(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)
There are a lot of streaming services out there, and the list is growing larger every week. As a result, it can be difficult to navigate through the world of streaming and figure out just what to heck to watch. Thankfully for you, I’m here to tell you all about the best streaming movies to watch right now.
Streets of Fire
Now Streaming on Netflix
Release Date: 1984
Genre: Neo-Noir Rock Musical
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Michael Paré, Willem Dafoe, Diane Lane, Rick Moranis, Amy Madigan
Walter Hill combined the sensibilities of a pulp comic book and a rock opera to create Streets of Fire, the cult classic of cult classics. Set in some sort of alternate universe where a bunch of different eras blend together, and rock-and-roll reigns supreme, Streets of Fire kicks off with a pop singer (played by the eternally alluring Diane Lane) being kidnapped by an evil gang lead by Willem Dafoe and his questionable haircut. The singer’s ex-boyfriend (Michael Paré) happens to roll back into town in the middle of all of this and gets recruited to save her. Along for the ride is the singer’s manager, played by Rick Freakin’ Moranis. Stylish as all get out and sporting some damn fine songs, Streets of Fire is very close to being perfect. Only Paré’s bland leading man throws things off, but everything and everyone else around him is dynamite.
For fans of: The Warriors, Phantom of the Paradise, hot cars, hot dames, and hot Willem Dafoe.
The Amusement Park
Now Streaming on Shudder
Release Date: 2021 (but made in 1973)
Genre: Educational video that turned into a surreal nightmare
Director: George A. Romero
Cast: Lincoln Maazel
In 1973, George A. Romero was hired by the Lutheran Society to make an educational film about the horrors of aging. What he made was so weird and upsetting that the film was more or less shelved and forgotten for decades. Considered lost, The Amusement Park was recently rediscovered and restored, and now it’s on Shudder. While this isn’t technically a horror movie, it’s one of the most disturbing things Romero ever made – a surreal nightmare about an old man (Lincoln Maazel) being mercilessly tormented in an amusement park straight out of hell.
For fans of: Night of the Living Dead, The Brotherhood of Satan, being reminded of your own horrible mortality.
The Hot Rock
Now Streaming on The Criterion Channel
Release Date: 1972
Genre: Comedy Heist Movie
Director: Peter Yates
Cast: Robert Redford, George Segal, Ron Leibman, Paul Sand, Moses Gunn, Zero Mostel
If you want to know where Steven Soderbergh got a bunch of ideas for his Ocean’s Eleven series, look no further than Peter Yates‘ funny, charming heist oddity The Hot Rock. Robert Redford, who here pretty much looks like the most handsome man to ever walk the Earth, is released from prison and immediately approached by his brother-in-law (George Segal) about a new caper: stealing a valuable gem from the Brooklyn Museum. A team is assembled, but almost nothing goes right, and one comical mishap after another befalls the characters.
For fans of: Ocean’s Eleven, Bottle Rocket, looking at Robert Redford.
To Die For
Now Streaming on Hulu
Release Date: 1995
Genre: Dark Comedy
Director: Gus Van Sant
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Joaquin Phoenix, Matt Dillon, Illeana Douglas, Wayne Knight, Casey Affleck, Kurtwood Smith, Dan Hedaya, Alison Folland
A wicked, ultra-dark comedy from Gus Van Sant, To Die For stars Nicole Kidman as a TV weatherperson who dreams of making it as a real news anchor. Complicating matters is the fact that her husband (Matt Dillon) wants her to quit working so she can start having kids. What’s a career gal to do? Murder her husband, of course. Kidman seduces a high school kid (an alarmingly creepy Joaquin Phoenix) into bumping Dillon off, thinking that the murder will help skyrocket her to fame and fortune.
For fans of: American Psycho, The Paperboy, David Cronenberg cameos.
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Release Date: 1997
Director: John Woo
Cast: John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, Alessandro Nivola, Colm Feore
John Woo‘s gloriously over-the-top, operatic, implausible action spectacular Face/Off stars John Travolta and Nicolas Cage at the top of their game. Travolta is a lawman and Cage is the terrorist he’s been chasing for years. Through a series of events too ridiculous and complicated to recount, the two end up switching faces (and bodies, and voices). Soon, Cage-as-Travolta is living Travolta’s life, while Travolta-as-Cage is trying to prove to people who he really is. The end results are abundantly entertaining and undeniably fun.
For fans of: The Killer, Hard-Boiled, eating a peach for hours.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do it
Now Streaming on HBO Max
Release Date: 2021
Director: Michael Chaves
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It leaves HBO Max on July 4, so you better act quickly if you haven’t watched it yet. And you should watch it, because this series continues to thrive thanks primarily to the performances of Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga. As intrepid ghost hunters Ed and Lorraine Warren, Wilson and Farmiga carry this series on their backs, delivering warm, wonderful performances that you can’t help but be drawn to. The Devil Made Me Do It isn’t the best entry in the series, but it has plenty of chills and thrills, cheap as some of them may be.
For fans of: The Conjuring series, The X-Files, haunted waterbeds.
Now Streaming on HBO Max
Release Date: 2011
Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan, Niels Arestrup, Jeremy Irvine, Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch
I’ve heard people call War Horse a “lesser Spielberg” movie, and I won’t stand for it. This is a wonderful, sweeping, old school drama featuring Steven Spielberg at the top of his game (for more thoughts on this, go here). Spielberg follows Joey, a horse, as he goes from farm horse to war horse. This results in an episodic adventure, with Joey moving from one perilous event to the next. And through it all we hold out the hope that Joey will reunite with his original human owner, played by Jeremy Irvine. Sweet, gorgeous to look at, and full of truly impressive special effects – you’ll never be able to tell when Spielberg is using a fake horse here – War Horse may be on the melodramatic side, but that’s all part of the plan.
For fans of: 1917, Saving Private Ryan, horses.
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Release Date: 2006
Genre: Horror Faux Documentary
Director: J. T. Petty
Cast: Erik Marcisak
J.T. Petty‘s S&Man is fiendishly clever in its execution. I knew absolutely nothing about the movie when I saw it years ago, and at first glance, I assumed it was a real documentary. To be sure: many of the people Petty interviews here – people who make schlocky, sometimes porn-adjacent underground horror films – are the real deal. The film is presented as Petty creating a documentary about underground horror, and his journey eventually makes him cross paths with Erik Marcisak, a seemingly normal, boring guy who makes a series of films known as the S&MAN (pronounced sandman) video series. As Petty watches the movies, he begins to question what he’s seeing. The films don’t look like movies – not even the usual crappily-produced underground junk. Instead, it looks like Marcisak is really stalking and murdering women, and filming himself do it. Realism and artifice combine to form a genuinely unnerving experience.
For fans of: Tickled, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, being tricked.
Now Streaming on HBO Max
Release Date: 2020
Director: Miranda July
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins, Gina Rodriguez
Miranda July‘s uber-quirky comedy starts off on a rough note, introducing us to a family of con artists played by Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Winger, and Richard Jenkins. Kajillionaire doesn’t quite find its groove until these characters meet someone new, a stranger played by Gina Rodriguez. Rodriguez gets swept up in their con artist lifestyle, and is particularly drawn to Wood’s character. All of this eventually builds towards something far more emotional than the early portions of the film suggest, with Wood turning in a particularly memorable performance that centers the narrative.
For fans of: Me and You and Everyone We Know, The Future, hot tubs.
Now Streaming on Fubo
Release Date: 2007
Genre: Crime Thriller
Director: Scott Frank
Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jeff Daniels, Matthew Goode, Bruce McGill, Isla Fisher
Does anyone remember The Lookout? This is one of those titles that slipped through the cracks of time, probably because it’s an original story that wasn’t based on a comic book or a TV show, and it never spawned sequels. And these days, when that happens, a film can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. But now The Lookout is now streaming And this neat little thriller from Scott Frank is worth seeking out. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a character named Chris Pratt (yes, yes, I know) who ends up with anterograde amnesia and anger management issues after a car crash. Years later, the character is working as a janitor at a bank – a career choice that leads him to get mixed up with a gang of robbers targeting his place of employment. Full of twists and turns, The Lookout garnered good reviews when it hit theaters in 2007, only to then fade away. Now’s your chance to find it again.
For fans of: Brick, Heist, characters named Chris Pratt who aren’t the real Chris Pratt.
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