Posted on Friday, August 13th, 2021 by
(Welcome to Now Stream This, a column dedicated to the best movies streaming on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and every other streaming service out there.)
I have some news! Now Stream This is going weekly. That’s right — rather than once or twice a month, you’ll now get streaming recommendations every week, just in time for your weekend binge. Because of this change, I’ll only be listing five movies instead of ten, but I think that’s a fair trade, and I hope you will, too.
Here are some of the best movies streaming right now.
Now Streaming on Amazon Prime Video
Release Date: 1999
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Bruce McGill, Diane Venora, Michael Gambon
What’s the best Michael Mann movie? I think everyone has their own pick, and Heat would probably be at the top of the list. Sometimes, I agree. But then there are days where I think his best might actually be The Insider, a simmering drama from 1999 based on a true story. Russell Crowe is Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, a fired executive from the Brown & Williamson tobacco company who decides to blow the whistle on the evils of big tobacco. He turns to 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) for help, but Lowell quickly finds that getting the story on the air won’t be so easy. Meditative, moody, and loaded with killer performances.
For fans of: Spotlight, Michael Clayton, Al Pacino taking phone calls while standing in the ocean.
One Hour Photo
Now Streaming on HBO Max
Release Date: 2002
Director: Mark Romanek
Cast: Robin Williams, Connie Nielsen, Michael Vartan, Gary Cole, Eriq La Salle
Robin Williams was, of course, known primarily for his comedy, but I always enjoyed his dramatic work much more. One of his best dramatic performances is in Mark Romanek‘s chilly little thriller One Hour Photo. Williams plays a severely lonely photo technician at a Walmart-like establishment (you see, kids, once upon a time we took photos with cameras instead of phones, and then we’d have to take the film from those cameras to be developed. It was a different world!). With seemingly no friends or family of his own, Williams’ character becomes obsessed with his various clients, particularly the Yorkins. When Williams looks at their photos, he sees the Yorkins as the quintessential perfect family. However, when he starts stalking them he finds out they’re not so picture perfect after all. Romanek has only made three movies so far (this was his second), which is unfortunate because he’s a stylist who really understands how to unnerve his audience.
For fans of: Single White Female, Insomnia, the old days of disposable cameras.
Now Streaming on The Criterion Channel
Release Date: 1981
Director: Ivan Passer
Cast: Jeff Bridges, John Heard, Lisa Eichhorn
In California, Richard Bone (Jeff Bridges) hangs around with his friend Alex Cutter (John Heard), a Vietnam War vet with one eye and one arm. Cutter is a mess; loud, angry, confrontational, intoxicated. One night, Bone witnesses a man dump the body of a dead woman into a trashcan in an alley. While he doesn’t get the best look at the body dumper and prospective killer, he thinks it might be a local tycoon. That’s good enough for Cutter, who turns into an amateur detective trying to crack the case and pin the crime on the tycoon. Bone comes along for the ride, and things start to get very hairy. Cutter’s Way is a shaggy dog mystery where there might not even be a mystery at all, and Heard is phenomenal as the emotionally and physically damaged Cutter.
For fans of: The Big Lebowski, Mikey and Nicky, seeing the dad from Home Alone play an unhinged, eyepatch-wearing detective
The Boy Behind the Door
Now Streaming on Shudder
Release Date: 2021
Director: David Charbonier and Justin Powell
Cast: Lonnie Chavis, Ezra Dewey, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Scott Michael Foster, Micah Hauptman
A mighty tense little horror thriller from directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell, The Boy Behind the Door follows two young friends, Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey), who are kidnapped one day and taken to a secluded house. Bobby is left in the trunk of a car to die while Kevin is taken inside the house. Bobby breaks free and is about to run away when he hears Kevin yelling inside. Bobby could run to get help, but he doesn’t want to leave his friend. So he creeps into the big spooky house, hoping to rescue Kevin. This simple scenario results in several nail-biting sequences that are directed exceptionally well (although, for reasons that I don’t quite understand, directors Charbonier and Powell recreate several different shots directly from Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, and they’re not subtle about it). I’ve seen some people complain that the kids make dumb choices throughout the movie, and sure, that’s true. But they’re kids, and they’re going through a terrifying, traumatic experience. It’s no wonder they’re going to do things that seem foolhardy to us safe and sound on our couches.
For fans of: The People Under the Stairs, The Shining, anxiety.
Untold: Malice at the Palace
Now Streaming on Netflix
Release Date: 2021
Director: Floyd Russ
I do not follow sports, so I had never heard of the Malice at the Palace incident from 2004, where an argument between players from the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons descended into total anarchy, complete with players rushing into the stands to confront fans, and fans storming onto the court. This was a huge deal in the world of basketball, but again, I had never heard of it. Until I watched Untold: Malice at the Palace, a compelling documentary that examines the event from multiple angles. Combining never-before-scene footage with interviews from many of the people involved, the doc paints a stunning portrait of what happened that night. Even if you’re like me, and completely agnostic towards sports, you’re going to be hooked from the get-go.
For fans of: The Last Dance, some sort of obscure sport called “baskets ball” (never heard of it).
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