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41 Best Movies On Showtime [October 2022]

Showtime's library of streaming titles is a robust collection of some of the best films of the past three decades. Their catalog includes not just landmark movies but great films that have fallen under the radar, awaiting the rediscovery that can happen through a streaming service. Even better, Showtime has added plenty of acknowledged classics and underseen gems to their lineup through their deal with independent distributor A24, which gives them the exclusive streaming rights to all of A24's acclaimed titles. With such an impressive library, we're here to help you find the best of the best, so here are 41 of the greatest films available on Showtime, encompassing the best recent work done by major Hollywood studios as well as beloved arthouse directors.

Updated on September 27, 2022: As films come and go from Showtime, we'll be keeping this list updated to reflect current offerings. Be sure to check back often to find your next film for movie night.

20th Century Women

Mike Mills makes movies that start as autobiography but end up telling much bigger stories. Mills' "20th Century Women" is based on his memories of living in Santa Barbara in 1979, but the Mills character is often sidelined to focus on the women in his life, each of whom represents a different kind of womanhood and a different reaction to the uncertain atmosphere of the late 1970s. 

A career-best Annette Bening plays a version of Mills' mother, increasingly concerned with how little she understands her son and the time he lives in. Greta Gerwig plays a version of his sister, who obsesses over punk and avant-garde photography as a distraction from a recent cancer diagnosis, and Elle Fanning plays his girlfriend, who makes a hobby of self-destructive behavior. They may begin as representations of Mills' family and friends, but together they form a picture of how women react to feeling adrift in their own lives, bridging the gap between the personal and the universal.

  • Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig
  • Director: Mike Mills
  • Year: 2016
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

After Yang

A sci-fi fable that explores intangible notions of what it means to be human, "After Yang" is set in the near future, when robotics technology has advanced to the point that android companions are virtually indistinguishable from biological people. Jake and Kyra are a caring couple with an adopted daughter and a synthetic companion named Yang, who acts as a brother to the young girl and teaches her about her culture. When Yang malfunctions, Jake scrambles to repair him before he is lost forever. To the family's surprise, the robot's memory banks indicate a far richer and more complex life than they ever imagined — and a far more complicated past.

Arrival

One of the most profound and moving sci-fi movies in recent memory, "Arrival" takes place in the weeks following the landing of mysterious and inscrutable alien ships on Earth. Wanting to communicate with the creatures inside, the government calls in world-class linguist Dr. Louise Banks to interpret their extraterrestrial language. But as she interacts with the otherworldly creatures, she's dealing with her own personal tragedies. "Arrival" is really about Dr. Banks' personal trajectory to get to a better place, but it's also a fascinating and surprisingly exciting treatise on the pliable nature of time and language and the magic of communication.

Assault on Precinct 13

With "Assault on Precinct 13," legendary director John Carpenter combines the classic Western "Rio Bravo" with the horror classic "Night of the Living Dead," resulting in a nail-biter of a thriller. The plot finds a motley cast of characters — including a do-gooder cop, a charming convict, and an incredibly capable secretary — trapped inside an abandoned police station. And outside? We've got every gang in the city, armed to the teeth and dead-set on breaking down the doors and murdering everyone inside. Accompanied by a killer synth score, Carpenter builds the tension to an incredible showdown between our heroes and the zombie-like horde, and along the way, we witness one of the most shocking deaths in cinematic history.

  • Starring: Austin Stoker, Darwin Joston, Laurie Zimmer
  • Director: John Carpenter
  • Year: 1976
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Better Off Dead

A response to the earnest, empathetic teen movies of the era, "Better Off Dead" is a very dark comedy about high schoolers in the 1980s dealing with romance, heartbreak, parents, and bullies. But it's also absurd and prone to flights of fancy. John Cusack plays Lane, so upset after his girlfriend leaves him for a smug skier that he decides to commit suicide, only to change his mind and win back his ex by beating her new, odious beau in a ski race down a dangerous mountain. He's soon distracted in his training by his drug-obsessed best friend, and Monique, a foreign exchange student living next door trying to escape the clutches of her grotesque host family. Unlike other teen movies, "Better Off Dead" also features a clay animated hamburger, saxophone solos, lurking Howard Cosell impersonators, and a vengeance-fueled paperboy who just wants to be paid his two dollars.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988 or by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Boy

Long before he made those funny "Thor" movies or created the "What We Do in the Shadows" universe, Taika Waititi showed off his humanist comedy chops with the funny and affecting "Boy." That's the nickname of the main character, a sensitive but self-assured 11-year-old living in New Zealand in 1984. His day-to-day life of loving Michael Jackson and avoiding bullies gets shaken up when his father returns home from a long work voyage overseas. Or at least, that's what Boy tells people: The truth is, his father's been in prison. A hilarious and heart-wrenching exploration of father-son dynamics, the bonds of friendship, and disappointment ensues.

C'mon C'mon

Joaquin Phoenix usually plays over-the-top characters and eccentrics (like the Joker), but in "C'mon C'mon," he tones it down for what's a hip and warm take on the familiar "childless guy forced to care for child" plot. Phoenix portrays Johnny, a radio reporter who's made a life for himself driving around and interviewing precocious kids about their viewpoints and opinions. That belies Johnny's crafted emotional distance from other people until his two worlds collide in a way, when he's entrusted to watch over his tween nephew, Jesse, with whom he brings on the road. They bond, and Johnny learns a lot of new things about himself and the perspective of young people he thought he knew so well.

De Palma

Showtime offers a fascinating documentary on Brian De Palma, co-directed by "Marriage Story" director Noah Baumbach. The doc is made up of clips from De Palma's movies and an interview with the filmmaker, who's as entertaining a storyteller in front of the camera as he is behind it. De Palma discusses his entire life and career in order, covering every film he made up to 2013's "Passion" and holding nothing back. He happily criticizes people he didn't enjoy working with, even telling a hilariously unflattering story about actor Cliff Robertson's spray tan, and he admits which movies didn't turn out the way he wanted them to. The documentary's approach is simple but rewarding — it's rare to see an artist of any kind be so open about the career they've led and it's helpful to better understand the artistic voice behind his movies.

Death Becomes Her

Robert Zemeckis' "Death Becomes Her" has become a classic among the LGBTQ+ community in the years since its release in 1992, even inspiring an episode of "RuPaul's Drag Race." As "Drag Race" participants explained to Vanity Fair, the appeal of "Death Becomes Her," to both queer and general audiences, is in the thrilling unlikability of its two female protagonists, who fight against society's unfair notions of female beauty by destroying each other and anyone who gets in their way. 

The protagonists are played by Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn, both delighting in the opportunity to be as nasty as possible. And Zemeckis joins in the nastiness too, using what was then state-of-the-art prosthetics and CGI to create grotesque body horror as Streep and Hawn sustain horrible injuries. The effects still hold up, but more importantly, the film is still very funny — it's easy to see why it still appeals to people 30 years later.

The Djinn

Genies aren't always friendly, wish-granting, magical buddies. That cinematic device is, in fact, a riff on djinn, powerful figures of Middle Eastern legend who can be tricky, cruel, or downright evil, as is the case in this supernatural horror movie. Dylan, a boy who is unable to speak and suffering from asthma, moves into a new home with his father. There, he finds a dusty old book that gives him instructions on summoning a djinn to fulfill his deepest wish. There's just one caveat: The granted wish might cost Dylan his mortal soul, or at least leave him trapped forever at home with a wicked, monstrous force.

  • Starring: Ezra Dewey, Rob Brownstein, Tevy Poe
  • Director: David Charbonier, Justin Powell
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 82 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

The Disaster Artist

The behind-the-scenes story of what's possibly the worst movie ever made is also, amazingly, a true story. In the '90s, aspiring actor Greg Sestero becomes friends with the inscrutable and unpredictable Tommy Wiseau, a man of vague background and untold wealth who enlists Greg to help him produce the passion project he wrote and plans to direct and star in, "The Room." Greg can't believe most everything that happens on the set of "The Room," as Tommy has absolutely no filmmaking ability, talent, or experience, and his moods rapidly swing. Somehow, someway, the central friendship survives even as "The Room" becomes an inexplicable cult classic.

  • Starring: Dave Franco, James Franco, Seth Rogen
  • Director: James Franco
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Drunk Bus

Bouncy, low-key, and unpredictable, "Drunk Bus" is about a guy named Michael, a recent college graduate feeling aimless about his life and nursing a broken heart after the end of his long-term relationship. While no longer in college, he's stuck eking out a living as a campus "drunk bus" driver, the guy who gets inebriated college kids safely to and from drinking establishments. After he's beaten up by an angry passenger, he gets a co-worker and security guard — and much-needed friend, confidante, and mentor — in the form of a very tall and heavily pierced guy named Pineapple, resulting in a truly charming coming-of-age story.

  • Starring: Charlie Tahan, Kara Hayward, Pineapple Tangaroa
  • Directors: John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Eighth Grade

The American junior high experience is almost universally recognized and bemoaned as a brutal time of life, a period in which rapidly changing bodies, surging hormones, and a general sense of awkwardness manifest as cruelty, facing both inward and outward. "Eighth Grade," written and directed by stand-up comic Bo Burnham, effectively, realistically, and painfully captures the agonies of early adolescence. Set during the final week of a terrible eighth-grade year, 13-year-old Kayla deals with anxiety, nerves, and a poor self-image, all while enduring indignities like trying to please a crush, attending a pool party, and posting confessional vlogs.

  • Starring: Elsie Fisher, Daniel Zolghadri, Fred Hechinger
  • Director: Bo Burnham
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

The Farewell

Brash, energetic rapper and comic Awkwafina tones it down for this bittersweet and sensitive family drama that, unlike most movies about relatives, dares the viewer to appreciate them instead of resent them. In "The Farewell," Awkwafina plays 20-something Billi, a struggling writer with few prospects who emigrated from China with her parents when she was very young. Her primary tie to her birth nation is regular phone calls and visits with her grandmother (or Nai Nai). As close as they are, both lie and hide their dissatisfaction with their lives because they don't want to upset the other. To that end, Billi is tasked with keeping secret Nai Nai's terminal lung cancer diagnosis ... from Nai Nat herself. The whole family gathers together one last time for a fake wedding, which is really a grand send-off for the family matriarch.

  • Starring: Awkwafina, Shuzhen Zhao, Tzi Ma
  • Director: Lulu Wang
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 100 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Fear of a Black Hat

In the way that mockumentary "This is Spinal Tap" savagely (but lovingly) mocked oblivious and dumb rock musicians, the faux documentary "Fear of a Black Hat" sticks it to rap music and hip-hop culture just as it was becoming permanently entrenched in American society. All the tropes and familiar mistakes famously made by famous rappers are accounted for, as filmmakers specifically point out the tension between art and commerce, as the subject rap group, N.W.H., is a parody of N.W.A., Public Enemy, and even socially conscious hippie rappers P.M. Dawn.

  • Starring: Larry B. Scott, Mark Christopher Lawrence, Rusty Cundieff
  • Director: Rusty Cundieff
  • Year: 1993
  • Runtime: 89 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

First Cow

One of many films denied a proper theatrical release by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelly Reichardt's "First Cow" nevertheless found an audience during lockdown due to the overwhelming critical acclaim it received. While its beautiful Pacific Northwest landscape shots would seem to demand a movie theater, it casts a lovely spell no matter the size of the screen.

Reichardt makes quiet, unassuming movies, and "First Cow" is her gentlest film to date. It's a movie about friendship, with two men on the margins of society, played by John Magaro and Orion Lee, joining together for a business partnership that becomes something much deeper. That business involves the men stealing the milk from a local rich man's cow, and the scenes of Magaro tenderly milking and talking to the cow are the film's high points. Even as things start looking grim for the main characters, the film unfolds with the kindness of Magaro's whispers into the bovine's ear — it's Reichardt believing in the power of these men's friendship to the bitter end.

  • Starring: John Magaro, Orion Lee, Alia Shawkat
  • Director: Kelly Reichardt
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 122 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

First Reformed

Writer/director Paul Schrader has made a career of movies about self-destructive men and the crumbling worlds they occupy. One of his best movies to date is "First Reformed," which takes the angst of Schrader's script for "Taxi Driver" and applies it to a world living in fear of climate change. Ethan Hawke rarely gets to play as quiet as he does in the lead here, starring as a reverend experiencing a crisis of faith that may lead him to environmental terrorism. Schrader offers no easy answers about the morality of Hawke's actions, agreeing with him on the evil of corporations polluting the earth but also seeing selfishness in his attempt to become a martyr. And while it's easy to relate to Hawke spiraling after thinking too much about the effects of climate change, Hawke plays self-righteousness and cruelty just as often as he plays more honorable intentions.

The Fits

With an audacious and original premise, "The Fits" is a sports movie, an inspirational tale about a kid digging deep to achieve her dreams, and a psychological exploration of mass hysteria. Toni is an 11-year-old girl who enjoys training at a boxing gym with her brother. After seeing a high-caliber girls' dance team practice their routines, she switches gears to explore this new athletic pursuit. Toni will do whatever it takes to fit in with this crowd — even play along when members of the team all start to suffer from mysterious seizures. What's causing them? Why is it only affecting this dance team? The answers are more complex than you might expect.

  • Starring: Royalty Hightower, Makyla Burnam, Inayah Rodgers
  • Director: Anna Rose Holmer
  • Year: 2015
  • Runtime: 72 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

The Florida Project

"The Florida Project" is set mere blocks from a massive and luxurious Disney theme park, but its characters are worlds away from the ease and splendor of the Magic Kingdom. The film primarily takes place in a rundown motel operated by a gruff but kindly manager, and is seen through the eyes of Moonee, a spirited child who makes her own fun with a small circle of friends. It's all an escape from her difficult home life, as she lives with a well-meaning mother who tries to protect her daughter from the increasingly desperate things she must do to make ends meet.

Girlhood

Celine Sciamma has enjoyed a much higher profile after the release of her acclaimed "Portrait of a Lady on Fire," but "Portrait" was just one in a line of great films that Sciamma has made about young women. One of those films is "Girlhood," about a group of Black French teenagers who run away from home and attempt to start a life on their own. Sciamma is a master of movies about women discovering their own identities through groups of other women, trying to find a working combination of their own personality and the personalities of their new friends. In "Girlhood," the protagonist's attempts to become one with the group are a failure, but while it would be easy to make a straightforwardly sad movie of this story, Sciamma still finds plenty of joy in between moments of disillusionment, most notably in a scene where the protagonist lip-syncs to Rihanna's "Diamonds."

  • Starring: Karidja Touré, Assa Sylla, Lindsay Karamoh
  • Director: Celine Sciamma
  • Year: 2014
  • Runtime: 112 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Good Time

"Good Time" is an intense, claustrophobic, and rushed movie, even more stirring than the Safdie brothers' better known movie, "Uncut Gems." As for the plot, squirrelly career criminal Connie breaks his developmentally challenged brother Nick out of a therapy program because he needs his help to rob a bank. In the chaotic aftermath, a dye pack explodes, their getaway car crashes, and police nab Nick while Connie absconds. Now, Connie has to come up with a small fortune — and deal with some unsavory situations — to bail his brother out and free him from a frightening and dreary life in the Rikers Island prison.

The Green Knight

"The Green Knight" is a beautiful yet haunting take on England's legendary stories about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Dev Patel portrays Sir Gawain, the impetuous rogue nephew of Arthur, who heads out on a quest to the fabled Green Chapel, hoping to prove his mettle by battling its lord, the mysterious and monstrous Green Knight. But before he can face off against the legendary and impossible warrior, Sir Gawain has to defeat numerous other foes, including bandits, ghouls, con men, and monsters. The journey will be decisive, ending in either legendary heroics or a noble death.

  • Starring: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton
  • Director: David Lowery
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 125 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Green Room

An almost uncomfortably intense horror movie, "Green Room" follows a struggling rock band's descent into a bloody, airless nightmare. Ain't Rights, a classic punk outfit, is paying its dues playing seedy dives and out-of-the-way spots in the Pacific Northwest. In a particularly brutal twist of fate, they end up performing in a neo-Nazi hangout bar, where they discover the body of a recently murdered woman. Soon, Ain't Rights is being held hostage, and the bar's owner is musing over how to eliminate witnesses. Mind games, sickening violence, and fast-paced thrills ensue.

The Humans

In Stephen Karam's "The Humans," Karam faithfully adapts his Broadway play of the same name about a family coming together for a tense Thanksgiving dinner. It's good material to showcase the talents of the cast, including Richard Jenkins, Steven Yeun, Beanie Feldstein, and Jayne Houdyshell, with Houdyshell reprising the role that won her a Tony in the play's original Broadway run. But Karam does more than just film the play as he wrote it — he makes it cinematic with clever choices in production design and cinematography. He frequently downplays the significance of the actors in the frame, keeping them offscreen even as they deliver important dialogue and making them share screen space with banal pieces of set dressing. The effect is bizarre at first, but it's suited to the material's uneasy tone, and it's a clever way of conveying that tone using methods that would be impossible for a play.

  • Starring: Richard Jenkins, Amy Schumer, Steven Yeun
  • Director: Stephen Karam
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

The Kings of Summer

The woods often offer magic, freedom, and adventure in fairy tales and young adult stories. That's exactly what the three sensitive and independence-craving teenage guys of "The Kings of Summer" are seeking. Joe has tired of his micromanaging single father, Patrick's parents are odious, and Biaggio just wants to do something fun. So, as a means of escape, they conspire to spend the summer building a place for themselves in the woods to live off the grid, embrace nature, and trust their survival instincts — as well as one another.

  • Starring: Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso, Moises Arias
  • Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts
  • Year: 2013
  • Runtime: 93 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 76%

Lady Bird

In this sweet and often painfully realistic nostalgic comedy set in 2002, high school senior Christine MacPherson — or Lady Bird, as she prefers to be called — is cantankerous, headstrong, and always right, and she can't wait to flee her hometown of Sacramento, as well as her mother — world-weary and just plain weary, a nurse and her family's sole breadwinner. Their relationship is turbulent but loving, inconsistent but sweet, and the prospect of losing that as she falls into adulthood is what's really bothering Lady Bird, acting out at her parochial school by befriending troublemakers, setting pranks, and dating dull classmates.

  • Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Timothee Chalamet
  • Director: Greta Gerwig
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 94 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

The Lobster

A wildly and delightfully original romantic comedy, "The Lobster" takes place in a barely futuristic dystopian society where the government greatly dictates the romantic lives of the citizenry. Those who reach near middle-age without pairing up are sent to live at a medium-luxurious resort and given 45 days to find a life mate — and one who shares their notable deformity or physical characteristic. Should they fail to find a suitable partner, they're turned into animals and set loose. A sad sack named David doesn't go in for all that and flees the resort for the woods where bands of anti-romance "Loners" live on the lam. Of course, it's there where David finally finds someone to love.

Madeline's Madeline

With her 2018 film "Madeline's Madeline," director Josephine Decker makes a movie about storytelling that itself is a new and exciting form of storytelling. Decker uses disorienting editing and blurred images to convey the mind of her titular protagonist, who escapes from a troubled home life with her mother into a theatre group. The group's director takes so strongly to Madeline that she begins writing a performance piece about her, not realizing that she's closer to exploiting Madeline than helping her. "Madeline's Madeline" is about the ethical dilemmas of trying to tell another person's story, and Decker's style helps to convey how hard it is to dramatize a life other than your own. All the style is backed with an incredible lead performance by newcomer Helena Howard, who keeps Madeline thrillingly unpredictable from beginning to end.

  • Starring: Helena Howard, Molly Parker, Miranda July
  • Director: Josephine Decker
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 94 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Meek's Cutoff

A dour, gritty, unsettling Western, "Meek's Cutoff" finds a group of settlers attempting to pass through the high desert of Oregon in 1845. They've run off course, they're quickly running out of food and water, the elements are threatening their health and safety, and, worst of all, their hired guide clearly has no idea what he's doing. He won't even admit that anything is amiss, in fact, and certainly not that it's getting worse. The group's salvation may lie in a traveling Native American man who will show the settlers to a water source in exchange for his release from Meek's clutches — but will respite arrive in time?

  • Starring: Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, Paul Dano
  • Director: Kelly Reichardt
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: PG
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Minari

Lee Isaac Chung received two Oscar nods — Best Director and Best Original Screenplay – for "Minari," his beautiful, emotionally powerful movie based on his own family's story. Striving for a better life for his Korean-American family, Jacob quits his job in the poultry industry and moves everyone from California to a farm in the Arkansas countryside. The plan proves particularly difficult, both to work the land and then to sell enough exotic (for the '80s) Korean produce to support his family. Despite piling hardships, he remains determined and defiant, which might lead to a successful farm but also leads to cracks in his marriage.

  • Starring: Steven Yeun, Han Ye-ri, Youn Yuh-jung
  • Director: Lee Isaac Chung
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Midsommar

Following a life-altering family tragedy, college student Dani leans emotionally on Christian, her immature boyfriend who was planning on dumping her, and she decides to head with him and his buddies to a much-discussed but enigmatic summer solstice festival held once every century or so on a remote commune in Sweden. Dani enjoys the community spirit, the festivities, and being outside, and she starts to heal some of her deep psychological wounds ... until the festival turns dark. (But not literally dark — most everything in "Midsommar" happens in the light of day.) The pagan commune is more of a horrifying cult that upholds many strange and terrifying traditions, particularly in the midst of their once-every-century festival with ancient connections.

  • Starring: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson Harper
  • Director: Ari Aster
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 145 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Moonlight

Barry Jenkins' "Moonlight" is arguably the greatest Best Picture winner of the last decade, fitting all the best and worst moments of growing up into less than two hours. 

Jenkins deserves significant credit for how clear he makes the journey of main character Chiron, considering he's played by three different actors with significant gaps in time between each change in actor. The audience can fill in the blanks on their own when the film jumps from one section to another, which testifies to the strength of Chiron's characterization in the parts of his life that are shown. But more than his script, Jenkins' best tool with "Moonlight" is his overwhelming romanticism, viewing even the most unassuming corner of the world as a place where there's beauty everywhere you can look.

My Salinger Year

A 1990s period piece, "My Salinger Year" explores a period in the life of reclusive "The Catcher in the Rye" author J.D. Salinger, when he published his first work in decade. Based on the memoir by writer Joanna Rakoff, this film follows a young publishing industry recruit who gets a job at Salinger's literary agency. She has no familiarity with the man or his mythos, but steps in to answer his fan mail. As she sifts through letters, she comes into her own as a writer and literary thinker — and realizes she might not be on the right path.

  • Starring: Margaret Qualley, Sigourney Weaver, Douglas Booth
  • Director: Philippe Falardeau
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Philomena

As a teenager in Ireland in the 1950s, Philomena found herself pregnant and unmarried. As a result, she was sent to a Catholic convent as a punishment and to be removed from society. When her son, Anthony, reached toddler age, the nuns took the boy away and sent him off to be adopted. More than 50 years later, Philomena has never stopped looking for her long-lost son from whom she was traumatically separated. When a cynical budding reporter hears about her decades-long efforts to locate Anthony, he agrees to tag along with Philomena, but his heart unexpectedly opens as he learns more about his subject during a trip to the U.S. to find her now-grown child. All the while, they create their own mother-son bond.

  • Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Michelle Fairley
  • Director: Stephen Frears
  • Year: 2013
  • Runtime: 99 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Smoke Signals

Thoughtful, warm, inviting, and very funny, "Smoke Signals" captures the vibe of chatty '90s independent movies while also exploring what it feels like to be a Native American in the late 20th century, upholding and balancing traditions with more modern pursuits. Victor and Thomas, not quite friends and not quite enemies, live on the Coeur D'Alene Reservation in Idaho, killing time playing basketball and telling stories, respectively, when they aren't bickering about heritage and identity. Then Victor's father, Arnold, dies, and they hit the road to Phoenix to fetch the ashes, growing closer as they come to terms with the death — Victor has a lot of lingering resentment while Thomas, saved from a deadly fire by Arnold, considers him a hero — and one another.

  • Starring: Adam Beach, Evan Adams, Irene Bedard
  • Director: Chris Eyre
  • Year: 1998
  • Runtime: 88 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

The Souvenir

With 2021 seeing the release of "The Souvenir: Part II," Joanna Hogg's follow-up to her autobiographical drama "The Souvenir," now is a good time to watch the original. "The Souvenir" dramatizes Hogg's experiences as a young film student, developing her artistic voice at the same time she struggles to maintain a romantic relationship with a drug addict. As stand-ins for her and her mother, Hogg cast real-life daughter and mom Honor Swinton Byrne and Tilda Swinton, providing another layer of autobiography beyond just her own. The result is a film where every moment feels like it has a basis in someone's real life, where the audience watches reenactments of Hogg and the Swinton family's most painful moments. But while the subject matter is intimately personal, "The Souvenir" is so beautifully shot and well-acted that it draws the viewer deep into the problems of its stars and director until they seem as real to the viewer as their own.

  • Starring: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton
  • Director: Joanna Hogg
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 119 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Spring Breakers

Prior to releasing "Spring Breakers" in 2013, filmmaker Harmony Korine was best known for making provocative, intentionally hard-to-watch movies like "Gummo" and "Julien Donkey-Boy," and this film was a departure for its simple and enticing hook of bikini-clad teen stars, including Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens, committing crimes in sunny Florida. But Korine took that premise to some audience-unfriendly places while chopping their story up with non-linear editing, emphasizing visual sensations over plot and drinking in the oversaturated, sun-drenched colors of Florida even as events take a turn for the violent. The result is something hypnotic and scary, with plenty of humor provided by James Franco's performance as a rapper who loves to brag about his life as a low-level criminal.

  • Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson
  • Director: Harmony Korine
  • Year: 2012
  • Runtime: 94 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 67%

Under the Silver Lake

Writer/director David Robert Mitchell's follow-up to his cult horror movie "It Follows," "Under the Silver Lake" was divisive at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and only received a small theatrical release in the U.S. a year later. Despite its mixed reception, "Silver Lake" is a great film, showing that Mitchell is a talented filmmaker in more than just horror. 

"Silver Lake" takes the form of a detective movie, with Andrew Garfield playing a slacker who uncovers a massive conspiracy when his neighbor goes missing. But the mystery is ultimately less the point than Garfield himself, who's as repellent as the worst people he encounters on his investigation. He rejects his responsibilities in favor of going on a glorified treasure hunt, mistreats every woman he knows, and lives a life based on cheap nostalgia, obsessing over Nintendo Power magazines and R.E.M. songs. It's a testament to Garfield's talent that he makes this character magnetic even at his most awful, an avatar of all that's wrong with society that you're still drawn to.

  • Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace
  • Director: David Robert Mitchell
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 139 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 59%

Werewolves Within

The vast majority of movies based on video games are terrible ... but not "Werewolves Within," a fun and clever horror comedy adapted from Ubisoft's 2010s title of the same name, as well as the classic spot-the-imposter game of "Werewolf." In the tiny, remote, and picturesque Vermont town of Beaverfield, the citizens are torn apart by a new gas pipeline — some want the new jobs and money it will supposedly provide, while the other half thinks it's a disaster waiting to happen. Tensions are already high before a massive mid-winter snowstorm hits, causing a power outage and the whole town to congregate at an inn. Forest ranger Finn Wheeler has to sort through all of those messes while also investigating a missing dog, a mysteriously deceased individual, and the very likely possibility that there's a werewolf on the loose.

  • Starring: Sam Richardson, Milana Vayntrub, George Basil
  • Director: Josh Ruben
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 97 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

While We're Young

Well-to-do Manhattan artists Josh and Cornelia are approaching middle age, and while they seem happy, they're starting to hit a rough patch with work troubles and regrets that they never had kids. An injection of youthful energy comes along at just the right time, as they befriend Jamie and Darby, a cool and flaky couple in their 20s. Josh and Cornelia desperately want to be like these fresh-faced people, who seem like they could be them in another time, in another life. But things are not as rosy and perfect with the young hipsters as they may seem, and Josh and Cornelia realize that while they may be old, they're not too old for new chapters and adventures.

  • Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver
  • Director: Noah Baumbach
  • Year: 2014
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Zola

Janicza Bravo's "Zola" is adapted from a viral Twitter thread describing a trip to Florida that goes horribly wrong, and Bravo incorporates the sounds and visuals of social media into her filmmaking. The result is the best movie yet made about the joys and hazards of being online, where what's funny one minute could turn out to be dangerous the next. Taylour Paige is hilarious as the title character, more frustrated than scared by the sometimes violent events that happen around her. Not even the film's most frightening character, Colman Domingo as a man who seems genial until he explodes into rage, does more than annoy Zola. The film as a whole follows Zola's unbothered demeanor, laughing off scary situations and staying entertaining even when blood starts spilling.

  • Starring: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun
  • Director: Janicza Bravo
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 87 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%