The 11 Best Sci-Fi And Fantasy Movies And Shows Of 2019

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The sci-fi and fantasy genres have never been more popular than they are right now. The return of Star Wars to the big screen and the immense popularity of Game of Thrones over the past decade has shown that there is a seemingly insatiable demand for shows and movies involving spaceships, aliens, robots, dragons, and magic. And with the streaming revolution increasing the competition between studios, companies, and platforms, we can expect even more in the years to come.

The past 12 months have delivered some outstanding examples of both genres. There were disappointments–ironically, the latest Star Wars movie and final season of Game of Thrones divided fans more than ever before. But away from those franchise behemoths, the world of the fantastic has never looked healthier.

Netflix delivered some truly original science fiction with shows such as The OA and Russian Doll, Stranger Things continued to win over millions of viewers, and The Handmaid’s Tale delivered more outstanding dystopian misery. There were also some fascinating smaller releases, and the Fast & Furious series even dipped its toes into the world of sci-fi. So here’s the best sci-fi and fantasy shows and movies of 2019–and once you’ve read these, check out GameSpot’s guides to most anticipated movies and shows of 2020

11. His Dark Materials

HBO’s His Dark Materials isn’t the first adaptation of the beloved Philip Pullman book trilogy, but with the first season’s success, we can confidently say this is the best version of the story since the original. It’s not just the stellar cast, which includes Dafne Keen (the girl from Logan) as Lyra, James McAvoy as Lord Asriel, and Ruth Wilson as Mrs. Coulter; it’s also the fact that those responsible for the joint BBC and HBO production were dedicated to staying faithful to the source material, unlike the filmmakers behind the mediocre 2007 movie version. The show stayed true to the spirit and overall story of Pullman’s original trilogy, which is what counts. – Mike Rougeau

10. The OA (Season 2)

The mind-bending sci-fi series The OA is the sort of show that never played by the rules, and fans of Season 1 had to wait nearly three years for the second batch of episodes. Thankfully the wait was fully rewarded. Creators Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij delivered an incredible season that, while following directly on from the events of Season 1, was very much its own thing. It continues the story of Prairie Johnson (Marling) and her experiences after escaping from insane scientist “Hap” Percy, but it also introduced a gripping thriller subplot, as a detective hunts for a missing girl in San Francisco. There are parallel dimensions, supernatural houses, sanity-consuming video games, dancing robots, and psychic octopuses, and it takes several episodes for the pieces of the puzzle to start to fall into place. But viewer patience is rewarded by some absolutely gripping sci-fi and moving emotional drama–and the ending has to be seen to be believed. – Dan Auty

9. Hobbs & Shaw

The Fast & Furious franchise may have departed from its roots–a movie series about cool cars and racing said cool cars–but the Hobbs & Shaw spinoff from earlier this year has taken the series completely off the rails, in the best way possible. Hobbs & Shaw is a science fiction/superhero mashup, with Idris Elba entering the series as the villainous Brixton Lore–a cybernetically enhanced superpowered terrorist. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham are exceptional together, whether they’re trying to one-up each other in a battle of wits and comebacks or beating up everyone around them. Hobbs & Shaw ended up being one of the most entertaining entries in the series and what we should expect from summer blockbusters. So now that superpowers have been introduced into the Fast & Furious franchise, it’s time to resurrect Han. Thanks. – Mat Elfring

8. Stranger Things (Season 3)

There were a lot of reasons to criticize the second season of Stranger Things, but the vast majority of viewers seemed to agree that Eleven’s field trip to Chicago in Episode 7, “The Lost Sister,” was the low point. Use this fact as an indicator for the direction Season 3 went: The events of that episode, including all those wonky characters, were never mentioned or referenced a single time throughout the third season. Trimmed back down to Season 1’s length of eight episodes, Stranger Things Season 3 was as tight as Billy’s abs as he sat by the Hawkins community pool in his lifeguard uniform. After a lackluster sophomore slump, Stranger Things was back at the top of its game in 2019. – Mike Rougeau

7. The Handmaid’s Tale (Season 3)

Season 2 of Handmaid’s Tale was a bit of a letdown. Over the course of it, viewers were given no real hope for June and those enslaved by Gilead’s rule. However, Season 3 took the impossible situation and turned it on its head, making the viewer feel like June’s journey isn’t a lost cause. Of course, this being The Handmaid’s Tale, nothing is wrapped up in a nice, neat package by the end of the season. However, viewers can rest assured that not all is dark in this terrifying world. – Mat Elfring

6. High Life

Robert Pattinson is on the verge of making a return to the world of blockbuster cinema with The Batman, which releases in 2021. But for now, the former Twilight star remains dedicated to the world of offbeat indie cinema. High Life was perhaps the year’s strangest sci-fi movie, and it’s certainly one of the best. Pattinson plays a former criminal who lives on a ship in deep space with only a baby for company. Flashbacks reveal that he was once part of a bigger team on a dangerous mission to a black hole, but ultimately the movie is less interested in story than presenting an intense atmosphere of dread, isolation, and pent-up frustration. It’s directed by French arthouse veteran Claire Denis and seems influenced by Russian sci-fi master Andrei Tarkovsky and well as cerebral ’70s classics such as Silent Running. A must watch for fans of ambitious, adult sci-fi. – Dan Auty

5. The Expanse (Season 4)

To those who enjoyed its first three seasons, The Expanse always felt like something special. Being canceled by Syfy and subsequently saved by Amazon raised the show’s profile significantly, and Season 4 was the live-or-die moment: They’d either stick the landing, or they’d burn up in orbit. Luckily, The Expanse Season 4 continued the series’ upward trajectory toward the highest echelons of sci-fi television, as the Rocinante’s crew embarked on a mission to a new world, and the writers demonstrated exactly how to deftly adapt an existing work while weaving in relevant themes and updating the story for 2019. – Mike Rougeau

4. Ad Astra

What Ad Astra does exceptionally well is that it plays more like a drama, not a sci-fi film. The movie follows Roy McBride (Brad Pitt) as he sets off across the solar system to find out what happened to his father on an expedition 30 years earlier. The setting and story have near-future science fiction elements, but the movie is really about a son coming to grips with the reemergence of his father. There are so many elements of this movie that are infinitely fascinating, like the “pirates” on the Moon that try to take down McBride and his security’s transport, and they all paint a full picture for the world these characters live in, which is key for any good sci-fi flick. While the trailers didn’t do Ad Astra any favors, the movie is a very satisfying and fulfilling ride that you need to check out. – Mat Elfring

3. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

While the rest of the world was freaking out about the end of Game of Thrones, I was deeply invested in my own fantasy series. Instead of dragons and Peter Dinklage, though, this show was filled with wonderfully detailed puppets. The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance isn’t just a prequel to the cult favorite Jim Henson film from the 1980s, it’s also a deeper dive into the inner workings of the planet of Thra and the various Gelfling tribes that inhabit it. This complex world is explored in great detail through the use of puppetry and massive physical sets for them to roam around in. But what’s most important about Age of Resistance is the story it’s telling, of the Gelflings rising up against the Skeksis in an attempt to reclaim their world. That’s it is told through puppets and still manages to be such an emotional tale is impressive. – Chris E. Hayner

2. Love, Death & Robots

Netflix’s collection of unrelated science fiction short films came in hot early in 2019 with a wide variety of animation styles, tones, and, frankly, levels of quality. No, they weren’t all winners–naked werewolf dudes in the desert, we’re looking at you–but the ones that stuck the landing really landed. Among the series’ best are Zima Blue (an artist on a faraway planet debuts his final masterpiece), Helping Hand (if the movie Gravity had body horror), and Sonnie’s Edge (robot deathmatch with a couple of twists). If you’re not committed to watching them all, start there. – Mike Rougeau

1. Russian Doll

At first glance, the Netflix show Russian Doll seems like a replay of the comedy classic Groundhog Day, in which a character finds himself repeating the same day again and again. Thankfully, Russian Doll is absolutely its own thing. While early episodes use the gimmick of main character Nadia (Natasha Lyonne) dying over and over for dark, drug-fueled laughs, it quickly becomes clear that the show has deeper intentions. Once Nadia discovers that she is joined in a strange fatal bond with a man called Alan, it becomes a show about fate, morality, and redemption. Russian Doll is a multi-layered series that demands several viewings–the complex, looping narrative structure ensures that we see the same events played over and over with variations, and there are callbacks to earlier (and later) events scattered throughout. Hilarious and thought-provoking in equal measure, with a standout performance from Lyonne, Russian Doll is offbeat modern sci-fi at its best. – Dan Auty

Source: Game Spot Mashup