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55 Best Movies On Hulu [August 2022]

One of the most popular streaming services out there, Hulu boasts a significant library of movies. That library centers mostly on films from the 21st century, but it offers a wide variety among those titles. There's something for everyone on Hulu, from comedies to horror movies, from action flicks to documentaries. Hulu is also the home for a number of independent movies that weren't granted normal theatric runs, so it boasts an impressive collection of smaller movies and big-time blockbusters.

Below, we've collected 55 movies that we think are the best on the service, with a wide range of genres and even some classics from the '80s and '90s to round out the more 21st-century heavy offerings of the service.

Updated on August 1, 2022: Hulu updates its catalogue all the time, so be sure to check back here each month to see the latest and the greatest that the streaming service has to offer.

The Act of Killing

There are a number of documentaries that are hard to watch, but "The Act of Killing" may be the most difficult. The film centers on some of the men who killed almost a million people during the Indonesian anti-communist mass kilings in 1965 and 1966, particularly Anwar Congo. The directors of "The Act of Killing" invite Congo to recreate some of the massacres from his memory, and he joyously accepts. But as the film goes on, Congo's delight at recreating the violence, often in the style of his favorite movie genres, begins to change as he reckons with the horror he created and the thousands of murders he committed. It's a hard watch but an incredibly rewarding film as we watch a mass murderer realize what he's done.

All About Nina

There aren't too many movies about stand-up comedy, but "All About Nina" uses the world of stand-up as a great jumping-off point for its character study of the titular Nina. She's a comic who is doing well professionally, but she's struggling personally with alcohol and men. Things begin to take a turn for the better when she meets Rafe, and the two start a romance. "All About Nina" does a fantastic job tackling some heavy topics with a deft hand that allows for humor to shine through without ever undercutting the seriousness of Nina's mental health and substance issues.

  • Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Common, Chace Crawford
  • Director: Eva Vives
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 101 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Akira

"Akira" is one of the most celebrated science fiction movies of all time and one of the most celebrated anime movies for good reason. The movie brings a beautiful and frightening post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo filled with biker gangs and dangerous science to the screen with some of the best animation ever. The story follows a member of one of these biker gangs, whose body and mind begin to change when he's exposed to a military experiment. As a result, his fellow gang members and the government are trying to get him under control before something truly disastrous happens.

  • Starring: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama
  • Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
  • Year: 1988
  • Runtime: 125 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Aniara

"Aniara" may be the only science fiction movie based on a poem. Written by Harry Martinson, the book-length poem is similar to the epic verse of Homer and Dante — it just happens to have been written in the 20th century about a spaceship. The movie brings that literary feel with it as it follows a massive group of humans aboard an interplanetary ship that gets knocked off course, leaving them floating through space. The movie is bleak and often brutal in its matter-of-fact depiction of what happens to a society that loses hope, but it never feels as though it loses sight of the humanity of the passengers. "Aniara" is an oddly beautiful movie given its dark premise, and it's one that's a must-see for sci-fi fans.

  • Starring: Emelie Garbers, Bianca Cruzeiro, Arvin Kananian
  • Director: Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 106 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

The Art of Self-Defense

Dark comedies are difficult to pull off, which is why "The Art of Self-Defense" is all the more impressive. After Casey is attacked by a masked assailant one night, he joins a martial arts dojo so he can become more of a threatening presence. There, he discovers a strange cult of personality around the dojo's leader, and the movie begins to feel like something akin to "Fight Club" as the dojo is more than it first appears to be. "The Art of Self-Defense" takes on toxic masculinity in a way that's funnier than anything else, but the movie still has a razor-sharp edge.

  • Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Alessandro Nivola, Imogen Poots
  • Director: Riley Stearns
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 104 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

The Assistant

Kitty Green's "The Assistant" is an impactful and disturbing movie despite — or perhaps because of — its small scale. The entire movie takes place over the course of one day and is mostly set in the office of a powerful movie executive whose face we never see because the film is focused on the titular assistant, Jane. During her day, Jane discovers that the executive is abusing his power to solicit sexual favors from young actresses, and she then struggles with how to respond. It's a difficult movie to watch, as Jane's feelings of powerlessness are palpable throughout, but "The Assistant" is also rewarding in its matter-of-fact depiction of an office culture we've learned exist all too often.

  • Starring: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Makenzie Leigh
  • Director: Kitty Green
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 87 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Benedetta

"Benedetta" is the second French-language feature from legendary "Robocop" and "Basic Instinct" director Paul Verhoeven, and it sees him tackling the true story of Benedetta Carlini, a lesbian nun who had mystical experiences. The movie plays into the more salacious and fun side of being a movie about a lesbian nun, but it also authentically engages with questions about faith, power, and the relationship between the two in the Catholic Church. It's a beautifully shot film, as Verhoeven brings the 17th century to life, and the performances are all fantastic, especially Virginie Efira as the titular Benedetta.

  • Starring: Virginie Efira, Daphne Patakia, Charlotte Rampling
  • Director: Paul Verhoeven
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 131 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

Big Trouble in Little China

While John Carpenter is perhaps best known for his horror masterpieces like "The Thing" and "Halloween," he's far from a one-trick director as "Big Trouble in Little China" shows. The movie follows in-over-his-head John Wayne-type Jack Burton and his friend Wang Chi as they attempt to take on a centuries-old sorcerer who's kidnapped Wang's fiancée. The setting in San Francisco's Chinatown and the significant cast of Chinese actors helps the movie dodge any accusations of appropriation. In fact, Jack is often portrayed as a bit of an arrogant fool, undercutting any sense that the story is about a white savior, especially since Wang is the true hero of the film. But more than that, it's a hilarious action-adventure movie that's full of great performances and practical effects.

Black Swan

"Black Swan" follows talented but shy ballerina Nina who desperately wants the starring dual role in the company's new production of "Swan Lake." She's seen as the perfect fit for the sweet white swan Odette, but director Thomas doesn't see her as entirely up to the challenge of playing the wild and sensual black swan Odile. The movie then follows Nina's attempts to prove to Thomas — but also to herself — that she is capable of playing the more aggressive Odile. She acts out in ways that she never would before, and as the pressure grows, Nina begins to break from reality. "Black Swan" is a beautiful and frightening psychological thriller with an incredible lead performance that won Natalie Portman the Best Actress Oscar.

  • Starring: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
  • Director: Darren Aronofsky
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Booksmart

High school seniors and best friends Molly and Amy have always been focused on getting into college so that they can land their dream careers, but that means they haven't spent any time enjoying high school. "Booksmart" begins when Molly learns, to her great horror, that the kids who have fun and party have also gotten into great colleges, so she decides that she and Amy need to make up for lost time by going to cute boy Nick's graduation party. The movie follows their wild night as they try to find the party and get into hijinks along the way. It's an uproarious comedy with a heart of gold that will make you want to call your best friend from high school.

  • Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Billie Lourd
  • Director: Olivia Wilde
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 102 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Compliance

"Compliance" is an incredibly disturbing film, both for how simple and small scale the story is and for the fact that it's based on a true story. The movie starts when fast food restaurant manager Sandra gets a call from a police officer informing her that one of her employees stole from a customer. As a result, she brings that employee, Becky, to the office to detain her. But things soon begin to escalate as the officer on the line insists on strip searching the young woman who denies any wrongdoing. It's a difficult movie to watch, but it's also a worthwhile endeavor as a look into real darkness. "Compliance" is one of the most unbelievable true story movies because it's so horrifying, but it is true.

  • Starring: Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy
  • Director: Craig Zobel
  • Year: 2012
  • Runtime: 90 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

The Devil Wears Prada

Based on the novel of the same name by Lauren Weisberger, "The Devil Wears Prada" has become a modern classic for a multitude of reasons. As a movie that takes place at a fashion magazine, the costumes are of course all incredibly beautiful. Meryl Streep and Emily Blunt's performances as office mean girls, whether a boss or not, have become iconic and given the world a number of deliciously quotable lines. And Anne Hathaway plays the doe-eyed new assistant to Streep's vicious editor with such lovable naivete that she may well be the easiest to root for character ever. If you haven't caught up with "The Devil Wears Prada" yet, now's the time.

  • Starring: Anne Hathaway, Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt
  • Director: David Frankel
  • Year: 2006
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Dick

Director Andrew Fleming is likely best known for his cult classic "The Craft," but he directed another movie about teenage girls just three years later that deserves just as much attention. "Dick" follows teenage best friends Betsy and Arlene who, through a series of coincidences, become president Richard Nixon's dog walkers in the immediate aftermath of the Watergate break-in. It's a hilarious movie that pokes fun at a key moment in American history and does so with humor that matches other teen classics of the time, particularly helped by great performances from leads Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams, as well as Dan Hedaya as Nixon.

  • Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams, Dan Hedaya

  • Director: Andrew Fleming

  • Year: 1999

  • Runtime: 95 minutes

  • Rating: PG-13

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 71%

Fantastic Mr. Fox

There's always going to be an ongoing debate about which film is director Wes Anderson's masterpiece, and there's a very strong case to be made for "Fantastic Mr. Fox." Based on the children's novel of the same name by beloved author Roald Dahl, the movie follows the titular Mr. Fox, his family, and some local animal friends as they combat the expansion of humans into their homes. It's a gorgeously animated movie as Anderson beautifully brings his particular style to stop-motion, and it's a family movie that's truly for the entire family — equally hilarious for adults and kids.

Gaia

There aren't too many eco-horror movies, but "Gaia" is one of the best in the subgenre. On a routine forest surveillance, forestry service employees Gabi and Winston lose a drone so Gabi goes into the forest to find it, and on her search, she falls into a literal trap. She frees herself and soon finds a father-and-son duo living in the depths of the forest. They help nurse Gabi back to health, but during her time with them, she learns that there's something supernatural going on in the forest. "Gaia" is a wonderfully atmospheric movie that delivers on all kinds of frights — from jump scares to incredibly realized body horror — and dives into questions about humanity's relationship with nature that are sure to stick with viewers well after the movie ends.

  • Starring: Monique Rockman, Carel Nel, Alex van Dyk
  • Director: Jaco Bouwer
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 97 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

God's Own Country

It's impossible to avoid comparisons to "Brokeback Mountain" when discussing "God's Own Country." Both movies center on men who develop a sexual and romantic relationship while working with sheep in rural areas. There are certainly some tonal and thematic similarities as well, but "God's Own Country" is a beautiful movie that deserves to be seen for its own merits. The film follows sheep farmer Johnny as his typical way of life is challenged and changed by migrant worker Gheorghe. The film hits some undeniably familiar romance beats, but the Yorkshire setting and the perfectly acted portraits of queer men in that setting makes "God's Own Country" a beautiful and special movie.

  • Starring: Josh O'Connor, Alec Secăreanu, Gemma Jones

  • Director: Francis Lee

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 105 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Hail Satan?

"Hail Satan?" is one of the best movies to make audiences laugh and think in equal measure. The documentary is a dive into the history, membership, and activism of the non-theistic organization known as the Satanic Temple. It's incredibly informative not just about how the Temple was originally founded and organized but also the legal work that the Temple does to promote total separation of church and state in the United States. But the real highlights of the film are the interviews with members from chapters of the Temple across the U.S. who offer joyous and often very funny testimonies about the camaraderie they have found through the Temple.

  • Starring: Lucien Greaves, Jex Blackmore, Chalice Blythe
  • Director: Penny Lane
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Her Smell

"Her Smell" brilliantly highlights Elisabeth Moss' talent as an actor. She plays Becky Something, frontwoman of punk band Something She, who struggles with drug use, mental health, and relationships throughout the film's five segments. While the movie is mostly a vehicle for Moss, director Alex Ross Perry's use of sound design and camera movement place us right there with Becky during some of her most chaotic and life-changing moments. It's also a fantastically realized time capsule of the 1990s punk rock world, from dingy concert venues to arguments between bandmates in the middle of recording sessions.

  • Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Dan Stevens, Gayle Rankin
  • Director: Alex Ross Perry
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 136 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 84%

High Ground

Australia has a long history of producing great Westerns, and that tradition has been well-maintained through the 21st century. "High Ground" is one of the best Aussie Westerns of recent years, not simply for the beautiful photography of the land and the brutally tense shootout sequences but because it seriously engages with the horror of the nation's colonial history. The story centers on the aftermath of a real-life massacre of Aboriginal people in the early 20th century and the government's attempts to bury the truth. It's a powerful movie that manages to be incredibly entertaining, informative, and affecting.

  • Starring: Jacob Junior Nayinggul, Simon Baker, Callan Mulvey
  • Director: Stephen Maxwell Johnson
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 105 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Hot Fuzz

There are some never-ending debates in movie culture, like "The Godfather" vs. "The Godfather: Part II" or whether or not "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie, etc. One of those debates, with good reason, is the eternal argument about what's better — "Hot Fuzz" or "Shaun of the Dead." 

Both movies are loving send-ups of their respective genres — action and zombie movies — that mock and pay homage in equal measure. "Hot Fuzz" edges out "Shaun of the Dead" for us by a bit because it functions not just as an action comedy but also a slasher movie and a detective film. The plot follows big city policeman Nicholas Angel as he's reassigned to a peaceful country village. But he's forced to team up with the bumbling Danny Butterman when someone begins picking off the locals in the most gruesome ways imaginable.

  • Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Jim Broadbent
  • Director: Edgar Wright
  • Year: 2007
  • Runtime: 121 minutes 
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Hustlers

Jennifer Lopez has been one of our finest entertainers since the 1990s when she starred as the titular singer in "Selena." Since then, Lopez has starred in romantic comedies, thrillers, and some horror movies, but she didn't become the focus of Oscar talk again until 2019's "Hustlers." The movie tells the true story of a group of strippers who begin to drug and rob their clients — mostly wealthy bankers and businessmen — following them from the start of their robberies to everything falling apart. It's a movie that's equal parts social drama, crime thriller, and girlfriend comedy, creating something really special and impossible to look away from. Lopez is the highlight here, but the entire ensemble cast makes the movie a surprisingly fun watch despite its serious content.

  • Starring: Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles
  • Director: Lorene Scafaria
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

In the Earth

Director Ben Wheatley has made a number of mysterious and unsettling folk horror movies, and "In the Earth" stands among the best of them. "In the Earth" was made in the middle of the pandemic, and you can certainly tell as the movie only really has a cast of three characters: scientist Martin, park guide Alma, and hermit Zach. Things first start to get strange when Zach drugs Martin and Alma so that he can use them in a ritual, but that's only the beginning of the twists and turns in the movie. "In the Earth" is a great watch for anyone looking to get spooked by the mysteries of the natural world around us.

  • Starring: Joel Fry, Reece Shearsmith, Ellora Torchia
  • Director: Ben Wheatley
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime:107 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 79%

Kissing Jessica Stein

"Kissing Jessica Stein" follows the titular Jessica Stein as she begins to date a woman, Helen, for the first time. Helen has never dated a woman before either, but at the urging of her gay friends, she placed a woman-seeking-woman personal ad that Jessica responded to. The movie follows the discomfort and excitement of their relationship with a palpable sense of real, messy emotion, likely because the movie is written by stars Jennifer Westfeld and Heather Juergensen. It's a modern queer classic that hasn't aged well in every way, but it's worth seeking out as a charming and often laugh-out-loud romantic comedy.

  • Starring: Jennifer Westfeld, Heather Juergensen, Scott Cohen

  • Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld

  • Year: 2001

  • Runtime: 97 minutes

  • Rating: R

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Knives and Skin

"Knives and Skin" brings together a wild mix of influences, from David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" to Rian Johnson's "Brick" and the visual style of late career Nicolas Winding Refn movies like "The Neon Demon," which it then tops off by being a jukebox musical. It's a strange and wonderful movie that centers on a group of teenage girls and their reaction to the disappearance of one of their classmates. The disappearance begins a strange sort of coming to consciousness for the girls who begin to refuse to be pigeonholed by their peers and parents anymore. "Knives and Skin" is both one of the strangest and one of the best movies about high school girls that's worth watching for everyone.

  • Starring: Raven Whitley, Ireon Roach, Marika Engelhardt
  • Director: Jennifer Reeder
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 112 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%

Let the Right One In

"Let the Right One In" is a horror movie that's more emotionally affecting than scary, and it's all the better for it. The movie centers on lonely tween Oskar who befriends the strange new girl Eli who just moved into his apartment complex. Soon, Oskar realizes that Eli isn't just a bit different from the other kids — she's a vampire. But that doesn't change his interest in being her friend. "Let the Right One In" is a wonderful mix of coming-of-age, young romance, and horror that's just as likely to make viewers smile and cry as it is to make them flinch.

  • Starring: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar
  • Director: Tomas Alfredson
  • Year: 2008
  • Runtime: 115 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

Little Woods

While Nia DaCosta found mainstream success with the Jordan Peele-produced "Candyman," her first feature, "Little Woods," might be even better than her 2021 horror film. It's a very different movie, as "Little Woods" centers on sisters Ollie and Deb who are working to get money together so that Deb can get an abortion. "Little Woods" paints a bleak picture of life in North Dakota, but the performances from Tessa Thompson and Lily James are so full of humanity that the movie never becomes overbearing in its darkness. Instead, "Little Woods" is a beautiful movie about sisterly love and the lengths people will go to for their family.

  • Starring: Tessa Thompson, Lily James, Luke Kirby
  • Director: Nia DaCosta
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 103 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95

Looper

Besides the fact it shares a name with this site, we love "Looper" because it's a fantastic time-travel action movie. The story centers on Joe, a hitman who works for an organized crime syndicate by killing people they send back in time to him. But when his older self is sent back, Joe hesitates for a moment and allows the older version of himself to get away. As a result, our antihero must hunt down his future self, who doesn't plan on going out without a fight. "Looper" is a time-travel movie focused more on the moral and existential questions about time travel than the logistical ones, and it's all the better for it.

Martha Marcy May Marlene

She's a household name as Wanda Maximoff, especially after the success of "WandaVision" and "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," but Elizabeth Olsen first made an impact in 2011 with her debut as the titular Martha in Sean Durkin's "Martha Marcy May Marlene." The movie shows Martha's life on two timelines — as she attempts to adjust back to regular life after escaping a cult and her time in said cult, from initial joy in belonging to deciding to escape. It's an incredibly tense film, and Olsen's performance is phenomenal, as are Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes in supporting roles.

Memories of Murder

Bong Joon-ho is now certainly best known for "Parasite," but in 2003, he'd already became the focus of cinephiles around the world with "Memories of Murder." The film follows detectives Park and Seo as they investigate serial killings in the Korean countryside. What makes the film even more powerful is the fact that it's based on the true story of Korea's first serial murders. It's an incredibly atmospheric and unsettling crime film that's been named one of the best movies of the 2000s by a number of publications, including the revered Sight and Sound.

  • Starring: Song Kang-ho, Kim Sang-kyung, Kim Roi-ha
  • Director: Bong Joon-ho
  • Year: 2003
  • Runtime: 131 minutes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Minding the Gap

"Minding the Gap" starts as a mix of a skate video and autobiographical documentary about director Bing Liu, but it very naturally expands to include two of his closest friends and ultimately topics including abuse and domestic violence. It's a powerful film that offers three young men and the ways that they react to the abuse they experienced. It's a beautifully empathetic movie, largely because the subjects are the director and two friends that he cares deeply about. "Minding the Gap" may well be one of the most definitive cinematic statements on adults grappling with having been abused as children, and the fact that it grows into that from its humble beginnings as a fun documentary about skating is truly awe-inspiring.

If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

The Nightingale

Jennifer Kent's "The Babadook" is a modern horror classic, but her follow-up film, "The Nightingale," still goes a bit under the radar. It's not too hard to see why, as "The Nightingale" is a historical revenge movie and thus shows a number of scenes of racialized violence and sexual assault by British colonizers in Tasmania. The story follows Irish convict Clare and Aboriginal guide Billy on a journey through Tasmania to find British officer Hawkins so that Clare can exact revenge on him. It's an incredibly powerful movie that deserves to be watched so that viewers can grapple with the horror of colonial history, but be sure that you're prepared for a difficult viewing experience.

  • Starring: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr
  • Director: Jennifer Kent
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 136 minutes
  • Rating: R 
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

The Painter and the Thief

There are a lot of unusual friendship movies — especially those with talking animals made for children — but "The Painter and the Thief" is both one of the strangest and one of the best. Unsurprisingly given the title, the documentary centers on painter Barbora Kysilkova and thief Karl-Bertil Nordland, who stole one of Kysilkova's paintings. He was caught on camera and swiftly brought to justice, but instead of that being the end of their association, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that "The Painter and the Thief" brings to the screen. It's a lovely movie not just for the relationship between the painter and thief but also because it offers some fascinating conversations about life, art, and the relationship between the two.

  • Starring: Barbora Kysilkova, Karl-Bertil Nordland, Øystein Stene
  • Director: Benjamin Ree
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 107 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Parasite

"Parasite" doesn't really need a recommendation at this point. The movie won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2020, overcoming the two-inch barrier of subtitles to impress audiences worldwide. If you haven't already seen it, the film follows the destitute Kim family as they con their way into the lives of the well-to-do Parks. Needless to say, while their elaborate schemes go well at first, things soon fall apart in the most shocking ways imaginable. The movie's mix of satire, broad comedy, and thriller aspects come together to form one of the most unique and affecting films of the last decade.

  • Starring: Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Cho Yeo-jeong
  • Director: Bong Joon-ho
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 132 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Pig

"Pig" feels like Nicolas Cage's response to any critics (professional or otherwise) who have called him a bad actor at any point in his storied career. The film follows Cage's hermit former chef Robin as he investigates who stole his beloved truffle pig, and it offers some of the most impressive acting from Cage or any actor working today through the course of that investigative journey. While the premise sounds like the perfect set-up for a "John Wick"-style action movie, "Pig" is actually a beautifully melancholy movie about love and loss that's gorgeously brought to life by the actors and co-writer/director Michael Sarnoski's keen eye for emotional truth.

Plan B

Similar to "Never Rarely Sometimes Always," "Plan B" is about teenage girls seeking reproductive care. But unlike the former film, which is a powerfully unflinching drama about a young woman's journey to obtain an abortion, "Plan B" is a light comedy with some serious themes. The movie follows high school best friends Sunny and Lupe as they attempt to get Sunny a Plan B pill after she has unprotected sex with a boy at a party. It's a "one crazy night" movie as the girls travel around growing increasingly desperate to find a pill, leading to more and more ridiculous situations. "Plan B" is a high school comedy that has something to say but doesn't let that serious message get in the way of being super fun.

  • Starring: Kuhoo Verma, Victoria Moroles, Michael Provost
  • Director: Natalie Morales
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 108 minutes
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Celine Sciamma's period lesbian romance "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" became a modern queer classic almost the moment it landed in theaters — and for good reason. It's a beautifully costumed and acted film about two women — one who's about to be married (and isn't too pleased about it) and one who's been commissioned to paint her wedding portrait — and their love for one another in a world where they have to keep that love a secret. It's not the most original story, but the way that Sciamma brings it to life and the incredible chemistry between the two leads makes "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" one of the most affecting romance movies of the 21st century.

  • Starring: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami
  • Director: Celine Sciamma
  • Year: 2019
  • Runtime: 121 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 97%

Predator

"Predator" is a classic of multiple genres. It's a science fiction movie, an action movie, and a horror movie all in one. It offers one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's most iconic roles as Dutch, the leader of a team of mercenaries who wind up in the jungle and find themselves being hunted by an alien creature. That creature, the titular Predator (also sometimes referred to as Yautja), became the stuff of horror creature legend as soon as the movie came out, courtesy of its many abilities and the incredibly unique design of the creature's face. "Predator" is a classic for a reason, and if you haven't seen it, you should catch up with it right now.

Princess Cyd

"Princess Cyd" follows the titular Cyd, a fiercely independent 16-year-old girl, who spends a summer with her aunt in Chicago, far from her South Carolina home. The movie centers on Cyd's various relationships over the course of the summer, including her relationship with her aunt who often acts as a mentor and her romantic relationship with a young woman named Katie. The movie includes some heavy themes, including sexual assault and familial murder, but writer/director Stephen Cone handles these topics with a deft touch and is able to craft an emotionally real movie that acknowledges life's hardships while celebrating the love in all kinds of relationships.

  • Starring: Rebecca Spence, Jessie Pinnick, Malic White

  • Director: Stephen Cone

  • Year: 2017

  • Runtime: 97 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Prisoners

Denis Villeneuve's first Hollywood movie isn't exactly a crowd-pleasing blockbuster. "Prisoners" is a brutal and emotionally taxing movie about the lengths a parent will go to find their child that only becomes more difficult to watch as it goes on. The film centers on Keller Dover, who abducts an intellectually disabled young man he suspects of having kidnapped his missing daughter and her friend. As a local detective searches for the girls, Keller subjects his captive to increasingly violent tortures in his desperate search for answers. It's a rewarding movie for viewers interested in dark themes, but don't toss this on for a night of light fun.

  • Starring: Hugh Jackman, Paul Dano, Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Director: Denis Villeneuve
  • Year: 2013
  • Runtime: 153 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 81%

The Professional (Léon: The Professional)

"The Professional" may be best remembered now for the much memed scene of Gary Oldman shouting "everyone!" at one of his underlings, but that over-the-top moment — as amazing as it is — isn't indicative of the movie as a whole. In fact, it's a surprisingly sweet film given that it centers on a hitman. The story follows the titular professional Léon after he takes in the recently orphaned Mathilda, whose family members were killed by Oldman's DEA agent. It doesn't take long for Mathilda to realize that Léon is a hitman, and after a good amount of convincing, he starts to teach her his trade so that she can avenge her family. "The Professional" is one of the best action movies of the 1990s because it's just as packed with heart as it is action.

Prometheus

The "Alien" series has gone through a lot since the first movie came out in 1979, but the prequel movie "Prometheus" still stands as the strangest film in the franchise. It's the only movie that doesn't specifically feature a legit Xenomorph, opting instead to tell a more chaotically horrifying story about a group of space explorers who believe they may have found proof of an ancient alien civilization that literally created humanity. While there aren't any of the traditional facehuggers or chestbursters we've come to expect in "Prometheus," it still offers the classic body horror associated with the franchise and introduces some fascinating new mythology, coupled with a killer performance from Michael Fassbender and one of the most horrific scenes in the franchise (one involving a very disturbing surgery).

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

"Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" is such a fun movie that it's sure to please viewers any time of year. The story follows young Pietari, his father Rauno, and some of Rauno's friends as they discover and then try to help an injured man who looks like he might be Santa Claus. But this isn't the jolly Santa that we've seen in other movies — he's a frightening and violent man, who may be more creature than human. "Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale" does a fantastic job mixing humor, horror, and action to bring us a movie that's a pure delight for fans of comedies, horror movies, and Christmas movies.

  • Starring: Onni Tommila, Jorma Tommila, Per Christian Ellefsen
  • Director: Jalmari Helander
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 83 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%

Riders of Justice

Best known for playing villains in projects like "Casino Royale" and "Hannibal," Mads Mikkelsen still returns to his native Denmark regularly to make smaller films. "Riders of Justice" is one of those smaller movies, but it still packs a huge amount of entertainment. The film follows Mikkelsen's Markus, who loses his wife in a train "accident" that seems to have been purposefully caused. As a result, our hero sets out for vengeance. But far from being a dark and brooding revenge movie, "Riders of Justice" is largely a comedy, as Markus is joined by his daughter and a cast of highly intelligent but not so tough computer programmers.

Shirley

Elisabeth Moss has been respected as a great actor for years, and with her performance as author Shirley Jackson in "Shirley," she once again shows why she's considered one of the best actors of her generation. The movie centers on a young couple that ends up moving in with Shirley and her husband — particularly focusing on the writer's relationship with the young woman who's now living in her home. However, the entire movie feels more like a psychological thriller or horror movie than a movie about female friendship as director Josephine Decker's tone feeds dread more than anything else, and we can never quite get a read on Shirley. But it's exactly that unsettling experience that makes "Shirley" so special and worth seeking out.

  • Starring: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young
  • Director: Josephine Decker
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 107 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 87%

Slumdog Millionaire

Director Danny Boyle has made a lot of movies in a lot of different genres. From the zombie horror of "28 Days Later" to the grimy literary adaptation of "Trainspotting" and family movies like "Millions," he's had a great genre-spanning career. But it was 2008's "Slumdog Millionaire" that finally won him Oscar gold. The movie centers on young Jamal who makes it onto the Hindi version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" and is able to win because he has memories from his life — which we see in flashbacks — that connect to every question. It's a sweet and inspiring movie that doesn't avoid the harsh realities of Jamal's life or ever become saccharine.

  • Starring: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal
  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Year: 2008
  • Runtime: 121 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Sorry to Bother You

"Sorry to Bother You" is an explicitly communist movie. Writer/director Boots Riley has spoken about being a communist and wanting that to come through in his film, a biting science fiction satire of corporate greed and cultural appropriation. So it may be a bit of a surprise that such a political — and politically angry — movie is also a delightfully fun comedy, but it really is. The plot follows Cash, a Black telemarketer who finds success by using an incredibly realistic white voice. The satire here is sharp-edged but always hilarious, even (or perhaps especially) when the movie takes a turn for the absurd. It's also got a fantastic lead performance from LaKeith Stanfield, who navigates the movie's serious and comic scenes with the same sense of genuine desperation.

Spencer

Once upon a time, people believed Kristen Stewart wasn't a good actress, but when she left the "Twilight" franchise behind, she quickly proved she was an incredible talent. For example, take her performance as Princess Diana in "Spencer," where she was nominated for an Oscar. As a movie about Diana, her mental health, and the way that she navigated life with the royal family, Stewart's performance is what makes the movie succeed as well as it does. She is absolutely phenomenal as the princess, depicting her struggles with the little cruelties of her husband and his family and showing her moments of solace and joy with her children.

  • Starring: Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing
  • Director: Pablo Larraín
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 117 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%

Spring

There aren't too many horror movies that double as touching romances, but "Spring" is one of the best that does. The movie from writer/directors Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson, who are best known for their work on the MCU shows "Loki" and "Moon Knight," follows Evan on a trip to Italy after his mother dies. He just wants to get away from his life for a while, but he doesn't plan on meeting Louise, a beautiful and flirtatious young woman he almost immediately falls for. Things get more complicated than falling for someone in a foreign country when Evan discovers that Louise may be more than human. We won't spoil anymore, but "Spring" takes viewers on a wonderful ride that's equally frightening and romantic.

  • Starring: Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Francesco Carnelutti
  • Director: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead
  • Year: 2014
  • Runtime: 110 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 85%

Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is already a multi-hyphenate, and now, the drummer/bandleader/producer/professor can add "Oscar-winning director" to that list after the success of his debut documentary feature "Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)." The movie highlights the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival where great Black musicians like Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, and Sly and the Family Stone performed in a variety of ways. The film includes incredible footage from the festival performances, as well as news footage from the time and present-day interviews with people who attended the historic festival, which paints a full picture that's as joyous as it is revolutionary.

  • Starring: Stevie Wonder, Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone
  • Director: Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson
  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 118 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 99%

Swan Song

Udo Kier has been an icon of cult film since the 1970s when he worked with Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol on Frankenstein and Dracula films. Since then, he's shown up in everything from Dario Argento's "Suspiria" to the Pamela Anderson vehicle "Barb Wire" and innumerable foreign art films and U.S. blockbusters. Needless to say he deserves a victory lap, and that's what "Swan Song" feels like. The film tells the story of the real Pat Pitsenbarger, a gay icon of Sandusky, Ohio, who late in life walks all the way across town when tasked with doing hair for one of his oldest clients who's recently passed away. "Swan Song" is a beautifully touching road movie that laments the dying gay subculture in Sandusky and serves as a piece of worship of Pitsenbarger and Kier.

  • Starring: Udo Kier, Jennifer Coolidge, Linda Evans

  • Director: Todd Stephens

  • Year: 2021

  • Runtime: 105 minutes

  • Rating: NR

  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 93%

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Arguably the best movie that co-writer/star Will Ferrell and co-writer/director Adam McKay made together, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" is a riotous comedy that also intelligently satirizes the American culture of the time. Ricky Bobby has always wanted to go fast, and when he grows up, he becomes the best NASCAR racer alive. Unfortunately, an accident and the appearance of a French rival cause him to step away from the sport he loves. The movie follows Ricky's journey to get back behind the wheel and reclaim his title, and along the way, it hilariously skewers the sexism, xenophobia, and macho posturing that were all too common in the mid-2000s.

Thelma

"Thelma" is certainly inspired by "Carrie," as both movies center on telekinetic young women whose religious parents are scared of their powers, but "Thelma's" focus on queer romance makes it a unique and special movie. The titular character begins to discover her psychic abilities just as she begins to fall for the beautiful Anja shortly after arriving at college. "Thelma" offers viewers an incredible mix of romance, horror, and coming-of-age stories that all cohere into something great. It's also co-written and directed by Joachim Trier who co-wrote and directed "The Worst Person in The World," which was nominated for Best International Film and Best Original Screenplay at the 94th Academy Awards.

  • Starring: Eili Harboe, Kaya Wilkins, Henrik Rafaelsen
  • Director: Joachim Trier
  • Year: 2017
  • Runtime: 116 minutes
  • Rating: NR
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Three Identical Strangers

"Three Identical Strangers" tells the story of identical triplet brothers who were separated at birth by an adoption agency but who later all found one another. At first, it's a fun, and often funny, documentary that includes talking head interviews with the brothers, friends, and family, as well as significant archival footage of the brothers' television appearances in the 1980s when they first found each other and their story became a national sensation. But things then takes a turn as it considers the real consequences of separating children who shared a womb. It's an incredibly informative and emotional documentary.

  • Starring: Edward Galland, David Kellman, Robert Shafran
  • Director: Tim Wardle
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 120 minutes
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Unsane

Director Steven Soderbergh has tackled almost every genre of film at this point in his career, from the comedy of the "Ocean's" films to the politically potent war biopic "Che" and crime dramas like "Traffic." But he's still only made one horror movie — 2018's "Unsane." It's a horrifyingly real movie about a young woman, Sawyer Valentini, dealing with a stalker that she cannot escape, and things go from bad to worse when she is confined to a psychiatric ward where her stalker works. Claire Foy's performance and Soderbergh's direction bring the audience into Sawyer's headspace to create a nerve-shattering experience that lingers well after the movie's over.

  • Starring: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Juno Temple
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Year: 2018
  • Runtime: 98 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

The World to Come

Based on a short story by Jim Shepard, "The World to Come" tells the tale of two dissatisfied wives in the mid-19th-century Upstate New York frontier who become friends and then begin a romance. It's a beautifully made movie, and the cinematography and set design bring the audience into the austere but naturally breathtaking world that these women and their husbands live in, but it never makes that world seem inviting. The score is also fantastic as it moves between romantic and dissonant depending on what the women are going through. "The World to Come" isn't exactly a romantic movie so much as a movie about a romance, but that makes it unique and worth seeking out.

  • Starring: Katherine Waterston, Vanessa Kirby, Casey Affleck
  • Director: Mona Fastvold
  • Year: 2020
  • Runtime: 105 minutes
  • Rating: R
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%