The 40 best movies on Hulu right now

Last update: April 2, 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+.

Parasite

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 Percent
Genre: Thriller
Stars: Song Kang-ho, Choi Woo-shik, Park So-dam, Jang Hye-jin
Director: Bong Joon Ho
Rating: R
Runtime: 132 minutes

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Bend It Like Beckham

This 2002 film follows a teenage British Indian girl in London whose skill and passion for football (that’s soccer if you’re American) conflict with her conservative Sikh family’s expectations for her. When she secretly joins a women’s football team, she finds herself torn between tradition and what she wants out of her life. Parminder Nagra stars in the film, which also features the debut of actress Keira Knightley in a supporting role.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 112 minutes

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The Full Monty

Set in Sheffield, England, this 1997 comedy follows a group of six men who set out to create a male striptease act in order to raise money after the closure of the local steel mill leaves them unemployed. They decide that the key to winning over audiences is to do what other male dancers won’t: Take it all off. The ensemble cast is led Robert Carlyle, and the wildly successful film was the highest-grossing movie in the United Kingdom until Titanic, and even inspired a long-running stage musical that still tours today.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96 Percent
Genre: Comedy
Stars:  Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy, William Snape, Steve Huison, Tom Wilkinson, Paul Barber, Hugo Speer
Director: Peter Cattaneo
Rating: R
Runtime: 91 minutes

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Warrior

warrior

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 Percent
Genre: Drama
Stars: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 140 minutes

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

This critically acclaimed documentary explores the world of master sushi chef Jiro Ono, whose relentless pursuit of perfection in his craft turned his 10-seat sushi restaurant located in a Tokyo subway station into a Michelin three-starred destination. The film also chronicles his two sons’ efforts to live up to their father’s legacy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 99 Percent
Genre: Documentary
Stars: Jiro Ono
Director: David Gelb
Rating: PG
Runtime: 82 minutes

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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 Percent
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Julian Dennison, Sam Neill
Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 101 minutes

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Zombieland

Columbia Pictures

Deadpool writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick penned the script for this hilarious 2009 road-trip comedy set in a post-apocalyptic, zombie-filled world. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin play four survivors of the zombie outbreak who find themselves traveling across the US together in an attempt to find sanctuary from the undead hordes.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Rating: R
Runtime: 88 minutes

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A Quiet Place

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 Percent
Genre: Horror
Stars: Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe
Director: John Krasinski
Rating: PG-13
Runtime:  91 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Pete Davidson, Griffin Gluck
Director: Jason Orley
Rating: R
Runtime: 90 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Dwayne Johnson
Director: Stephen Merchant
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 107 minutes

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Pet Sematary (2019)

Based on Stephen King’s seminal horror novel, Pet Sematary follows Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) after relocating with his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) and their two young children from Boston to rural Maine. Their new home, it turns out, is just around the bend from a mysterious burial ground with a sinister past. When Louis’ daughter is struck and killed by a car, Louis turns to his strange neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), to help him cope. Unfortunately, this sets off a chain reaction that unleashes an unfathomable evil.

Rotten Tomatoes: 58 Percent
Genre: Horror
Stars: Jason Clarke, John Lithgow
Director: Kevin Kölsch, Dennis Widmyer
Rating: R
Runtime: 101 minutes

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True Grit (2010)

The second film adaptation of Charles Portis’ classic Western novel, the Coen brothers’ True Grit is a damn fine take on the genre, with superb direction and great performances from its cast. Set in the 19th century, the film begins with teenager Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) seeking revenge on outlaw Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), the man who murdered her father. Chaney and his fellow rogues have fled into Indian country, where the local authorities can’t follow, so Mattie hires curmudgeonly U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to help her track him down. Along with a Texas Ranger by the name of LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), they pursue their quarry. True Grit doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the Wild West, but the film isn’t without a sense of humor. This blend of horrific violence and wry comedy is classic Coen brothers.

Rotten Tomatoes: 96 Percent
Genre: Drama, Western
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 110 minutes

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Super 8 (2011)

Before J.J. Abrams took over Star Wars and Stranger Things turned up the dial on modern reproductions of nostalgic ’80s sci-fi, there was Super 8. While making a super 8 movie in the summer of 1979, a group of friends in a small Ohio town witness a catastrophic train crash and suspect that it was not an accident. As unusual disappearances and strange phenomena begin afflicting the town, the kids join a local Deputy in investigating just what the heck is going on. They soon discover they’re in far more danger than they previously imagined.

Rotten Tomatoes: 81 Percent
Genre: Drama, Sci-fi
Stars: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney
Director: J.J. Abrams
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 112 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama, Sport
Stars: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janey
Director: Craig Gillespie
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

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Booksmart (2019)

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 Percent
Genre: Comedy
Stars: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams
Director: Olivia Wilde
Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes

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Vice (2018)

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 Percent
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama
Stars: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell
Director: Adam McKay
Rating: R
Runtime: 132 minutes

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Mom and Dad (2018)

Brian Taylor’s horror/comedy Mom and Dad takes a simple premise — sometimes, even loving parents get a little fed up with their kids — and runs with it all the way to Crazytown. The film follows the Ryan family: Brent (Nicolas Cage), Kendall (Selma Blair), their petulant teenage daughter Carly (Anne Winters), and young, hyperactive son Josh (Zackary Arthur). The Ryans exhibit the typical tensions of movie families — Kendall feels shut out of her daughter’s life, Carly steals money from her parents to buy drugs — but those problems explode when a mysterious signal drives all the parents in town into a frenzy, making them possessed by a singular urge to kill their children. With the rampage spreading around town, Carly and Josh must escape from their murderous parents. As one might expect, Cage turns in a delightfully frenetic performance, and Blair keeps pace with him. Mom and Dad isn’t brilliant satire (the dialogue can be a bit stilted at times), but it’s so over-the-top and moves at such a ferocious pace, it’s hard not to get caught up in the action.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Horror, Thriller
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters
Director: Brian Taylor
Rating: R
Runtime: 86 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Stars: LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler
Director: Boots Riley
Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes

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The Square (2017)

The Square, the latest award-winning film from Swedish director Ruben Östlund, follows a man named Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of a modern art museum whose exhibits, he assures an interviewer, must be “cutting-edge.” Running such a museum is a difficult job, and throughout the film, Christian trudges through setback after humiliating setback, some of which are his own making. As in his previous film, Force Majeure, Östlund is a vicious satirist, slowly chipping away at his protagonist and the larger, bourgeois world of modern art. As absurd as it is scathing, The Square is a sharp comedy that manages to keep topping itself from beginning to end.

Rotten Tomatoes: 85 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Claes Bang, Elisabeth Moss, Dominic West
Director: Ruben Östlund
Rating: R
Runtime: 151 minutes

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Ingrid Goes West (2017)

A delightfully dark comedy about the hazards of social media, Ingrid Goes West follows Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza), a troubled woman who develops an unhealthy fixation on an Instagram celebrity, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). In awe of Taylor’s sunny, sublime life, Ingrid moves to California and conspires to worm her way into Taylor’s orbit. Ingrid Goes West has a sharp script with snappy lines that capture the dialect of the social media age. Each character feels absurd in their own way, and Plaza’s performance as the bubbly-yet-dangerous Ingrid is among her finest.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Director: Matt Spicer
Rating: R
Runtime: 98 minutes

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Heathers (1989)

A dark subversion of the high school films that dominated in the 1980s, Heathers follows Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder), one of the popular girls — a member of a clique called the Heathers — at Westerburg High School. Weary of the group’s tyranny, Veronica teams up with dangerous misfit J.D. (Christian Slater) to pull a prank on the Heathers’ leader, Heather Chandler (Kim Walker). When the prank turns deadly, Veronica realizes she may be in over her head, as J.D. wants to keep killing the school bullies. Very dark, but also funny, Heathers is an excellent, unique comedy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Crime
Stars: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Shannen Doherty
Director: Daniel Waters
Rating: R
Runtime: 103 minutes

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Ninja Scroll (1993)

The classic anime film Ninja Scroll follows a wandering swordsman named Jubei and a ninja named Kagero, whose paths cross when they run afoul of one of the Eight Devils of Kimon, a group of ninja with demonic powers. Jubei and Kagero, along with an old spy named Dakuan, must fight their way through the Eight Devils and stop a conspiracy to overthrow the shogunate. Ninja Scroll moves from fight scene to fight scene, set piece to set piece, with ruthless efficiency. The action sequences are the main attraction, particularly the fights with the Eight Devils, each of whom has unique powers that make for creative battles.

Rotten Tomatoes: 93 Percent
Genre: Animation, Action, Fantasy, Thriller
Stars: Kôichi Yamadera, Emi Shinohara, Takeshi Aono
Director: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 94 minutes

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Bumblebee (2018)

Hailee Steinfeld in Bumblebee

A surprise-hit spinoff from the Transformers franchise, Bumblebee was directed by Travis Knight, lead animator of the famous stop-motion animation studio Laika and director of the Oscar-nominated Kubo and the Two Strings. In Knight’s capable hands, Bumblebee goes beyond an action flick to find its heart. When Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld) discovers a broken and battle-scarred Bumblebee in a junkyard, she realizes this is no ordinary VW bug. Something of a mechanic herself, Charlie brings Bumblebee back to life. Unfortunately, that also puts him on the radar of some not-so-nice fellows. Charlie and Bumblebee’s lives are both in danger, and they form a powerful friendship as they fight to save one another.

Rotten Tomatoes: 92 Percent
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Stars: Hailee Steinfeld, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., John Cena
Director: Travis Knight
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 114 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Action & Adventure, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Juliette Lewis, Robert Downey Jr.
Director: Oliver Stone
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes

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Good Will Hunting (1997)

The movie that launched Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to superstardom was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actor win for Robin Williams and a Best Original Screenplay win for Damon and Affleck. It’s one of the most familiar stories in Hollywood today. Will Hunting is a headstrong, working-class genius from Southie who works as a janitor at Harvard University. He also may just be the smartest person at Harvard. After one too many run-ins with the law, Will’s last chance comes down to ordered meetings with a similarly down-on-his-luck psychology professor (Robin Williams). As Will is forced to reckon with his past, he soon comes to realize that the only one holding him back is himself.

Rotten Tomatoes: 97 Percent
Genre: Drama
Stars: Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Minnie Driver, Ben Affleck
Director: Gus Van Sant
Rating: R
Runtime: 126 minutes

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Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench deliver tour de force performances in this steamy drama about a schoolteacher’s relationship with a student. Barbara Covett (Dench) is a veteran teacher at St. George’s school. When she strikes up a friendship with the new, young art teacher Sheba Hart (Blanchett), Barbara soon realizes she’s found more than a kindred spirit in Sheba. However, when she learns of Sheba’s secret affair with a teenage student and becomes the keeper of this explosive secret, it threatens to tear both women apart at the seams.

Rotten Tomatoes: 87 Percent
Genre: Drama, Romance
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Judi Dench
Director: Richard Eyre
Rating: R
Runtime: 91 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Stars: Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, Ving Rhames
Director: Christopher McQuarrie
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 147 minutes

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Akira (1988)

badass motorcycles

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 Percent
Genre: Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Stars: Mitsuo Itawa, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama
Director: Katsuhiro Ôtomo
Rating: R
Runtime: 124 minutes

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Annihilation (2018)

Annihilation is the kind of film that asks the big questions, though, it never truly answers any of them. Helmed by the visionary behind Ex Machina (Alex Garland) and adapted from Jeff VanderMeer’s novel of the same name, the film follows a ragtag group of military scientists  — namely, Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh — who investigate a biological anomaly known as “The Shimmer,” a quarantined zone on the coast that’s mutating everything in its path. It’s an ambitious novel to tackle, yet, Garland and company tackle the book’s haunting, metaphysical themes with aplomb, serving up a sci-fi masterpiece that will leave your head reeling once the beastly, otherworldly screams and crystalline blossoms begin to settle.

Rotten Tomatoes: 88 Percent
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Stars: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson
Director: Alex Garland
Rating: R
Runtime: 115 minutes

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Honeymoon (2014)

If there is one lesson to take away from horror movies, it is to never spend a weekend in a secluded cabin, a lesson newlyweds Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) learn in Honeymoon. The movie wisely builds up their relationship in the first act, and their affection makes it all the more unsettling when things start to go wrong. Honeymoon is a character-driven horror movie, and while it is light on jump scares, it does a great job of creeping out the audience, slowly escalating the action until it reaches a disturbing climax.

Rotten Tomatoes: 75 Percent
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Stars: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Ben Huber
Director: Leigh Janiak
Rating: R
Runtime: 87 minutes

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Free Willy (1993)

One of the most beloved family films of all time, Free Willy tells the tale of a young boy’s friendship with a killer whale. Jesse (Jason James Richter) is an orphaned boy who has bounced from one foster home to another until he’s caught one night spraying graffiti with his friend. The policeman who catches the boys, thinks they need a more stable, disciplined environment so he sends them to a new foster family, who makes him clean up the graffiti he sprayed at the amusement park. One of the new attractions is a killer whale, trained to do tricks. The whale, Willy, has not adjusted to his new surroundings, however, just like Jesse. The two form a deep friendship and both start to come out of their shells.

Rotten Tomatoes: 58 Percent
Genre: Adventure, Family
Stars: Jason James Richter, Lori Petty, Michael Madsen
Director: Simon Wincer
Rating: PG
Runtime: 112 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Documentary, Adventure, Sport
Stars: Alex Honnold, Tommy Caldwell, Jimmy Chin
Director: Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 100 minutes

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Becoming Bond (2017)

James Bond is one of the most prestigious roles in cinema, one several great actors — Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Daniel Craig, among others — have stepped into. One man who got a taste of the Bond lifestyle, however, stepped away from it after just one film: George Lazenby, who starred in the underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In Becoming Bond, director Josh Greenbaum sits down with Lazenby to hear the story of how a young car mechanic from Australia came to play a British icon, and why he walked away from it all. Lazenby is a charming storyteller, and Greenbaum wisely lets him take the lead, as he tells a tale as full of drama, sex, and luxury as any Bond film.

Rotten Tomatoes: 90 Percent
Genre: Documentary, Biography, Comedy,
Stars: George Lazenby, Josh Lawson, Kassandra Clementi
Director: Josh Greenbaum
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 95 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Stars: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Strathairn, Lorraine Toussaint
Director: Julia Hart
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 100 minutes

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Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse is a Christmas movie. It’s also a musical. And a zombie apocalypse flick. The story is set in a small Scottish hamlet where high schooler Anna Shepherd (Ella Hunt) deals with hordes of undead cannibals; though initially she’s blissfully unaware of the carnage going on all around her as her earbuds are plugged in. As filled with laughter and song as it is with blood splatter and gore, Anna and the Apocalypse is a hilarious musical that doesn’t pretend to use zombies as some kind of poignant metaphor for society, but just for the pure bloodletting catharsis.

Rotten Tomatoes: 77 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Musical
Stars: Ella Hunt, Malcolm Cumming, Sarah Swire
Director: John McPhail
Rating: R
Runtime: 93 minutes

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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 are 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 Percent
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Stars: William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley
Director: Nicholas Meyer
Rating: PG
Runtime: 113 minutes

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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 Percent
Genre: Drama, Sport
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Sylvester Stallone, Tessa Thompson
Director: Steven Caple Jr.
Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 130 minutes

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The Sisters Brothers (2018)

Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly in The Sisters Brothers

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 Percent
Genre: Drama, Western
Stars: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal
Director: Jacques Audiard
Rating: R
Runtime: 122 minutes

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Coherence (2013)

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 Percent
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Stars: Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon
Director: James Ward Byrkit
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 89 minutes

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Buffalo ’66 (1998)

What’s the first thing you do when you get out of prison? Clearly, you force a tap dancer (Christina Ricci) to pretend to be your wife. At least, that’s what Billy Brown (Vincent Gallo) does in Buffalo ’66. Gallo not only stars in this indie crime drama, but wrote, directed, and scored it. His character is both a fascinating and unbearable jerk you can’t stop watching. Ricci is perfectly cast as Brown’s kidnapping victim who predictably develops romantic feelings for him. Funny, wild, and at times just unabashedly nuts, Buffalo ’66 is an experience you should give yourself at least once.

Rotten Tomatoes: 76 Percent
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Stars: Vincent Gallo, Christina Ricci, Ben Gazzara
Director: Vincent Gallo
Rating: R
Runtime: 110 minutes

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