25 Best Mind-Bending Movies Like Interstellar
18 mins read

25 Best Mind-Bending Movies Like Interstellar


  • Interstellar combines sci-fi, fantasy, surrealism for a mind-bending cinematic experience.
  • Christopher Nolan’s meticulous plotting and visual effects make Interstellar a must-watch.
  • Interstellar isn’t just one thing – it’s a unique blend of genres that push cinematic boundaries.



Movies like Interstellar gain a reputation as mind-bending and strange because they combine elements of science fiction, fantasy, and surrealism to deliver an off-kilter cinematic experience. Christopher Nolan is known for his ability to mess with the mind of the viewer thanks to an impressive dedication to both meticulous plotting and classical filmmaking techniques mixed with new-school effects. Interstellar is one of his greatest works and one of the best mind-bending movies ever because it isn’t just one thing.

Nolan’s 2014 opus was met with praise from critics (via Rotten Tomatoes) and was yet another smash success for the director, earning an impressive $700 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo). However, while it’s often considered one of Christopher Nolan’s best films, Interstellar is far from the first movie to mess with audiences by subverting expectations in interesting ways. Movies like Interstellar have always been on the tip of the cinematic spear as they continue to push the envelope on what is possible.


‘Interstellar’ Ending & Space Travel Explained

We break down the ‘Interstellar’ ending and explain how time and space relativity works within the film.

1 Dark Star (1974)

A Surprisingly Satirical Sci-Fi Flick From John Carpenter

The Dark Star ship traveling through space

Horror auteur John Carpenter’s feature film debut was actually a clever sci-fi satire in the form of 1974’s Dark Star. The film follows a crew of incompetent astronauts as they are sent on a mission across space to destroy a rogue planet. Unlike most movies like Interstellar which take their sci-fi elements very seriously, Dark Star makes salient points about society through humor. Made on a shoestring budget, the movie pales in comparison to blockbusters when it comes to visuals, but the real mind warp comes from the commentary about society.

Where to Watch Dark Star

2 The Fountain (2006)

A Melodrama That Bends Space & Time

Two characters inside an energy sphere next to a tree in The Fountain

The Fountain

Darren Aronofsky

Release Date
November 22, 2006

Hugh Jackman , Rachel Weisz , Ellen Burstyn , Mark Margolis , Stephen McHattie , Fernando Hernandez

97 minutes

Writer/director Darren Aronofsky blended multiple distinct genres together in this thrilling and emotional romantic drama that follows the lives of Hugh Jackman’s protagonist through space, time, and stories within stories. Partly the adventure of a conquistador searching for the tree of life, partly a contemporary weepy about marriage and illness, and partly an arthouse science fiction movie about a haunted monk delivering a tree through the universe in a bubble to reach the heart of a dying star. The Fountain is a lot for the audience to wrap their heads around, but it all fits together remarkably well.

The Fountain is available to rent on Apple TV, Amazon, YouTube, and Google Play.

3 Source Code (2011)

One Of The Most Underrated Time-Loop Movies

Jake Gyllenhaal pointing a gun in a van in Source Code

Source Code

Duncan Jones

Release Date
April 1, 2011

Michael Arden , Vera Farmiga , Michelle Monaghan , Jeffrey Wright , Jake Gyllenhaal

93 minutes

Through a strange technology that creates a kind of simulated reality, Army Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is forced to relive the final moments of a terrorist bombing on a train over and over again in order to try and find clues as to who the bomber is and where they will strike next. Through his different run-throughs of the incident, Gyllenhaal’s main character begins to believe that he can alter the course of events with plenty of mind-bending concepts coming into play.

Where to Watch Source Code

4 Looper (2012)

Unlike Any Other Time Travel Movie Ever Made


Release Date
September 28, 2012

118 minutes

Rian Johnson dipped his toe into the world of sci-fi years before taking on the Star Wars universe with The Last Jedi and his time travel thriller, Looper, is often considered the superior film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as the same hitman named Joe in the not-too-distant future as they fight the mob and each other when Willis’ older version is sent back in time to be killed by his younger self. Filled with all the twists that writer/director Rian Johnson’s movies would become famous for, Looper is an action-packed, mind-bending ride.

Where to Watch Looper


10 Time-Bending Sci-Fi Movies To Watch If You Loved Looper

If you like Rian Johnson’s time-bending thriller Looper, then make sure to watch these similar sci-fi movies for more of the same action and ideas.

5 Moon (2009)

A Cult-Classic Isolated Sci-Fi Movie

The main character looks at his clone in Moon (2009)


Duncan Jones

Release Date
July 10, 2009

Sam Rockwell , Kevin Spacey , Kaya Scodelario , Benedict Wong , Dominique McElligott

97 minutes

Astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) is about to end his three-year tour of duty on a lunar mining facility when he is suddenly plagued by visions of a doppelganger of himself. By limiting the scope of the story, director Duncan Jones finds the true heart of the themes by allowing the characters to shine. The cult classic left most audiences confused upon release but has become a generally accepted hidden gem among late ‘00s indie cinema.

Moon is available to rent on Amazon, Apple TV, YouTube, and Google Play.

6 Solaris (1972)

The ’70s Movie Was A Trailblazing Classic

A woman strokes a man's head in Solaris

Solaris (1972)

Andrei Tarkovsky

Release Date
September 26, 1972

Stanislaw Lem , Fridrikh Gorenshteyn , Andrei Tarkovsky

Natalya Bondarchuk , Donatas Banionis , Jüri Järvet , Vladislav Dvorzhetskiy

If movies like Interstellar are modern examples of sci-fi that push boundaries, Solaris was a trailblazing classic that opened doors for future exploration. The Russian sci-fi epic follows psychologist Kris Kelvin (Donatas Banionis) who is sent to investigate the mysterious death of astronauts near the planet Solaris. Through its nearly three-hour running time, Solaris allows the viewer to sink further into the depths of madness as the science fiction becomes surreal fantasy.

Where to Watch Solaris

7 Cloud Atlas (2012)

An Ambitious Sci-Fi Epic That Spans Centuries

Tom Hanks holds a little girl while looking on from Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas

Tom Tykwer , Lilly Wachowski , Lana Wachowski

Release Date
October 26, 2012


Bigger than most movies like Interstellar, Cloud Atlas is a gargantuan adaptation of David Mitchell’s time-bending novel from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, and is a hugely ambitious science-fiction film that takes on even more distinct time periods and genres than The Fountain. The reincarnated lives of the impressive ensemble cast play out across a timeline spanning from the intimate drama of the 19th century to the post-apocalyptic adventure of the 24th century, and the themes are just as big as the effects and casting.

Cloud Atlas is available to rent on Google Play, YouTube, Amazon, and Apple TV.

8 Blade Runner 2049 (2017)

Ryan Gosling Stars As The New Blade Runner Tracking Down Deckard

Blade Runner 2049

Release Date
October 6, 2017

Ryan Gosling , Harrison Ford , Jared Leto , Ana De Armas , Robin Wright , Lennie James , Dave Bautista , Carla Juri , Hiam Abbass , Barkhad Abdi , David Dastmalchian , Mackenzie Davis , Sylvia Hoeks

Denis Villeneuve’s very belated sequel to Ridley Scott’s iconic science-fiction film, BladeRunner, proved its worth very quickly to critics and fans alike, becoming a rare latter-day sequel to a cult classic that’s as well-regarded as the original. Ryan Gosling is Officer K, a dystopian detective and synthetic executioner tracking down a synthetic-human hybrid who threatens the world order of the future’s hierarchy.

Blade Runner 2049‘s Oscar-winning visual effects and cinematography are enough to captivate an Interstellar fan, but its emotional intensity and spiritual meditations make it an unmissable experience for any lover of sci-fi.


15 Best Sci-Fi Movies Like Blade Runner 2049

Fans who found themselves swept up by the dystopian look of Blade Runner 2049 should check out these 15 similarly gorgeous sci-fi movies too.

Where to Watch Blade Runner 2049

9 Stalker (1979)

One Of The Most Challenging But Rewarding Sci-Fi Movies

A man stands in The Zone in Stalker.

After revolutionizing sci-fi with his film Solaris, director Andrei Tarkovsky returned to the genre with the infinitely bleaker Stalker. In a post-apocalyptic world, a writer (Anatoliy Solonitsyn) ventures into the dangerous wasteland known as The Zone to find a mythical place known only as The Room. Many movies like Interstellar are mind-bending but find some basis in reality, Stalker leaves reality at the door and becomes increasingly surreal throughout. Stalker isn’t just a cinematic experience, but a challenge as well.

Where to Watch Stalker

10 Memento (2000)

Christopher Nolan’s Breakthrough Mystery Classic


Release Date
May 25, 2001

Joe Pantoliano , Guy Pearce , Carrie-Anne Moss , Stephen Tobolowsky , Mark Boone Junior

113 minutes

Memento is another Christopher Nolan classic, released before he had access to some of the biggest budgets in Hollywood. This thriller follows Leonard (Guy Pierce), a man who is unable to form new memories as he works to find his wife’s killer. It’s the way Nolan presents the story that keeps viewers thinking for hours: scenes alternate between color and black and white, with the color scenes depicting the story chronologically from the start, and the black and white scenes working backward. It’s complex, but the final payoff is immense.Where to Watch Memento

11 12 Monkeys (1995)

Terry Gilliam’s Complex Masterpiece

Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt talking in a hospital in Twelve Monkeys

12 Monkeys

Terry Gilliam

Release Date
December 29, 1995

Joseph Melito , Bruce Willis , Jon Seda , Michael Chance , Vernon Campbell , H. Michael Walls

129 minutes

Many movie fans might not expect a Monty Python cast member to end up directing some incredibly complex cinematic classics, but Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys is one of the most famous entries into the sci-fi time travel genre. Convict James Cole (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to learn how a massive plague started in the 1990s. The shifts between a variety of time periods are confusing enough, but when the viewer starts to realize that the main character’s memories don’t exactly remain consistent, trying to place everyone in the right place at the right time gets complex.

Where to Watch 12 Monkeys

12 The Cell (2000)

Explores The Weird & Wild World Of The Subconscious

Vince Vaughn standing behind Jennifer Lopez wearing a starnge mask in The Cell

The serial killer mystery thriller The Cell is injected with a dazzling degree of stylistic flair by director Tarsem Singh. A psychologist named Catherine (Jennifer Lopez) must travel into the subconscious of a sadistic murderer to find out where he’s hidden his latest victim. The weird and wild imagery depicted in the world of the subconscious should be more than enough to engage the brains of even Interstellar‘s most discerning genre fans and the central concept should feel very reminiscent for those who love Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi movies.

The Cell is available to rent on Vudu, Amazon, Apple TV, YouTube, and Google Play.

13 Shutter Island (2010)

Martin Scorsese’s Only Mystery Movie

Leonardo DiCaprio looking worried in Shutter Island

Shutter Island saw Martin Scorsese return to the thriller genre with arguably his most complex endeavor yet. Leonardo DiCaprio plays detective Teddy Daniels, who is investigating a disappearance on the titular island. While not considered one of Martin Scorsese’s best movies, Shutter Island saw the director play around with surrealism for the first time. Keep an eye out for the clever moments of foreshadowing that lead viewers into an unforgettable plot twist. Fans of movies like Interstellar will not be let down by the dramatic pedigree on display in this mind-bending mystery.

Where to Watch Shutter Island

14 Tenet (2020)

A Christopher Nolan Project Even More Complex Than Interstellar

John David Washington's face seen through a window with a bullet hole in it in Tenet


Release Date
September 3, 2020

150 minutes

Christopher Nolan’s return to the sci-fi genre was just as ambitious and mind-bending a project as Interstellar, with the story revolving around a more grounded world of spies and supervillains but with a time travel twist. A secret agent (John David Washington) is sent through time and space to prevent WWIII. With certain objects and characters in the movie running in opposite directions of time, the huge scale setpieces can become pretty overwhelming at times. But, if the audience just surrenders and trusts in Nolan’s strengths as a storyteller, it’s as fun a ride as Interstellar.

Tenet is available to rent on Vudu, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, and Apple TV.

15 Annihilation (2018)

A Terrifying Exploration Of A Quarantined Area Known As The Shimmer

The scientists enter The Shimmer in Annihilation

While many modern sci-fi films feel like copies of copies, Alex Garland’s Annihilation arrived to prove the doubters wrong. Biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) travels into the quarantined region known as The Shimmer which has been infected by a strange alien presence. Much like in Interstellar, the mission is challenging for both physical and mental reasons for the characters, but Annihilation uses the horrors of mutation to great effect.

Where to Watch Annihilation

16 The Matrix (1999)

Takes “It Was All A Dream” To A New Level

The Matrix

Lilly Wachowski , Lana Wachowski

Release Date
March 30, 1999

136 minutes

Known as one of the most mind-bending movies ever, The Matrix took “it was all a dream” to a new level and sparked a new sci-fi franchise that’s still exciting audiences to this day. An average Joe (Keanu Reeves) is brought into the mysterious other world known as the Matrix where he becomes the heroic Neo.

While the plot itself is commendable, the Wachowskis’ breakthrough film is also known for innovating a variety of cinematic techniques, including ‘bullet time’, which should impress any film fan looking for movies like Interstellar that can match the space opera’s most visually stunning moments.

Where to Watch The Matrix

17 The Game (1997)

Michael Douglas Is Sucked Into A Mysterious & Life-Threatening Conspiracy

Nicolas face to face with a creepy puppet in The Game

The Game

Release Date
September 12, 1997

Michael Douglas , Sean Penn , Deborah Kara Unger , James Rebhorn , Peter Donat , Carroll Baker , Armin Mueller-Stahl

128 Minutes

David Fincher is another director who’s well-known for his mind-bending movies that mess with the audience’s minds, and The Game is one of his most underrated efforts to date. Sucked into a mysterious and life-threatening conspiracy, investment banker Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) tries to find the line between what’s real and what’s simulated in the bizarre ‘game’ designed to entertain the super-wealthy. Though not necessarily science fiction, The Game nevertheless found ways to bend the constructs of day-to-day reality to great effect.

Where to Watch The Game

18 Split (2016)

M. Night Shyamalan’s Secret Sequel To Unbreakable

James McAvoy standing in the street at night in Split


M. Night Shyamalan

Release Date
September 26, 2016

Kim Director , Betty Buckley , Haley Lu Richardson , Brad William Henke , Anya Taylor-Joy , James McAvoy , Jessica Sula

1h 57m

M. Night Shyamalan’s psychological horror-thriller Split delves inside the troubled mind of a killer named Kevin (James McAvoy), who’s at war with his own split personalities, making it a mind-bending movie quite unlike most others. Built around an incredible performance from McAvoy in the lead role, Split explores some fairly huge ideas through another of the writer/director’s deconstructions of popular genres and, as Christopher Nolan does, exhibits a devout level of respect for the style and techniques of the ‘Master of Suspense’, Alfred Hitchcock.

Where to Watch Split

19 Brazil (1985)

Often Considered One Of The Best Sci-Fi Films Ever Made

A masked figure looking at the camera in a dystopian lab in Brazil

Brazil is another classic film from director Terry Gilliam, the genius ex-Monty Python member behind 12 Monkeys. Set in a world not too dissimilar to the surrealist vision of Orwell’s 1984, a downtrodden man named Sam (Jonathan Pryce) sets out on a journey to find a woman he frequently dreams about. Often considered one of the best science-fiction films ever made, Brazil has plenty of mind-bending movie moments that stick with film fans for a lifetime, and Gilliam’s one-of-a-kind vision is unmatched among other movies like Interstellar.

Brazil is available to rent on Google Play, Amazon, YouTube, Vudu, and Apple TV.

20 Inception (2010)

Christopher Nolan’s Sci-Fi Magnum Opus


Release Date
July 16, 2010

148 minutes

In a world where the consciousnesses of others can be infiltrated via dreams (which can have multiple layers), Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is tasked with placing an idea into the subconscious of a target, allowing for a uniquely mind-bending movie experience that delves into the very heart of the creative process itself. Debatably the magnum opus of Christopher Nolan’s career so far, Inception won a variety of Oscars for such a high-concept film, including Best Visual Effects like Interstellar, but lost out on Best Picture.

Where to Watch Inception


MovieCeption: The 10 Most Enjoyable Metacinematic Movies Of All Time

Metacinematic films are highly self-referential to the genre they embody, and these ten meta movies are some of the most enjoyable to watch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *