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The 16 Most Surprising Movies Available to Watch on the International Space Station

Just like those of us who spend our days earthbound, astronauts on the International Space Station like to unwind by watching a good movie. Their moviegoing experience is probably a bit different from ours, though — they can float around, chill out and enjoy their movies in a way the rest of us aren’t used to. 

So, what kind of movies do these space cowboys like? All kinds, according to this extensive list, which includes lots of comedies, biopics and crime dramas. While there are some natural picks on the list — including Gravity and The Right Stuff — some of the movies surprised us.

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1. A Room With a View

Instead of looking at the most spectacular views of Earth and the moon from the Space Station, sometimes the astronauts would rather watch a period drama set at an Italian hotel where the lead characters’ room has no view at all. Maybe that’s the thematic appeal — humans love a nice view. The film does have great actors, like a baby-faced Daniel Day-Lewis and Helena Bonham Carter, so it’s definitely worth watching.

2. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang campy kids’ movie from 1968 has terrible special effects and goofy songs, but it may provide a taste of nostalgia if the astronauts remember it fondly from childhood. Also, it’s about a man with a fantastical dream of having a flying car, and if there’s one thing we know about astronauts, it’s that they’re dreamers, too.

3. Divergent

This film is based on the wildly popular YA novel by Veronica Roth and is set in a dystopian future where everyone is divided into five factions. But the film’s heroine, Tris (Shailene Woodley), somehow doesn’t fit into any of those groups, rebelling against her government as she fights to protect her individuality. It’s a thrilling watch, to be sure, but we were definitely surprised to see a YA-inspired movie pop up regardless.

4. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

This film from 1964 is about a paranoid U.S. general who goes rogue and deploys a nuclear attack on the Soviets. It’s a statement against nuclear proliferation and a satire of the U.S. military, poking fun at the people in charge. Definitely more highbrow fare than other movies on this list, but hey, it’s good to see NASA catering to all tastes. 

5. Hall Pass

This movie, starring Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis, is about two husbands experiencing rough patches in their marriages who both get a “hall pass” to be with another woman. The premise makes for a bawdy comedy that’s no doubt fun to watch after a tough day, especially when that tough day is happening in space. 

6. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

We all loved the Charlie Brown cartoons when we were kids, so it’s really sweet to know that the astronauts also want to take this trip down nostalgia lane — and they can do it whenever they want.

7. Meet Me in St. Louis

Great musicals like The Sound of Music, Mamma Mia! and Les Miserables are all available for viewing on the ISS, but for some strange reason, this Judy Garland film that centers on the 1904 World’s Fair also makes the list. Is there something we’re missing? Maybe this movie offers a mental escape from the fast-paced technological environment and work that takes place on the space station. Or maybe it’s the “Technicolor romance of gaiety and song” the trailer boasts about.

8. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

It seems a little ironic that people currently orbiting Earth would want to watch a film about such mundane transportation methods, but we do agree that Steve Martin and John Candy are hilarious dudes.

9. Tom Thumb

Who’s watching this movie about a boy the size of a thumb, based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen? This one has us scratching our heads. Maybe when you’re out in space, you feel the vastness of the universe and can relate to the little guy.

10. Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection

These movies are terrifying when you watch them on Earth, but watching them in space is another story. Wouldn’t they give the astronauts nightmares?

11. Wayne’s World

This movie is another one with sentimental value, especially if you saw it when you were a teen or in your early 20s. The humor isn’t exactly the sophisticated stuff you’d think astronauts would like, but maybe watching Wayne and Garth, a couple of slackers, helps them relax. Party on, astronauts.

12. Zoolander

Ben Stiller plays a dumb-as-a-doorknob fashion model who gets conned into carrying out an assassination attempt. Although Zoolander is not a very sophisticated movie, we will admit there are a lot of great cameos, including David Bowie, Natalie Portman and even Fabio. Not surprisingly, the sequel that came out 15 years later didn’t make the list.

13. West Side Story

“I want to live in America!” So the song goes. At its core, this film is a story of immigrants and celebrates their dream of living in America. Lately, though, the United States’ policies on immigration and resulting family separations have been in the news, so it seems a bit controversial to include this film on the list.

14. Dumb and Dumber To we love the rubber-faced zaniness of Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, this movie is just banal slapstick humor… and it’s outdated. With really funny movies like The Princess Bride and Monty Python and the Holy Grail available, we’re surprised this made the list, especially since the first Dumb and Dumber did not.

15. The Lego Movie

We get it, this is a super-fun movie, but with all three The Godfather movies, North by Northwest and Casablanca available on the ISS, we’re just surprised astronauts also want to watch this movie about kids’ toys.

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16. The Runaways

Starring Elle Fanning as Cherie Curry and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett, this film tells the story of the all-girl band The Runaways and their coming of age while touring together. The movie is great, but it’s just about such an obscure band that we were surprised to see it on the list. Movies about more famous musicians, like Walk the Line, The Doors and Amadeus, didn’t make the cut.

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