While release dates and production schedules may be delayed, online streaming services haven’t been affected, luckily. That said, there’s no time like the present to catch up on your movie list. To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, we’ve rounded up some of the better new releases on the four most prominent streaming platforms, including Netflix and Amazon Prime. Whether you’re looking for an Academy Award winner or a twisted arthouse film of the highest caliber, we have you covered.
Enola Holmes (2020)
It seemed like everything that could be done with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic sleuth has already been done, and then Enola Holmes came along. Did you know that Sherlock Holmes had a little sister? Well, you’re about to meet her. Millie Bobbie Brown stars as the title character, Sherlock’s teenage sister who one day discovers that her mother is missing. In Enola’s search to find her, the intrepid teen discovers she has some serious sleuthing skills of her own as she outwits her famous brother to unravel a dangerous conspiracy.
Perhaps Netflix’s most controversial film ever, 2020’s Cuties caused #CancelNetflix to trend on Twitter. The Sundance-winning film from French-Sengalese director Maïmouna Doucouré focuses on a free-spirited dance clique named “Cuties,” a group of 11-year-old girls who are determined to win a dance competition. Evidently the people calling for the cancellation of Netflix over this movie have never seen Dance Moms or a Sia music video. Cuties is more than a dance movie for little girls; it’s about Amy, a Senegalese girl who is fascinated by her disobedient neighbor, whose behavior stands in such stark contrast to Amy’s traditional home. Eager to escape her family’s domineering dysfunction, Amy joins the group and through an ignited awareness of her burgeoning femininity, helps propel the girls to stardom by embracing an increasingly more sensual style.
The Devil All the Time (2020)
The Devil All the Time is a dark, provocative, modern twist on American Gothic. Set in rural southern Ohio and West Virginia, Tom Holland stars as a young man devoted to protecting those he loves in a post-World War II backwoods town that is teeming with corruption and brutality, ranging from strangers in the streets to the institutions in power. A study of generational trauma and communities left behind by a changing world, this violent, dark thriller is some sinister fun.
Netflix continues its string of power moves, bringing Charlie Kaufman, the Oscar-winning auteur of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York, into the fold with a new original movie for the streamer. As is expected of any Kaufman movie, I’m Thinking of Endings Things is wacky, weird, and runs the gamut of human emotion, reminding us that though we may feel strongly, those feelings are often misguided. Jessie Buckley stars as a young woman who travels with her new boyfriend (Jesse Plemons) to his parents’ (Toni Collette and David Thewlis) secluded farm. She experienced a preternaturally strong connection to him at first but, now, she’s thinking about ending things. The mind-bending weekend away with the boyfriends’ parents will only make things more complicated.
Da 5 Bloods (2020)
Spike Lee’s newest joint is a Netflix exclusive and couldn’t have come at a more politically important time. Da 5 Bloods tells the story of four African American Vietnam War veterans who return to the country after the war to seek the remains of their fallen squad leader and the fortune that he helped them hide. It’s a heavy, anguished look at Vietnam and the war that Black Americans have never been able to stop fighting — both in psychological and sociopolitical terms. It’s already garnering significant Oscars buzz despite the ceremony being months away.
The Assistant (2019)
The Assistant is a barely fictional account of working for a Hollywood executive in the vein of Harvey Weinstein. Jane (Julia Garner) is a recent college graduate and aspiring film producer. When she lands her dream job as a junior assistant to a powerful entertainment mogul, she believes she’s on the fast track. As she follows her banal daily routine of making coffee, ordering lunch, and taking messages, she grows increasingly aware of the insidious pattern of abuse that constantly threatens her position. Working as a Hollywood assistant is unrewarding enough, and the constant degradation goes too far.
The Peanut Butter Falcon (2019)
Described as “a modern-day Mark Twain fable that will melt your heart,” The Peanut Butter Falcon is about as innocent and beautiful as they come. The story follows Zak (Zack Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome who runs away from his residential nursing home to pursue his dream of becoming a pro wrestler. Along the way, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with an outlaw (Shia LaBeouf) who is determined to help Zak meet his goal. When the nurse (Dakota Johnson) assigned to bring Zak back to the nursing home shows up, she reluctantly joins the duo, knowing how much the journey means to Zak. Along the way, they become an unconventional, unexpected family as they face their pasts and their futures together.
Palm Springs (2020)
Hulu’s newest original movie puts a fresh, unique spin on a few well-worn tropes in this time-looping wedding rom-com. Carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a wedding in Palm Springs that becomes far more when they realize they’re stuck in a time-loop together. Suddenly, they can’t escape the venue, each other, or the dang event. While living the same day over and over together, they encounter some grim truths about themselves while simultaneously forging a way forward together.
Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners asks the question: How far will you go to protect your child? Driven by outstanding performances from Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Paul Dano, Prisoners answers that question in disturbing fashion. The film follows Keller Dover (Jackman) after his 6-year-old daughter goes missing with one of her friends. As minutes turn to hours, Keller becomes increasingly desperate. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) arrests the driver of a dilapidated, suspicious RV that had been parked on the street earlier. But without any other evidence, he’s forced to release the man. Knowing his child’s life is at stake, Keller decides to take matters into his own hands.
Based on events in the life of acclaimed horror author Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House), Shirley follows the titular character (played by Elisabeth Moss) and her husband Stanley (Michael Stuhlbarg). After moving to a small Vermont college town where Stanley will be a professor, he offers Fred and Rose (Logan Lerman and Odessa Young) free room and board as long as they look after his wife. As Jackson finds her creative process disrupted by the new environs and her husband’s philandering, she’ll find inspiration in the new couple.
Chemical Hearts (2020)
This Amazon Original movie may be a touch melodramatic, but it’s a cute, lovable teen romance that feels in the vein of John Green. Seventeen-year-old Henry (Austin Abrams) fancies himself a romantic, but he’s never been in love. He figures it’s somewhere off in the distance until, on the first day of senior year, he meets transfer student Grace Town (Lili Reinhart) and he suspects love has arrived after all. When Grace and Henry are chosen to co-edit the school paper, he sees his chance and strikes up a friendship with her. And when he learns the heartbreaking secret that has redefined her life, he feels that love coming on strong. Only, he may be falling in love with who she thinks she is rather than who she actually is.
Al Capone may be the most imitated and chronicled gangster in Hollywood, but Capone is a slightly more sensitive look at the notorious Chicago mob leader. This 2020 film follows Capone (Tom Hardy) in his final days, suffering from dementia after a decade in prison. Capone is haunted by his violent past, which he relives through the fragmented, tormenting memories swimming in his brain. Directed by Josh Trank, the film also stars Matt Dillon, Linda Cardellini, and Kyle MacLachlan.
Knives Out (2019)
Writer-director Rian Johnson’s frenetic whodunit was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 92nd Academy Awards. When celebrated crime novelist Harlan Thrombey dies of mysterious causes, renowned Private Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives to investigate the case. The normally sure-footed sleuth discovers there’s more to this case than meets the eye, however, and all he knows for sure is that everyone in Thrombey’s greedy, dysfunctional family is a suspect. Sifting through a web of lies, half-truths, and red herrings, Blanc must use every resource available to him, including Thrombey’s nurse Marta (Ana de Armas), to uncover the truth. Knives Out is unlike any mystery novel you’ve read or film you’ve seen, working with a disjointed timeline and narrative that both gives and takes information at will.
The Lighthouse (2019)
Robert Eggers follows up his surprising horror hit The Witch with this equally haunting, atmospheric film about isolation and torment. Set on a remote and mysterious New England island in the 1890s, the film follows two lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) as they try to maintain a lighthouse and their sanity before they’re relieved of duty. Dafoe and Pattinson make the most of the opportunity to carry the entire script while Eggers’ eerie, intentional direction makes this one alternately batty and unnerving.
Casino Royale (2006)
No Time to Die, the 25th installment in the James Bond franchise, is due out in November, and it’s confirmed to be Daniel Craig’s final film as 007. Rumors abound to whether that means Bond will actually die in the upcoming film, or if he’ll simply pass the 007 mantle onto Lashana Lynch. Either way, what better way to get geared up for Craig’s final Bond film than by watching his first one? Casino Royale didn’t just usher Craig into the Bond role, it brought about a whole new tone and narrative style for the franchise that, frankly, was much needed. Casino Royale serves as an origin story for Bond, putting the decades of legacy in the rearview to tell a linear, far darker story than any Bond film before it. This Bond is just as suave, but he’s also more vulnerable, conscientious, and driven by an urge to protect the people and agency he cares about. If you didn’t know any better, you might not have any idea that Casino Royale is a Bond film, and that’s a good thing.
HBO and HBO Max
An American Pickle (2020)
Seth Rogen stars as two men from different generations in HBO Max’s first original movie. Originally, Sony planned to release An American Pickle in theaters, but as theaters remain closed due to the pandemic, they pivoted to an HBO Max release instead. The first man Rogen plays is an immigrant worker at a pickle factory who is accidentally pickled and preserved for 100 years until he is revived in modern-day Brooklyn. The second man Rogen plays is that first man’s great-great-grandson, a computer programmer with absolutely nothing in common with his great-great-grandfather. Still, he’ll do his best to acclimate his ancestor to the modern world, even if it’s completely bizarre. An American Pickle is a goofy movie about what it means to be an American.
The Invisible Man (2020)
Leigh Whannell is best known for the Saw and Insidious franchises, and The Invisible Man takes aspects of both to bring a deeply creepy vibe to Universal’s Monster Universe. Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) has fought for a long-time to escape the clutches of her abusive, controlling husband — a tech billionaire who has made his fortune in optics. But when she finally escapes, her ex commits suicide, leaving her his fortune. Cecilia, however, knows his sadism too well and suspects he staged his own death. Sure enough, the scientist has found a way to become invisible and uses his newfound power to stalk, terrorize, and destroy his ex-girlfriend’s life. As everyone around her begins to suspect her sanity, Cecilia finally decides to take matters into her own hands.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Jojo Rabbit is likely the most charming film you’ll ever see about the Hitler Youth. Nominated for six Oscars in 2020, including Best Picture, Jojo Rabbit is a funny, endearing look at blind nationalism and how damaging it can be for children and society. Jojo is a proud little Nazi who is so loyal to the party that Adolf Hitler himself is his imaginary friend. When he discovers that his mother is harboring a young Jewish girl in the house, Jojo’s entire world is turned upside down: She appears to not have horns and actually seems to be quite nice-looking and wise. Forced to confront his blind nationalism as the war turns against Germany, Jojo enters an existential crisis that is far too real for anyone his age.
Although it wasn’t exactly a box-office hit, Birds of Prey is one of the new DC Expanded Universe’s best efforts to date. Nicely encapsulating the mania of its main character, Birds of Prey is frenetic and nonstop, with a surprising amount of heart. After breaking up with the Joker, Harley Quinn quickly discovers that many of the privileges she once enjoyed were only permissible because of her relationship with “Mr. J.” Now, there are a whole lot of people with a bone to pick with her. To get back in some good graces, she agrees to retrieve a diamond for Roman Sionis, aka Black Mask. The only problem is that it’s lodged inside a teenage thief’s stomach. As Harley tries to get the diamond back through natural methods, other bounty hunters aren’t so patient, and she’ll have to go on the run to save both hers and the girl’s life. Fortunately, she’ll get some unexpected help from some other leading ladies who are on Black Mask’s bad side: Renee Montoya, Huntress, and Black Canary.
Haley Lu Richardson stars in this teen comedy about 17-year-old Veronica who shockingly finds out she’s pregnant. About to set off to college with a promising future ahead of her, Veronica considers a decision she never thought she’d have to make. Refusing to take the decision lightly, she decides to set off on a road trip to New Mexico with her ex-best friend, Baily (Barbie Ferreira). Along the way, they discover that sometimes the most important choices you make are your friends.
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