Best Movies Streaming Right Now First Reformed

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

There’s a very long holiday weekend on the way. That means one thing: spending time with family! Just kidding – it actually means you now have an excuse to stay inside and stream some movies. Thank heavens I’m here to steer you in the right direction. In this edition of Now Stream This, you’ll find not one, not two, not three, but four of the year’s best films; a weirdo Western; a classic thriller; a somewhat forgotten Bill Murray movie; a great new horror TV series; and more.

These are the best movies streaming right now (and beyond). Let’s get streaming!

The Best Movies Streaming Right Now

1. First Reformed
Now streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2018

Genre: Existential Drama

Director: Paul Schrader

Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles

Ethan Hawke gives one of the year’s best performances in First Reformed, one of the year’s best movies. That’s a lot of bests, I admit, but First Reformed lives up to the hype, and then some. Paul Schrader‘s existential reflection on faith, love, death, climate change, and even more, is a hypnotic, captivating, and haunting experience. Ethan Hawke plays the reverend of a small church, suffering from a spiritual crisis. When one his parishioners turns to him for help, Hawke does his best, but his guidance leads him down a deep well of despair. It’s almost as if the depressed man he’s counseling has passed his depression on like a virus. Along the way, he develops a friendship with a very pregnant young woman (Amanda Seyfried). Schrader’s cerebral script draws you in, making great use of Hawke’s narration. It all builds to a climax that will leave you utterly shaken.

For fans of: Taxi DriverDiary of a Country Priest, Winter Light, Drano and barbed wire.

 

2. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 2018

Genre: Western Anthology

Director: The Coen Brothers

Cast: James Franco, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Kazan, Liam Neeson, Tim Blake Nelson, Tom Waits

The Coen Brothers head to the Old West with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. This anthology film tells six stories with one recurring theme: death. Death comes for many of the characters of Buster Scruggs, and when it does, it often comes in cruel, strange, and even macabrely funny ways. Some of the segments play out more like anecdotes than full-fledged stories – they’re over before we’ve learned a whole lout about the characters. But each story contains the trademark Coen brilliance – humorous, weird and wholly unique. The best story of the bunch – for my money – is the titular tale, in which Tim Blake Nelson plays a grinning, singing cowboy who also just happens to be a sociopathic murderer. Another highlight is a segment in which Tom Waits plays a grizzled prospector looking for gold. Like most Coen Brothers movies, I expect this to be wildly misunderstood for now, only to end up reappraised as a classic in a few years.

For fans of: O Brother, Where Art Thou?True GritNo Country For Old Men, chickens who can perform math.

 

3. Madeline’s Madeline
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2018

Genre: Beats me!

Director: Josephine Decker

Cast: Molly Parker, Miranda July, Helena Howard

What a wonder Madeline’s Madeline is. A rush, an enigma, a headtrip, Madeline’s Madeline is all that, and none of that. It’s everything, and nothing. It’s a whiz-bang, what-the-fuck-am-I-watching work of art. Josephine Decker‘s work here should be studied, marveled over, and awed at. Newcomer Helena Howard is a revelation as Madeline, a young actress working with a physical theater troupe lead by Molly Parker. Madeline has mental issues that aren’t quite explained, but it’s clear she’s troubled. She also has an uncanny ability to become whatever part she’s playing – human, animal and otherwise. Madeline’s talent is embraced and exploited by Parker’s character, all while Madeline’s long-suffering mother (Miranda July) tries her best to connect with her daughter. This is definitely not going to be for everyone – it’s light on plot and big on experience. But those looking for a marvelously unique viewing experience are in for a treat.

For fans of: mother!Me And You And Everyone We KnowAll That Jazz, cats.

 

4. Mandy
Streaming on Shudder November 29

Release Date: 2018

Genre: Psychedelic horror

Director: Panos Cosmatos

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, Bill Duke, Cheddar Goblin

In Mandy, the psychotic drowns where the mystic swims. Panos Cosmatos‘ acid-laced nightmare is like the airbrushed side of a panel van come to life, full of fantastical landscapes, occult imagery and swirling, bloody madness. Nicolas Cage – who is surprisingly reserved here – seeks revenge against a crazy cult that attacked him and his lady love, Mandy (played by human chameleon Andrea Riseborough). This could have been a simple revenge flick, but Cosmatos’ jaw-dropping visuals, and the film’s overall aesthetic turn Mandy into a masterpiece. Oh, and did I mention there’s a scene where Nicolas Cage fights a guy wielding a gigantic chainsaw?

For fans of: Beyond the Black RainbowAltered StatesEnter the Void, mac and cheese.

5. Klute
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 1971

Genre: Thriller

Director: Alan J. Pakula

Cast: Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, Charles Cioffi, Roy Scheider

Klute! I can’t imagine a major studio ever giving a film like this the greenlight today. But back in the ’70s, Warner Bros. did just that. Alan J. Pakula helms this strange, eerie mystery featuring a killer performance from Jane Fonda (she won an Oscar for her work here). Fonda plays Bree, a call girl who might be connected to a missing man. Enter John Klute (Donald Sutherland), a private eye trying to find out what happened to the wayward individual. Bree is hostile to Klute at first, but the two enter in a relationship that blossoms in unexpected ways. Together, they try to put the pieces together, entering into a mystery that involves obscene phone calls, dirty letters, and more. The mystery isn’t much of a mystery – Pakula clues us in to what’s going on much sooner than Klute and Bree solve it themselves. But the mystery is secondary. This is really about the anti-chemistry between Sutherland and Fonda. The two don’t work together – not really – and that’s what makes their relationship so fascinating. It reminds you of the relationship between Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. As good as Fonda and Sutherland are, the real star of Klute is the inky black cinematography from the legendary Gordon Willis (The Godfather). Willis, who loved shadows, bathes much of Klute in darkness, resulting in one of the most distinct-looking films of the era.

For fans of: All the President’s MenThe Parallax ViewThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Jane Fonda sporting a constantly-changing wardrobe.

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