(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)
It’s that time again! I’ve gathered some not-so-obvious streaming options for you to enjoy this upcoming weekend, and beyond, because I’m just that kind of person. When I put together Now Stream This, I strive to pick titles that might not jump out to you normally. Are movies like Jaws streaming? Of course they are – but you’ve already seen Jaws. In fact, I bet you’ve seen it dozens of times. And that’s great! But if you’re looking for something new and different, that’s where this column comes in.
These are the best movies streaming right now. Let’s get streaming!
The Best Movies Streaming Right Now
Now Streaming on Netflix
Release Date: 2018
Genre: Historical drama
Director: John Curran
Cast: Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Ed Helms, Jim Gaffigan, Clancy Brown, Olivia Thirlby, Bruce Dern
Chappaquiddick came and went with very little notice, and that’s a shame, because it’s one of the year’s better films. Jason Clarke delivers a commanding performance as Ted Kennedy, the heir apparent to the Kennedy political empire now that his brothers Jack and Bobby are dead. During a weekend getaway, Ted meets up with staffers and friends, and then tragedy strikes. While driving with secretary Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), Kennedy drives the car off a narrow bridge into shallow water. Somehow, Kennedy manages to get free of the car. Mary Jo does not. What happened next remains somewhat of a mystery, but the facts are clear: Kennedy survived, Kopechne did not. Chappaquiddick attempts to explain what happened that fateful night, and how the Kennedy machine went into overdrive to help sweep certain things under the rug. Clarke plays Kennedy as absolutely oblivious to what’s going on, and what makes the actor’s performance so remarkable is the way he keeps our attention. Kennedy should, in theory, be detestable, and we should loathe the time we spend watching him. But Clarke finds just the right balance to somehow keep us wanting more. It’s quite a sight to behold.
For fans of: Jackie, The Ides of March, Nixon, New England accents.
2. The Strangers: Prey at Night
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Release Date: 2018
Director: Johannes Roberts
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman
It took 10 years for a sequel to The Strangers to materialize. When The Strangers: Prey at Night opened in March of this year, it didn’t quite seem to have the same impact as the original. But I assure you: this is worth checking out. Is it as effective as The Strangers? No. That film is a slow-burn horror flick – it builds and builds, and excels at mounting tension. None of that is on display here. Instead, Prey at Night is a nasty slasher movie throwback, complete with a John Carpenter-esque score so similar to Carpenter’s real music that I’m surprised he hasn’t filed a lawsuit yet. There’s also a killer soundtrack of ’80s tunes to liven things up. Here, a family getaway turns into a massacre as the three masked strangers from the first film target a couple and their two teen children in abandoned trailer park. While you may pine for the original film’s tension-laced chills, it’s hard not to have a good time with the slasher movie mentality on display here.
For fans of: The Prowler, Friday the 13th, The Burning, sick ’80s jams.
3. Dead Man
Now Streaming on FilmStruck
Release Date: 1995
Genre: Weirdo Western
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Cast: Johnny Depp, Gary Farmer, Billy Bob Thornton, Iggy Pop, Crispin Glover, John Hurt, Michael Wincott, Lance Henriksen, Gabriel Byrne, Mili Avital and Robert Mitchum
Is it a dream? Is it a nightmare? Is it an acid trip? No, it’s Dead Man, Jim Jarmusch‘s weird Western that exists somewhere between the waking world and a fever dream. Johnny Depp is a nerdy accountant who ends up in a filthy frontier town, and, through a serious of mishaps, is marked for death. Wounded, and possibly dying, Depp’s character – who happens to be named William Blake, like the famous poet and painter – staggers out into the wilderness, where he joins up with a nameless, mysterious Native American man (Gary Farmer). All the while, bounty hunters are looking for poor William Blake with orders to bring him in dead or alive. This may all sound like a perfectly normal Western set-up, but Jarmusch’s film is anything but normal. With gorgeous black and white cinematography from Robby Müller, and a jangling musical score courtesy of Neil Young, Dead Man plays out in unpredictable, fascinating ways.
For fans of: Only Lovers Left Alive, Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai, The Lone Ranger, poetry.
Now Streaming on Shudder
Release Date: 1948
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger
There are far more famous, and even better, Alfred Hitchcock movies streaming right now. But I wanted to highlight Rope, because it’s such a curious experiment. Hitchcock himself would later dismiss his approach to this film as a stunt, but it’s a highly entertaining stunt. Using several tricks – some of which you can spot, some of which you can’t – Hitchcock stages Rope to appear as if the entire film is unfolding in one long take. The story borrows from the real-life case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, two college students who murdered a teenage boy just for the thrill of it. In Rope, two rich snobs commit a murder in their apartment, hide the body in a large wooden trunk, and then proceed to throw a party. The killers want to prove they can get away with the perfect murder, but things don’t go exactly according to plan, especially when Jimmy Stewart shows up. Stewart essentially assumes the role of Hercule Poirot here, trying to solve a locked-room mystery. Hitchcock would go on to bigger and better things, but it’s wonderful to watch him work here.
For fans of: Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window, Enter the Void, magic tricks in movie form.
Now Streaming on Netflix
Release Date: 1995
Director: Jon Amiel
Cast: Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter, Dermot Mulroney, Will Patton, Harry Connick Jr.
Copycat had the bad luck to hit theaters not too long after David Fincher’s Seven. By then, Seven was the only serial killer thriller audiences wanted to focus on, and Copycat got lost in the shuffle. Seven is a better movie, but Copycat shouldn’t be forgotten. Sigourney Weaver plays a serial killer expert with agoraphobia. When a murder goes on a killing spree by copying the work of famous serial killers, tough cop Holly Hunter recruits Weaver to help. The thrills and mystery on display here are top notch, but the real draw of Copycat is the performances and chemistry between Weaver and Hunter. Weaver spends most of the film near a nervous breakdown before reclaiming herself, and Hunter is funny and feisty, a tiny woman who doesn’t take shit from anyone. You almost wish this had launched a franchise where Weaver and Hunter continued to solve crimes for several more movies.
For fans of: Basic Instinct, Zodiac, Mindhunter, Holly Hunter’s accent.
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