(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.
Streaming on Amazon Prime Video 12/1/2017
With Silence, Martin Scorsese made one of the best films of his career, and one of the best films of the last five years. And nobody bothered to see it. I get it: the film, about a tormented monk, doesn’t exactly scream “box office gold.” But it still would’ve been nice if the film had found an audience. If you missed Silence in theaters (and I’m sure many of you did), you’re in luck: the film is hitting Amazon Prime Video. Set in the 17th century, Silence stars Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver as two monks who travel to Japan to find their missing mentor (Liam Neeson). They get a lot more than they bargained for. I’m normally not a huge fan of Garfield (the actor, not the carb-loving cat), but he gives an astonishing performance here, emotionally wrought and physically demanding. It’s hands-down the best thing he’s ever done. Silence isn’t an easy film to watch, and it deals with heavy existential themes, and hard-hitting themes of faith. But it’s truly magnificent, and deserves to be seen. Scorsese continues to show, again and again, even at this late stage in his career, why he’s one of the best filmmakers of all time. That may sound like hyperbole, but I genuinely believe it. You could even say I have faith in it.
For fans of: The Mission, The Witch, The Last Temptation of Christ, Andrew Garfield with various beards.
2. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Before Iron Man made Robert Downey Jr. a blockbuster movie star, he was still considered something of a gamble. His past troubles with substance abuse tanked his career for a while, but he slowly climbed his way back up to the top. Eventually, Marvel would turn him into a huge deal, but right before that, he appeared in Shane Black’s hilarious post-modern noir Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Downey Jr. plays a two-bit thief who gets mistaken for an actor and ends up in Hollywood, where he’s soon paired with a private detective, played to perfection by Val Kilmer. Along the way, the pair get mixed up in an increasingly confusing mystery, and pick up a third member of the group: Michelle Monaghan, playing a childhood crush of Downey Jr.’s who has languished in a go-nowhere acting career ever since coming to Hollywood. Black’s snappy, clever dialogue makes this thing sing, but its the performance that sell it all so well. Downey Jr. is doing that smarmy, fast-talking thing he seems to do in all his movies now, but it works. Kilmer is hilarious. And why this film didn’t turn Monaghan, who steals almost the entire film, into a super star remains a mystery to me. Bonus: like most Shane Black films, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is set during Christmas time, which means it’s the perfect film to get you in the holiday spirit.
For fans of: The Nice Guys, The Last Boy Scout, Lethal Weapon, profuse banter.
3. The Good Place
Now Streaming on Netflix
Yes, I know. This is usually a list devoted to movies, and The Good Place is a TV show. I’m cheating. I’m allowed to, it’s my column. You might have heard of The Good Place, a comedy from Parks and Recreation creator Michael Schur, but you also may have never given it a chance. I, too, was like this. I’m a busy person, so it’s hard to give every single TV show a chance. I usually bide my time, and listen to the buzz, and then see if a show ends up streaming somewhere. So when The Good Place season 1 found its way to Netflix, I decided to give it a chance, and I was not disappointed. In fact, I was blown away at how funny, and clever, and different the show is. Kristen Bell wakes up in the afterlife and finds herself in the Good Place, an idyllic paradise where seemingly everything you could ever want is obtainable. There’s only one big problem: Bell is not the person the powers-that-be who run the Good Place thinks she is, and there’s a very good chance she belongs in the dreaded Bad Place. There’s a lot more going on here, but to give any of it away would do the show a diservice, as part of its charm is how surprising it ends up being, going in directions you’d never expect. Bell is great and finds just the right balance for her tricky character to keep her likable while still being a jerk, and the cast around her – William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto, Ted Danson and especially D’Arcy Carden – are all dynamite. The Good Place is currently airing its second season, and it’s been renewed for a third. So if you’ve yet to give it a chance, now’s the time. You won’t regret it.
For fans of: Parks and Recreation, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, puns galore.
4. Secret Honor
Now Streaming on FilmStruck
Before there was Twitter, hateful presidents had to air their grievances in another way. Robert Altman‘s Secret Honor focuses on the ranting and ravings of Richard Nixon, sometime in the late 1970s following his failed presidency. As played by Philip Baker Hall, Nixon runs through a monologue about his life and political career, frequently changing the narrative whenever he sees fit. This is literally a one-man-show, with Hall the only person appearing in the film. Thankfully, Hall is a commanding enough actor that he’s able to hold our attention through the film’s 90 minute runtime. It would’ve been very easy for Hall to slip into a caricature of Nixon and attempt to mimic the disgraced president’s voice. Hall however adopts a different method for the role, avoiding parody and creating something unique.
For fans of: Nixon, Frost/Nixon, Talk Radio, flop-sweaty rage.
5. Dead Ringers
Now Streaming on Shudder
Jeremy Irons gives not one but two magnificent performances in David Cronenberg‘s chilly 1988 psychological thriller Dead Ringers. Irons plays two twin brothers who both happen to be renowned gynecologists. The two have what could be classified as an unhealthy relationship, and they tend to play a game where they switch places and impersonate each other, even on dates. Things grow complicated when the more-gentle of the twins falls for a patient, played by Geneviève Bujold. One of Cronenberg’s best films, Dead Ringers is a twisty, twisted experience, loaded with scenes meticulously designed to make the audience shift uncomfortably in their seats. At the center of it all is Irons, who does stunning work here playing two very distinct characters. The very nature of the storyline, with the twins switching places, could’ve made for easy confusion, but Irons’ performances are so good you never once get tripped up. It’s quite impressive.
For fans of: Videodrome, The Fly, Sisters, Jeremy Irons talking to himself.
Source: Slash Film