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To this day, the Christopher Nolan dream caper, Inception, which came out in 2010, is still one of the most intelligent and exciting action films to come out in the 2000s. In fact, I wrote an article a whole decade ago comparing the movie to Karl Jung’s philosophies. It’s that deep. And it’s also streaming right now on Netflix, so you have no excuse but to watch it again right now.

But guess what. There are a whole bunch of other movies that are also streaming and available to rent right now if you love the Leonardo DiCaprio led Inception. You’ll be right at home —literally— with any one of these films below. And if you have multiple ways to watch movies, then you can see any of these films in a screen within a screen within a screen (Sorry. I just had to do it). So, without further ado.

Transcendence

Transcendence (2014)

Johnny Depp stars in this sci-fi thriller where a dying tech scientist pretty much has his consciousness uploaded to the cloud, or at least a program somewhat like it. This is what is meant by transcendence, as doing this gives him unimaginable power. But ultimate power corrupts, and things go south rather quickly.

Fans of Inception will be intrigued by the story of Transcendence since it’s about using technology to bring the consciousness somewhere else, just as the technology in Inception allows people to enter other people’s dreams. They will also like many of the cool effects once Johnny Depp’s character fully realizes his powers within the computer.

Stream it on Netflix: Netflix
Where to rent it online: Amazon

The Matrix

The Matrix Trilogy (The Matrix-1999, The Matrix Reloaded-2003, The Matrix Revolutions-2003)

The Matrix really evolved into something else entirely once its two sequels Reloaded and Revolutions completed the trilogy. But in a nutshell, The Matrix is about a computer programmer named Thomas Anderson (A.K.A. Neo, A.K.A. Keanu freaking Reeves) who finds out that he is living in a manufactured reality created by some machines so they can harvest our lifeblood without us even knowing it. But Mr. Anderson is finally “awoken” by some freedom fighters, led by a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) who train him to separate The Matrix (the fake world) from reality. He also learns kung-fu and can do bullet time once he learns this. I mean, that’s not the best synopsis of the movie, but there are whole studies based around the philosophy of The Matrix. I did my best.

Fans of Inception will love the whole idea of The Matrix. What if our lives are only a dream and we’re just sleepwalking through it? Heady stuff. And guess what. Before Inception, The Matrix was the big smart action movie, so it has that going for it.

Where to rent them on Amazon: The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions
Where to Stream them on Netflix: The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions

Interstellar

Interstellar (2014)

On the surface, Christopher Nolan’s follow-up movie to The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar doesn’t have much in common with Inception. Interstellar is about a team of astronauts who are trying to save our dying planet, and the answers to our future seem to exist within a wormhole. Inception is about journeying into dreams and implanting ideas. But if you take a closer look, you can find parallels between the two movies. For instance, the vast, never-ending aspect of space is similar to how limitless dreams can be.

Fans of Inception will want to see where Christopher Nolan went after his dream caper. Plus, at the heart of Interstellar is a man searching for answers in the unknown, which is similar to Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Inception.

Where to rent it online: Amazon

Waking Life

Waking Life (2001)

Rotocsoped and beautiful, Waking Life is probably the most thought-provoking, cerebral animated movie ever made. Like Inception, the protagonist in Waking Life is walking through a dream, and he’s meeting all kinds of people who discuss topics such as metaphysics and what it means to dream and exist. It’s like if the deepest dream level in Inception was a café, and all people did there was talk about the meaning of life.

People who like Inception likely also find dreams interesting, and the whole plot of Waking Life takes place in a series of dreams. At one point, the protagonist even learns that he's stuck in a dream, and what that could possibly mean for him. There’s no real action in Waking Life, but if you want to discuss a movie afterward like you did with Inception, then Waking Life is your movie.

Where to rent it online: Amazon

The Cell

The Cell (2000)

Jennifer Lopez (A.K.A. Jenny from the Block) stars in this personal favorite of mine. A child psychologist journeys into the mind of a serial killer to prevent a future murder. The visuals in this film are disturbing and amazing, and the plot is absolute fire.

Fans of Inception will love the dream-like (more like nightmarish) esthetic of the film, as well as its plot of entering somebody else’s head to uncover truths.

Where to rent it online: Amazon

A Nightmare on Elm St.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Uh, hello. We can’t talk about dream movies without also talking about A Nightmare on Elm Street. The first (and possibly) best movie in the series is about a group of teenagers who are afraid to go to sleep since a serial killer who invades dreams might kill them in their sleep. Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger is the star of the show, but Johnny Depp is also in the movie in his film debut.

Lovers of Inception will likely also love the plot of a serial killer haunting people in their sleep. The dream sequence deaths are effective and the story, even today, is riveting.

Where to rent it online: Amazon
Stream it on Shudder.

Total Recall

Total Recall (1990)

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best film (fight me), Total Recall is about a man bored with his life who decides to go on a virtual vacation. But what he finds inside the simulation might be real, or it might not be. Either way, you better get your ahss to Mahs and watch this movie right away.

Fans of Inception will love Total Recall since it deals with the concept of what is really reality, and what is a false reality, just like The Matrix. But Total Recall is even more like a dream, so it’s closer to Inception. Either way, check it out. It’s one of my favorite movies.

Stream it on Tubi.

Buy it on Amazon (sorry, no rental option).

Paprika

Paprika (2006)

Battle Royale: The Hunger Games :: Paprika : Inception. What do I mean by that? Well, a lot of people like to call Inception a rip-off of the anime Paprika, just like how a lot of people like to call The Hunger Games a rip-off of Battle Royale. It’s mostly because both films use dream machines to explore the mind. But the key difference is the plot. In Paprika, the focus is on therapists who are trying to heal people through journeying through their dreams, and then the device is stolen, while Inception is about dream thieves who can implant ideas. See? Completely different stories.

Fans of Inception should definitely watch Paprika to see all the similarities and differences between the two movies. Plus, Paprika is a beautiful film, and the way the dreams are portrayed is super colorful, which contrasts greatly with the monochrome style that Christopher Nolan usually likes to employ.

Where to rent it online: Amazon

Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind (2004)

Kind of like how Total Recall deals with false memories, Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind deals with erasing memories, most notably that of a bad break-up. It’s meant to be a romantic comedy, but it’s written by Charlie Kaufman, so you know it’s also really cerebral and filled with pathos, too. It’s also probably Jim Carrey’s best role ever.

Fans of Inception will like how the narrative skips all over the place and is so unconventional. Plus, it deals with layers of the mind, and the different nuances of memory, so Inception fans should be fully engaged.

Stream it on Starz*
*
Where to rent it online:
Amazon

Vanilla Sky

Vanilla Sky (2001)

Vanilla Sky is a really difficult movie to explain since the twist kind of needs to be revealed to fully explain the movie, but here I go. Tom Cruise plays a man in publishing who ends up in a terrible car accident caused by his vengeful ex-girlfriend. This messes up his face pretty badly. But after a surgery, everything seems okay. For a little while, anyway. But things aren’t quite what they seem, and the words “lucid dreaming” and “life extension” get thrown around quite a bit in this movie. There’s also an elevator that goes up, and up, and…you know what? Just watch the movie. It’s good, but it’s just also hard to explain.

Fans of Inception will like Vanilla Sky because it’s kind of like Total Recall in that we can’t really tell what’s real and what’s manufactured. Are we ever really truly alive? This film attempts to answer that question. Sort of.

Stream it on Starz.

Where to rent it online: Amazon

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

You might be thinking, what the hell? What does a James Bond movie have to do with Inception? Well, a lot, actually. The story concerns one Bond, James Bond (This time played by George Lazenby, who would only play the character once) who faces a diabolical fiend who wants to tamper with the world’s food supply.

But here’s the thing, this is Christopher Nolan’s favorite James Bond movie, and in a lot of ways, the director considered Inception his own James Bond movie. You can see some of the inspiration from this movie in Inception, especially in the snow scenes.

Where to rent it online: Amazon

Every last one of those movies was a dreamy pick, and you’d do yourself a favor to watch any of them (or all of them) since you’re such a big fan of Inception. Because why watch one movie when you can watch several? You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.

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