NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, was released nationally earlier this summer. While Peacock has made it clear that it sees itself as a new take on cable, with an impressive lineup of new and classic television series from the NBCU archives, their content library goes well beyond just TV.
Peacock will offer more than 600 films in its first year after launch, drawing from the extensive libraries of Universal, DreamWorks, and Illumination. With several theme park-inspiring classics in the mix, as well as action-packed franchises and some original movies, Peacock has a lot to choose from. Who has time to sift through everything, though? Don’t worry — we’ve found the best movies currently available on Peacock for you.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Steven Spielberg’s classic film about an alien who accidentally finds himself on Earth was nominated for nine Oscars, winning four. This sci-fi adventure is a remarkable portrait of childhood, drawing a line in the sand between the mysteries of being young and the intense, paranoid world of grown-ups. Elliott (Henry Thomas) lives with his single mother (Dee Wallace), his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton), and his younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore). One day, while exploring in the backyard, he senses something watching him in the woods. Sure enough, an alien botanist has been mistakenly left behind after a scientific mission in Elliott’s backyard. As Elliott attempts to help him get home, he discovers that they can communicate telepathically. The two form a friendship and Elliott becomes determined to save the alien before government scientists get ahold of him.
Rotten Tomatoes: 98%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Family
Stars: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore
Director: Steven Spielberg
Runtime: 114 minutes
Phantom Thread (2018)
Peacock’s library is a bit sparse on recent critical darlings or award-winners, but the Oscar-nominated Phantom Thread is a worthy addition. Daniel Day-Lewis is predictably fantastic as renowned 1950s dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, the corporeal epicenter of British fashion. He and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville) dress royalty, movie stars, socialites, and more in the distinct style of The House of Woodcock. Women come and go through The House of Woodcock, never derailing Reynolds’ carefully tailored and planned life. That is, until one particularly strong-willed woman, Alma (Vicky Krieps), sticks in his heart. As Reynolds feels his eye and his creative direction swaying by love, he is determined to find a balance between the two women who keep his world running and find some semblance of consistency.
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lesley Manville, Vicky Krieps
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
Runtime: 130 minutes
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The film that put Quentin Tarantino on the map is also arguably his best film. Reservoir Dogs examines what happens before and after a botched jewelry store robbery, but not during. It’s obvious that something has gone wrong and that the crew has a rat among them. While one of their numbers bleeds out at the rendezvous point after the robbery and everyone else scrambles to shake the cops, Reservoir Dogs jumps between before and after events, painting a slow, deliberate picture of just what the heck happened here. The film is also rife with classic Tarantino riffs, like a discussion on the importance of tipping, how to act like a criminal, and what to do when you enter a men’s room full of cops carrying a briefcase of contraband.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Genre: Drama, Suspense
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Runtime: 98 minutes
The Deer Hunter (1978)
Winner of five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for Michael Cimino, The Deer Hunter also features two legendary actors in their primes: Robert De Niro and Meryl Streep. The Deer Hunter is one of the most far-reaching, deepest movies about the Vietnam War, moving from the steel mills of Pittsburgh to the mountains of Pennsylvania to Vietnamese jungles, all while exploring the experiences of Russian Americans. It’s an outstanding addition to the gritty New Hollywood era of filmmaking popularized by directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, and Brian De Palma, using film as a lens to psychoanalyze society and history. Despite The Deer Hunter‘s success, however, Michael Cimino never reached quite the same heights as those directors.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Meryl Streep
Director: Michael Cimino
Runtime: 183 minutes
Billy Elliot (2000)
When 11-year-old Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell), a miner’s son in Northern England, stumbles upon a ballet class on his way to boxing lessons, his life is changed. He joins the class and hides it from his traditional, widowed father and his overbearing brother, only to find that he has an extraordinary amount of raw talent. When his instructor, Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters), encourages him to try out for the Royal Ballet, his father and brother find out and forbid him to continue. Billy is caught between his responsibility toward and love for his family and his undeniable gift.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical
Stars: Jamie Bell, Julie Walters, Gary Lewis
Director: Stephen Daldry
Runtime: 110 minutes
Widely dismissed upon release, Vertigo is now considered one of legendary director Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films, while the director himself considered it one of his most personal ones. The adaptation of French novel D’entre les morts weaves an intricate web of obsession and deceit. Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) discovers he has vertigo when a police officer is killed trying to rescue him from falling off a building. Scarred by the experience, Scottie retires from his position as a private investigator, only to be lured back to another case by an old friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore). Reluctantly, Scottie agrees to follow Elster’s wife Madeleine (Kim Novak), who has been possessed by a spirit. But after saving her from suicide, Scottie develops feelings for Madeleine, while the film begins to undress itself, twisting and turning to challenge the audience’s preconceptions about the characters and events that have already occurred. Vertigo is an eerie, complicated movie that feels well before its time.
Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Suspense
Stars: James Stewart, Kim Novak
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Runtime: 120 minutes
American Psycho (2000)
Christian Bale leads a star-studded cast in this adaptation of the controversial novel about the dark side of yuppie culture in the 1980s. Patrick Bateman (Bale) is a Wall Street yuppie, obsessed with success, status, style, and power. On the surface, he seems to have it all: Good looks, money, charm, and a stunning fiancée (Reese Witherspoon). However, he’s also a murderous sociopath who rapes and kills both strangers and acquaintances at will. American Psycho is terrifying and gruesome, yet maintains a strange sense of humor, borne out through Bateman’s obsessive personality and delusions of grandeur.
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Horror, Suspense
Stars: Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto
Director: Mary Harron
Runtime: 97 minutes
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, Moonrise Kingdom follows two 12-year-olds as they fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away into the wilderness together. As authorities try to hunt them down, a violent storm is brewing, pushing the peaceful community to the absolute limits of its sanity. The authorities are led by a star-studded group of adults including Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton, all acting in Wes Anderson’s traditionally quippy style.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%
Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand
Director: Wes Anderson
Runtime: 94 minutes
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980)
Sissy Spacek won a Best Actor Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn, one of the first female superstars in country music and most defining voices in the genre. With a hard-country voice and bold lyrics about wives who wouldn’t be pushed around by their husbands, Lynn introduced a feminist mindset to Nashville after the women’s liberation movement. Coal Miner’s Daughter tells Lynn’s story growing up as one of eight children in a coal-mining family in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, getting married at just 13 years old, and becoming a mother of four by age 20. Against all those odds, her and her husband Mooney (Tommy Lee Jones) stuck their noses to the grindstone and propelled Lynn to superstardom.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%
Genre: Drama, Musical
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones, Beverly D’Angelo
Director: Michael Apted
Runtime: 125 minutes
Eastern Promises (2007)
Eastern Promises is a gangster movie for a new generation. Russian-born Nickolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen) is a driver for one of London’s most notorious organized crime families, part of the Vory V Zakone Eastern European criminal brotherhood. When he crosses paths with Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts), a midwife at a North London hospital, they stumble across a prostitution ring that will test Nickolai’s loyalties. As he is pulled between Anna and what is right and the family that has always supported him, Nickolai’s life hangs in the balance.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Suspense
Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel
Director: David Cronenberg
Runtime: 101 minutes
About a year before he became Batman on the big screen, Michael Keaton was “the ghost with the most” in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. Keaton definitely steals the show as Betelgeuse, but the real stars of the movie are Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, and Geena Davis. Ryder plays Lydia Deetz, a depressed teenager who can perceive the recently deceased couple, Adam and Barbara Maitland (Baldwin and Davis).
Betelgeuse offers the Maitlands a way to get rid of Lydia’s obnoxious parents, but he’s ultimately only out for himself. Of course, that doesn’t mean he isn’t hilarious! After three decades, it’s still one of Keaton’s greatest comedic roles.
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
Genre: Comedy, Supernatural
Stars: Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis
Director: Tim Burton
Runtime: 92 minutes
Quick, what are the rules for surviving a zombie apocalypse? There may be a quiz, so be sure to take notes during Zombieland as Jesse Eisenberg’s Columbus breaks down the best ways to make it through the end of the world. There are some great moments of zombie horror to be found, but Zombieland is a comedy at heart. It’s also got a great surrogate family dynamic between Columbus and Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), which gets disrupted by a pair of sisters: Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). There’s also an all-time great cameo from Bill Murray, which is worth the price of admission by itself.
Rotten Tomatoes: 90%
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Stars: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Runtime: 88 minutes
Lost in Translation (2003)
Is Lost in Translation a love story? Somewhat, but it’s not a traditional romance between Bill Murray’s Bob Harris and Scarlett Johansson’s Charlotte. Instead, they’re both lost souls married to other people who just happen to become friends while staying at a hotel in Tokyo. Bob and Charlotte eventually become emotionally reliant on each other, while maintaining a fairly platonic connection. Even Bob and Charlotte would be hard-pressed to explain what they came to mean to each other. Director and writer Sofia Coppola also elevated the film’s mystique by keeping the final exchange between Bob and Charlotte hidden from the audience. We’re still debating about what they said to this day.
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Stars: Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson
Director: Sofia Coppola
Runtime: 102 minutes
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
It’s extremely difficult to improve on a classic Western, but director James Mangold brings a lot of life to the remake of 3:10 to Yuma. Russell Crowe and Christian Bale share the top billing in their respective roles as the outlaw Ben Wade, and an impoverished Civil War veteran named Dan Evans. After Evans has a disastrous encounter with Wade, he is recruited to escort Wade to a prisoner transport train at the specific time in the name of the movie. But there’s treachery afoot, and the two men reach a grudging respect while struggling to survive. It’s a modern classic.
Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Stars: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda
Director: James Mangold
Runtime: 122 minutes
Escape From New York (1981)
For his fifth film as a director, John Carpenter transported audiences to the then-far-off year of 1997, where the island of Manhattan had been transformed into a prison. Escape From New York features a post-Disney Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, a former Special Forces soldier who is blackmailed into going within the prison to save the president of the United States. And Snake has less than a day to do it, or else he’ll be killed by explosives within his body. Russell’s turn as Snake was compelling and magnetic, and the film rode its wild premise all the way to the finish line. The movie spawned a sequel, but the original is still the best.
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Stars: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine
Director: John Carpenter
Runtime: 99 minutes
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