10 Movies like Arrival you must watch

By Louie Fecou
Published: April 6, 2023 (Last updated: December 18, 2023)

We discuss 10 Movies like Arrival you must watch. Add these well-recommended exciting films to your watch list.

Starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, Arrival tells the story of Earth’s first contact with Aliens. Adams plays an expert linguist, Louise Banks, who finds herself with the unusual job of decoding the unusual language of the bizarre creatures that arrive from another world.

Realizing that the aliens’ existence is entirely unlike humans’ normal linear life, she surmises their method of communication might also involve shifts in time.

Clever, thought-provoking, and more nuanced than your usual sci-fi movies, this alien invasion flick was layered and beautiful, and that got us thinking about another ten movies like Arrival that you must watch.

10 Movies like Arrival you must watch

Interstellar (2014)

The Christopher Nolan film Interstellar doubles as a science fiction story and family drama. In the not-too-distant future, the Earth is slowly dying, and mankind is looking for other planets to colonize.

Astronaut Joseph Cooper is played by Matthew McConaughey, who embarks on a dangerous mission through a wormhole to connect with the worlds they find there. Mixing drama and sci-fi, this tone is similar to Arrival, focusing on accurate scientific principles and working on different levels.

Gravity (2013)

Starring smooth coffee-selling rubbish Batman George Clooney, and Sandra Bullock, this is a tense and captivating survival drama that stretches its characters to their limit as they fight to escape impossible odds in space. The premise is very different from Arrival, but the focus on character and accurate science puts this edge-of-the-seat drama on our list.

2001 A Space Odyssey (1968)

When it comes to nuanced and thought-provoking science fiction, you have to look at Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001. Since the film’s release, movie fans have speculated over the meaning of the trippy conclusion to this epic, and despite a sequel, the ending seems deliberately ambiguous, leaving the conclusion open for interpretation. With stunning cinematography and attention to detail that is unmatched, this is a great high-concept sci-fi that fans of Arrival will love.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Just like Arrivalthe aliens of this epic are not laser beam-wielding ambassadors of death but are instead more interested in communication than the destruction of the world. The story has a protagonist that becomes obsessed with the presence of aliens and is desperate to commune with them.

Instead of sign language, music seems to be the key here to harmonious relations, and this joy-filled and jaw-dropping story still holds up today.

Anecdotally, I remember watching this back in the day at my local cinema, and it remains an absolute highlight of my childhood cinema-going love affair. If you get the chance to see it on a big screen, don’t pass it by.

Contact (1997)

This is a story of an ambitious government project to make first contact with a race of advanced aliens. Poker-faced serial killer hunting, ex-child gangsters Moll Foster plays Doctor Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, a SETI researcher inspired by her father’s love of ham radio. Her mission to make contact with an alien race through a transport device also provides her with insight into her own life and relationships.

Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970)

Here’s a forgotten sci-fi gem that we hope some of you are reading this list might seek out. No aliens, but two A.I. systems that get together and decide, of course, that taking orders from their human creators is a bad idea.

The two angry artificial bits of intelligence use their logic to declare their supremacy over humans, and the tightly-suited bureaucrats panic as scientists try to find a way to communicate with the A.I. and avert the end of the world. Clever and ahead of its time, this is an underrated banger.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) 

In a 1950s world, with a prevalent fear of attack from outside forces, and atomic power, this clever sci-fi masterpiece comments on paranoia, anxiety, and miscommunication, projecting the concerns of the time back onto the audience via a B movie invasion flick. The premise of scientists struggling to understand an alien presence, and like our featured movie, there is a message underneath the special effects that make this film so memorable.

Starman (1984)

Director John Carpenter was making waves with his horror flicks like Halloween and The Fog. His love of sci-fi was also apparent; his masterpiece The Thing is still regarded as one of the greatest sci-fi horrors ever made.

But viewers often forget about the heartwarming and character-driven tale of an alien, taking the form of the deceased Scott Hayden and relying on his widow’s help to be reunited with his alien kin. Themes of love, companionship, and kindness make this a different kind of first-contact film that you should watch.

High Life (2019)

Robert Pattison would appear in a lot of different roles post-Twilight, eagerly proving he was more than a glittery supernatural love bot from a YA novel. High Life is a little-known science fiction horror film that uses nonlinear storytelling, like Arrival, to reveal its plot.

Robert is on board a spaceship in deep space with a small child in tow, but we are unclear about the characters’ motivations and relationship. For some, this was a swing and a miss, with some improbable setups, but it’s character-driven and striving to be more, so it makes our list.

The Arrival (1996)

So back in ’96, there was a sci-fi adventure movie that also dealt with contact with aliens, but instead of a slow burn character-driven meditation on the need for communication and understanding, we get Charlie Sheen trying to put the brakes on an invasion force.

This is a low-budget vehicle for Sheen at the height of his popularity, but it has a lot going for it and uses its limitations to its advantage. Silly but good-natured, this is a forgotten late-night sci-fi B movie, best served with a few friends, beer, and snacks.

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