The weekend before last, a seemingly under-the-radar film called I Can Only Imagine wound up being a surprise box office hit. It was the first in a string of faith-based movies set to roll out in the weeks leading up to Easter. Paul, Apostle of Christ, a biblical drama starring Jim Caviezel, opened last Friday, and a second sequel to the 2014 hit God’s Not Dead sees release this week.

Caviezel, of course, played Jesus in Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, and that movie is a prime example of how religious films are often underestimated when it comes to commercial success. Made on modest budgets, these movies have built-in support from an underserved niche of filmgoers who find their beliefs at odds with the pool of available viewing content. Local churches embrace the films in grass-roots campaigns, and it doesn’t hurt if they have ties to a bestselling Christian music single or self-help book. This is how I Can Only Imagine was able to win the weekend over Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, a movie that deliberately downplayed the Christian elements of its source material.

By now, there are enough titles out there that religious films have gotten to be a genre in and of themselves. Yet they almost always seem to be under a quality curse, much like video game movies. Those that aren’t outright bad tend to be mediocre. Why are so many faith-based movies subpar? And what movies actually get this right?

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Martin Scorsese Silence streaming

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

Happy Holidays, I guess. As we wind down the clock on this garbage year, let us take time to appreciate the few good things in life: movies. Where would we be without movies? The answer, I think, is the grave. Or maybe I’m exaggerating. Either way, there’s something comforting about tuning out the world for two hours or so and engrossing yourself in a moving piece of entertainment (unless you’re one of those jerks who looks at their phone through an entire movie; stop that, kids).

If you’re looking for some streaming recommendations as the days grow shorter and winter arrives, look no further. I’ve assembled a hearty helping of films for you to sample. There’s a new Martin Scorsese masterpiece, a Shane Black comedy, a film about a ranting, raving president (no, not the current one), a suburban Western, and more! Here are the best movies streaming right now! So let’s get streaming.

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silence andrew garfield

The nominees for the 89th Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning and, as usual, there were plenty of moments that made you want to shout “Come on!” And to be fair, there were also plenty of moments where you smirked and announced to the empty room “Well, at least they got that one right.”

The paint isn’t even dry on these new Oscar nominations, but it’s time to dive in and start picking them apart. So let’s start with the knee-jerk reactions. Let’s take a look at the biggest surprises and snubs of the 2017 Oscar nominations.

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/Filmcast Ep. 400 – Silence

Silence Trailer

DavidDevindra and Jeff reflect on 400 episodes of the /Filmcast, discuss the Golden Globes, and also reflect on how the television format is changing. Be sure to read about the relevance of Children of Men as well as Jen Yamato’s review of Silence.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993. Also, like us on Facebook!
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Silence Trailer

This weekend brings the limited release of Martin Scorsese‘s adaptation of Silence, a project that has been over 20 years in the making for the GoodFellas and Taxi Driver director. And now a powerful new international trailer has just debuted online.

Silence follows two 17th-century missionaries (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) as they face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan, where Christianity was outlawed at the time, to find their missing mentor (Liam Neeson).

Watch the new Silence trailer after the jump. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

best original score shortlist

Johann Johannsson’s (Sicario) heart pounding Arrival score was disqualified as a contender in the Best Original Score category. The Academy deemed Leslie Barber‘s Manchester by the Sea and Kathryn Kluge’s Silence scores ineligible as well. They were ruled out for not being “substantial enough,” but the exclusion of Arrival had to do with Max Richter‘s “This Bitter Earth.”

Below, check out the best original score shortlist.

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Silence Reviews

Director Martin Scorsese has been trying to get his adaptation of Japanese author Sh?saku End?‘s novel Silence off the ground for over 20 years. Now the film is finally hitting theaters later this month, and the first reviews have hit the web.

The film isn’t in line with the kind of movie more casual moviegoers are used to getting from Martin Scorsese, who is better known for movies like The Departed, The Wolf of Wall Street, Gangs of New York, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and GoodFellas. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have the same high quality we’ve come to expect from the filmmaker as he crafts something more along the lines of his films such as The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun.

If you haven’t kept up with the development of Silence, the film follows two 17th-century missionaries (played by Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) as they face the ultimate test of faith when they travel to Japan to find their missing mentor (Liam Neeson). So how did Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating passion project pan out? Read some of the first Silence reviews after the jump.

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afi awards

We’re in awards season, which means it’s the time of year when critics’ groups praise their favorites, top 10 lists are published, and words like “overrated” and “underrated” become overused. Awards season can lead to healthy or unnecessarily heated debates among film fans online. The AFI Awards 2016 Official Selections may cause a disagreement or two, especially since they awarded Mel Gibson‘s Hacksaw Ridge and Clint Eastwood‘s Sully, but they’ve also selected other titles that do represent the best of 2016.

Below, see which movies the AFI Awards honored for the 17th year of voting.

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Top 25 Movies of 2016

The end of year is always accompanied by a parade of lists and rankings and recaps and awards, all of the assembled by publications and groups of all sizes and tastes. At its best, this is a season of celebration, of looking back on the year and appreciating the absolute best cinema from past 52 weeks. At its worst, it can be a little mind-numbing, especially when a writer you usually trust puts something especially boneheaded in that number one spot.

One of the beacons amidst the noise is always film critic’s David Ehrlich‘s annual top 25 video, which serves not only as his official list, but as a work of art in and of itself. Honestly, I look forward to these videos as much as I look forward to some movies and I’ve never been disappointed. His Top 25 Movies of 2016 picks do not disappoint.

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silence early buzz

Martin Scorsese has been working on Silence for literally decades now, and in just a few weeks we’ll finally get to see the fruits of his labor. Unless, that is, you’re one of the few lucky critics who’ve already had the chance to watch it. Yup, Silence has begun screening, and the first reactions are now rolling in. Get the Silence early buzz below. Read More »