Whether you’re burning through your watchlist or adding to it faster than you can keep up, there’s a massive catalog of films to wade through on various streaming services. To help, we’ve rounded up some of the better new releases on the four most prominent platforms: Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime. From Academy Award winners and political nail-biters to festive flicks and twisted arthouse films of the highest caliber, we have you covered.
Legendary director David Fincher gets to work with his son, writer Jack Fincher, on this Netflix original. Mank centers on alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz in 1930s Hollywood as he races to finish his magnum opus, Citizen Kane. The Golden Age of Hollywood through the eyes of the deeply cynical, scathing “Mank” is anything but golden.
Fruitvale Station (2013)
The movie that launched Black Panther director Ryan Coogler into Hollywood fame, Fruitvale Station helped reinvigorate a conversation about police violence against African-Americans in the United States. Based on the story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), Fruitvale Station is told primarily through flashbacks, analyzing the series of events and assumptions that led to his arrest and the death of a friend at the hands of police. What was supposed to be a fun evening of watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve quickly unraveled into a dangerous and tragic altercation. Fruitvale Station illuminates just how avoidable that tragedy was.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
In 1968, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago erupted in massive protests — primarily led by young people. In 1969, seven protestors were charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more, launching an infamous trial where an older, more conservative generation put the counterculture sweeping a new generation right in its crosshairs. The trial transfixed the nation and fueled Cold War fears that Americans were trying to undermine their own government. The trial gets the Aaron Sorkin treatment in this high-octane legal thriller starring Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen.
The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)
Writer-director-star Radha Blank’s feature debut is jarringly meta. Blank stars as a version of herself: A down-on-her-luck New York City playwright who believes that the only way she can salvage her voice as an artist in a savage and discouraging world is to become a rapper at age 40. Blank brings a blunt and honest voice to humility, self-motivation, and the creative struggles of finding inspiration in a frequently cold and colorless world.
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.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2003)
If you’re in the mood for a good old fashioned cold-weather binge, you can’t do much better than Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and they’re all available on Hulu (and Amazon Prime) now. Tolkien’s epic about two Hobbits tasked with destroying the One Ring of Power and restoring peace to Middle Earth is one of the greatest fantasy stories ever told and Jackson’s film adaptations were Oscar-worthy. Whether you’ve seen them or not, The Lord of the Rings movies are almost endlessly rewatchable.
Happiest Season (2020)
We’re officially into the Christmas season, with both Netflix and Hulu releasing original movies about the holiday. However, this isn’t your typical holiday fare In Happiest Season, Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis star as a couple who are spending the holiday season with family. But while one plans to propose to the other during her family’s annual holiday party, she soon learns that her partner’s family has no idea that their daughter is gay.
Eyes Wide Shut (1999)
Stanley Kubrick’s final film is not his best, but it is one of his steamiest. After decades of making movies about abstract, enormous concepts like violence and madness, Kubrick turned his attention to the next logical subject: marriage. Tom Cruise plays Dr. Bill Harford, who becomes obsessed with having an extramarital encounter after his wife, Alice (Nicole Kidman), admits to having sexual fantasies about another man. Discovering an underground sex group, Harford attends a meeting, only to fall in way too deep over his head.
After last year’s anthology series, The Act, Hulu has a surprising corner on the Munchausen by proxy market. What is Munchausen by proxy? A syndrome in which a caregiver makes up illnesses or handicaps in a child to make them wholly dependent on the caregiver. While Munchausen isn’t explicitly what’s going on in the relationship between Chloe (Kiera Allen) and her mom, Diane (Sarah Paulson), it sure looks like it. Diane has raised her daughter in isolation, controlling every aspect of her life. But as the chronically ill and handicapped Chloe grows up, she begins to unravel some secrets that don’t add up.
I Am Greta (2020)
Greta Thunberg may be the most polarizing 15-year-old since Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Thunberg has become the face of the fight to stop climate change across the world, drawing the ire of climate change deniers everywhere, even in the Oval Office. This documentary follows the unusual 15-year-old’s life, skipping school to sit outside Parliament. After all, if politicians don’t care enough about her future to take real action on climate change, why should she? This riveting film is a call to action, following one extraordinary individual’s tireless actions to solve what is likely the greatest existential issue of our time.
Borat Subsequent Movie Film (2020)
Everybody’s favorite Kazakhstani reporter is back! It makes sense that Sacha Baron Cohen’s famed character would return in 2020, the strangest, darkest year in recent memory. While some of the shock factor of Borat has worn off since the 2006 original, the character’s bizarre, oblivious, bigoted charm endures as Cohen puts himself in situations that bring out the absolute worst (and sometimes best) in unsuspecting Americans. The film made headlines before its release for catching Rudy Giuliani in a compromising position, but it’s worth a watch for far more than just that scene.
Uncle Frank (2020)
Written and directed by Alan Ball (American Beauty, Six Feet Under), Uncle Frank is part dark comedy, part melodrama. Paul Bettany stars as a gay literature professor who reluctantly returns to his conservative, small town home to attend his father’s funeral. There, with some help from his teenage niece, he unpacks the trauma and frustration inflicted on him by his odd family.
Sound of Metal (2020)
Riz Ahmed stars in this Sundance favorite acquired by Amazon. When a heavy metal drummer, Ruben (Ahmed), begins to lose his hearing, his entire world is turned upside down. Unable to hear his music, he begins to severely question his own identity and becomes pitted in a battle with his own deafness.
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.
28 Days Later (2003)
Halloween may have passed, but there’s always time for a pulse-pounding horror classic. Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later revitalized the zombie horror genre and ushered in a (perhaps oversaturated) new era of zombie apocalypse media. To this day, 28 Days Later remains one of the most provocative, nuanced, and downright horrifying depictions of that apocalypse — especially given its final twist. Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma to find London all but deserted. Very soon, he discovers why when he joins a group of survivors of a “Rage” virus that leaked from a medical research lab and infected the country.
HBO and HBO Max
The Crow (1994)
The cult movie of all cult movies, The Crow initially rose in prominence in part due to an extremely grim irony: star Brandon Lee was accidentally shot and killed on set while filming a scene in which his character was shot. Movie history aside, The Crow is still an intense, provocative vengeance tour driven by an outstanding Lee as Eric Draven, a man who arises on the anniversary of his and his fiancée’s brutal murders to track down the people who killed them.
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.
Phantom Thread (2017)
Director Paul Thomas Anderson and star Daniel Day-Lewis are at the peak of their wily powers in this subdued, creeping film about lust and obsession. Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a renowned dressmaker who, along with his sister Cyril, are central figures in British fashion in the 1950s. Women come and go through the eternal bachelor Woodcock’s life until he meets Alma, and his carefully tailored life is challenged by an extraordinarily strong will.
Just Mercy (2019)
Just Mercy tells the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a Black man who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite an abundance of evidence proving his innocence. Fresh out of Harvard Law, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) heads to Alabama to defend McMillian, determined to do his part to right the systemic wrongs of a criminal justice system that refuses proper representation to the wrongly condemned. As Stevenson tirelessly fights for McMillian’s life, he encounters racism and the manipulations of the legal and political system to protect itself.
Part of what makes HBO Max so compelling is the sheer diversity of its offerings. Case in point: Franc Roddam’s 1979 classic rock opera Quadrophenia, based on the 1973 The Who album of the same name. Quadrophenia is considered one of the best music movies ever, depicting the rivalry of the Mods and the Rockers. Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels) escapes the drudgery of his ordinary postal job to join the Mods. But when the Mods and the Rockers clash in Brighton, it leads Jimmy to an unlikely encounter with Steph (Leslie Ash). When he returns to London, Jimmy is caught between his aspirations to be more like the Mod leader Ace Face (Sting) and his relationship with Steph, sending him into a righteous disillusionment.
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