Best Movies Streaming Right Now

(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.) 

In dire need of something to stream, right now? Right this very minute? Then you’re in luck! As usual, I’ve scoured the best streaming services and brought back the best streaming options available for your viewing pleasure. Here you’ll find a saga from Paul Thomas Anderson; a dramadey about writer’s block; an underrated film from M. Night Shyamalan; a John Carpenter classic; a horror movie unlike any other; a star-studded alien invasion comedy; and more!

These are the best movies streaming right now. Let’s get streaming.

The Best Movies Streaming Right Now

1. Magnolia
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Release Date: 1999

Genre: Ensemble drama

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast: Jeremy Blackman, Tom Cruise, Melinda Dillon, Philip Baker Hall, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Jay, William H. Macy, Alfred Molina, Julianne Moore, John C. Reilly, Jason Robards, Melora Walters

Paul Thomas Anderson‘s lovely, lengthy zig-zag in and out of the lives of several California residents is ambitious to a fault. While Anderson has said in recent years he thinks the film is probably too long, the length is part of what makes Magnolia so special. It’s one of those game-changing movies; the type of film that opens your eyes to a whole new world of movie making. I can distinctly remember seeing the film in theaters in 1999, then coming out of the theater and just standing there as it rained, completely blown away by what I had seen. Here is a film about love, and loss, and biblical plagues. A film about human frailty, and regret, and deplorable behavior. Magnolia has a pulse; it is a living, breathing thing. And what a cast! Tom Cruise gives unquestionably the best performance of his career here, and he doesn’t even do a single death-defying stunt.

For fans of: Short CutsBoogie NightsInherent Vice, frogs.

 

2. Wonder Boys
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2000

Genre: Dramadey

Director: Curtis Hanson

Cast: Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire, Frances McDormand, Katie Holmes, Rip Torn, Robert Downey Jr.

The late, great Curtis Hanson helms this funny, charming adaptation of Michael Chabon‘s novel. Michael Douglas is an English professor toting around a monster of a novel he can’t finish due to writer’s block. His wife just left him, his publisher wants the book, and he just discovered he got the woman he was having an affair with (Frances McDormand) pregnant. If that weren’t enough, he also gets wrapped up in a misadventure with a student (Tobey Maguire) on a quest to find Marilyn Monroe’s coat. It’s not easy to adapt prose like Chabon’s to the screen, but Hanson and screenwriter Steve Kloves pull it off deftly, crafting a literary-yet-cinematic saga that’s ultimately about people and the actions (and inactions) they take.

For fans of: The World According to GarpThe Ice StormYou Can Count on Me, Robert Downey Jr. playing someone other than Tony Stark.

 

3. The Village
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 2004

Genre: Supernatural thriller (with a twist!)

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody, Bryce Dallas Howard, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver, Brendan Gleeson

I will always go to bat for The Village. For many, this film was the beginning of the end for M. Night Shyamalan (although he’s since bounced back with the general public). People were apparently fed-up with Shyamalan’s twist ending routine, and the marketing for The Village didn’t help much. This film was sold as an out-and-out horror film, full of jump scares and terrifying monsters. But that’s not what The Village is. It is instead a quiet, reflective, beautiful film about grief and fear (two emotions which are often intertwined). Yes, there’s a twist at the end – two twists, in fact. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the achingly human story Shyamalan tells about a community living in fear. Bryce Dallas Howard is phenomenal here, playing a young blind girl who sees more than most people around her. Other highlights include stunning, painterly cinematography from Roger Deakins and a beautiful, string-based score from James Newton Howard. If you’ve avoided this film because of bad hype, or haven’t seen it since 2004, I urge you to give it a chance. It’s much, much better than its reputation suggests.

For fans of: The New WorldSignsThe Witch, Joaquin Phoenix mumbling.

 

4. Escape from New York
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Release Date: 1981

Genre: Sci-fi action-film

Director: John Carpenter

Cast: Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, Donald Pleasence, Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, Adrienne Barbeau

They don’t make ’em like this anymore. John Carpenter is primarily known for horror, but he also occasionally branched out to make weird, wonderful genre pictures that star Kurt Russell. Russell is Snake Plissken, the ultimate badass, complete with an eye patch. In the future, New York has been turned into a prison island (makes sense!), and unfortunately, the American president (Donald Pleasence) has been shot down and taken prisoner somewhere in NYC. The government forces Snake to go in and rescue him, and to do so, Snake will have to fight off an entire island full of freaks and weirdos. It’s a blast, and features another propulsive-yet-sparse musical core from Carpenter himself.

For fans of: Assault on Precinct 13Escape from L.A.Big Trouble in Little China, the song “Bandstand Boogie”.

 

5. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 1974

Genre: Horror

Director: Tobe Hooper

Cast: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, Gunnar Hansen, John Dugan

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of those rare horror films that feels wrong. It feels like we’re watching something we really should not be seeing; like someone smuggled out a real snuff film and packaged it as a normal movie. Tobe Hooper‘s low-budget nightmare finds a group of young people fending off a cannibal family featuring a chainsaw-wielding behemoth. The grit and grain all over the film stock lends an unsettling air of authenticity – Texas Chainsaw looks grimy. Almost as if you could wipe a white cloth across the screen and have it come away caked in filth. For pure, visceral terror, you can’t beat this film.

For fans of: The Hills Have EyesEaten AliveNight of the Living Dead, feeling the need to take a shower after watching a movie.

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