best movies streaming end of august

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

Another long holiday weekend is almost upon us. If you need something to stream over Labor Day Weekend, or beyond, I’m here to help. I’ve combed through numerous streaming sites, and returned with some must-see films. There’s a polarizing thriller from Darren Aronfosky, an iPhone-shot film from Steven Soderbergh, a fantasy epic based on the Knights of the Round Table, a Western/Sci-fi hybrid, a movie featuring two Jake Gyllenhaals, and more.

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

The Best Movies Streaming Right Now

1. mother!
Now streaming on Hulu

Release Date: 2017

Genre: Weirdo What-The-Fuckery

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer

mother! is, without question, a polarizing film. You’ll either love how absolutely batshit it is, or you’ll despise every second of it. I’m in the former category. Darren Aronofsky‘s horror movie meditation on tortured artists and their toxic self-importance isn’t for everyone, but I know it’s for me. Jennifer Lawrence is a young woman who just wants to live in peace with her much older husband, a writer played by Javier Bardem. Things go to hell very quickly when a stranger, played by Ed Harris, shows up at their door. Rather than turn this strange man away, Bardem invites him to spend the night. Then, the next day, Harris’ wife, played by a wonderfully boozy Michelle Pfeiffer, stops by as well. Thing escalate quickly from there. For its first hour, mother! seems like your standard thriller. Then, at some point, the film goes completely off the rails, turning into a nightmarish tale of biblical proportions. Things descend into absolute chaos, as Lawrence is put through the wringer. A blend of brutality and extremely black humor, mother! is designed to appall as much as is it is to entertain. Is Aronofsky screwing with his audience? Maybe. That doesn’t make the film any less special.

For fans of: Black SwanNoah, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, unbraced sinks.


2. Unsane
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime

Release Date: 2018

Genre: Thriller

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins

Steven Soderbergh‘s Unsane came and went with little attention, which is a damn shame! This isn’t high-art, nor is it Soderbergh’s best, but it’s a delightful B-movie throw-back. The type of flick William Castle might have produced back in the day. Shot on iPhones, Unsane follows a woman (Claire Foy, frantic and fantastic, even though her American accent keeps slipping) who accidentally commits herself to a mental hospital. That’s bad enough to begin with, but to make matters worse, a man who has been stalking Foy – played with creepy bland menace by The Blair Witch Project‘s Joshua Leonard – just happens to work at this particular mental hospital. Foy desperately tries to tell everyone about this development, but the staff all think she’s crazy – why else would she be in a mental hospital? Scary and unrelenting, Unsane builds toward a delightfully cheeky climax, complete with a freeze-frame final shot for the ages.

For fans of: A Cure for WellnessSide Effects, Strait-Jacket, the name Sawyer Valentini.


3. Out of Sight
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 1998

Genre: Sexy Crime Thriller Comedy

Director: Steven Soderbergh

Cast: George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, Albert Brooks

What the!? Two Steven Soderbergh movies back-to-back on this list? Have I gone crazy (or Unsane)? I normally like to keep this column diverse, and offer films from different filmmakers. But as both Unsane and Out of Sight are currently available to stream right now, I thought it would be a fascinating contrast to suggest both to you, dear reader. Because these films, while from the same filmmaker, couldn’t be more dissimilar. Unsane is unpolished, unsettling and raw, while Out of Sight is stylish, sexy and fun. Adapting Elmore Leonard’s novel of the same name, Soderbergh and editor Anne V. Coates create an unconventional crime caper about a crook (George Clooney) and an officer of the law (Jennifer Lopez) who are attracted to each other despite their very different fields. There’s a lot more going on here, but it’s secondary to the performances from Clooney and Lopez. The two have dynamite chemistry together, and it’s kind of a tragedy that no one has reunited them for another film since.

For fans of: Jackie BrownGet ShortyThe Limey, cameo appearances from Michael Keaton.


4. Excalibur
Now Streaming on FilmStruck

Release Date: 1981

Genre: Fantasy Epic

Director: John Boorman

Cast: Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Paul Geoffrey, Nicol Williamson, Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart

John Boorman takes the legend of King Arthur and molds it into this broad, trippy fantasy epic loaded with sex, swords and swagger. Boorman had previously been trying to mount a film adaptation of Lord of the Rings. When that didn’t happen, he went off and made this, a re-telling of the Arthurian legend shot through hazy filters and loaded with booming music from Trevor Jones. If Excalibur has a flaw, it’s that Nigel Terry, playing Arthur, is a bit forgettable. Thankfully, everyone around him is very memorable, particularly Nicol Williamson, playing the sorcerer Merlin. Excalibur is so ambitious, so over-loaded, that it’s somewhat of a mess. But what a beautiful mess it is. This movie will sweep you off your feet.

For fans of: The Lord of the Rings franchise, Conan the BarbarianMonty Python and the Holy Grail, Helen Freakin’ Mirren.


5. Joe
Now Streaming on Hulu

Release Date: 2013

Genre: Drama

Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter

Nicolas Cage gets a lot of guff for his over-the-top performances, but every now and then, he delivers something subtle as well. The best most recent example of this is Joe, a film featuring some of Cage’s best work. Here, the actor plays a gruff, stand-offish boss of a lumber crew. Cage’s hard exterior chisels a bit as he takes a new, very young team member (Tye Sheridan) under his wing. Sheridan comes from a very broken home, and Cage tries his best to look out for the kid. Joe hails from David Gordon Green, a filmmaker who somehow balances quiet, thoughtful indie films like this with broad, stoner comedies like Pineapple Express (and also high-profile reboots like the upcoming Halloween). Green has a light touch here, presenting Joe is a very matter-of-fact, no-frills way. He’s content to let his actors do the heavy lifting, which they do, and then some. Cage’s performance is sad and weary, and a huge contrast to his usual craziness.

For fans of: MudUndertowGeorge Washington, Nicolas Cage with a real beard that somehow looks fake.

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