ship in shambles and the rest of the crew dead.
The film focuses on the duo trying to make a safe journey home in a hopeless situation. It begins with Stone and Kowalski attempting to make it onto the Chinese space shuttle Shenzhou as a way to return to Earth.
#3: Arrival (2016)
Arrival is a sci-fi film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer. The movie stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker in the lead roles. It’s not your typical, run-of-the-mill space movie.
The planet is surrounded by twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft that hover over several locations on Earth. The countries affected by the silent, immovable spaceships, send scientists to study them or attempt to get rid of them. Amongst those that are there to study the craft in Montana, US, are Banks and Ian Donnelly, a physicist.
They manage to make contact with two aliens; seven-limbed creatures they call heptapods. They work together to research their highly advanced language. Meanwhile, as the other nations react to the translations in unexpected ways, a conflict rises that Banks and Donnelly may not be able to put an end to before it’s too late.
#4: Star Wars (2015-2019)
New Star Wars trilogy — those four words seemed to be nothing but a dream prior to the beginning of the decade. The new trilogy consists of three movies: Episode VII, VIII, and IX. They are called The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker respectively. Their plot picks up a few decades after the ending of the first Star Wars Trilogy from back in the 80s — specifically after The Return of the Jedi.
Some of the old crew reprises their roles: Mark Hamill returns as Luke Skywalker, the late Carrie Fisher as Leia Organa, and Harrison Ford as Han Solo. However, most of the plot focuses on Rey (Daisy Ridley) — a 19-year old orphan who lives on the remote planet of Jakku.
A series of circumstances binds together Rey, Finn (John Boyega), and Poe (Oscar Isaac). The film focuses on the ongoing fight against the evil First Order and the efforts of the Resistance to defeat them and bring justice back to the universe. Meanwhile, as Rey begins to discover that she is Force-sensitive, a powerful rival emerges — Kylo Ren, an evil Sith Lord with an unexpected past.
#5: Rogue One (2016)
This is the first Star Wars spin-off to be made into a movie. Following mostly new characters with some familiar faces sprinkled in, this Gareth Edwards film received a lot of positive reviews and quickly became a fan-favorite, deemed one of the best movies of all time in the SW franchise.
Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, and Mads Mikkelsen, Rogue One covers the lead up to the events of Star Wars: A New Hope. However, instead of focusing on the usual Star Wars plot (the eternal conflict of the Jedi vs the Sith), it focuses on Jyn Erso (Jones), the Rebellion, and their endless bravery as they attempt to save the universe from the evil Empire.
Rogue One ties beautifully into the events of the very first Star Wars movie and shows us that not only the Force can win battles. Following the fearless, lonely Jyn as she and her unlikely allies risk their lives in the name of the greater good is exciting, inspiring, and very well portrayed. This is a must-see for Star Wars fans.
#6: Passengers (2016)
Passengers is a unique sci-fi space movie that combines a futuristic plot with a romantic and psychological aspect. This unusual approach makes it stand out from other blockbusters. Directed by Morten Tyldum, this film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Chris Pratt, Michael Sheen, and Laurence Fishburne.
Set in the year 2343, Passengers tells the story of Jim Preston, a mechanical engineer abroad the Avalon — a sleeper space ship. The Avalon is meant to transport 5,000 colonists and 258 crew members to planet Homestead II. They are meant to hibernate throughout the entire journey and wake upon arrival. Unfortunately, an asteroid collision damages the ship and awakens Jim Preston 90 years too soon.
After a year of being all alone on the Avalon, unable to hibernate again, Jim grows desperate and even suicidal. However, he finds the sleeping pod of a beautiful passenger by the name of Aurora Lane. After a moral struggle, he awakens her and lies to her that her pod has also malfunctioned.
As time passes, Jim and Aurora fall in love, but it is a love built on secrets — and set in a very dangerous place.
#7: Solo (2018)
Solo is the second Star Wars spin-off that follows a well-loved character from the original trilogy: Han Solo. Directed by Ron Howard, this movie stars Aiden Ehrenreich in the title role, with Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, and Donald Glover in the supporting roles. While praised by critics, this movie was a box office bomb and generated the least revenue of all other SW films.
The story is focused on a younger Han from before we first met him in A New Hope. Han and Qi’ra (Clarke) are forced to escape the planet Corellia as they are being chased down by a local gang. Having bribed an Imperial officer for a chance to leave the planet, they almost make it out in time. Unfortunately, they are separated and Qi’ra is captured.
Han joins the Imperial Navy as a flight cadet as part of his plan to rescue Qi’ra. The rest of the movie follows Han Solo as he gets more and more tangled up with illegal, dangerous people. As he still wants to rescue Qi’ra, he is faced with many situations that make him think and reconsider where his moral compass lies.
#8: Interstellar (2014)
Interstellar is one of the best space movies of the decade, and perhaps even of all time. It’s sometimes compared to 2001: A Space Odyssey. Directed, co-written, and produced by the film genius Christopher Nolan, it stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Ellen Burstyn, Bill Irwin, and Matt Damon. A complete hit at the box office and with fans of space movies, Interstellar is an epic science fiction film.
In the year 2067, dust storms and crop blights threaten the survival of humanity as the last crops begin to die. The society has regressed and given up on space travel, going as far as to lie to children that the Moon landings never happened. Engineers and scientists are not needed as everyone is focused on simple survival.
Cooper (McConaughey), a former NASA pilot, is a widower who lives on a farm with his two children and his father-in-law. One day, a persistent gravitational phenomenon in his daughter’s bedroom gives him mysterious coordinates that he follows. Once there, he finds out that NASA is alive and well, and the only hope for humanity’s survival lies in space. Persuaded by Professor Brand (Caine), Coop agrees to pilot the mission that could save the world.
#9: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
The Star Trek franchise, much like Star Wars, needs no introduction. This is the twelfth installment in the beloved franchise, directed by J. J. Abrams and starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, Leonard Nimoy, and Zoe Saldana. It was a financial success and was a favorite with both critics and fans.
The story follows the previous Star Trek movies, further expanding on the franchise. In the year 2259, Captain Kirk makes the difficult choice to save the primitive inhabitants of the planet Nibiru. For his choice, he is expelled from command of the starship USS Enterprise.
The crew is then called back home, only to find that a force from within their own organization has detonated the entire fleet, plunging the world into a crisis. Captain Kirk, led by a sense of justice and a wish to settle his score, leads the crew to war in order to capture a weapon of mass destruction.
#10: Moon (2009)
Moon is a drama/mystery/sci-fi movie, directed and written by Duncan Jones. It stars Sam Rockwell, Kevin Spacey, and Dominique McElligott.
This movie is primarily focused on one character: Sam Bell, an astronaut who has a three-year contract with Lunar Industries. During the duration of the contract, he is the only employee based on their station on the Moon. His job is to harvest helium-3. As he doesn’t have any form of communication with the Earth, his only interaction is with GERTY — an intelligent computer made to serve him.
Three weeks prior to his contract ending, he gets into an accident that leaves him injured and the harvester damaged. As he awaits rescue, which GERTY promises is about to happen, he makes an unexpected discovery that causes him to doubt whether Lunar Industries has his best interests at hand. With his every move monitored by GERTY, Sam must find a way to return to Earth before it’s too late.
#11: WALL-E (2008)
This film is a classic so much so that we’re willing to omit the fact that it came out in 2008. WALL-E is a Disney PIXAR animated space movie. Directed by Andrew Stanton, it stars Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, and Fred Willard as the voice actors.
In a distant future, the Earth has been abandoned. The planet is now nothing but a heap of trash, left behind by people as they left Earth behind. WALL-E is an intelligent clean-up robot, tasked with clearing up the mess.
One day, a robot named EVE is sent to Earth to check whether the planet can sustain life again. WALL-E falls in love with EVE, and although the robot is unresponsive, WALL-E takes it upon himself to protect her from the elements. When a ship arrives in order to bring EVE back, WALL-E hitches a ride and his journey begins.
#12: Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Another part of the Marvel Universe, Thor: Ragnarok focuses on the titular character, played by Chris Hemsworth. Directed by Taika Waititi, it also stars Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Idris Elba, and more.
The movie begins with Thor imprisoned in a remote part of the universe, the planet Sakaar. Meanwhile, Ragnarök is looming and evil Hela (Blanchett) is about to destroy his homeworld of Asgard.
The ever-powerful superhero has to face his own shortcomings and fears as he races against time to save the planet and the people he loves.
#13: Ad Astra (2019)
This is a recent space movie that explores space just as much as it explores familial love and heartbreak. Directed by James Gray, it stars Bradd Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, and Ruth Negga.
Earth is struggling with immense energy surges that affect the entire solar system. The U.S. Space Command believes that the anomaly may be caused by the Lima Project. The project was led by Clifford McBride, but for years now, the entire crew was believed to be lost.
Astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt), Clifford’s son, takes it upon himself to travel to the edge of the solar system. His mission is to reach Neptune, find out whether his father is still alive, and hopefully locate the source of the anomaly.
#14: Alien: Covenant (2017)
Directed by the brilliant Ridley Scott, Alien: Covenant is yet another successful installment in this horror/sci-fi franchise. Starring Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride, and Billy Crudup, the film was a success amongst fans of Alien.
Alien: Covenant takes place almost eleven years after the failed expedition to the distant moon LV-223. Now, more than 2,000 colonists are put into cryogenic hibernation as they fly aboard the space vessel Covenant, headed to the remote planet Origae-6. The plan? To build a new world, similar to Earth.
Unfortunately, the crew is nowhere near prepared for what they are about to discover. As they face alien beings that are far beyond human comprehension, their previously peaceful mission turns into a life-or-death situation.
#15: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Made by the beloved Marvel Studios, Guardians of the Galaxy was directed by James Gunn. It starred Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Zoe Saldana, and many other talented actors. This super-popular space/action/adventure flick can be compared to a western in space.
Peter Quill (Pratt), originally from Earth, steals a mysterious orb hidden in the far depths of outer space. This puts him on the hitlist of the fearsome villain called Ronan the Accuser. Losing the orb to Ronan proves to be disastrous and could threaten the entire galaxy.
On a mission to retrieve the orb and save the universe, Peter is joined by a group of misfits that, at first, do not get along at all. They have to learn to work together in order to do what’s right and stop Ronan before it’s too late.
#16: Apollo 11 (2019)
Unlike the other films on our list, Apollo 11 is not sci-fi. This is a documentary that tells the full story of Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins as they went on the Apollo 11 mission to land on the moon. Directed by Todd Douglas Miller, it stars the astronauts themselves and uses solely archival footage.
The events start with the preparation for the launch of Apollo 11 and continue throughout the mission. We learn everything about the first time humans stepped on the Moon. You get to see footage that has never been seen before.
From the very first moments until the safe touchdown of the capsule that delivered the brave astronauts back on Earth, Apollo 11 tells the whole story in a mesmerizing way.
#17: Hidden Figures (2016)
While not set in space, Hidden Figures tells the story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who made space exploration possible. Directed by Theodore Melfi, it stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, and Kirsten Dunst. It’s based on a true story.
Back when the United States and Russia raced against each other to be the first to conquer space, NASA needed every genius mind to make that happen. They found unquestionable talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians.
The movie follows the stories of three of these incredibly talented women. Tasked with the most difficult calculations, they were the brains behind the operation that led to the US winning the space race.
#18: Jupiter Ascending (2015)
This blockbuster, written & directed by The Wachowskis, stars Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, and Eddie Redmayne. While not a favorite with the critics, it’s an entertaining flick that appealed to a large audience.
The story follows Jupiter Jones (Kunis) as she lives an ordinary life on Earth, unaware of the fact that the human species was established by aliens. The aliens created humanity, as well as many other species, in order to harvest the resulting organisms and produce a special youth serum.
When a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, Caine Wise (Tatum) arrives on Earth to track her down, she finds out nothing is as it seemed. It turns out she’s in line to inherit something that could alter the entire universe.
#19: Avengers: Infinity War (2019)
Part of the ever-successful Avengers franchise, Infinity War, and the follow-up (Endgame), were absolute box-office hits. Directed by the Russo brothers, this film has a stellar cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Holland, and more.
Following up on the events of the rest of the Marvel Universe, the Avengers have to protect the universe from a grave threat. Thanos, a villain known all across the galaxy, attempts to collect the six Infinity Stones. These artifacts, if obtained, will give him the power to destroy the universe.
The heroes have to gather all their forces in order to stop Thanos and save the universe, but what price will they have to pay for humanity’s survival?
#20: First Man (2018)
While Apollo 11 tells the story of the space mission in documentary form, this is a biopic starring Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, and Jason Clarke. Directed by Damien Chazelle, this movie tells the story of the first man to walk on the Moon in 1969.
The film begins in 1961. Neil Armstrong is a NASA test pilot, flying the X-15 rocket plane when he accidentally bounces off the atmosphere. His colleagues mark him as one that makes a lot of mistakes and he is forced to stay on the ground. He is soon faced with a personal loss — his two-year-old daughter Karen passes away due to a brain tumor. Incapacitated by grief, Armstrong applies for Project Gemini and is accepted.
First Man follows the story of Armstrong as he begins training, overcomes many difficult circumstances, and eventually walks on the Moon for the first time in history, starting humanity’s endless space odyssey.
Whether it’s Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon in Apollo 13 or Matthew McConaughey in Interstellar, space movies have the potential to take your breath away. Suspend reality for a moment and sit back with your favorite snacks & one of the best space movies of all time. The possibilities are endless & the sky is NOT the limit — not in this case!