Movies Like Arrival – Sci-Fi Movies With Deeper Meaning

Arrival is a movie that is all about the basic premise of first contact with aliens. But the story turns into an exciting and unique visual spectacle, something not many movies have achieved. It is also a thoughtful exploration of what it means to be human. This makes Arrival one of the best movies in the science fiction genre. Are there any other great movies like Arrival?

We have you covered. The theme of Arrival has expanded and transformed into more of a moving film about self-discovery and the importance of love.

The 2016 American science fiction drama film was directed by Denis Villeneuve. Eric Heisserer adapted the movie and conceived the project as a spec script based on the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang.

The movie stars Amy Adams in the main role as Louise Banks, a linguist enlisted by the US Army to discover how to communicate with extraterrestrial aliens. But tensions lead to war. The cast also includes Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Tzi Ma.

The movie had its premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2016. In November 2016, the movie was released theatrically in the United States by Paramount Pictures. The movie received eight Academy Award nominations. Adams also received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her performance.

With that in mind, here are some similar movies like Arrival.



Many people ask whether Annihilation is a sequel to Arrival. But the movie is anti-Arrival. And this is what makes Annihilation incredible. The 2018 science fiction movie was written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Jeff Vander Meer.

This movie stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny, and Oscar Isaac in the main roles.

The story follows a group of explorers who enter The Shimmer, which is a mysterious quarantined zone of mutating plants and animals caused by an alien presence.

The movie was released in 2018 by Paramount Pictures. It made it to the streaming platform Netflix by March 2018.



The movie is about a depressed woman that learns that her husband was killed in a car accident the previous day. She awakens the next morning to find him alive and well at home. Then, the day after that, she again wakes up and finds out that he is dead.

The 2007 supernatural thriller film stars Sandra Bullock in the lead role, with Amber Valletta, Nia Long, and Julian McMahon in the supporting roles.

Through the movie, we see Linda, played by Sandra Bullock, and how she experiences the death of her husband in a non-chronological order. She also attempts to save him from the impending doom. Will she make it?

Blade Runner 2049


The 2017 science fiction film is a direct sequel to the 1982 film Blade Runner. This one stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford in the main roles. Jared Leto, Dave Bautista, Lennie James, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, and Ana de Armas join in the supporting roles.

There were ideas for a sequel to Blade Runner in the 1990s. Yet, licensing issues stalled the development.

Finally, in 2017, we got the sequel to the great movie. Blade Runner 2049 won Best Cinematography and Visual Effects at the 90th Academy Award ceremony.



The movie is titled Dune Part One. The 2021 American epic science fiction film was directed by Denis Villeneuve. It is the first of the two-part adaptation of the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert. The first part covers the first half of the book.

The movie is set in the far future, starring Paul Atreides, Timothee Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Dave Bautista, Zendaya, and many more.

This movie is actually the third adaptation of Dune. The first one was the 1984 sci-fi film by David Lynch, which was a critical and commercial failure. Then, we got the 2000 miniseries by Josh Harrison.

Scheduled for a late 2020 release, the movie was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The movie was a huge success, receiving 10 Oscar nominations at the 94th Academy Award ceremony.



Next on our list of movies like Arrival is Sicario. It is Spanish for “hitman”. This 2015 action thriller film was also directed by Denis Villeneuve. It stars Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin in the main roles.

The story follows an FBI agent who is enlisted by a government task force to bring down the leader of a powerful Mexican drug cartel.

The movie competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The movie is praised for its screenplay, direction, cinematography, and musical score.

District 9


This movie also revolves around the idea of first contact. But Arrival has a more traditional idea than District 9. The movie stands as a direct parallel to the horrors of South African Apartheid. It uses the alien storyline to address crushing systematic issues of xenophobia.

Similar to Arrival, the movie looks like a sci-fi movie at first glance. But it has a deeper message and story. This sci-fi film is also more exciting than the contemplative nature of Arrival. There are a lot more action sequences and explosive scenes.



Rian Johnson is a master and genius. You have to watch his movies. He entered the sci-fi noir with Looper and completely changed the genre.

In this movie, we get an excellent performance by Bruce Willis, portraying the tortured soul of older Joe. Set in the near future, the movie feels just distant enough for escapism, yet close enough to make an impact on our lives.

Similar to arrival, Looper plays with themes of breaking traumatic cycles. The difference is Arrival looks at these themes on a much larger scale. Looper embraces a microlens.



The 2009 American science fiction thriller film stars Nicolas Cage. We have to have a Cage movie on our list, right?

Released in 2009, the movie grossed $186 million against a $50 million budget. Many praised the acting performance of Nicolas Cage and the supporting cast.

Minority Report

Minority Report

The 2002 American movie was directed by Steven Spielberg, the genius of movie-making. It stars Tom Cruise in the main role. The movie is loosely based on the 1956 short story by Philip K Dick, The Minority Report.

Set in Washington DC in the year 2054, we get to know Precrime, a specialized police department. It apprehends criminals based on foreknowledge provided by psychics.

This movie combines elements of thriller, science fiction, and tech-noir. But the main question is can you actually know someone will turn out to be bad? Is it right to eliminate people based on future assumptions?



Going back to sci-fi movies about space, we have to mention this masterpiece by Christopher Nolan. The movie stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, and Bill Irwin. It is set in a dystopian future where humanity is struggling to survive.

The story follows a group of astronauts who travel through a wormhole in search of a new home for mankind.

Interstellar won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. There is a link between Arrival and Interstellar. In both movies, the main protagonist has to suffer through the death of their child through time-bending means.

Independence Day


Let’s go back to a movie about contact with an extraterrestrial alien. This 1996 movie stars Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch, Bill Pullman, and more in the main roles. It focuses on groups of people who converge in the Nevada desert in an aftermath of a worldwide attack by aliens.

But the groups launch a counterattack on July 4, which is Independence Day in the United States.



If you want a movie with an emotional roller coaster, you have to check Her. It is on the far end of the emotional spectrum of science fiction movies. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, this movie doesn’t care much about the AI element.

The main topic is the actual relationship involved. The romantic drama is all about love, trauma, and other elements that you rarely find in a science fiction movie.

The Thing


The 2011 science fiction horror stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, and Eric Christian Olsen.

The Thing is a prequel to the 1982 film of the same name by John Carpenter. The 1982 original, was an adaptation of the 1938 novella Who Goes There by John W Campbell.

The movie, same as the novel, tells the story of a team of scientists on a Norwegian Antarctic research station. They discover a parasitic alien buried deep in the ice. And at that point, they realize it is still alive. This makes it one of the better alien movies similar to Arrival.

Ad Astra

ad astra

If you consider Arrival as a story of the wonders of possible life outside our galaxy, Ad Astra does the opposite. The movie is more concerned with interpersonal and existential questions of trauma, relationships, and toxic behavior.

The movie poses questions, like are we just a byproduct of poor parenting? Are we doomed from the start? Or can we disrupt the cycle?

Brad Pitt delivers an amazing performance. Combine that with the unreal set pieces and action sequences and you have an amazing movie.



Let’s finish off the list of movies like Arrival, with one of the most popular movies in the science fiction genre in the past decade.

Christopher Nolan delivered another masterpiece. Visually speaking, the movie is stunning. The unreal visual effects are even more amazing when you consider it came out in 2010.

Then you look at the cast, and you know you have a great hit.

Written by Steven

Steven is a young student from San Francisco who is obsessed with computers.

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