While release dates and production schedules have been delayed, streaming platforms are showing no sign of slowing down. That being the case, there’s no better time than now to burn through your watchlist. To help you wade through the massive catalog of films available at your fingertips, we’ve rounded up some of the better new releases on the four most prominent platforms: Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime. Whether you’re looking for an Academy Award winner, political nail-biter, or a twisted arthouse film of the highest caliber, we have you covered.
Fruitvale Station (2013)
The movie that launched?Black Panther director Ryan Coogler into Hollywood fame,?Fruitvale Station?helped reinvigorate a conversation about police violence against African-Americans in the United States. Based on the story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan),?Fruitvale Station is told primarily through flashback, analyzing the series of events and assumptions that led to his arrest and the death of a friend at the hands of police. What was supposed to be a fun evening of watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve quickly unraveled into a dangerous and tragic altercation.?Fruitvale Station illuminates just how avoidable that tragedy was.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020)
In 1968, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago erupted in massive protests — primarily led by young people. In 1969, seven protestors were charged by the federal government with conspiracy and more, launching an infamous trial where an older, more conservative generation put the counterculture sweeping a new generation right in its crosshairs. The trial transfixed the nation and fueled Cold War fears that Americans were trying to undermine their own government. The trial gets the Aaron Sorkin treatment in this high-octane legal thriller starring Eddie Redmayne and Sacha Baron Cohen.
The Forty-Year-Old Version (2020)
Writer-director-star Radha Blank’s feature debut is jarringly meta. Blank stars as a version of herself: A down-on-her-luck New York City playwright who believes that the only way she can salvage her voice as an artist in a savage and discouraging world is to become a rapper at age 40. Blank brings a blunt and honest voice to humility, self-motivation, and the creative struggles of finding inspiration in a frequently cold and colorless world.
Enola Holmes (2020)
It seemed like everything that could be done with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic sleuth has already been done, and then Enola Holmes came along. Did you know that Sherlock Holmes had a little sister? Well, you’re about to meet her. Millie Bobbie Brown stars as the title character, Sherlock’s teenage sister who one day discovers that her mother is missing. In Enola’s search to find her, the intrepid teen discovers she has some serious sleuthing skills of her own as she outwits her famous brother to unravel a dangerous conspiracy.
Boyz N the Hood (1991)
John Singleton’s tragicomedy about growing up in South Central Los Angeles is both ahead of its time and somehow deeply stuck in the past. Many of its themes are ones Americans are still grappling with today while others seem almost offensively dated. Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne) strives to be the best father possible, even if that comes with some tough love. Raising his son Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) in the hood was his choice, despite Tre’s mother’s cushy job in Beverly Hills. But while Tre has the support he needs to grow, his friends Doughboy (Ice Cube) and Ricky (Morris Chestnut) — despite their own abilities — struggle to escape the cycle of drugs and violence in the neighborhood.
Renée Zellweger won a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of seminal actress and singer Judy Garland in her second (and surprisingly final) act. Thirty years after rising to worldwide fame from The Wizard of Oz, Judy arrives in London to perform sold-out shows at the Talk of the Town nightclub. Reveling in her new, in-person stardom in the roaring ’50s, Judy reminisces with friends and fans and begins a whirlwind romance with her soon-to-be fifth husband, musician Mickey Deans.
The Nice Guys (2016)
Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling as a couple of deadbeat detectives in 1977 Los Angeles kicking ass and taking names? What’s not to love! It may sound a little corny on its surface, but?The Nice Guys is a surprisingly gripping medium-boiled mystery that follows the two detectives into L.A.’s seedy underworld to find a missing girl. Filled with good humor, bad guys’ butts getting kicked, and a few good twists — not to mention awesome chemistry between Crowe and Gosling — The Nice Guys is a dark comedy done right.
Palm Springs (2020)
Hulu’s newest original movie puts a fresh, unique spin on a few well-worn tropes in this time-looping wedding rom-com. Carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a wedding in Palm Springs that becomes far more when they realize they’re stuck in a time-loop together. Suddenly, they can’t escape the venue, each other, or the dang event. While living the same day over and over together, they encounter some grim truths about themselves while simultaneously forging a way forward together.
After last year’s anthology series, The Act, Hulu has a surprising corner on the Munchausen by proxy market. What is Munchausen by proxy? A syndrome in which a caregiver makes up illnesses or handicaps in a child to make them wholly dependent on the caregiver. While Munchausen isn’t?explicitly what’s going on in the relationship between Chloe (Kiera Allen) and her mom, Diane (Sarah Paulson), it sure looks like it. Diane has raised her daughter in isolation, controlling every aspect of her life. But as the chronically ill and handicapped Chloe grows up, she begins to unravel some secrets that don’t add up.
I Am Greta (2020)
Greta Thunberg may be the most polarizing 15-year-old since Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Thunberg has become the face of the fight to stop climate change across the world, drawing the ire of climate change deniers everywhere, even in the Oval Office. This documentary follows the unusual 15-year-old’s life, skipping school to sit outside Parliament. After all, if politicians don’t care enough about her future to take real action on climate change, why should she? This riveting film is a call to action, following one extraordinary individual’s tireless actions to solve what is likely the greatest existential issue of our time.
Borat Subsequent Movie Film (2020)
Everybody’s favorite Kazakhstani reporter is back! It makes sense that Sacha Baron Cohen’s famed character would return in 2020, the strangest, darkest year in recent memory. While some of the shock factor of Borat has worn off since the 2006 original, the character’s bizarre, oblivious, bigoted charm endures as Cohen puts himself in situations that bring out the absolute worst (and sometimes best) in unsuspecting Americans. The film made headlines before its release for catching Rudy Giuliani in a compromising position, but it’s worth a watch for far more than just that scene.
Chemical Hearts (2020)
This Amazon Original movie may be a touch melodramatic, but it’s a cute, lovable teen romance that feels in the vein of John Green. Seventeen-year-old Henry (Austin Abrams) fancies himself a romantic, but he’s never been in love. He figures it’s somewhere off in the distance until, on the first day of senior year, he meets transfer student Grace Town (Lili Reinhart) and he suspects love has arrived after all. When Grace and Henry are chosen to co-edit the school paper, he sees his chance and strikes up a friendship with her. And when he learns the heartbreaking secret that has redefined her life, he feels that love coming on strong. Only, he may be falling in love with who she thinks she is rather than who she actually is.
One of Oliver Stone’s greatest films,?Platoon is yet another outstanding entry to the list of films about the Vietnam War.?Platoon follows Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen) as he leaves university to enlist in combat duty in Vietnam in 1967. He’s ready to fight the good fight for America and capitalism, but when he hits the ground, his idealism fades rapidly. As infighting in his unit escalates over a nearby village that may or may not be harboring Viet Cong soldiers, the Americans find the enemy within themselves may be greater than the ones in the bush.
Knives Out (2019)
Writer-director Rian Johnson’s frenetic whodunit was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 92nd Academy Awards. When celebrated crime novelist Harlan Thrombey dies of mysterious causes, renowned Private Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) arrives to investigate the case. The normally sure-footed sleuth discovers there’s more to this case than meets the eye, however, and all he knows for sure is that everyone in Thrombey’s greedy, dysfunctional family is a suspect. Sifting through a web of lies, half-truths, and red herrings, Blanc must use every resource available to him, including Thrombey’s nurse Marta (Ana de Armas), to uncover the truth.?Knives Out is unlike any mystery novel you’ve read or film you’ve seen, working with a disjointed timeline and narrative that both gives and takes information at will.
28 Days Later (2003)
Halloween may have passed, but there’s always time for a pulse-pounding horror classic. Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later revitalized the zombie horror genre and ushered in a (perhaps oversaturated) new era of zombie apocalypse media. To this day,?28 Days Later remains one of the most provocative, nuanced, and downright horrifying depictions of that apocalypse — especially given its final twist. Jim (Cillian Murphy) wakes up from a coma to find London all but deserted. Very soon, he discovers why when he joins a group of survivors of a “Rage” virus that leaked from a medical research lab and infected the country.
HBO and HBO Max
The Witches (2020)
Roald Dahl’s classic children’s story gets another reboot as a Max Original! Robert Zemeckis’ re-imagining of the tale takes place in rural Alabama in the 1960s, following a young boy who lives with his grandma. But when the boy encounters a witch at the local hardware store, grandma whisks them both off to a glamorous seaside resort where they can hide. (For witches only prey on poor children that nobody will worry about.) Unfortunately, they just so happen to arrive at the same time that the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway) is hosting a gathering of her fellow witches to unearth a diabolical plan to eliminate all children from the Earth. Anne Hathaway delivers a surprisingly terrifying (yet funny) performance in this fun, mostly family-friendly tale. It’s not quite Nicolas Roeg’s 1990 classic, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
The Invisible Man (2020)
Leigh Whannell is best known for the?Saw and?Insidious franchises, and The Invisible Man takes aspects of both to bring a deeply creepy vibe to Universal’s Monster Universe. Cecilia (Elisabeth Moss) has fought for a long-time to escape the clutches of her abusive, controlling husband — a tech billionaire who has made his fortune in optics. But when she finally escapes, her ex commits suicide, leaving her his fortune. Cecilia, however, knows his sadism too well and suspects he staged his own death. Sure enough, the scientist has found a way to become invisible and uses his newfound power to stalk, terrorize, and destroy his ex-girlfriend’s life. As everyone around her begins to suspect her sanity, Cecilia finally decides to take matters into her own hands.
Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Jojo Rabbit is likely the most charming film you’ll ever see about the Hitler Youth. Nominated for six Oscars in 2020, including Best Picture,?Jojo Rabbit is a funny, endearing look at blind nationalism and how damaging it can be for children and society. Jojo is a proud little Nazi who is so loyal to the party that Adolf Hitler himself is his imaginary friend. When he discovers that his mother is harboring a young Jewish girl in the house, Jojo’s entire world is turned upside down: She appears to not have horns and actually seems to be quite nice-looking and wise. Forced to confront his blind nationalism as the war turns against Germany, Jojo enters an existential crisis that is far too real for anyone his age.
Just Mercy (2019)
Just Mercy tells the true story of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), a Black man who is sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite an abundance of evidence proving his innocence. Fresh out of Harvard Law, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) heads to Alabama to defend McMillian, determined to do his part to right the systemic wrongs of a criminal justice system that refuses proper representation to the wrongly condemned. As Stevenson tirelessly fights for McMillian’s life, he encounters racism and the manipulations of the legal and political system to protect itself.
Part of what makes HBO Max so compelling is the sheer diversity of its offerings. Case in point: Franc Roddam’s 1979 classic rock opera Quadrophenia, based on the 1973 The Who album of the same name.?Quadrophenia is considered one of the best music movies ever, depicting the rivalry of the Mods and the Rockers. Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels) escapes the drudgery of his ordinary postal job to join the Mods. But when the Mods and the Rockers clash in Brighton, it leads Jimmy to an unlikely encounter with Steph (Leslie Ash). When he returns to London, Jimmy is caught between his aspirations to be more like the Mod leader Ace Face (Sting) and his relationship with Steph, sending him into a righteous disillusionment.
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