Upside Down, The Time Traveler's Wife, and Wall-E top the charts as some of the best sci-fi romances ever.
Sci-fi romance films explore out-of-this-world concepts using relatable characters who aim to influence and shape the way that we think about love in a setting unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. From time and space travel to robots and artificial intelligence, these Hollywood films use futuristic elements to tell stories based on the very fundamental aspects of what it’s like to be human and to fall in love. Here are the best sci-fi romance movies that are sure to make your heart melt.
10. Upside Down (2012)
Imagine a planet, so much like our own, except in the sky is a mirrored world with a gravitational pull that goes in the opposite direction. In Upside Down, the two worlds are separated by class and not allowed to interact with one another, yet somehow, Adam and Eden meet and fall in love as teens. After they are separated, the movie follows Adam’s dangerous journey as he risks it all to reunite with his love once more.
This movie takes sci-fi romance and flips it on its head, telling a new and refreshing story with Jim Sturgess starring as Adam and Kirsten Dunst starring as Eden. The film was directed by Juan Solanas, and written by Solanas, Santiago Amigorena, and Pierre Magny.
9. The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009)
Based on Audrey Niffenegger’s novel of the same name and later also turned into an HBO television series, The Time Traveler’s Wife stars Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams as a husband and wife who must deal with the husband’s condition of involuntary time travel, which creates challenges in their relationship. Having known Henry (Bana) since the age of six when he first appeared to her, Clare (McAdams) must spend her life waiting for him to appear, never knowing when he will disappear again, leaving her to wonder if this is the kind of life she truly wants to be living.
Directed by Robert Schwentke, The Time Traveler’s Wife received mixed reviews from critics, but is an especially good movie for those who love melodramas with a sci-fi romance twist.
8. Passengers (2016)
Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence have undeniable chemistry in the sci-fi romance, Passengers. The film follows Jim Preston (Pratt) and Aurora Lane (Lawrence) as two passengers on a spaceship traveling to a distant planet. A malfunction in their sleeping pods causes the two to wake up 90 years early, forcing them to pass the time in space alone with only each other and a robot bartender for company.
Brought to the big screen by the same guy who directed The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum), Passengers received mixed reviews from critics but is well-loved by those who enjoy blending the romance and science fiction genres.
7. In Your Eyes (2014)
From the mind of the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the guy who arguably ruined Justice League, Joss Whedon wrote the sci-fi romance, In Your Eyes. Almost more fantasy than science fiction, In Your Eyes tells the story of two people who somehow make a telepathic bond that allows them to see, hear, and feel what the other is experiencing, which creates a bond between them that cannot be broken.
The film stars Michael Stahl-David and Zoe Kazan as the two telepathic lovers. In Your Eyes was directed by Brin Hill and was praised by critics for balancing melodrama with humor, tenderness, and just a touch of danger.
6. About Time (2013)
Richard Curtis wrote and directed About Time, a time-traveling sci-fi romance that follows a man who bends time in order to get a girlfriend and make the world a better place. You might recognize Curtis’ name if you’re a fan of romance, because this Kiwi filmmaker is the mastermind behind some of Britain’s biggest rom-coms, including Nottinghill, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Bridget Jones’ Diary.
About Time stars Rachel McAdams as the girlfriend Mary, in her second movie as the love interest of a time-traveling man, and Domhnall Gleeson as the lead protagonist, Tim. Like most of Curtis’ movies, About Time was favorably reviewed by critics who called it charming and sentimental, though some thought the film was too similar to the Bill Murray classic, Groundhog Day, which also saw a man reliving time until he got love right.
5. Interstellar (2014)
Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway as two astronauts on a mission to find humanity a new home. At its core, Interstellar is much more than a sci-fi romance between McConaughey and Hathaway’s characters but explores multiple themes of love, including the relationship between a parent and child as seen through McConaughey’s Cooper and his daughter Murph.
Critics lauded Interstellar for being visually stunning as well as thought-provoking and applauded Christopher Nolan, who wrote and directed the feature. Interstellar was nominated for a total of six Academy Awards, including Best Original Score and Best Sound Design, and won Best Visual Effects.
4. The Shape of Water (2017)
Guillermo del Toro has developed a reputation for making stunning, strange, and fantastical films that create new standards for the science fiction and fantasy genre, and The Shape of Water as a sci-fi romance is no different. The story follows a lonely janitor who develops a remarkable relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held captive in a research facility in the 1960s. The movie tells the story of forbidden love that will go to any lengths, despite the danger involved, in order to do what is right.
The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins as the janitor, Elisa Esposito and Doug Jones as the amphibian man.
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind tells the story of love, heartbreak, and new beginnings. Jim Carrey stars as Joel in a performance so unlike the actor’s typical comedic shenanigans as he portrays a quiet and shy man who is brought out of his shell when he meets his manic pixie dream girl, Clementine (Kate Winslet).
Eternal Sunshine is a perfect example of Carrey’s true talent for both comedic and dramatic acting as he portrays the pain that Joel goes through after discovering that Clementine has purposefully erased him from her memories. Reacting to the news, Joel enlists a doctor to provide him with the same service but then changes his mind after the process has already begun. Since it’s irreversible, Joel is forced to relive his life with Clementine inside of his mind, knowing that he will soon lose all memory of it.
The sci-fi romance, which was written by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, and Pierre Bismuth, and directed by Gondry, was released to universal critical acclaim.
2. Wall-E (2008)
Although Wall-E is a Disney Pixar animated film, it’s not just a movie for kids. While children will appreciate the creative imagery and fun characters, Wall-E is enjoyed just as much by adults since it is a complex film that is able to tell an emotional story with absolutely no dialogue.
The film has a total of 17 lines spoken in the entire 97 minutes, and none of them are uttered by the titular trash compactor. Instead, an entire love story is conveyed through the limited facial expressions of two animated robots, and it is done so spectacularly well that Wall-E became the first Pixar movie after Toy Story to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
1. Her (2013)
The number one sci-fi romance is Her, starring an A-list cast consisting of Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, and Scarlett Johansson. Written and directed by Spike Jonze, the film follows a lonely writer who develops a relationship with an operating system that is designed to meet his every need.
The film was released to universal acclaim by critics, who praised the film for being “sweet, soulful, and smart.” It’s a witty, tender, and vulnerable commentary on human relationships in the modern age and a film that is able to balance humor as well as heartbreak within a fresh and unique storyline.
- GFR Score calculated using averages of audience and critical reactions across multiple platforms.