(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)
In this edition of Now Stream This, you’ll find one of the best movies of 2018, a holiday classic that you can watch any time of the year, a prophetic sci-fi film, Jamie Lee Curtis as a rookie cop, an old violin, a kick-ass action movie, an ’80s horror throwback, a true crime documentary, a tale of resurrection, and Liam Neeson wearing a kilt. What a line-up!
These are the best movies streaming right now. Let’s get streaming!
The Best Movies Streaming Right Now
1. You Were Never Really Here
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Release Date: 2018
Genre: Character study drama
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alex Manette, John Doman, Judith Roberts
One of the best movies of the year is now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video. Lynne Ramsay‘s You Were Never Really Here is a haunting character study about a man who deals in violence. Joaquin Phoenix gives a stunning, quiet-yet-physical performance as Joe, a hit man of sorts who is often hired to rescue girls sold into sex trafficking. Using a hammer as his primary weapon, Joe stalks from job to job, silently taking out anyone who gets in his way. But his latest job gets him in over his head, and he’s forced to go to extreme measures. This premise sounds like it would result in a graphically violent thriller, but Ramsay and editor Joe Bini find creative ways to cut around the violence, denying us any sort of cathartic moment. The editing in general is unlike anything you’re used to, showing us the bare minimum, thus forcing us to fill in the blanks for ourselves.
For fans of: Taxi Driver, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Joaquin Phoenix looking thicc.
2. It’s A Wonderful Life
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Release Date: 1946
Genre: Old-Timey Tear-Jerker
Director: Frank Capra
Cast: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers
I know what you’re thinking: “It’s too early for a Christmas movie! You should be sent to prison for including this!” Sure, It’s a Wonderful Life has become synonymous with the holiday season, but Christmas isn’t really a huge part of this film. In fact, a good chunk of the movie doesn’t take place at Christmas at all. No, I’m not trying to pull one of those “This isn’t really a Christmas movie!” things here; it is – but here’s the thing: It’s a Wonderful Life is so, well, wonderful that it’s worth watching any time of the year. And best of all: the movie is now streaming for the first time ever. Frank Capra‘s earnest, romantic, empathetic tale focuses on a good man (played by Jimmy Stewart) at the end of his rope. Stewart’s George Bailey attempts to kill himself one Christmas Eve, only to be stopped by his guardian angel. From here, the angel takes him on a journey through a world where George was never born. It’s dark – darker than you might even remember. It’s so dark, in fact, I’m always a little shocked it became a holiday classic. There’s a heart-warming conclusion that will make you tear up, but before all that, George stumbles through terrible, noir-ish darkness. And the people around him don’t get off easy, either. This is post-war cinema – cinema for Americans who had become accustomed to loss, loneliness and all that darkness. Thankfully, a little light gets through.
For fans of: A Christmas Carol (take your pick on which version), The Best Years of Our Lives, A Matter of Life and Death, Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed smooching hardcore.
3. Children of Men
Now Streaming on Netflix
Release Date: 2006
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
Cast: Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Clare-Hope Ashitey, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Charlie Hunnam
Before Alfonso Cuarón‘s fantastic Roma arrives on Netflix this month, check out this incredible 2006 dystopian drama. Set in a world where all women have become infertile, Cuarón’s film uncomfortably predicts where society was headed, complete with immigrants being locked up in cages. It’s bleak – but there’s hope. Clive Owen plays a man who is trying to help protect a young illegal immigrant (Clare-Hope Ashitey) who just happens to be the first pregnant woman in over 18 years. Ever the showman, Cuarón stages jaw-dropping set-pieces, including one attack sequence that’s made to look like it was filmed in one impossible long-take. But like all Cuarón’s work, there’s raw humanity buried under the technical prowess.
For fans of: Gravity, Snowpiercer, The Road, extremely brief Julianne Moore appearances.
4. Blue Steel
Now Streaming on Amazon and Hulu
Release Date: 1990
Genre: Weird Thriller
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown
Jamie Lee Curtis, who is currently killing it at the box office with Halloween, stars in this 1990 curiosity from Kathryn Bigelow. In Blue Steel, Curtis plays a rookie cop who kills a suspect in a shootout. Things get worse from there: the gun the suspect had is picked up by a Wall Street trader (Ron Silver), and it’s kind of implied that the gun has the mystical power to turn Silver’s character evil. Or he’s just a psychopath to begin with. In any case, the lack of gun at the scene gets Curtis in hot water. While attempting to clear her name, she enters into a relationship with Silver – unaware that he stole her gun (and that he’s also a murderer). Bigelow’s assured directorial style keeps all of this from becoming too ludicrous, while at the same time allowing the film to tip into some sleazy territory. It’s one of Bigelow’s least-talked-about films at this point, but worth checking out.
For fans of: Point Break, Unlawful Entry, Nighthawks, supernatural firearms.
5. Rob Roy
Now Streaming on Hulu
Release Date: 1995
Genre: Historical Drama
Director: Michael Caton-Jones
Cast: Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, John Hurt, Tim Roth, Eric Stoltz, Brian Cox, Jason Flemyng
Rob Roy hit theaters in 1995, which was bad luck. Because that was also the year of Braveheart, the other film about a historical Scottish character. Braveheart got most of the attention (and awards), and Rob Roy got lost in the shuffle. But this Liam Neeson-starring flick is a sweeping, romantic, swashbuckling adventure, and holds up better than Braveheart. Neeson’s Rob Roy is wronged by a nobleman, and forced to become an outlaw. Along the way, he’s out to get revenge. Neeson is predictably great as the kilt-wearing hero, and Jessica Lange makes an impression as his wife. But the film really belongs to Tim Roth, playing a murderous aristocrat who makes Rob Roy’s life hell.
For fans of: Michael Collins, Braveheart, The Last Of The Mohicans, kilts as far as the eye can see.