Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar was a huge hit in the often niche and divisive genre of science-fiction space opera, delivering a satisfying and emotional adventure from a story that explores hugely complex theoretical ideas.
The movie’s many fans have been wondering ever since if there will one day be a sequel to the movie but, in the meantime, there are a number of great contemporary movies that have similarly high standards, as well as a number of classics that played a huge part in shaping its plot and overall feel, that can be enjoyed right now. Here are the best examples of space movies like Interstellar.
Updated on December 5th, 2020 by Mark Birrell: Considering that it’s one of the most highly-rated sci-fi movies of all time amongst film fans, it’s no wonder that interest in Christopher Nolan’s hugely successful space opera just keeps growing and growing. As its fanbase continues to get bigger, so too must this list. Anyone looking for some of Nolan’s greatest influences and contemporaries should make sure to check out all of these similar movies to Interstellar.
15 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
While it’s true that you could say that Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey was a huge influence on essentially every science-fiction film that came out after it, it really is apt to relate it to Interstellar.
Both movies tackle similar theoretical ideas but the visual similarities are plain to see throughout Interstellar and the operatic tone of 2001 can be felt in the bones of the story.
14 Solaris (2002)
Steven Soderbergh’s adaptation of Stanisław Lem’s novel is substantially different from Andrei Tarkovsky’s perhaps more famous version but still bursting with enveloping drama and huge philosophical questions.
Things are much more ambiguous than with a straight man-on-a-mission type movie like Interstellar but that often assists with Solaris‘ haunting visual beauty.
13 Ad Astra (2019)
A very similar movie to Interstellar in terms of a direct and linear plot, James Gray’s sci-fi thriller is one of the few recent science-fiction movies that are perhaps more intense than Christopher Nolan’s impending apocalypse.
Brad Pitt plays the emotionally detached son of a famous missing astronaut who follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes embroiled in a mysterious mission to discover what happened to him.
12 First Man (2018)
Emotional detachment was a running theme for high-pedigree space movies of Interstellar‘s time period with Damien Chazielle’s biographical drama of Neil Armstrong’s pioneering journey to the moon focussing much more on the famous astronaut’s state of mind throughout the mission.
By filtering the events of the Apollo 11 mission through Armstrong’s coping–or lack thereof–with the tragic death of his young daughter, First Man is elevated beyond being a simple reenactment to being a powerful and striking drama that shared a commitment to practical effects and techniques with Interstellar that makes both films feel more tangible.
11 Gravity (2013)
Following the theme of grief and emotional detachment out in the cold depths of space, Alfonso Cuarón’s space survival movie is the fastest-moving entry on this list but never forgets to add emotional weight to its tense action sequences.
A storm of debris flying around Earth’s orbit becomes a big problem for Sandra Bullock’s stranded astronaut and that relatively-simple setup allows for just as many awe-inspiring audiovisual feats as a movie like Interstellar.
10 The Right Stuff (1983)
On a slightly more hopeful note, The Right Stuff takes a more objective, but no less strikingly well-made, view of biographical aeronautical history for this adaptation of Tom Wolfe’s book of the same name.
A large chunk of Matthew McConaughey’s ace pilot character, Joseph “Coop” Cooper, is so clearly influenced by Sam Shepard’s depiction of Charles “Chuck” Yeager and The Right Stuff is as essential to space movie history as a grand fantasy like 2001.
9 Apollo 13 (1995)
Another slightly more down to earth take on the space movie, Apollo 13 is just as thrilling and grandiose and as a movie like Interstellar despite being confined by the reality of spaceflight in the early 1970s.
Chronicling the even-more-perilous-than-usual journey of NASA’s seventh Lunar mission, Ron Howard’s tense drama is, much like The Right Stuff, a rich and engaging picture of a moment in time that’s made up so many tiny and realistic details that it feels as huge as Star Wars.
8 Sunshine (2007)
Danny Boyle’s sci-fi thriller is much more fantastical and in the spirit of Jules Verne than the previous few entries on this list, and much more in line with Interstellar‘s more outlandish theoretical concepts.
Sunshine follows a crew of astronauts heading to drop a bomb into the Earth’s dying sun in a final-hope type scenario but the pressure of the magnitude of their mission begins to affect the crew in different ways, creating unforeseeable problems with apocalyptic risks.
7 The Black Hole (1979)
Disney has a long history with bizarre and beloved sci-fi cult classics and one of their earliest and still most influential is this story of a lost spaceship found sitting on the edge of the titular region in spacetime. Its occupants a mad scientist and his unholy robotic creations.
The Black Hole is every bit as strange and horrific as it sounds, with the unforgettably demonic robot “Maximillian” literally out-psycho-ing the actual psycho from the movie Psycho, Anthony Perkins.
6 Mission to Mars (2000)
Speaking of surprisingly striking and scarring Disney sci-fi movies, this adaptation of the Disneyland attraction of the same name came from none other than master director Brian De Palma, famed for his dark and violent thrillers, and offers a very different take on the plot of the next movie on our list.
Following a daring rescue mission to the red planet, the movie shares a number of Interstellar‘s themes such as unfulfillment and first contact with alien life. Though its tonal inconsistency makes it a bumpy ride in spots, and its depiction of the first meeting between humanity and extraterrestrials drew more criticism than even Interstellar‘s, a number of Mission to Mars‘ visual effects not only hold up but are still stunning even today.
5 The Martian (2015)
Ridley Scott directs this adaptation of Andy Weir’s best-selling novel of the same name and while using very similar designs to those seen in his far more morbid and horrific latter-day Alien movies, the director produces one of the most upbeat sci-fi survival movies ever made. Perhaps even the most.
The plot follows Matt Damon’s stranded botanist who’s accidentally marooned on Mars when he’s presumed dead and the character’s infectious optimism in the face of certain demise is often inspiring.
4 Deep Impact (1998)
Though almost completely overshadowed at the time by Michael Bay’s behemoth disaster movie Armageddon, which has ostensibly has the exact same plot and was released just under two months later, Mimi Leder’s giant asteroid movie is by far the more genuinely emotional and shares a number of distinct qualities with Interstellar.
Themes of parental abandonment and hopelessness in the face of human extinction elevate the more melodramatic elements that were so prevalent in blockbuster movies of that time and make it a uniquely inspiring sci-fi experience.
3 Moon (2009)
A much more isolated and claustrophobic slice of sci-fi than the operatics of Interstellar certainly, but no less thought-provoking, Duncan Jones’ movie debut became an instant cult classic thanks to some smartly simple designs and a stunning lead performance from the always-compelling Sam Rockwell.
Moon follows Rockwell’s lonely lunar worker as they uncover a life-changing secret about the nature of their employment and its far-reaching existential implications. Equally chilling and funny, the movie is another essential modern entry into the genre for fans of Interstellar‘s vision of a convincingly-not-too-distant future.
2 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)
The belated sequel to the groundbreaking 2001: A Space Odyssey is definitely not as well-regarded as Kubrick’s movie but is by no means a maligned entry into the genre, nor is it famous for being hated by fans of the original despite doing things in a completely opposite way in comparison.
Where 2001 was completely devoid of big-name actors, 2010 is practically an all-star cast and this is hardly detrimental to the movie. Similarly, The Year We Make Contact is all about answers over ambiguity and retroactively solves many of A Space Odyssey‘s biggest mysteries. It not ever really live up to the atmosphere of the first movie but director peter Hyams’ eye for detail in the designs is spellbinding and much of the tension of the original carries over and syncs up even better with Interstellar‘s big setpieces and intense debates.
1 Contact (1997)
Adapted from the novel of the same name by Carl Sagan–who, oddly enough, arguably caused Interstellar‘s creation by introducing the authors of its original treatment through a blind date–Contact really delves into its huge scientific questions in as thorough a fashion as it can whilst still not forgetting the fiction part of the equation.
Produced by one of Interstellar‘s key producers, and co-author of the original treatment, Lynda Obst, and starring Matthew McConaughey also, Robert Zemeckis’ movie about a mysterious alien signal from space is one of the biggest stepping stones on the path that would ultimately lead to Interstellar and is a must-see for fans of sci-fi in general.
NEXT: 10 Sci-Fi Movies To Watch If You Love Oblivion
The 10 Best B-Movies Of All Time, Ranked (According To IMDb)
About The Author