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.) 

Here we are again. The time has come for an all-new edition of Now Stream This, your number-one source for streaming recommendations on the plethora of streaming services. This edition is loaded with films from several different eras – the ’60s, the ’80s, the ’90s…even the terrible 2000s make an appearance. We have a David Lean masterpiece, a near-perfect neo-noir, an undervalued hard boiled horror movie, one of Christopher Nolan‘s less-talked-about movies, a goofy sci-fi action flick, and more.

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

The Best Movies Streaming Right Now

1. Lawrence of Arabia
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Release Date: 1962

Genre: Historical epic

Director: David Lean

Cast: Peter O’Toole, Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jack Hawkins, José Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy, Omar Sharif

Let’s get this out of the way: watching Lawrence of Arabia on a TV will never compare to seeing it on the biggest screen possible. That said, David Lean‘s historical epic is so masterful that even if you do stream it via FilmStruck, you’ll still be getting a great experience. Lawrence tells the tale of British Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence (Peter O’Toole) as he journeys to Arabia during World War I. Lawrence is supposed to serve as liaison between Arabs and the Brits in the fight against the Turks, but soon goes against his orders to embark on a dangerous adventure. This film is epic in every sense of the word – the scope is huge, the runtime is exhausting, and the story itself feels so heavy that it almost weighs you down. But Lean’s direction and that stunning cinematography elevate it all. The real secret ingredient to making it all work is editor Anne V. Coates, who died this week at the age of 92. Coates finds cohesion in all this story, and also is responsible for creating the best match cut in film history.

For fans of: The Bridge on the River KwaiRaiders of the Lost ArkKingdom of Heaven, camels.

 

2. L.A. Confidential
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 1997

Genre: Neo-noir

Director: Curtis Hanson

Cast: Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito

Few films approach perfection. But Curtis Hanson‘s L.A. Confidential is as near-perfect as any film can hope to get. Hanson and co-writer Brian Helgeland boil down James Ellroy‘s sprawling crime saga into an air-tight neo-noir about violent men in a violent world. The story focuses on three very different cops – ultra-violent hot head Russell Crowe, smug by-the-book Guy Pearce, and showboating Kevin Spacey* – who all get caught up in a murder mystery that goes deeper than first appearances suggest. L.A. Confidential is a master-class in plotting – each scene is in service of the next. If you’ve somehow avoided seeing this, or haven’t seen it in years, I strongly urge you to catch up with it on Netflix. It remains pristine.

*Note: Yes, Kevin Spacey is in this. And he’s excellent. But Spacey is also a very toxic personality now, and I felt I would be remiss to not at least provide fair warning here. If the very presence of Spacey is enough of a trigger for you as a viewer, you should probably skip this, since he has a substantial role.

For fans of: The UntouchablesChinatownAmerican Gangster, Russell Crowe snapping the backs of chairs with his bare hands.

3. Angel Heart
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 1987

Genre: Horror-mystery

Director: Alan Parker

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Robert De Niro, Lisa Bonet, Charlotte Rampling

Alan Parker deftly blends horror and mystery with Angel Heart. Think of this as The Big Sleep meets Hellraiser, and you’ll be half-way there. Mickey Rourke is a private eye who gets hired by a super-creepy Robert De Niro to track down a missing singer. The case gets Rourke’s character mixed-up in voodoo and falling deeper into a pit of Satanic mystery. Often employing an abstract approach – long shadows, close-ups on blood splashes on walls, disembodied sounds – Parker conjures up a feeling of dread from the get-go. There’s a twist here that you might see coming, but it doesn’t matter. Angel Heart is so stylishly put together and so engaging that its obviousness is an afterthought.

 

4. Body Heat
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Release Date: 1981

Genre: Extra sweaty neo-noir

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Cast: William Hurt, Kathleen Turner, Richard Crenna

Solo: A Star Wars Story screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan helms this steamy, sweaty flick about sex, murder and everything in between. William Hurt is a weak-willed lawyer who gets mixed up with ultra-hot, ultra-dangerous dame Kathleen Turner during a blistering heat wave. Body Heat is a throwback to 1940s noir, and as a result, Kasdan attempts to blend eras – not always successfully. The story is set in 1980s, but everyone acts like they’re from three decades earlier. No matter: Body Heat is a hoot, and Turner sizzles on the screen as she gets Hurt mixed up in a plot to off her husband (Richard Crenna). Is there plenty of smooth jazz music? Yes, there is. To people pop-open their shirts one button at a time to reveal glistening skin? Oh boy, yes they do. Is there art deco everywhere? Absolutely. It’s a blast.

For fans of: Double IndemnityThe Postman Always Rings TwiceRed Rock West, William Hurt’s mustache.

 

5. Insomnia
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2002

Genre: Thriller

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank, Maura Tierney, Martin Donovan, Nicky Katt, Paul Dooley

Insomnia doesn’t get brought up as much as Christopher Nolan‘s other films, but it should. Nolan’s film is a remake of a 1997 Norwegian film, and while Nolan’s take on the material isn’t as hauntingly bleak as the original, it’s still a worthy successor. Al Pacino is a weary cop who ends up in an Alaskan town where the sun is perpetually out. Pacino is trying to solve a murder, and he actually solves it pretty quickly, coming face to face with the killer – played by Robin Williams. Unfortunately, Pacino accidentally shot and killed his partner while trying to catch Williams, and now he’s trying to cover it all up. Nolan brings his usual artistic chilliness to the film, conveying the weariness of Pacino’s character via blurry, over-lit shots. Pacino is an actor who tends to go big and broad in his later years, but his performance here is refreshingly subdued. The real draw, though, is the late Robin Williams. Williams may have been primarily known for his comedy, but he might have actually been an even better dramatic actor. Here, he brings a shocking, unsettling cold-heartedness to his calculating killer character.

For fans of: MementoOne Hour PhotoFollowing, a good night’s rest.

 

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