Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.
Well, here we are. In the midst of a pandemic that requires nearly all of us to stay the hell indoors. The silver lining: More time to sit around and stream movies. Which means it’s my time to shine! I felt a little extra pressure this week, since I know many people are craving new entertainment to watch at the moment. So I tried to compile a list of highly watchable movies – not just good movies, but movies that suck you in and take your mind off of, well, everything with one or two outliers. So hang in there, everyone. We’ll get through this.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward, Joe Pantoliano, Andreas Katsulas, Jeroen Krabbé
There are very few “perfect movies,” but The Fugitivedefinitely deserves that title. A fast-paced, wholly absorbing Hollywood movie the likes of which they don’t really make anymore. Harrison Ford is Dr. Richard Kimble, who has been wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. After his prison bus crashes and gets hit by a train, Kimble is on the run – and being hunted by U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard Tommy Lee Jones, in an Oscar-winning performance. The Fugitive clocks in at a little over 2 hours but it never drags for a second, pulling you along as Kimble tries to clear his name. While Jones has the flashier role, Ford is excellent here as well, using that everyman charm to great advantage.
Cast: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, Jeté Laurence, John Lithgow
One of the best of the recent Stephen King adaptations, Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer‘s take on King’s most terrifying novel manages to be incredibly faithful to the text while also doing completely new things. It’s a dangerous gamble that not everyone was happy with, but it works considerably well. In Pet Sematary, the Creed family, lead by patriarch Dr. Louis Creed Jason Clarke moves to Ludlow, Maine for a fresh start. But there’s an ancient Native American burial ground deep in the woods behind their house – and it has the power to raise the dead. While I’ll always have a soft spot for the 1989 adaptation, the new Pet Sematary does a great job of capturing the unspeakable dread that’s so prevalent in King’s novel.
Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Ciarán Hinds
Frozen IIis better than Frozen. Disagree with me if you must, but this sequel fixes all the flaws of the first film – which just kind of runs out of steam and stops being a musical after a few songs. The sequel deals with one of my least-favorite concepts – explaining stuff that didn’t need an explanation. Specifically, it delves into where Elsa’s powers came from, and we really didn’t need that. But the film works despite this, and expands into a heart-warming, tear-inducing saga in which the characters from the first film go on another sweeping journey, and there are fewer scenes involving those annoying troll characters.
For fans of: Frozen, Tangled, getting a whole new set of songs stuck in your head.
HaywireNow Streaming on Netflix
Release Date: 2011
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Cast: Gina Carano, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton, Channing Tatum, Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas
Steven Soderbergh‘s ass-kicking, star-studded action flick has Gina Carano as Mallory Kane, a government operative who is betrayed by her own handlers. What’s a girl to do but beat the shit out of everyone and anyone who has crossed her. Carano, an MMA fighter turned actor, doesn’t exactly have range, but she certainly knows how to punch and kick people, resulting in fight scenes that look incredible – and brutal. Soderbergh has made more high-prestige pics than this, but Haywire is an absolute blast.
For fans of: Watching Gina Carano strangle Michael Fassbender with her legs.
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Stuart Wilson
Swashbuckling at its finest, The Mask of Zorro is an old-school adventure done right. The original Zorro Anthony Hopkins has been imprisoned for years, and finally manages to escape to enact revenge against his arch enemy – a man who killed his wife and stole his daughter to raise her as his own. Since Zorro is a little advanced in years now he starts training a younger man to take over the title. That man is Antonio Banderas as Alejandro Murrieta, who starts off as a pathetic drunk and then turns into a handsome, dashing, sword-fighting hero. It’s entertaining to the extreme.
For fans of: Swords!!! Lots and lots of swords!
The ImposterNow Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Release Date: 2012
Director: Bart Layton
The Imposter is one of the most jaw-dropping documentaries you’ll ever see. It tells the story of Frédéric Bourdin, a con man who pretended to be Nicholas Barclay, a boy who vanished three years ago. That Bourdin impersonated Barclay isn’t the shocking part. What makes The Imposter truly remarkable is the fact that Barclay’s family fully accepted Bourdin into their family, even though it was pretty clear he wasn’t Nicholas. Bart Layton‘s doc has interviews with nearly everyone involved – including Bourdin – while also staging cinematic recreations to paint a truly strange portrait of people willing to believe anything.
For fans of: American Animals, Man on Wire, lying.
Dog SoldiersNow Streaming on Shudder
Release Date: 2002
Director: Neil Marshall
Cast: Sean Pertwee, Kevin McKidd, Emma Cleasby, Liam Cunningham
Neil Marshall‘s Dog Soldiers is a howlingly good time – a tale of soldiers on a training mission who end up having to battle werewolves. It’s kind of like a werewolf version of Predator, only much more British. Deftly blending comedy and horror, Dog Soldiers gives the werewolf genre new life, and the practical effects can’t be beaten. While not as intense as Marshall’s The Descent, Dog Soldiers is one of the best indie horror pics of the 21st century.
For fans of: An American Werewolf in London, Predator, creative werewolf designs.
The Last StandNow Streaming on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu
Release Date: 2013
Director: Kim Jee-woon
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Johnny Knoxville, Forest Whitaker, Jaimie Alexander, Rodrigo Santoro
The Last Stand was Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s big comeback – his first leading role in the ten years, after his political career. Alas, the movie wasn’t that big of a hit, and critics were mixed. But the film is a lot of fun. It’s a modern-day Western, with Schwarzenegger playing a small-town lawman who has to suddenly spring into action when he learns that a crime lord is barrelling towards his town. It’s not exactly high-art, but director Kim Jee-woon overloads the pic with style and big action, and Arnold does well with the material, playing his character not as an action hero but as an older guy who has to get into the fight when he’s spent years resigned to taking it easy.
For fans of: Arnold Schwarzenegger shooting big guns.
Until the End of the WorldNow Streaming on The Criterion Channel
Release Date: 1991
Genre: Sci-fi Drama
Director: Wim Wenders
Cast: William Hurt, Solveig Dommartin, Sam Neill, Max von Sydow, Rüdiger Vogler, Ernie Dingo, Jeanne Moreau
A nuclear-powered satellite is hurtling towards earth, and civilization is crumbling. Claire Tourneur Solveig Dommartin travels the world, following after Sam Farber William Hurt, who has a device that can enable the blind to see – and more. It’s an odd premise, and the end result is a film unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. For one thing, it’s nearly five hours long. That may seem overwhelming to you, but remember: you need to stay indoors for the foreseeable future. And it’s easy to get swept up in Until the End of the World‘s sprawling, dreamlike nature, and give in to the journey director Wim Wenders is taking you on.
For fans of: Wings of Desire, Paris, Texas, narration from Mr. Sam Neill.
SafeNow Streaming on The Criterion Channel
Release Date: 1995
Director: Todd Haynes
Cast: Julianne Moore, Peter Friedman, Xander Berkeley, Susan Norman, Kate McGregor-Stewart, James LeGros
Highly disturbing and strikingly unique, Todd Haynes‘s Safe is the perfect uncomfortable viewing for these uncomfortable times. Julianne Moore is Carol White, a housewife who begins to grow seriously ill. Doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with her, and Carol soon suspects she has some sort of environmental allergy that’s slowly destroying her body. Her solution is to head to a retreat run by a New Age guru – but even that won’t solve the problem.
For fans of: Mysterious illnesses. We all love those, right?