For the first time in many years, my vast knowledge of the best movies available on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime has finally become relevant.
With the rapid, deadly spread of COVID-19, stay-at-home orders are currently in place worldwide. While the circumstances couldn’t be more dire, millions of people, whether unemployed, in school or working in fields deemed nonessential find themselves with a lot more time on their hands and increasingly few ways to spend it. That’s where I come in.
The following is a list of most, if not all, of the movies I can endorse across these streaming services. They’re not all good, but at the very least they all have something to offer beyond boredom. Enjoy, and remember, if your favorite movie isn’t on here, it’s because I hate it.
“Train to Busan” (Yeon Sang-Ho, 2016)
Yeon Sang-Ho’s ambitious zombie epic offers an increasingly rare combination of gruesome undead action and genuinely compelling drama. As a bonus, a trailer for the film’s sequel, “Peninsula,” was just released April 2.
“Goldeneye” (Martin Campbell, 1995)
Netflix currently has every Pierce Brosnan James Bond movie available for streaming. Martin Campbell’s campy 1995 masterpiece was the first Bond movie to discard Ian Fleming’s source novels for an entirely original story, and it remains one of the series’ absolute best.
“Candyman” (Bernard Rose, 1992)
The second film on this list with an upcoming sequel, Bernard Rose’s 1992 horror film is one of the genre’s true gems. Tony Todd’s performance as the titular Candyman can only be described as an all-time great, and fans of practical effects will marvel at the remarkable use of live bees for some of the film’s most memorable scares.
Other Netflix recommendations: “Snowpiercer,” “Blade Runner,” “Hell or High Water,” “Dirty Harry,” “Incredibles 2,” “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “The World is Not Enough,” “Die Another Day,” “Groundhog Day,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “A Serious Man,” “Don’t Think Twice,” “The Little Hours,” “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” “Set It Up,” “Chappaquiddick,” “Paddleton,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “Barely Lethal,” “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Ex Machina,” “The Gift,” “The Dark Knight”
“Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Céline Sciamma, 2019)
This is the most obvious choice on the list. Starring Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant, Céline Sciamma’s forbidden lesbian romance wrestles with the limits imposed by a patriarchal society, while unfolding one of the most intimate, compelling love stories in recent memory.
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette” (Richard Linklater, 2019)
I have no idea how Richard Linklater’s adaptation of Maria Semple’s renowned 2012 novel of the same name flew under the radar, but it shouldn’t have. Cate Blanchett’s star performance as the titular Bernadette is a personal favorite from last year, and Linklater’s measured handling of this off-beat dramedy makes it well worth watching.
“Beach Bum” (Harmony Korine, 2019)
Hulu’s streaming offering tends to skew toward the 2010s, which is unfortunate for users looking for a wide range of options, but extremely convenient for catching up on new releases. Harmony Korine’s excellent 2019 film stars Matthew McConaughey as Moondog, a talented poet and prolific stoner who finds himself hazily navigating an increasingly absurd series of events.
Other Hulu recommendations: “Booksmart,” “Heathers,” “Juliet, Naked,” “The Art of Self-Defense,” “Sorry to Bother You,” “I, Tonya,” “Creed II,” “Final Destination,” “Monsters vs Aliens,” “Support the Girls,” “Downsizing,” “Drinking Buddies,” “Jigsaw”
“Annihilation” (Alex Garland, 2018)
“Ex Machina” filmmaker Alex Garland’s second feature film, “Annihilation” centers around The Shimmer, a cordoned-off tropical area in southern Florida where nature mutates in unexplainable, potentially dangerous ways.
Based on the first novel in Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy, Garland’s must-see sci-fi horror captures the ethereal eco-terror of VanderMeer’s novel with the help of a standout ensemble that includes Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Gina Rodriguez.
“Under the Silver Lake” (David Robert Mitchell, 2018)
David Robert Mitchell’s follow-up to modern cult classic “It Follows,” “Under the Silver Lake” stars Andrew Garfield as stoner perv Sam, who finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy ripped straight from Hitchcock and a dozen other classic filmmakers, but with more nudity and modern pop-culture references. While I can’t outright call this a good movie, it’s certainly a gorgeous, compelling satire with more on its mind than the film’s marketing campaign revealed.
“Suspiria” (Luca Guadagnino, 2018)
Fresh off of 2017’s indie darling “Call Me by Your Name,” filmmaker Luca Guadagnino pivoted to horror, remaking Dario Argento’s 1977 giallo classic “Suspiria.” Argento’s film (currently streaming on Kanopy, which is available to Loyola students) is a classic, but Guadagnino’s 2018 remake is an achievement in its own right, adding Cold War subtext, an updated color palette and an expanded narrative to the original’s story.
Other Amazon Prime recommendations: “The Report,” “A Quiet Place,” “The Farewell,” “Midsommar,” “Pet Sematary,” “Hereditary,” “High Life,” “Logan Lucky,” “Triangle,” “True Grit,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” “A Simple Favor,” “Coherence,” “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” “Unsane,” “Night Moves,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Jacob’s Ladder”