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23 Movies Like "Interstellar" That Will Also Bend Your Brain

Head back to outer space or explore more of Christopher Nolan's filmography with these picks.

Being a big fan of the sci-fi film Interstellar likely means that you: 1) enjoy films about outer space, 2) enjoy mind-bending movies, 3) enjoy the work of director Christopher Nolan, or 4) all of the above. The 2014 hit is about a mission to find a planet that can support human life after Earth goes through an ecological disaster. Matthew McConaughey stars as NASA pilot Joseph Cooper, who embarks on the journey with fellow astronauts played by Anne Hathaway, David Gyasi, and Wes Bentley, as Michael Caine's scientist character manages things back on Earth. The crew encounter a variety of obstacles during their journey, including distortions in time, the emotional toil of leaving their loved ones behind (Jessica Chastain and Casey Affleck play the adult versions of Coop's children.), and an encounter with a surprisingly evil stranded astronaut portrayed by Matt Damon.

There's a lot to sort through when it comes to Interstellar and the surprisingly solid science behind its story, but if you're here looking for movies like it, then you're probably already well-versed in every nook and cranny of the film. Read on for 23 movies similar to Interstellar, whether that's because they're also in the sci-fi genre, share the same deep space setting, or were also helmed by Nolan. Hopefully you'll find one (or more!) that will make you think just as much.

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1. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Starting with a classic—it happens to be considered not just one of the best sci-fi movies ever made, but one of the best movies period—we have 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Stanley Kubrick film is about a mission to Jupiter that will allow humans to learn more about a mysterious monolith that was found on Earth, with the lead astronaut played by Keir Dullea. Like Interstellar, it also features an artificial intelligence character—in this case HAL (Douglas Rain) rather than TARS (Bill Irwin)—and also in this case, nefarious rather than supportive. The film is particularly creepy considering today's conversation about the use of AI.

RELATED: The 15 Movies That Won the Most Oscars.

2. Ad Astra

Brad Pitt stars in 2019's Ad Astra as astronaut Roy McBride, who is part of an expedition to stop power surges that threaten the future of the Earth. The source of the power surges? A mission that Roy's father (Tommy Lee Jones) went on years prior. So, basically, Roy is trying to figure out if his father has survived and can be brought back to Earth, while at the same time attempting to save the world.

3. Arrival

Denis Villeneuve's Arrival stars Amy Adams as linguistics professor Louise Banks, who is hired by the military to figure out how to communicate with an alien species who have arrived on Earth. Through her research and interactions with the aliens, Louise discovers how the perception of time fits into the extraterrestrials' communication style and learns how this affects her own personal life, as well as the future of the human race. Adams' co-stars in the 2016 film include Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

4. Inception

For more Nolan sci-fi, check out 2010's Inception, which explores dreams rather than outer space. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a man who's in the business of implanting ideas in people via their dreams, which is known as inception. At the same time, he is battling the fact that his wife (Marion Cotillard) died when they were experimenting with dream technology together. The movie really makes you question what is reality and what isn't—and, in the end, how much knowing the answer to that matters.

5. Gravity

If the idea of being alone in space terrifies you, then Alfonso Cuarón's Gravity is either not the film for you or just the thing to give you the thrills you seek. Sandra Bullock stars as an astronaut on her first mission, which is working on the Hubble Space Telescope in Earth's orbit. But, due to a series of disastrous events, she ends up as the sole survivor and has to figure out how to make it back home on her own while also mentally and emotionally confronting a tragedy from her past.

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6. First Man

Unlike some of the more genre-heavy movies on this list, First Man is rooted in reality. The 2018 film is a biopic about astronaut Neil Armstrong, who is portrayed by Ryan Gosling, and takes special interest in his family life, including his relationship with wife Janet (Claire Foy). It also follows his career with NASA, leading up to the Apollo 11 mission that saw Armstrong become the first person to walk on the Moon in 1969.

7. Moon

Released in 2009, Moon, from director Duncan Jones, follows Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), an employee of a company that mines fuel from the celestial object. He works in solitude, so he's surprised when, near the end of his contract, he begins to experience mysterious hallucinations and encounters another person who happens to look exactly like him. What hasn't Sam been told about his job? He starts to put the pieces together himself. (Moon got a follow-up—the less well-received Mute—in 2018.)

8. Blade Runner

Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard in Ridley Scott's 1982 classic Blade Runner, which is part sci-fi, part neo-noir. In what author Philip K. Dick imagined to be the Los Angeles of 2019, Deckard is a cop who tracks down and kills replicants—put simply, robots that appear to be human. He's sent to hunt down four of them in particular, but his mission is complicated when he falls for another suspected replicant named Rachael (Sean Young).

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9. Blade Runner 2049

Thirty-five years after the original Blade Runner was released, it finally got a sequel. Ford reprises his role of Rick Deckard in Blade Runner 2049, while Gosling co-stars as replicant K, who is also a blade runner. Throughout the film, K learns more about what replicants are capable of, about his own past, and about what happened with Deckard and Rachael after the events of the first film.

10. Tenet

John David Washington stars in Nolan's 2020 brain-bender Tenet as a CIA agent, known to the audience only as the Protagonist, recruited for an even more secretive organization called Tenet. He learns that somewhere in the future, humans figured out how to invert objects so that they move backwards in time and that someone is waging war against the past—his present. The film has earned a reputation for being a fairly confusing watch, but it's an exhilarating one, too. Co-stars include Caine, Robert Pattinson, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, and Dimple Kapadia.

11. The Martian

The second "Matt Damon stranded in space" film on this list is The Martian. In the 2015 movie, based on the novel by Andy Weir, he plays astronaut Mark Watney, who has been left behind on Mars by a team who believes he's dead. Through his ingenuity, Mark is able to survive, grow food for himself, and eventually to get back into contact with Earth. The film follows the complicated rescue mission to bring him home. The rest of the cast of NASA officials, astronauts, and others includes Chastain, Chiwetel EjioforKate MaraKristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, and Donald Glover.

12. Contact

Jodie Foster stars in Contact as Ellie Arroway, a scientist who discovers what she believes is proof of the existence of extraterrestrial life. (And this film has some real cred, as it's adapted from the novel by astronomer Carl Sagan.) However, not everyone on the project wants Ellie to be the person to try to make contact with the other life forms. As a bonus for Interstellar fans, McConaughey co-stars in this 1997 movie.

13. Solaris

In the 2002 film Solaris, based on the 1961 book of the same name by Stanislaw LemGeorge Clooney stars as Kelvin, a psychologist who is sent to a space station that orbits a planet called Solaris. Kelvin is supposed to find out what is going on with the crew members—including characters played by Viola Davis and Jeremy Davies—who have been emotionally and mentally affected by their proximity to the planet. But, soon, he also begins to experience strange things himself, including the reappearance of his deceased wife, Rheya (Natascha McElhone).

14. Dune

Frank Herbert's 1965 sci-fi fantasy epic Dune has already yielded two big-screen adaptations: David Lynch's 1984 version, starring Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides and featuring a score by Toto, and Villeneuve's 2021 version, starring Timothée Chalamet as the main character and featuring a score by Hans Zimmer. The newer version is probably of more interest to Interstellar fans, especially considering the imminent release of Dune: Part Two. Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, and many more stars make up the ensemble cast

15. The Midnight Sky

Clooney directs 2020's The Midnight Sky and stars as scientist Augustine, who remained on a base in the Arctic after a disaster led to humanity abandoning Earth because of a medical diagnosis that means he won't live much longer. His job is also to warn space travelers who have plans to return to Earth to abandon them and turn back, including one ship in particular that has a special connection to Augustine. The cast of The Midnight Sky also includes Felicity JonesDavid Oyelowo, and Kyle Chandler.

16. Apollo 13

Earning nine Academy Award nominations, 1995's Apollo 13 dramatizes the true story of the astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 mission to the moon, which had to be aborted in 1970. The Ron Howard film shows the tense and moving journey of the crew as they endeavor to make it back to Earth safely, as well as how their colleagues back on Earth do what they can to keep them alive. Tom Hanks stars as Jim Lovell, Kevin Bacon plays Jack Swigert, Bill Paxton plays Fred Haise, and Gary Sinise is Ken Mattingly.

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17. Hidden Figures

If true stories about space exploration are more your thing, check out Hidden Figures, which tells one that was somewhat forgotten by history. The 2016 movie is about three real Black women mathematicians, who played a key role in John Glenn's (Glen Powell) historic 1962 spaceflight, in which an American orbited Earth for the first time. Taraji P. Henson plays Katherine Goble JohnsonOctavia Spencer stars as Dorothy Vaughan, and Janelle Monáe portrays Mary Jackson. The cast won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.

18. Planet of the Apes

There have been a number of Planet of the Apes movies (with another hitting theaters in May), so if you find yourself intrigued by this franchise, there's plenty to keep you entertained. Let's start, though, with the 1968 movie, which is based on the 1963 novel by Pierre Boulle. The film is about a group of astronauts (including star Charlton Heston), who land on a planet that is run by apes, who can speak and are as smart as humans. The astronauts have been in hibernation and while they left Earth in 1972, they are now in the year 3978. Making for an even bigger problem: The apes treat humans as slaves.

19. Passengers

Want a outer-space tale with a romance element? Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in the 2016 sci-fi flick Passengers as two space travelers, Aurora and Jim, whose sleep pods open nearly 100 years before their luxury spacecraft reaches its destination. While the other passengers continue to travel unconscious, Jim and Aurora have to figure out what went wrong and whether they can fix the damage and continue to the planet they are meant to inhabit. At the same time, they start to develop feelings for each other.

20. The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises, released in 2012, is the final film in Nolan's beloved and critically acclaimed Batman trilogy. Plus, it includes a couple of Interstellar stars: Hathaway, who plays Catwoman/Selina Kyle and Caine, who plays Batman's confidant Alfred Pennyworth. Christian Bale stars in all three films as Batman/Bruce Wayne.

RELATED: 20 Stars Who Were Fired From Major Movies.

21. Signs

The 2002 movie Signs from director M. Night Shyamalan centers on a Pennsylvania farmer (Mel Gibson), who discovers mysterious crop circles on his land. As other evidence of an alien invasion surfaces around the world, he and his family (played by Rory CulkinAbigail Breslin, and Joaquin Phoenix) unexpectedly find themselves in a unique position to protect the Earth.

22. Cloud Atlas

The 2012 sci-fi epic Cloud Atlas follows a large cast of characters through multiple time periods ranging from the 1800s to the 2300s. Based on the book by David Mitchell and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, the story shows how human language and technology change and develop over time. The cast includes Hanks, Halle BerryHugh Grant, and Susan Sarandon with most of the cast members playing between four and six different characters. (Controversially, this includes some of the actors playing characters of different races.)

23. Oppenheimer

Finally, we come to Nolan's most recent film, which is also the Best Picture favorite for this year. Oppenheimer, released in 2023, tells the story of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Nolan favorite Cillian Murphy), who developed the atomic bomb during World War 2. It follows not only the process of inventing the weapon but also the choice to deploy it and how the U.S. government treated the scientist after two atomic bomb drops ended the conflict. Robert Downey, Jr.Florence PughEmily Blunt, and a host of other big names fill out the cast.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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