No one knew quite what to make of Hulu when it first appeared on the scene in 2007. As a joint venture between veteran media broadcasters NBC Universal, Fox Broadcasting, and Disney-ABC — a venture peculiarly outlined in Superbowl commercials featuring an extraterrestrial Alec Baldwin blabbering about the brain-dissipating merits of television — it became a quick-handed phenomenon likened to Netflix. Once the streaming service caught hold of the mainstream market, the company quickly rolled out a subscription-based model ushering users to opt for the premium service or be subjected to limited viewing choices and a bevy of horrendous advertisements.
Regardless of the paywall, Hulu became the first stop for on-air television, streaming episodes of shows like Parks and Recreation and Family Guy mere moments after they are air, while offering a fantastic assortment of B-list and noteworthy titles many would have otherwise missed in the TV fanfare. Whether you’re a sci-fi junkie, drama geek, or something else entirely, Hulu has something for everyone. Too bad discovering the films worth watching can take more time than actually watching them.
Updated on 2-26-2015 by Rick Stella: We updated the list to include current Hulu offerings, adding films such as “The Descent” and “Legends of the Fall” and pulling picks such as “Bruno” and “Dorian Gray.” Staff writers Drew Prindle, Brandon Widder, and Emily Schiola contributed to this article.
DocumentariesThe Endless Summer
There’s never been a seminal surf flick quite as balmy as filmmaker Bruce Brown’s The Endless Summer. The film follows California-based surfers Mike Hynson and Robert August as they peruse the globe in the mid-’60s, tackling the swelling barrels of West Africa, Australia, Tahiti, and other legendary surf spots, many of which were essentially unknown prior to the film.Imax: Deep Sea
Narrated by actors Johnny Depp and Kate Winselt, Deep Sea takes viewers on the trip of a lifetime into the depths of Earth’s oceans. The film gets viewers up close and personal with some of the deep ocean’s most exotic creatures off the coasts of the Caribbean, Baja, and North Carolina. Though it’s an experience originally intended for IMAX, Deep Sea’s grandiose adventure is a pleasing visual treat even on at-home televisions.
Serving Life is no Orange is the New Black. Narrated by Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, the film is centered on an inmate hospice program within a maximum security prison in Louisiana, known as Angola. It’s heavy, chronicling the the lives of sentenced rapists, murders, and the like, but the silver lining lies within the sense of solace inmates find in caring for their dying brethren.
In possibly one of the best pot documentaries of all time, stoner comedian Doug Benson sets out to show the true effects of marijuana use in a 60-day experiment. The first 30 days are the control experiment — he takes a series of tests while being completely clean and sober. The next 30 days is where it gets really funny, as Benson takes the same tests while staying high as a kite 24/7.
This riveting documentary explores Kids on Fire, a religious summer camp in Devil’s Lake, N.D. that grooms children to be soldiers in “God’s army.” If you’ve ever wanted an inside look at evangelical Christian brainwashing and indoctrination of youth, then look no further. Regardless of your views on religion, this is a great documentary.
Due to the fact that some movies are only available on Hulu for a limited amount of time, there’s a chance that some of the ones listed above are no longer available by now. If that’s the case, let us know in the comments and we’ll swap out the movie in question for a flick that’s currently available. Also, feel free to share your favorites in the comments!