Best Movies Streaming Right Now Godzilla vs. Kong

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

Godzilla vs. Kong
Now Streaming on HBO Max

Release Date: 2021

Genre: Monster Movie

Director: Adam Wingard

Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Millie Bobby Brown, Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Shun Oguri, Eiza González, Julian Dennison, Lance Reddick, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir

Godzilla vs. Kong isn’t the best MonsterVerse movie, but it is the entry with the most amount of sheer entertainment. After struggling with the formula, the franchise has found its groove, as director Adam Wingard makes sure to limit the dumb human characters to bit parts while the monsters take center stage (this is likely the result of many test screenings – there were several cast members who ended up cut out of the film entirely and others who had their parts cut down to one quick scene, making this kind of The Thin Red Line of chonky monster movies). The plot is pure hokum: scientists want to use massive ape Kong to help find a way into the Hollow Earth. Meanwhile, Godzilla is out there and he’s hurting people, and we don’t know why! These two big boys are on a collision course which results in big, destructive fights that are continuously exciting. Catch this one before it leaves HBO Max at the end of the month.

For fans of: GodzillaKong: Skull Island, neon monster fights.

 

McCabe and Mrs. Miller
Now Streaming on The Criterion Channel

Release Date: 1971

Genre: Western

Director: Robert Altman

Cast: Warren Beatty, Julie Christie

Robert Altman‘s bleak, funny, wintry post-modern Western McCabe and Mrs. Miller follows a gambler (Warren Beatty) who goes into business with a madame (Julie Christie) to set up a brothel in a grimy mining town. Business booms, but a major corporation soon arrives on the scene and poses a threat to everything Beatty and Christie have built. This is an anti-Western, void of the tropes and cliches we’ve come to associate with the genre. Like many Altman films of the period, everything is shaggy and lived-in, and the audio is often downright surreal – overlapping conversations are common and unexpected.

For fans of: Days of HeavenThe Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, Leonard Cohen

 

Devil in a Blue Dress
Now Streaming on Amazon and Hulu

Release Date: 1995

Genre: Neo-Noir

Director: Carl Franklin

Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals, Don Cheadle

In a more sane world, Devil in the Blue Dress would’ve been the first in a series of movies starring Denzel Washington as accidental private eye Ezekiel “Easy” Rawlins. But the film underperformed at the box office, killing any chance of a sequel. Thankfully, time has been kind to Carl Franklin‘s film, which is twisty, alluring, and boasts some great performances. Washington is his usual movie star self as Easy Rawlins, a Black man just trying to get by in 1940s Los Angeles. Easy gets recruited to help a private eye track down a missing woman (Jennifer Beals), but in true noir tradition, there’s more than the case than meets the eye. When things get hot, Easy calls in an old friend – the volatile and violent Mouse, played to perfection by Don Cheadle.

For fans of: ChinatownOut of Time, movies that don’t have sequels even though they should.

 

Lake Mungo
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 2008

Genre: Horror

Director: Joel Anderson

Cast: Talia Zucker, Rosie Traynor, David Pledger

One of the very best “found footage” horror movies ever made, Lake Mungo is a haunting, melancholy ghost story. After teenager Alice drowns during a family outing, her parents and brother are understandably wracked with guilt. But things change when they begin to suspect that Alice’s ghost is in lurking around the house. A documentary film crew covers all this, trying to get to the bottom of the story. Rather than relying on cheap jump scares, Lake Mungo instead builds up a steady, almost unbearable amount of dread, coupled with the sadness of grief. The end result is chilling and nothing short of remarkable.

For fans of: HereditaryDon’t Look Now, being creeped out.

 

The Block Island Sound
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 2021

Genre: Sci-Fi Horror

Director: Kevin McManus and Matthew McManus

Cast: Michaela McManus, Chris Sheffield, Neville Archambault, Jim Cummings

A creepy slow-burn, The Block Island Sound is one of those films that proves you can do a lot with a little. Local fisherman Tom (Neville Archambault) has been acting strangely. Is he suffering from sort of dementia? His adult son Harry (Chris Sheffield) doesn’t know, and doesn’t want to know – but ignoring things becomes impossible when Tom’s boat turns up empty one morning and Tom’s badly bruised body washes ashore some time later. Harry’s sister Audry (Michaela McManus) is on hand to help after Tom’s death, but by then, Harry has begun acting strange himself. Is he dealing with the same thing that inflicted his father? And what’s the deal with all the unexplainable stuff going on late at night? The Block Island Sound‘s payoff isn’t quite as strong as it could be, but everything leading up to it is so effectively unsettling that the end result is a success.

For fans of: The Dark and the WickedRelic, the horrors of Rhode Island.

 

The Last Cruise
Now Streaming on HBO Max

Release Date: 2021

Genre: Documentary

Director: Hannah Olson

Imagine Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion remade as a found footage movie and you might come close to imagining The Last Cruise. Of course, The Last Cruise isn’t fictional – it’s real. In early 2020, before any of use really had any idea what the coronavirus was, the Diamond Princess cruise ship became a kind of hotbed for COVID-19 infections. As cases in the United States were still in the single digits, the passengers on the Diamond Princess began to become infected at an alarming rate, leading the ship to be quarantined in the Port of Yokohama in Japan. On February 4, 10 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 (ultimately, 712 out of the 3,711 passengers and crew would test positive for the virus, and 14 people died). Director Hannah Olson takes bits of footage shot by passengers and crew/staff members on the ship and assembles it into a disturbing narrative. Not only do we watch as the virus spreads, we also see the horrific way that the Diamond Princess treated their staff. While every luxury possible was afforded to the passengers in quarantine, the staff members were forced to huddle together in extremely cramped, unventilated quarters, spreading infection among themselves but unable to get off the boat for treatment. After the majority of the passengers have been removed from the ship, either to hospitals or to return home, there’s a truly disturbing moment where a staff member talks about growing fears that someone – the government, perhaps – will literally try to sink the ship and kill the remaining crew in order to contain the virus. This is an often hard movie to watch, but it’s also impossible to look away from.

For fans of: Anxiety.

 

Unstoppable
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2010

Genre: Action Thriller

Director: Tony Scott

Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson

All you need for a movie is Denzel Washington, Tony Scott, and a runaway train, to paraphrase Jean-Luc Godard. Tony Scott was often derided in his lifetime, but now that he’s gone, it’s pretty damn clear that so many took him for granted. Was Scott’s work over-the-top and sometimes even erratic? Sure, but the man had style. Scott’s final film Unstoppable is one of his most enjoyable movies – a pure adrenaline thrill-ride in which Washington and Chris Pine play train conductors trying to stop a runaway train loaded up with toxic chemicals. It’ll be easier said than done because as you might have guessed, that train is unstoppable.

For fans of: Man on FireDeja Vu, lots of shots of trains.

 

Cat People
Now Streaming on Shudder

Release Date: 1942

Genre: Horror

Director: Jacques Tourneur

Cast: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph

A horror classic, Cat People follows Irena (Simone Simon), a woman from Serbia living in New York. She falls in love and gets married, but there’s a catch – she’s convinced she’s cursed to turn into a giant cat if she gets too horny. Yes, really. Despite that seemingly lurid premise, Cat People is a subtle, slow-burn that builds up dread and scares without ever actually showing the audience anything – it’s all about the power of suggestion, and it works like gangbusters.

For fans of: I Walked With a ZombieCat People 1982, movies about people afraid of being too horny.

 

Pulse
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

Release Date: 2001

Genre: Horror

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Cast: Kumiko Aso, Haruhiko Kato, Koyuki, Kurume Arisaka

A haunting, melancholy, isolating ghost story that feels all the more relevant these days, Pulse tells the tale of ghosts slowly invading the world of the living via the internet. I know how ludicrous that sounds, but Pulse, aka Kairo, manages to take this idea and turn it into something genuinely chilling. The way the ghosts appear here – silently and slowly revealed via shadows – is unnerving to the extreme, and the film’s overwhelming loneliness makes it the perfect ghost story for our pandemic age.

For fans of: RinguOne Missed Call, dated computer technology.

 

Waterworld
Now Streaming on Netflix

Release Date: 1995

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Cast: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tina Majorino, Michael Jeter

Waterworld was a notorious flop, but Kevin Costner‘s post-apocalyptic action pic is better than its reputation suggests. Sure, it’s basically Mad Max set on the high seas instead of a desert wasteland, but it’s big, crazy, and full of expensive-looking special effects. The polar ice caps have melted, flooding the world, and everyone is hoping to find dry land. Can a mysterious mutant (Costner) who drinks his own piss help locate it? Maybe, but first, he’ll have to deal with a very over-the-top Dennis Hopper.

For fans of: The Mad Max series, The Postman, movies where you can literally see the overstuffed budget burning up on the screen.

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