Movies Like 'Gattaca' to Watch Next

You may want to rewatch 'Gattaca' to celebrate its 25th anniversary, but what happens when the credits fade to black?
by Erin Qualey — 

Ethan Hawke in 'Gattaca'

Sony Pictures

Upon its initial release in 1997, Gattaca was not a blockbuster. And yet, it has become a celebrated cult classic. Focusing on the thorny issues of genetics, eugenics, and the weighty concept of nature versus nurture, it's no wonder that the themes of the film have continued to resonate with viewers over the past 25 years.

In the film, Ethan Hawke plays Vincent Freeman, a "god-child" who was conceived naturally. At birth, his parents are told that he has a heart defect, making him an undesirable candidate for high-level employment and dooming him to a life of janitorial work. However, Vincent has other plans. He's space-obsessed and determined to head into orbit, So, he teams up with ex-Olympic swimmer Jerome Morrow (Jude Law), a man with picture-perfect genetics who has fallen from grace. By using Jerome's flawless genetic code — mostly via carrying around various bodily fluids in case he's tested — Vincent adopts his persona and is able to secure a coveted job as a navigator at a prestigious aeronautics facility. 

But, of course, there are hiccups in Vincent's path to the stars. Gattaca chronicles his dogged pursuit to obtain and then maintain his dream job, illustrating that he must work ten times harder than his genetically modified peers in order to reach the same goals. 

Most of the genetic technologies that anchor the film remain works of science fiction, despite a quarter of a century passing since the film's release. Sure, other horrifying dystopian things are happening all around us, but at least we're not genetically sequencing our Tinder dates by snatching stray hairs during meet-ups for coffee. (At least not yet.) 

Gattaca hit theaters about a year after Dolly the sheep made headlines as being the first mammal to be successfully cloned. The conversation around genetic alteration was going strong, and Gattaca was a narrative that foresaw many of the issues that could potentially pop up if (and when) these technologies were utilized on humans. Thankfully, ethical standards have since been put into place and genetic editing is widely frowned upon in humans; a Chinese doctor recently served three years in prison for utilizing the technology on embryos in his IVF practice. But the thorny questions still remain, and that is why Gattaca is timeless in its storytelling even decades after its initial release. 

You may want to rewatch Gattaca to celebrate its 25th anniversary, but what happens when the credits fade to black? Here, Metacritic highlights 10 films like Gattaca to watch next.


Harrison Ford in 'Blade Runner'

Warner Bros. / Getty Images

Blade Runner 

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of films in which Harrison Ford uses his tough, gravelly voice to maximum effect and viewers who want the gorgeous imagery and philosophical arcs of the films they watch to stick with them for days after watching
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 117 minutes

Blade Runner turns 40 this year, but the themes presented within the film are as relevant as ever. In the film it's the year 2019 and a former cop named Rick Deckard (Ford) is tasked with hunting down a group of illegal "replicants," aka humanoid robots that have the ability to blend into the rest of society. As he goes about finding the replicants, he becomes enmeshed in a relationship with Rachael (Sean Young), a female replicant who believes she is human. Based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the film is steeped in noir and punctuated by dazzling action sequences, but it's also anchored by deep, challenging questions that address what it means to be human. 

"This is perhaps the only science-fiction film that can be called transcendental." —Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly


Clive Owen in 'Children of Men'

Universal Pictures

Children of Men

Metascore: 84
Best for: Viewers who take their dystopias pitch black with a dash of hope
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 109 minutes

Originally released in 2006, Children of Men flashes forward to 2027, depicting a world in which humans are nearly extinct. A plague of infertility has raged for almost 18 years, but a young refugee woman named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) has miraculously become pregnant. She is escorted by Theo (Clive Owen) through the ravaged police state of the United Kingdom so that she may find a safe place to have her child. Throughout the film, scenes of violence are interspersed with moments of genuine human connection. Director Alfonso Cuarón utilizes several lengthy single-take shots to convey the sense of panic and chaos that Theo and Kee must navigate, and these sequences fully immerse viewers into the landscape of horrors that make up this new and brutal world. Ultimately, the film raises many ethical and moral questions about humanity and faith that will stay with you far after the final credits roll. 

"Working with his longtime cinematographer Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki, Cuarón creates the most deeply imagined and fully realized world to be seen on screen this year, not to mention bravura sequences that bring to mind names like Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post


Bruce Willis in 'Looper'

Sony Pictures


Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of films in which Bruce Willis plays a man meeting up with a younger version of himself and viewers who love a good time-twisting mystery with a beating heart at the center
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 119 minutes

Looper follows two versions of a man named Joe. In the present, Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works as a looper, or a man tasked with killing enemies of an evil conglomerate called "The Syndicate" that have been sent back from the future to be disposed of. When Joe is confronted with killing his older self (Willis), he botches it, and a chase takes place as Old Joe attempts to find a way to stay alive. Writer/director Rian Johnson creates an exercise in making viewers think while entertaining in equal measure. While the premise is deeply rooted in science fiction and time travel, the themes of choice, sacrifice, love, and survival anchor the film, keeping it grounded.

"Intelligent science-fiction sometimes seems an endangered species — too much physics and there's a risk of creating something cold and remote, too many explosions and get lost in the multiplex. Looper isn't perfect, but it pulls off the full Wizard of Oz: it has a brain, courage and a heart." — Kim Newman, Empire


Tom Cruise in 'Minority Report'

20th Century Fox

Minority Report

Metascore: 80
Best for: Viewers who like their cinematic thrills with a side of "hmmm
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 145 minutes

Another entry on this list that's inspired by a Dick novel, Minority Report features the A-list pairing of Tom Cruise and director Steven Spielberg. The narrative focuses on John Anderton (Cruise), a police officer who is tasked with arresting individuals before they commit murder. John works off information from three "precogs" or captive psychics who predict when a killing will happen. When John sees himself murder a stranger in one of the precog's visions, he goes on the run. The film's central mystery unfolds John interacts with a variety of shadowy figures in order to exonerate himself. As befitting a Spielberg film, there are plenty of hair-raising action sequences and a through-story full of tension and intrigue. And the mind-bending questions about how society might use advancing technologies to profile potential criminals are more relevant today than ever before. 

"This film is such a virtuoso high-wire act, daring so much, achieving it with such grace and skill. Minority Report reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


'Ex Machina'


Ex Machina

Metascore: 78
Best for: Anyone who's ever questioned the nature of their reality
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 108 minutes

Released in 2014, Ex Machina film follows a programmer named Caleb Smith (Domhnall Gleeson) who giddily accepts an invitation from Nathan Bateman (Oscar Issac), the enigmatic CEO of the tech conglomerate he works for. Caleb visits Nathan at his severe-yet-stunning isolated compound and finds that Nathan wants him to serve as an advanced Turing test, assessing whether a robot named Ava (Alicia Vikander) is capable of communicating as a human might. The film unfolds as a cat-and-mouse triangle with Caleb in the middle as the situation becomes increasingly tense and the stakes grow ever higher. If you've ever wondered whether or not robots might just take over the world, this movie is probably for you. 

"To dismiss Ex Machina as just another robot movie would be like calling the Grand Canyon a hole in the ground. It's one of the most original, smart, thought-provoking science fiction movies of recent years." — Marc Mohan, The Oregonian


'Human Nature'


Human Nature (2019)

Metascore: 77
Best for: Those looking for more real-world background on gene manipulation and how it might shape our future as a species
Where to watch:

Runtime: 95 minutes

You may never have heard of it, but the CRISPR process might just change all of our lives. This gene-editing technology is something that was alluded to in films from Gattaca to Jurassic Park decades ago, but it is now a reality. Developed in 2013, CRISPR provides a way to edit, or control, genes in astonishing detail. This new process has the potential to cure myriad diseases that plague our species, but how much gene tinkering is too much? And what happens when and if scientists use CRISPR to tinker with more fundamental human qualities? This 2019 documentary delves into these topics in detail, calling upon top scientists to explain the present and future of this new and controversial technology.  

"The real achievement of Human Nature is that it takes a complex subject and distills it into such an engaging 95-minute package. That's the successful experiment underlying this particular project, in which viewers happen to serve as the guinea pigs in how such technical information can be presented in a more effective way." — Peter Debruge, Variety


From left to right: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Kiera Knightley in 'Never Let Me Go'

Fox Searchlight

Never Let Me Go (2010)

Metascore: 69
Best for: Hopeless romantics who enjoy dystopian YA. Think: A quieter version of The Hunger Games with lower stakes
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 103 minutes

Based on Kazuo Ishiguro's highly acclaimed novel of the same name, Never Let Me Go focuses on three teens at a boarding school in the '80's. The 2010 film follows Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Ruth (Keira Knightley), and Tommy (Andrew Garfield) as they find out that they are meant to serve as organ donors for the wealthy, and they will be depleted of their organs until they are no longer useful and will "complete." Throughout the film, the teens attempt to find ways to avoid this final fate, hoping that immersing themselves in art and love might possibly be lifelines that prove their greater usefulness to the world. From a screenplay written by Ex Machina's Alex Garland, an overarching feeling of inevitable dread lingers over all even as the characters strain to find meaning and light in the darkest of places.  

"This is a moving and provocative film that initially unsettles, then disturbs and finally haunts you well into the night." — Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times


'Jurassic Park'

Universal Pictures

Jurassic Park

Metascore: 68
Best for: Adrenaline junkies, fans of revolutionary movie magic, lovers of a shirtless Jeff Goldblum
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 127 minutes

The 1993 film based on Michael Crichton's novel of the same title addresses many questions about genetic tinkering that other films in the future, including Gattaca, would also address. It follows the experience of scientists and two young children who get trapped in a dinosaur theme park after the dinosaurs get free and do what dinosaurs do. At one point, a character admonishes the creator of the park, saying, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." This sentiment is certainly something that could extend to almost any dystopian sci-fi film including genetic manipulation, robots, chemical experimentation, etc. The movie was ahead of its time in asking these types of questions, and it was really only the beginning, as two sequels followed immediately in the '90s, and then a new trilogy picked things back up two decades later. 

"For dinosaurs to rule the earth again, the monsters needed majesty as well as menace. And Spielberg got it all right." — Richard Corliss, Time 


Sam Rockwell in 'Moon'

Sony Pictures


Metascore: 67
Best for: Patient viewers who enjoy cerebral stories that feature only a handful of characters
Where to watch:

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Runtime: 97 minutes

Sam (Sam Rockwell) is an astronaut sent into space to harvest an alternative fuel from the moon's soil. The film, adapted from a story by Duncan Jones and also directed by Jones, follows Sam as he completes his task. However, strange things begin to happen to Sam as he struggles to communicate with Earth. Increasingly, his only companion is an automated AI called GERTY. It would be a shame to spoil the twists and turns of Moon here, but let's just say the movie poses questions about corporate control, free will, and the weight that emotions can carry. While the film has some mixed reviews, many top critics laud Moon as one of the best sci-fi films ever made, and it has risen to enjoy a cult status among viewers in the know. 

"A potent provocation that relies on ideas instead of computer tricks to stir up excitement." — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


Jodie Foster in 'Contact'

Warner Bros. Pictures


Metascore: 62
Best for: Viewers who love to be swept along on epic and emotional adventures, stargazers, and people who wonder at the vast unknowability of the universe
Where to Watch:

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Runtime: 150 minutes

Contact comes from a concept from astronomer Carl Sagan and his friend Linda Obst and follows Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) as she discovers a coded message in a signal from space. An international effort is conducted to build a spacecraft in an attempt to communicate with the source of the message, and as the project proceeds, Ellie becomes emotionally and romantically involved with a man named Palmer Joss (Matthew McConaughey) who introduces concepts of faith and belief into the film's overall narrative. The epically emotional conclusion of the film was controversial at the time, and may still divide new viewers today, but it's a ride that won't soon be forgotten. 

"If you sign on, disarmed of irony, for her trip...you'll be rewarded with a rare thing that may in itself prove the existence of a Higher Power: a Hollywood entertainment that makes you consider deep thoughts." — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly