Top 25 Movies Like Arrival

movies like Arrival

Movies like Arrival are science fiction films that connect our planet with extraterrestrial races. The movie Arrival, for instance, investigates the repercussions of communication between humans and aliens and how difficult it would be to develop dialogue if we did not have a language.

Arrival is based on Ted Chiang’s short tale “Story of Your Life.” It was directed by Denis Villeneuve and starred Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.

This beautiful love, understanding, and forgiveness story was disguised as a first-contact drama. If you’re seeking more movies with excellent filmmaking and performances, check out this list below.

1. Interstellar (2014)

  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Star cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Mackenzie Foy, Timothée Chalamet
  • IMDb rating: 8.6/10

Interstellar, like Arrival, is a popular science fiction film. Christopher Nolan’s film is about an exploratory mission to locate livable worlds.

The hunt for undiscovered worlds in “Interstellar” extends from Earth to space – and beyond! It’s thrilling in its survival narrative and the sensitive family drama of fathers discovering their purpose via their children. 

It takes place in the not-too-distant future as humanity explores new planets to populate; it begins with Earth slowly withering and then goes on a perilous voyage that may take them outside our solar system.

If you have yet to watch it, this movie is highly regarded for its emotional effect rather than adventure. Like movies like Arrival, it should be the first on your list.

2. Under The Skin (2013)

  • Director: Jonathan Glazer
  • Star cast: Scarlett Johansson, Adam Pearson, Dougie McConnell, Marius Bincu, Lynsey Taylor Mackay
  • IMDb rating: 6.3/10

Under the Skin is a science fiction, just like movies like Arrival, written and directed by Jonathan Glazer and Walter Campbell. This film is partially based on the same-titled novel published in 2000. (by Michel Faber)

“The skin is a reflection of the spirit.” Under The Skin is all about this term. Scarlett Johansson’s extraterrestrial character falls in Love with Jonathan Glazer’s character. She steals his body to be closer to him and save him from dying in a vehicle accident. 

The Skin becomes a focal point in this film on self-identity and what it means to be human. When you see someone from the outside, what does it mean? When some people see a human for the first time, they experience an uncanny valley that makes them uneasy. 

I like this film because it raises crucial questions about what it means to be human and how we should treat one another.

3. District 9 (2009)

  • Director: Neill Blomkamp
  • Star cast: Sharlto Copley, Vanessa Haywood, Jason Cope, David James, Robert Hobbs, Marian Hooman
  • IMDb rating: 7.9/10

District 9 is a science fiction film similar to movies like Arrival. However, aliens did not come to aid or destroy Earth but rather to find a safe location to reside. Humans are villains in this narrative because they refuse to help and are just interested in their technology. 

This is a unique perspective on an extraterrestrial invasion. It’s about a hidden government facility that holds an extraterrestrial specimen (an alien) who can shape-shift into humans. 

Christopher Johnson, the extraterrestrial, escapes from the laboratory and explores his new surroundings. Wikus Van De Merwe, an ex-military guy, contacts him (played by David James). The film’s central theme is that humans are more alike than they are different. 

The film’s protagonists demonstrate how diverse cultures can coexist and learn from one another. The two primary heroes, Christopher Johnson and Wikus van de Merwe, are both aliens, yet they share traits such as working hard to achieve their goals.

4. Sunshine (2007)

  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Star cast: Cillian Murphy, Michelle Yeoh, Chris Evans, Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Benedict Wong
  • IMDb rating: 7.2/10

The 2007 film Sunshine was the ideal, upbeat film. This video follows a group of people attempting to repair the sun. The main character is a scientist who has dedicated his life to repairing the sun. 

Unfortunately, his determination to complete this mission makes him unlikeable for most of the film. Still, he gradually matures and becomes more human.

This film moves slowly and takes its time developing the characters. It also skips around in time, which some people may find disorienting. However, seeing if you enjoy films with a positive and hopeful theme is worth seeing.

The film begins with Jack Hallam, a scientist working on a project to restore the sun. His determination to complete this mission makes him unlikeable for most of the film. Still, he gradually matures and becomes more human. 

As each day passes without Sunshine, he begins to work more feverishly and with a more incredible feeling of urgency on his project. You can’t think of movies like Arrival without thinking of Sunshine.

5. Upstream Color (2013)

  • Director: Shane Carruth
  • Star cast: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Andrew Sensenig, Kathy Carruth, Myles McGee
  • IMDb rating: 6.5/10

Upstream Color is another underappreciated 2013 film written, directed, produced, and starring Shane Carruth, who also crafted the 2004 time-travel mind-bender Primer. 

Upstream Color isn’t another time-travel narrative, but fans of movies like Arrival will undoubtedly appreciate deciphering the intricate plot.

In the film, a man known as the Thief appears to be gathering a larva-like organism that, when consumed, has tremendous effects on the human psyche. Significant impacts. Who is who, and what becomes an essential theme in the film?

6. Predestination (2014)

  • Directors: Michael Spierig, Peter Spierig
  • Star cast: Sarah Snook, Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor, Elise Jansen, Robert HeinleinFreya Stafford
  • IMDb rating: 7.4/10

“Predestination,” a lesser-known sci-fi drama from 2014, is another hidden gem on this list of movies like Arrival. It transformed its 12-page short story source material into a remarkable self-analysis. 

Ethan Hawke is an unknown time agent playing cat and mouse with a cunning bomber known as “The Mad Bomber,” who has been terrorizing the city. 

The veteran agent uncovers surprising revelations about his past and begins to doubt his whole existence, including his participation in the bombs, on a voyage through time that ping-pongs from past to future.

“Predestination” uses time travel to create a startling analysis of gender and identity, just like Villeneuve utilized aliens to offer lessons about love and family.

If you loved the time-bending denouement of “Arrival,” then “Predestination,” a 2014 film, should also appeal to you.

7. Dune (2021)

  • Director: Denis Villeneuve
  • Star cast: Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa
  • IMDb rating: 8.0/10

Suppose you’re seeking an enormous, high-concept science fiction narrative with a melancholy tone that accompanies movies like Arrival. In that case, Villeneuve’s “Dune” is for you. 

The extended budget version of the classic novel from the director of “Arrival” includes one of the best actors on this list, including Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Jason Momoa, Rebecca Ferguson, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista, Javier Bardem. 

A great adventure about a hero’s quest and a far-future outer space tale, it’s also a study of how power of any type can be managed, exploited, and perverted.

We meet Paul Atreides (Chalamet) in “Dune,” a young man who will change the course of cosmic history. After his family is attacked by its worst adversaries, Paul becomes embroiled in a battle to control a vital planet at the center of the galactic empire.

8. Sphere (1998)

  • Director: Barry Levinson
  • Star cast: Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharon Stone, Michael Crichton, Liev Schreiber
  • IMDb rating: 6.1/10

“Sphere,” based on Michael Crichton’s novels (author of “Jurassic Park” and “Westworld”), stars Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharon Stone, and Liev Schreiber. 

The sci-fi thriller, released in 1998, begins with discovering an ancient vessel buried beneath the Pacific Ocean that is thought to be of extraterrestrial origin. 

A team of experts led by a marine biologist (Stone), a mathematician (Jackson), an astrophysicist (Schreiber), and a psychologist (Hoffman) descends into the depths to locate and investigate the vessel.

After discovering a strange sphere at the spacecraft’s center, peculiar happenings hit the explorers. It becomes evident that more is afoot than a simple extraterrestrial vehicle. 

The crew begins to doubt the nature of their circumstances and the exact purpose of the sphere as the mystery unfolds. Just like other movies like Arrival, this movie will keep you fixed in your seat. 

9. Fast Color (2018)

  • Director: Julia Hart
  • Star cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney, David Strathairn, Christopher Denham
  • IMDb rating: 6.1/10

Fast Color is a fantastic 2018 film that transcends several genres. On the one hand, it’s a superhero film. But on the other hand, Ruth (played beautifully by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) has superhuman abilities that cause earthquakes.

The film is likewise post-apocalyptic, taking place in the United States after a severe water scarcity. But what it truly comes down to is family. 

Ruth goes home after a long absence to try to reconcile with her estranged mother and daughter, both of whom have superhuman talents. Like other movies like Arrival, Fast Color will keep you glued to your seat.

10. Ex Machina (2015)

  • Director: Alex Garland
  • Star cast: Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, Sonoya Mizuno, Claire Selby, Corey Johnson
  • IMDb rating: 7.7/10

“Ex Machina” is a more intimate picture focusing on three main characters, mostly in one location. Alex Garland directed and wrote the picture, which stars Oscar Isaac as smart tech billionaire Nathan Bateman, who is working on a breakthrough artificial intelligence. 

To put his latest invention, an artificial lady named Eva, to the test, he hires a young programmer named Caleb (Domnhall Gleeson) from his firm and brings him to his secluded estate for a series of tests. 

In an intimate psychological thriller, “Ex Machina” ponders the essence of identity and what it means to be human. 

It’s a thought-provoking exploration of artificial intelligence that will make you look twice at the newest breakthroughs from Google and Amazon. It’s as intellectual as movies like Arrival but on a different subject.

11. Silent Running (1972)

  • Director: Douglas Trumbull
  • Star cast: Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Mark Persons, Cheryl Sparks, Jesse Vint, Ron Rifkin
  • IMDb rating: 6.6/10

In one of the numerous hard science fiction films released in the 1970s in the aftermath of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” we see Earth in the future unable to maintain plant life and enormous space cruisers being converted into bio-domed vessels packed with living trees. 

The spacecraft circle the solar system with a small crew to care for the flora and maintain Earth’s greenery. When the decision is made to abandon the forest pods and return to Earth, one man (Bruce Dern) resists instructions. 

Instead, he flees to rescue the last of Earth’s treasured ecosystems. “Silent Running,” one of the first science-fiction films to include a strong ecological message, will please viewers searching for a thought-provoking story of heroism and sacrifice. 

If you are looking for movies like Arrival to keep you entertained through the night, grab a drink and enjoy this movie.

12. Gravity (2013)

  • Director: Alfonso Cuarón
  • Star cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Ed Harris, Orto Ignatiussen, David Heyman, Nikki Penny
  • IMDb rating: 7.7/10

“Gravity” is a lonely drama starring Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone, a doctor, and researcher. She is still grieving the murder of her daughter. 

However, after a cloud of deadly space debris kills the crew, she is left alone on a space shuttle mission when her co-pilot (George Clooney) is lost during a maneuver that saves her life. 

As Stone battles to remain alive in the cold darkness of space, the picture transforms into a sobering survivalist thriller as she struggles to stay alive with little more than her wits and resolve.

Stone discovers a new passion for life and eventually accepts her daughter’s death due to her ordeal. 

Though not without its exhilarating action set pieces, as Stone survives one near escape after another, “Gravity” is another intelligent picture that employs science fiction to help convey a personal tale, similar to movies like Arrival.

13. Solaris (1972)

  • Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Star cast: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Vladislav Dvorzhetsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Jüri Järvet
  • IMDb rating: 8.0/10

The crew of a far-flung space station orbiting the planet Solaris begins to experience emotional breakdowns owing to an unexplained phenomenon in the 1972 Russian film “Solaris,” based on the novel by famed science fiction author Stanislaw Lem. 

When a psychologist called Kris Kelvin is dispatched to the station to assess the situation and decide if the mission should be continued, he makes a frightening discovery about the source of the issue and finds new secrets aboard the station.

Kelvin eventually begins to experience what he believes are hallucinations of his deceased loved ones until he realizes there may be an extraterrestrial life form at work with whom he must find a method to communicate. 

It’s a fantastic companion to movies like Arrival, as the themes of dealing with family and memory in the middle of an extraterrestrial encounter are similar. 

14. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Star cast: Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Cary Guffey, Teri Garr, Justin Dreyfuss
  • IMDb rating: 7.6/10

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” directed by Steven Spielberg, ushered in a new subgenre of science fiction films when it was released in 1977, the same year as the groundbreaking “Star Wars.” 

Instead of heroic astronauts and highly educated scientists establishing first contact with aliens, Roy Neary, a blue-collar everyman, becomes the point person when UFOs are discovered and extraterrestrial life establishes initial contact with humans. 

This pattern would follow movies like Arrival, E.T., Starman, and Cocoon. While the lead in “Arrival” was a highly educated professional, Amy Adams’ Louise Banks’ journey paralleled Richard Dreyfuss’ Roy Neary in many respects. 

In “Close Encounters,” Neary’s personal life is turned upside down when he makes contact. The meeting teaches him new realities about himself and his role in the universe.

15. Moon (2009)

  • Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Star cast: Natalya Bondarchuk, Donatas Banionis, Vladislav Dvorzhetsky, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Jüri Järvet
  • IMDb rating: 8.0/10

The Duncan Jones-directed drama “Moon,” one of several films on our list of movies like Arrival, focuses on a single, solitary astronaut alone in space, maybe the finest of them all.  Sam Rockwell plays astronaut Sam Bell, whose lunar mining mission is ending. 

As he approaches his homecoming date after being alone for three years with only a robot dubbed GERTY for company, he begins to have unsettling hallucinations about a strange guy and a little girl.

Soon, Bell cannot distinguish between his dreams and reality, and a surprising discovery turns his humble quest into a nightmare. 

“Moon,” a gripping, dramatic psychological drama about loneliness, presents a deep investigation of one man’s soul, with a scary and tragic performance by Rockwell.

16. Contact (1997)

  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Star cast: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, Jena Malone, Tom Skerritt, James Woods
  • IMDb rating: 7.5/10

Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) tries to decipher what may be a message from the Vega star system in this Zemeckis-directed version of the Carl Sagan book. 

When evidence of first contact with alien intelligence is established, Arroway faces opposition from the constrictive National Security Advisor Kitz (James Woods) and religious extremists determined to limit the effects of the discovery. 

The signal has a great message, but will Arroway be the one to respond to it? If you want to find out, grab popcorn and enjoy one of the best science fiction movies like Arrival. 

When evidence of first contact with alien intelligence is established, Arroway faces opposition from the constrictive National Security Advisor Kitz (James Woods) and religious extremists determined to limit the effects of the discovery. 

17. The Abyss (1989)

  • Director: James Cameron
  • Star cast: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn, Kidd Brewer Jr., Leo Burmester, Dick Warlock
  • IMDb rating: 7.5/10

Following “Aliens,” filmmaker James Cameron moved on to an original sci-fi adventure narrative, “The Abyss,” starring Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Ed Harris, and Michael Biehn. 

The plot revolves around a group of specialists, including a former husband and wife partnership who are now divorced and dispatched to investigate the wreckage of a U.S. Naval submarine. 

When they arrive, they are met by a bizarre extraterrestrial life form that has built its home deep beneath the waves of the Caribbean Sea.

It plays on similar themes as movies like Arrival, with breakthrough digital effects for its day. The two former lovers are presented with an impossible issue that draws them closer together. 

It’s still considered Cameron’s most undervalued picture while having much of the suspense and action you’d expect from him.

18. Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

  • Director: Denis Villeneuve
  • Star cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Jared Leto
  • IMDb rating: 8.0/10

Though it has nothing in common with movies like Arrival in terms of plot or characters, the 2017 cyberpunk sequel “Blade Runner 2049” is highly recommended for lovers of the film. 

Because the same person directed both films, audiences will undoubtedly find a lot of similarities tonally between the two, with the Ryan Gosling-led crime noir epic being a provocative and sophisticated drama.

Agent K, a fresh Blade Runner and Nexus-9 replicant, seeks and kills a rogue replicant 40 years after the first film’s events but discovers proof that another such replicant has given birth biologically. 

His inquiry will disclose new knowledge about his species and the individuals behind their creation as he is sent to locate and murder the youngster to remove proof that replicants are developing. It will also introduce him to famed former agent Rick Deckard, who is at the heart of the plot.

19. Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

  • Director: Joseph Sargent
  • Star cast: Eric Braeden, William Schallert, Leonid Rostoff, Susan Clark, Gordon Pinsent, Georg Stanford Brown
  • IMDb rating: 7.1/10

“Colossus: The Forbin Project,” an underappreciated science fiction drama from 1970, examined the then-outlandish concept of an artificially intelligent computer system directing the nation’s military systems. 

The A.I. becomes self-aware and begins to violate its creators’ directives, simultaneously allying with its previously unknown Soviet counterpart and declaring absolute supremacy over the human species. 

While government administrators are concerned about how to handle the problem politically, scientists and researchers must discover how to interact with the robust computer systems and persuade them to abandon their lethal mission.

The video envisioned an implausible run by computers and how one flaw may lead to tragedy. This one is for you if you like the tension of movies like Arrival. 

20. Cocoon (1985)

  • Director: Ron Howard
  • Star cast: Wilford Brimley, Don Ameche, Hume Cronyn, Steve Guttenberg, Jessica Tandy, Maureen Stapleton
  • IMDb rating: 6.7/10

“Cocoon,” director Ron Howard’s first effort into science fiction, is the sole comedy-drama on this list of movies like Arrival. It is a family picture of a species of aliens that lived on Earth thousands of years ago. 

A group of three aliens disguised as three ordinary individuals living in a retirement village return to recover a set of cocoons they had left behind.

When a local boat captain comes upon them and finds who they are, the purpose of their mission shifts, and they find themselves assisting several other disillusioned citizens in their area. 

The elderly residents’ youthful energy is reawakened due to their relationship with the party of extraterrestrial tourists. “Cocoon,” set in a sci-fi setting, is ultimately a narrative about getting older and dealing with age, mortality, and dying.

21. Prometheus (2012)

  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Star cast: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, Idris Elba
  • IMDb rating: 7.0/10

Prometheus is a science-fiction horror film based on the tale of Prometheus from Greek mythology. 

Prometheus is a 2012 film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Damon Lindelof that stars Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, and Kate Dickie. 

The crew of the starship Prometheus discovers a hint of an unknown number of ancient Earth colonies.

These colonies contain clues to humanity’s beginnings but also a threat to their mission: The Engineers, an intelligent species of creatures that created humanity from a DNA sample stolen from one of their kind. 

Prometheus is an incredible film with some of the most complicated and intriguing themes to be released in a long time. 

The premise is excellent, but the actors make this film worth seeing. So if you’re seeking movies like Arrival to keep your mind occupied, Prometheus may be just what you’re looking for!

22. Ad Astra (2019)

  • Director: James Gray
  • Star cast: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, Kayla Adams
  • IMDb rating: 6.5/10

Ad Astra follows the voyage of an astronaut and a team of astronauts to another solar system. They discover an inhabitable planet inhabited by beings that are strikingly similar to humans. 

When the protagonist falls in love with one of these animals, he is forced to confront the reality of their culture. This science fiction film is set in the future when Earth is on the verge of being destroyed by an asteroid. 

The president is sending astronauts to another solar system to discover a new home planet. Unfortunately, the new planet turns out to be populated by human-like species.

The main character falls in love with one of these animals, only to discover the reality of their civilization. This thriller science fiction, typical of movies like Arrival, will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, with numerous twists and turns.

23. Annihilation (2018)

  • Director: Alex Garland
  • Star cast: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez
  • IMDb rating: 6.8/10

Annihilation is a sci-fi action thriller that blends drama with the terror of the unknown. The film follows a group of scientists investigating Area X, a banned and poisoned zone on the United States’ southern coast where no one has ever been able to return and live.

When they enter this place, strange things happen, and all rational cognition fades. Then, as they move closer to the core of this place, one of the women begins to get unique visions and discovers the root of all these happenings.

The plot of Annihilation is so intriguing that you’ll want to watch it again and again to soak in every aspect. Familiar with movies like Arrival, This video also has an intriguing finish that will stick with you for days after you view it!

24. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

  • Director: Stanley Kubrick
  • Star cast: Keir Dullea, Douglas Rain, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester, Margaret Tyzack
  • IMDb rating: 8.3/10

One of the most significant films in movie history is 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is widely considered one of the greatest science fiction films ever created. The film had a considerable influence on cinema, culture, and society. 

Human evolution, artificial intelligence, robots, space travel, and the future are all explored in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The film received four Academy Award nominations: Best Original Screenplay (based on material from another media), Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.

“2001: A Space Odyssey” revolutionized filmmaking by demonstrating how computer-generated imagery might produce realistic pictures without animatronics or model sets. 

Furthermore, it raised the standard for filmmaking by pushing spectators with unorthodox imagery that would appear foreign even in today’s cinema industry.

Like other movies like Arrival, this movie also popularized notions like alien life, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and time travel, which are now often used in popular culture.

25. The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

  • Director: Scott Derrickson
  • Star cast: Keanu Reeves, Michael Rennie, Jennifer Connelly, Patricia Neal, Jaden Smith
  • IMDb rating: 5.5/10

While “The Day The Earth Stood Still” is a classic science fiction B-movie of its age in some aspects, it is a more cerebral take on the subject of man’s first encounter with a being from the stars and an obvious metaphor for Cold War worries of nuclear proliferation. 

Much of the film, like most movies like Arrival, features government scientists coping with the dilemma of an extraterrestrial arrival, trying to figure out what he wants and how to respond.

It all starts when a flying saucer falls in the middle of Washington, D.C. A man named Klaatu appears, along with an eight-foot-tall robot capable of mass destruction, and claims to have a grave message for the inhabitants of Earth. 

While the authorities remain skeptical of Klaatu’s objectives, he connects with a young widow, convinced he is not the menace the government believes he is.


If you like the movie Arrival and you’re looking for others like it. We hope this selection of the top 25 movies similar to Arrival helped you decide on the next movie you’ll watch. If you think a movie we missed should be on this list, please leave a comment below.

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