Last update: August 8, 2020.
Hulu, once only a streaming platform for network television, has expanded to feature a robust library of films. As with any catalog, however, Sturgeon’s law still applies, and it might seem difficult to find the real gems housed within Hulu’s massive library.
Fortunately, we have you covered. This curated list is a one-stop guide to the best movies on Hulu right now. So turn on your favorite streaming device, have Alexa dim the lights, and let the credits roll. Check back periodically as we’re always updating recommendations based on Hulu’s latest releases.
Subscribe to a different platform? Not only do we have a guide to the best shows on Hulu, but we’ve rounded up the best movies on Amazon Prime, the best movies on Netflix, and the best movies on Disney+.
Palm Springs (2020)
Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti find themselves stuck in a time loop while attending a wedding in Palm Springs, only to have the novelty of their never-ending day together turn sour when they discover they can’t seem to escape the day or each other. The Hulu Original comedy earned praise for its clever spin on the well-worn plot device that keeps the characters living through the same day over and over again.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Genre: ComedyStars: Andy Samberg, Cristin MiliotiDirector: Max BarbakowRating: RRuntime: 90 minutes
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Arguably one of the most iconic Clint Eastwood movies of all time, Escape from Alcatraz is the true tale of Frank Morris’ unprecedented flight from one of the most secure maximum security institutions in the U.S. at the time. Don Siegel’s dramatic re-creation of the 1962 prisoner escape is remarkable in how it evokes the consistently ascending stresses of those involved, going to great lengths even to personify the Alcatraz prison as a monster of time in its own right.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Genre: Action & AdventureStars: Clint Eastwood, Patrick McGoohan, Roberts BlossomDirector: Don SiegelRating: PGRuntime: 112 minutes
I Am Not Your Negro (2016)
James Baldwin was one of the most influential writers of the late 20th century, penning numerous essays and acclaimed novels addressing issues of race at a time when racial friction seemed to be boiling over in America. Working from an unfinished Baldwin manuscript, director Raoul Peck has created I Am Not Your Negro, a documentary examining Baldwin’s views and how they apply not only to the tumults of the ’60s but to modern America as well. Samuel L. Jackson narrates, infusing the material with a husky weariness. I Am Not Your Negro leaves one with the impression that Baldwin’s work has never been finished, and never been more important.
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%Genre: DocumentaryStars: Samuel L. JacksonDirector: Raoul PeckRating: PG-13Runtime: 93 minutes
True Grit (2010)
This Coen Brothers remake of the Western classic introduced the world to Hailee Steinfeld, who plays 14-year-old farm girl Mattie Ross. After her father is murdered by hired hand Tom Chaney, Ross sets out to catch the killer and bring him to justice. However, to catch Chaney, it’s going to take somebody with “true grit,” so Ross hires the toughest lawman she can find, U.S. Marshal Reuben J. “Rooster” Cogburn (Jeff Bridges). As the two pursue justice together, a bond forms that melts Cogburn’s icy heart and helps Ross find some closure and peace after her father’s death.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Genre: Western, DramaStars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh BrolinDirector: Joel & Ethan CoenRating: PG-13Runtime: 110 minutes
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)
Before he directed Thor: Ragnarok and Jojo Rabbit, filmmaker Taika Waititi wrote and directed this 2016 film about a teenage troublemaker and his reluctant father figure who become the subject of a massive manhunt when they disappear into the forests of New Zealand. Julian Dennison and Sam Neill co-star in the film, which received widespread praise for its clever story and lead actors’ chemistry.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Genre: ComedyStars: Julian Dennison, Sam NeillDirector: Taika WaititiRating: PG-13Runtime: 101 minutes
Filmmaker Bong Joon Ho’s Best Picture winner at the 92nd Academy Awards is a brutal, thought-provoking, masterfully shot thriller that explores the class divide through the experiences of a South Korean family who cons their way into working for a wealthy family whose lives couldn’t be more unlike their own. While the first act of the film is peppered with humor, the overall tone of the film is anything but — particularly after a shocking discovery turns the family’s grift into something far more sinister.
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%Genre: ThrillerStars: Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jinDirector: Bong Joon HoRating: RRuntime: 132 minutes
So, you worked really hard in school, avoided drugs and alcohol, didn’t go to any parties, and were rewarded by getting into the Ivy League college of your choice. Nice! You’ve got a lot in common with Booksmart‘s protagonists, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein). If you’re anything like them, however, you may be unhappy to learn that everyone else in your school also got into the Ivy League college of their choice but they partied constantly and had a great time in high school. That realization leads Amy and Molly to go out for one wild night of partying before graduation day. It may sound like a tired concept for a high-school comedy but Booksmart is anything but a run-of-the-mill teen movie. By investing in the friendship of its brilliant female leads and focusing more on questions of growing up and discovering yourself rather than sex and dating, Booksmart is a refreshing take on the teen comedy. Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut is funny, refreshingly creative, and heartwarming.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: ComedyStars: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica WilliamsDirector: Olivia WildeRating: RRuntime: 102 minutes
West Side Story (1961)
One of the most beloved musical productions of all time, the film adaptation of Broadway’s West Side Story won 10 Oscars in 1962. A modern update of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story tells the tale of a turf war between rival teenage gangs in Hell’s Kitchen: the Sharks and the Jets. Caught in the middle of it are two lovers from opposite sides of the battle lines, whose love can’t be derailed by petty turf squabbles. With a timeless score from Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein, West Side Story is a musical classic for the ages.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%Genre: Drama, MusicalStars: Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Rita MorenoDirector: Robert Wise, Jerome RobbinsRating: PGRuntime: 151 minutes
A Quiet Place (2018)
John Krasinski directed, co-wrote, and co-starred in this 2018 thriller that follows a family trying to make a life for themselves in a world where terrifying creatures use sound to hunt humans. Widely regarded as one of the best movies of the year, the film is a non-stop adventure that ratchets up the tension with its clever use of sound and talented cast, which also includes Krasinski’s wife, Emily Blunt.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%Genre: HorrorStars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah JupeDirector: John KrasinskiRating: PG-13Runtime: 91 minutes
Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy play estranged brothers who end up on a collision course after they both enter a mixed martial arts tournament in this 2011 film co-written and directed by Gavin O’Connor. Nick Nolte received an Academy Award nomination for his supporting role as the father of the two brothers.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%Genre: DramaStars: Tom Hardy, Joel EdgertonDirector: Gavin O’ConnorRating: PG-13Runtime: 140 minutes
The Sisters Brothers (2018)
Since the failure of big budget westerns like 2013’s The Lone Ranger and 2011’s Cowboys & Aliens, Hollywood’s seemed apprehensive about putting much money into westerns. As a result, the westerns we do get are usually outside the proverbial box. The Sisters Brothers is a great example, starring Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as two unlikely guns-for-hire during the gold rush era. Everything you expect in a western happens in The Sisters Brothers, just not quite the way you expect them. Director Jacques Audiard, for example, sometimes chooses to stage gunfights in almost complete darkness, with only the sounds and flashes letting us know they’re happening. This unpredictable and sullen comedy plays with western tropes and delivers an experience unique to the genre.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Genre: Drama, WesternStars: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake GyllenhaalDirector: Jacques AudiardRating: RRuntime: 122 minutes
From Goodfellas to their most recent The Irishman, the crime drama trio of Martin Scorsese, Joe Pesci, and Robert De Niro remains a match made in Hollywood heaven. Though it may not stand the test of time so much so as those previously mentioned, Casino is still ample evidence of Scorsese’s directorial prowess and ability to adapt real-world crime stories into epic pictures. It is based on Nicholas Pileggi’s nonfiction work Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, showcasing the brutal and violent day-to-day of a gambling handicapper (De Niro) with ties to the mob. Casino is an expert portrayal of the glitzy and seedy underworld that makes up the foundation of America’s gambling capital.
Rotten Tomatoes: 80%Genre: Crime, DramaStars: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, James Woods, Sharon StoneDirector: Martin ScorseseRating: RRuntime: 182 minutes
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Winner of the Palme d’Or, the Cannes Film Festival’s highest honor, Portrait of a Lady on Fire is considered a modern masterpiece of period cinema. In 1760 France, young Marianne is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of Héloïse, a young woman who has just left the convent and become reluctantly betrothed. A methodical portraitist, Marianne arrives under the guise of companionship, observing Héloïse by day and secretly painting her by night. But as the two women spend more time together, an attraction grows as they revel in Héloïse’s first — and last — moments of freedom as she transfers from the convent to an unwilling marriage. As Marianne works, the portrait takes on greater meaning, symbolizing the two women’s collaboration and forbidden love for one another.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%Genre: Drama, RomanceStars: Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luana BajramiDirector: Céline SciammaRating: RRuntime: 119 minutes
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (2016)
Music documentaries, especially ones discussing The Beatles, are a dime a dozen. Yet few documentaries ever have the acclaimed Ron Howard at the helm, especially one that does away with the conventional through-the-years filmography. Instead, Howard decided to focus more on the early days of the infamous rock band, gazing more so at their rise into fame and the ingredients to their immediate success. The Beatles: Eight Days a Week is a music-lover’s go-to, offering the best sound and live performance experiences while also delivering interesting tidbits on the nature of The Beatles’ rise to stardom.
Rotten Tomatoes: 96%Genre: Documentary, MusicStars: Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Ed SullivanDirector: Ron HowardRating: Not RatedRuntime: 306 minutes
The Patriot (2000)
Say what you will about Mel Gibson and his directorial work, but his acting is always spellbinding, proved by his epic portrayals in Braveheart and The Patriot. Through the aid of Stargate and Independence Day director Roland Emmerich, the American Revolution film showcased a country in complete turmoil, with many of its citizens hungry for retribution against the British. Enter Gabriel (Heath Ledger), son of Benjamin Martin (Gibson), whose thirst for war drives the Martin family into chaos and resurrects old haunts from Benjamin’s past as a British Army soldier.
Rotten Tomatoes: 61%Genre: Drama, Action & AdventureStars: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Jason Isaacs, Chris CooperDirector: Roland EmmerichRating: RRuntime: 168 minutes
Big Time Adolescence (2019)
This Hulu original follows a bright, mostly innocent 16-year old named Mo (Griffin Gluck) as he attempts to navigate high school. Fortunately, he has the guidance of his best friend, charismatic college dropout Zeke (Pete Davidson). Zeke genuinely cares about Mo, but as he shares the untraditional life lessons he’s learned in drug dealing, partying, and dating, things go a little off the rails in Mo’s life. Meanwhile, Mo’s dad (Jon Cryer) tries to take back the reins.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%Genre: Comedy, DramaStars: Pete Davidson, Griffin GluckDirector: Jason OrleyRating: RRuntime: 90 minutes
Fighting with My Family (2018)
Based on the true story of WWE Superstar Paige, Fighting with My Family is one of the more unusual heartwarming comedies of recent years. Directed by comedy legend Stephen Merchant, this film centers on a tight-knit wrestling family. Paige and her brother Zak are over the moon when they get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try out for WWE. But when only Paige earns a spot in the competitive training program, she has to leave her family and face this cutthroat world on her own. Her journey pushes her to fight for her family and ultimately prove that devotion is precisely what can make her a star.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Genre: Comedy, DramaStars: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Dwayne JohnsonDirector: Stephen MerchantRating: PG-13Runtime: 107 minutes
I, Tonya (2017)
Tonya Harding is one of the most notorious figures in sports history. Once a shining star in the world of figure skating, she transformed into a villain after her ex-husband and bodyguard conspired to injure her rival, Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver), a conspiracy many believed Harding had a hand in. I, Tonya follows Harding (Margot Robbie) from her sad childhood to her rise as a figure skater, to her eventual fall.
What elevates the film above most biopics, however, is its willingness to play with reality; I, Tonya filters events through the perspectives of its characters, leaving the audience questioning whether Harding is simply a misunderstood person with some flaws or a devious villain. Robbie’s standout performance — and that of Allison Janney, who plays Harding’s mother — is simply the foundation that supports the entire endeavor.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama, SportStars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison JaneyDirector: Craig GillespieRating: RRuntime: 119 minutes
With 2015’s The Big Short, director Adam McKay transitioned from the fun, outlandish comedies that had defined his career to that point (Anchorman, Step Brothers) to didactic, angry satire. Vice, which chronicles Dick Cheney’s (Christian Bale) long ascent up the stairs of political power, takes that formula and runs with it. The black comedy takes aim at his subject and also at the society that enabled him. The movie follows a not-entirely chronological path through Cheney’s life, from his shiftless, drunken youth to his tenure as one of the most powerful men in America. As in The Big Short, the plot is frequently interrupted by explanatory skits, the narrator, even the characters themselves. Beyond McKay’s dynamic approach to satire, Vice is worth watching for Bale’s tremendous performance.
Rotten Tomatoes: 66%Genre: Biography, Comedy, DramaStars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve CarellDirector: Adam McKayRating: RRuntime: 132 minutes
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Love and romance were never so full of energy and frolic than in Dirty Dancing, one of Patrick Swayze’s best films. The steamy classic sees Jennifer Grey in the dancing shoes of Frances Houseman, whose vacation stay with family in a Catskills resort turns into a world of music left outside of time. Falling head over heels for the hotel dance instructor Johny Castle (Swayze), Frances must not only deal with her family’s distaste for him but must also confront her own inner feelings as the story progresses. Brimming with equal parts emotion and music, Dirty Dancing is a spellbinding tale of young love personified through the art of dance.
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%Genre: Drama, RomanceStars: Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach, Jennifer GreyDirector: Emile ArdolinoRating: PG-13Runtime: 105 minutes
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
The directorial debut of Boots Riley (perhaps better known as the frontman of the hip-hop band The Coup), Sorry to Bother You is a madcap satire of 21st-century capitalism, a film that tosses realism out the window within the first 10 minutes or so. The movie follows Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield), a sad-sack guy who, desperate for money, gets a job as a telemarketer at a grimy office (he lies about his previous work experience, which his interviewer considers a positive). Cassius struggles to make sales, so an older coworker (Danny Glover) gives him some advice, telling him to use a “white voice.” After using a white voice (David Cross), Cassius suddenly starts racking up sales and soon gets a promotion to the esteemed position of Power Caller. As he climbs the corporate ladder, however, Cassius risks losing his soul to the relentless machine of marketing. Sorry to Bother You makes uses of some bonkers visuals to accompany its eccentric premise, such as an early sequence in which Cassius, as he calls customers, literally drops into their houses, snapping back to the office when they hang up.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-FiStars: LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine FowlerDirector: Boots RileyRating: RRuntime: 112 minutes
Claustrophobia has never been so expertly rendered than with the 2010 film Buried, which went largely unnoticed despite rave reviews. Ryan Reynolds plays Paul Conroy, an American truck driver who awakens in an Iraqi coffin with only a Blackberry and a Zippo lighter for company. His kidnapper, Jagbir, no sooner calls and demands the US pay a ransom of $5 million for his and his companion’s safe return, otherwise, he will be left to rot in the claustrophobic death trap. With little oxygen and ever-increasing skepticism over his survival, Conroy races to beat the many ticking clocks that will ultimately decide his fate.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Genre: Mystery & Suspense, ThrillerStars: Ryan Reynolds, Ivana Mino, Stephen ToboloskyDirector: Rodrigo Cortés Rating: RRuntime: 95 minutes
The Cabin in the Woods (2012)
Beloved more so for its humor than its fear, The Cabin in the Woods is unlike any horror film ever conceived. Drew Goddard does away with convention, instead lightening up the mood with an array of comic relief, delivered best by Curt Vaughn (Chris Hemsworth) and Marty Mikalski (Fran Kranz). It’s like the live-action version of Until Dawn, with an added layer of thrilling intrigue, as not everything is as it may seem. Join five college students in a night of unrelenting terror, as each one falls to the deathly secrets of this mysterious cabin in the woods.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%Genre: Comedy, HorrorStars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse WilliamsDirector: Drew GoddardRating: RRuntime: 95 minutes
Retelling the wild and music-filled life of Sir Elton John, Rocketman captures in great detail the journey of a British artist’s slow but sure claim to fame. Taron Egerton, known best for his role in Kingsman: The Secret Service, plays the titular musician on a road of discovery filled with its fair share of young love and substance abuse. It’s one of the best musician movies, examining the singer’s life with immense accuracy and heartbreaking detail. Joining Hulu in late May, Rocketman is the perfect companion piece for all fans of Elton John to experience his ascension not only into stardom but into his truest self.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%Genre: Biopic, DramaStars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard MaddenDirector: Dexter FletcherRating: RRuntime: 121 minutes
My Cousin Vinny (1992)
Everyone has that one family member that’s more than a little “out there,” as is the case with Bill Gambini (Ralph Macchio) and his eccentric cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci). After accidentally shoplifting on their trip through Alabama, Bill and his friend Stan (Mitchell Whitfield) are wrongfully charged with first-degree murder and accessory for the robbing and killing of a Sac-O-Suds store clerk. Though only but a lowly personal injury lawyer with no trial experience, Vinny accepts the call to action and aids in the acquitting of his younger cousin. My Cousin Vinny may not be on par with the likes of any John Grisham tale, but with praise from several lawyers as to the film’s volition to real-world law, coupled with director Jonathan Lynn’s Cambridge University law degree, it’s the next best thing with a dash of must-see hilarity.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%Genre: ComedyStars: Joe Pesci, Ralph Macchio, Marisa TomeiDirector: Jonathan LynnRating: RRuntime: 120 minutes
The X-Files: Fight the Future (1998)
Brandishing the tagline since 1993, the X-Files franchise has since expounded upon their mantra “The truth is out there” with not one but two feature films and 10 television seasons. The adventures of Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) have ranged from the truly weird to the utterly absurd. Following their investigations into unsolved and forgotten cases from the FBI’s x-files, the show consistently presents an ambiguous stance on conspiracies, such as the existence of extraterrestrial life and assorted paranormal phenomenon, through the polar opposite views of the two special agents. This concept shines like an overhead UFO in Fight the Future, the franchise’s first feature set between season 5 and 6. In the film, the plutonic duo investigates the bombing of a federal building in Texas, which may well be a smokescreen to conceal a secret of extraterrestrial proportions.
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%Genre: Mystery, Sci-FiStars: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Martin LandauDirector: Rob Bowman, David NutterRating: PG-13Runtime: 120 minutes
Natural Born Killers (1994)
Oliver Stone’s frenzied chronicle of a serial-killing couple’s media sensation murder spree across America was not particularly loved by critics. However, casual viewers without pearls to clutch will love this deeply satirical, deeply grotesque look at violence and media in America. If you didn’t know any better, you might think Natural Born Killers was a Tarantino movie. Plus: Young Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, and Robert Downey Jr.!
Rotten Tomatoes: 41%Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & SuspenseStars: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr.Director: Oliver StoneRating: RRuntime: 119 minutes
Apollo 11 (2019)
Take one giant leap into the past, wherein humankind barrelled through the nighttime sky and raced to walk on surfaces not our own. Apollo 11 tracks the star-bound adventure of Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin in a moment now frozen in time. Provided via never-before-seen footage and audio recordings, Apollo 11 is the next-best equivalent of time traveling back to that very life-altering event. Experience the groundbreaking NASA exploration like never before, all within the comfort of the living room.
Rotten Tomatoes: 99%Genre: Documentary, HistoryStars: Neil Armstrong, Michael CollinsDirector: Todd Douglas MillerRating: GRuntime: 93 minutes
Mission: Impossible — Fallout (2018)
Fallout has a good case for being the best entry to the Mission: Impossible franchise. Rogue Nation writer-director Christopher McQuarrie returns and continues to push the envelope in this traditionally envelope-pushing series. M:I is at its best when the world of espionage in which it exists is living just along the edge of believability, which McQuarrie has fully grasped. Thanks to Tom Cruise’s insane penchant for thrill-seeking and ability to perform death-defying stunts sans double, the most recent iterations of Mission: Impossible do just that: Expand our mind beyond what we thought possible, while grounding the story of international conspiracies and world-destroying syndicates just enough to feel plausible. While James Bond’s MI6 enjoys a level of tongue-in-cheek, Ethan Hunt’s IMF captures the imagination of an interconnected, deeply perilous world and gleefully operates in the fringes. Fallout continues to explore the villainy and influence of The Syndicate and its leader, Solomon Lane, as the IMF joins forces with the CIA to prevent a global catastrophe. It’s as good as spy movies get.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: Action, Adventure, ThrillerStars: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving RhamesDirector: Christopher McQuarrieRating: PG-13Runtime: 147 minutes
The seminal anime film Akira has had a huge impact on sci-fi since its release, but despite how many films and video games have drawn on Akira for inspiration, the movie itself still feels fresh. The film begins in Neo-Tokyo circa 2019, decades after the start of World War III. Far below the towering skyscrapers, gangs of motorcycle-riding youths fight in the streets. A leather-clad hotshot named Kaneda leads a gang called the Capsules. While evading the police, Kaneda’s comrade Tetsuo runs across a mysterious being with psychic powers, and after crashing his bike, ends up in the government’s custody. After enduring strange experiments, Tetsuo develops psychic powers, and a mighty ego to match. As Tetsuo’s powers grow, Kaneda must try to stop him before he destroys Tokyo. Akira is a slick action film full of striking imagery and stylish violence.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%Genre: Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi, ThrillerStars: Mitsuo Itawa, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami KoyamaDirector: Katsuhiro ÔtomoRating: RRuntime: 124 minutes
Who knew a spot-on presidential impersonation could actually land someone at the head of the country? Dave (Kevin Kline) certainly did not. When requested by the secret service to use his skills as a stand-in for President Bill Mitchell, who no sooner croaks amid an affair with a fellow staffer, Dave has no time to think before he is thrust into one of the most stressful jobs on the planet as the face of America. Hilarious as it is endearing, Dave is an unusual comedy, balancing themes of self-discovery and meaning while averting any political undertones. It was even praised by then-President Bill Clinton upon its release and now stands as one of the best comedies on Hulu.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%Genre: Comedy, RomanceStars: Kevin Kline, Frank Langella, Sigourney WeaverDirector: Ivan ReitmanRating: PG-13Runtime: 110 minutes
Though it may be heartbreaking above all else, Blackfish is a tale as necessary as it is painful to bear witness to. It tells the real-life and grueling story of Tilikum, a SeaWorld-owned orca, whose experiences speak volumes of the true nature inherent in the aquarium. Proving its immense acclaim, Blackfish was even nominated for a BAFTA for best documentary. Upon its release in 2013, it gained immediate traction, provoking SeaWorld to issue multiple responses. Despite the rebuttals, the detestable experiences of these performance whales shown in the documentary will outrage many viewers.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%Genre: DocumentaryStars: Tilikum, Samantha Berg, Dawn BrancheauDirector: Gabriela CowperthwaiteRating: PG-13Runtime: 90 minutes
Free Solo (2018)
What can we say about Free Solo that hasn’t been said already? Filmmaker Jimmy Chin’s award-winning biopic chronicles professional climber Alex Honnold’s free solo ascent of one the most iconic slabs of granite in the world, El Capitan, as well his upbringing and van-fueled life outside the wall. It’s a harrowing portrait, one lined with vertigo-inducing shots and candid conversations about life and death, told through the lens of a 33-year-old who wants nothing more than to summit a 3,000-foot cliff with no ropes or safety harness. The footage of the climb itself — from the route planning to the actual execution — is mesmerizing, but it’s the film’s blunt examination of Honnold’s mind and motives that takes it to new heights.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: Documentary, Adventure, SportStars: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy ChinDirector: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai VasarhelyiRating: PG-13Runtime: 100 minutes
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
A debilitating breakup leaves Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) heartbroken and distraught. His stepbrother, Brian (Bill Hader), convinces him to take a long vacation in Hawaii, but the trip is no sooner ruined upon Peter’s discovery that his ex (Kristen Bell) and her new rocker boyfriend (Russel Brand) are likewise in attendance. After befriending hotel concierge Rachel (Mila Kunis), Peter finds a new route to happiness but is challenged by his ex’s persistent presence. Forgetting Sarah Marshal is arguably one of Segel’s best performances, exemplifying his amazing singing capabilities and the hilarious personality he imbues into all of his many characters.
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%Genre: ComedyStars: Nicholas StollerDirector: Jason Segel, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Kristen Bell, Bill HaderRating: RRuntime: 118 minutes
Fast Color (2018)
Superhero movies aren’t particularly rare these days, but what you can’t find in every multiplex is a superhero story that is more about the person than the spectacle their powers make possible. Fast Color is a brilliant exception. The film’s hero is Ruth (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) — a young woman whose emerging powers have her on the run in a not-too-distant future of climate change and resource scarcity. Ruth is desperately trying to figure out how to control her new abilities, as well as escape the government agents pursuing her, while at the same time trying to reconnect with her estranged family. Rather than fighting off alien invasions or saving the world from cackling terrorists, Fast Color gives us a superhero who is ultimately fighting the same difficult battle we’re all locked in — being a person in the world.
Rotten Tomatoes: 82%Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, ThrillerStars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Strathairn, Lorraine ToussaintDirector: Julia HartRating: PG-13Runtime: 100 minutes
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)
Plenty of Star Trek fans will still tell you none of the 11 Trek films that followed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan have surpassed the first follow-up to 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Ricardo Montalban reprises the role he played in an episode of the TV series — Khan, a genetically enhanced tyrant from the late 20th century. Obsessed with getting revenge on James Kirk (William Shatner), Khan ambushes the Enterprise and ultimately forces one of the original series crew to sacrifice himself for the good of the ship. Perhaps the best reason to watch The Wrath of Khan is the starship battles that at times — in spite of the futuristic setting — feel as tense and suspenseful as the naval warfare of Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-FiStars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest KelleyDirector: Nicholas MeyerRating: PGRuntime: 113 minutes
Creed II (2018)
Fans were not happy when they learned Ryan Coogler — director of 2015’s Creed — would not be returning for the sequel, but Steven Caple Jr. directs a worthy follow-up with Creed II. The sequel fuses together elements of earlier Rocky films, pitting Adonis (Michael B. Jordan) as the new veavyweight champ against Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of the man who beat his father to death in 1985’s Rocky IV. Jordan is once again stellar as the boxer wrestling with his inner demons as hard as he trades blows in the ring. With all the ups and downs of any good Rockyflick, Creed II delivers an old story in fresh, new clothing.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%Genre: Drama, SportStars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa ThompsonDirector: Steven Caple Jr.Rating: PG-13Runtime: 130 minutes
Chicken Run (2000)
Chicken Run remains a delight for all ages. It’s got adult humor juxtaposed by a thrilling adventure of a rooster with a master plan to escape the slaughterhouse. It was the first-ever feature film brought to life by DreamWorks. Not only has Chicken Run been awarded countless accolades, from BAFTAs to New York Film Critics awards, it likewise remains the highest-grossing stop motion film in history. Mel Gibson is delightful as the circus rooster named Rocky, with the chickens’ leader, Ginger (Julia Sawalha), yet another phenomenal casting. Chicken Run is one of those few must-see movies that the entire family will enjoy.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97%Genre: Animation/FamilyStars: Mel Gibson, Miranda Richardson, Julia SawalhaDirector: Nick Park and Peter LordRating: GRuntime: 95 minutes
In Coherence, a dinner party turns bizarre after a passing comet messes with reality. Concerned more with dialogue than special effects, Coherence is the directorial debut of James Ward Byrkit. The plot works best if you don’t know much about what happens going in, but suffice to say the turn of events effected by the comet forces the characters to take hard looks at their choices and how they’ve been defined by them. It can get heavy with the quantum physics talk, but Coherence is nonetheless a sci-fi thriller that uses genre to explore character rather than for the sake of spectacle.
Rotten Tomatoes: 88%Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, ThrillerStars: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas BrendonDirector: James Ward ByrkitRating: Not RatedRuntime: 89 minutes
Before stealing the Declaration of Independence, Nicholas Cage was head over heels for Cher in the 80’s romantic classic, Moonstruck. The film follows Cher as Loretta Castorini, a 37-year-old Italian-American on the cusp of marriage with a man she doesn’t truly love. Upon meeting the younger brother of her fiancee, Cage’s Ronny Cammareri, and learning of the backstory behind his amputated right hand, the two fall into a multitude of heated trysts. Their infidelity draws the pair ever-closer, but if discovered could mean the end of Loretta’s marriage before it even takes place.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%Genre: Drama, RomanceStars: Nicholas Cage, Cher, Olympia Dukakis, Vincent GardeniaDirector: Norman JewisonRating: PGRuntime: 103 minutes
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