Now Stream This: 'The Muppet Christmas Carol', 'The Last Black Man In San Francisco', 'The Two Popes', And More Of The Best Movies 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, folks! This is a holiday week, which means many of us will finally have some much-needed time off. And while you could spend that time with your friends and family, why not blow them off and just watch stuff instead? If you need some ideas about what you should watch as we head into the holidays, I'm here to help. These are the best movies streaming right now.

The Best Movies Streaming Right Now

The Two Popes

Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 2019Genre: DramaDirector: Fernando MeirellesCast: Anthony Hopkins, Jonathan PryceThe Two Popes is an excuse to watch two great actors – Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce – go head-to-head and sink their teeth into a juicy script. This is a fictionalized (probably very fictionalized) take on the true story of the transfer of power from Pope Benedict XVI (Hopkins) to Pope Francis (Pryce). Mired in scandal, the conservative Benedict has decided that the Catholic Church needs to head in a new direction under the leadership of a far more liberal holy man. That would be Cardinal Bergoglio, the future Pope Francis. But Bergoglio isn't exactly jumping up and down for the gig. Director Fernando Meirelles stages what's essentially a two-man show, giving Hopkins and Pryce scene after scene where they talk theology as one man tries to convince the other to become the head of the church. What could've backfired into a talky, boring costume drama is instead bursting with energy, thanks to both Hopkins and Pryce's performances, and  Anthony McCarten's breezy script.For fans of: The Young PopeSleuth, big hats.

The Last Black Man In San Francisco

Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2019Genre: DramaDirector: Joe TalbotCast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Danny Glover, Tichina Arnold, Rob Morgan, Mike Epps, Finn Wittrock

Poetic, heartfelt, and wholly original, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is in a league of its own. This saga follows Jimmie Fails as he attempts to get back his family home in the shifting landscape that is San Francisco. Jimmie brings his best friend Mont Allen (Jonathan Majors) along for the ride in the struggle to gain control of a sprawling home in the Fillmore District. Director Joe Talbot fills the film with oddities and curiosities, creating a world that is both surreal and wholly real, all of it resulting in one of 2019's best films.

For fans of: Moonlight, The Royal Tenenbaums, skateboarding.


Now Streaming on Hulu

Release Date: 2019Genre: HorrorDirector: Larry FessendenCast: David Call, Joshua Leonard, Alex Breaux, Ana Kayne, Chloe Levine, Addison TimlinFrankenstein has been done to death, but leave it to indie horror auteur Larry Fessenden to find a way to make the story seem fresh and exciting. Fessenden's modern-day tale concerns an army medic (David Call) working on a secret project to reanimate the dead. Sure enough, he succeeds (there wouldn't be much of a story if he didn't), and his creation Adam (Alex Breaux) has to slowly adapt and learn it what it means to be human, all while flashes of his past life haunt him. Fessenden eventually gets the story to a somewhat predictable horror climax, but for the bulk of its runtime, Depraved is a surprisingly emotional drama that makes us care for the resurrected Adam.For fans of: Every other version of Frankenstein.

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Now Streaming on Disney+

Release Date: 1992Genre: Musical Holiday ComedyDirector: Brian HensonCast: Michael Caine and the Muppets

Potentially controversial statement: The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best movie adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic. I'm being dead serious here! The overall body of Dickens' work remains intact, and it also benefits from the gleeful absurdity of the Muppets being involved. Throw in some delightful songs from Paul Williams, and you've got yourself a hit. The big Christmas bow on this package, though is, Michael Caine, who goes all-in on playing Ebenezer Scrooge. What makes Caine's performance work so well is how serious he takes it. There's never any winking going on here. You never get the sense that Caine is acting with a bunch of puppets. He's just giving the best damn performance he can, acting as if all of this is perfectly natural.

For fans of: Every other version of A Christmas Carol.

The Shop Around the Corner

Now Streaming on the Criterion Channel

Release Date: 1940Genre: Romantic ComedyDirector: Ernst LubitschCast: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan

Curmudgeon James Stewart falls head over heels for a woman he's never met – his secret penpal. Little does he know, the secret penpal is a woman he's already well-acquainted with, played by Margaret Sullavan. If this plot sounds familiar to you, it's because it served as the inspiration for You've Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The Shop Around the Corner is a funny, romantic, and sometimes manic story, with the cranky Stewart oblivious to the fact that his potential love interest is his coworker, played by Sullavan. Shop doesn't give the female character much to do, unfortunately – but Sullavan still makes an impression, throwing herself fully into the role. The black and white Christmastime setting makes this a perfect movie to watch this time of year.

For fans of: You've Got MailIt's a Wonderful Life, musical cigarette boxes.


Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2014Genre: Drama-ThrillerDirector: Dan GilroyCast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed, Bill PaxtonJake Gyllenhaal embraced his inner weirdo with Nightcrawler, marking the beginning of the actor's career turn. Up until this point, Gyllenhaal had been slowly working his way up to generic blockbuster leading man roles. After the fiasco that was Prince of Persia, Gyllenhaal switched things up, and would soon be taking on more challenging, and altogether strange, parts. In Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a full-blown sociopath who discovers he has a knack for catching graphic crime scene footage. Lou is able to parlay this into a successful career, and he's able to become the best in the biz because he has absolutely no morals. Riz Ahmed is great as Lou's hapless assistant, but this is really Gyllenhaal's show. The actor shed a ton of weight to give himself a hungry, feral appearance, and it's a marvel to watch him work.For fans of: Ace in the HoleThe Talented Mr. Ripley, watching Jake Gyllenhaal go nuts.


Streaming on Netflix December 25

Release Date: 2019Genre: HorrorDirector: J.D. DillardCast: Kiersey ClemonsSweetheart was virtually ignored when it opened this year. But now it's headed to Netflix, giving a much bigger audience a chance to check it out. And they should, because J.D. Dillard's monster movie is lean and mean, and gets to the point rather quickly. Shipwrecked Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) washes up on a seemingly abandoned island and begins trying to take care of herself and hope for a rescue. But as really bad luck would have it, the island is also home to a giant, hungry monster, and Jenn is going to have to fight like hell to not become a late-night snack. Working with what was clearly a limited budget, Dillard is able to milk this premise for all its worth, and Clemons makes for an excellent, ass-kicking heroine.For fans of: Cast AwayPredator, really cool monster reveals.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 2018Genre: Sci-Fi AdventureDirector: Ron HowardCast: Alden Ehrenreich, Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, Paul Bettany

There's a new Star Wars movie in theaters this week! It's...not very good, at least in my humble opinion. Which brings me to Solo: A Star Wars Story. This prequel about everyone's favorite smuggler has received a reputation as the worst of the Disney-era Star Wars films, but I don't think that's very fair. Is Solo ground-breaking? Absolutely not. In fact, I'd even say it's not really about anything. But it's such a whiz-bang, old fashioned adventure flick that I find it very hard to dislike. Alden Ehrenreich is sure as hell no Harrison Ford, but he does a good job playing his own version of Han. And while Ron Howard's direction is workmanlike, he's aided by some gorgeous cinematography courtesy of Bradford Young (cinematography that got seriously short-changed due to lousy projection in theaters). Give Solo another chance – you might have fun.

For fans of: Indiana Jones movies (and Star Wars movies, too, I guess).

Unfriended: Dark Web

Now Streaming on HBO Now

Release Date: 2018Genre: HorrorDirector: Stephen SuscoCast: Colin Woodell, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Betty Gabriel, Connor Del Rio, Andrew Lees, Stephanie Nogueras, Savira Windyani

This sequel-in-name-only scraps the supernatural elements of Unfriended for a more grounded (sort of) horror movie set entirely on computer screens. I always come away impressed when a film like this works, because it really shouldn't. But Unfriended: Dark Web is a creepy success, telling a tale of a group of extremely online youths who find themselves targeted by some evil freaks on the dark web. Things get very ugly, very fast.

For fans of: SearchingThe Poughkeepsie Tapes, the horrors of the internet.

The Head Hunter

Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date:Genre:Director: Cast:

A gnarly, gory, stripped-down work of medieval horror, The Head Hunter shows how to do so much with so little. Utilizing essentially one cast member (Christopher Rygh), The Head Hunter concerns a monster hunter who makes his bones lopping off the heads of beasts terrorizing the kingdom. But he's forever on the hunt for the creature that killed his daughter years ago – and he finally gets it. Unfortunately, the monster's head doesn't stay dead for very long. The Head Hunter works so well because of its production design, which really nails down the grimy, filthy atmosphere the character inhabits, lending at ouch of authenticity that goes a long way.

For fans of: The Evil DeadBlack Death, mud and blood.