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The 50 Best Movies on Hulu Plus

November 7, 2012  |  4:54pm
40. La Jetée
Director: Chris Marker
Year: 1962
Chris Marker’s radical science-fiction film clocks in at just over 28 minutes, but the concepts it presents are massive. Told through a series of still images, La Jetée focuses on an apocalyptic society trying to rescue its present by sending a prisoner through time. Sound familiar? Terry Gilliam expanded the story into a feature-length film with 12 Monkeys (1995).—Wyndham Wyeth

27.WhaleRider.NetflixList.jpg39. Whale Rider
Year: 2002
Director: Niki Caro
Whale Rider tells the story of a young girl, Paikea, who lives in New Zealand with a stern grandfather who, apparently, needs to get modern. Every scene tells us this and gives us an opportunity to tsk-tsk his staunch rejection of his granddaughter who he believes, despite her lineage, can’t inherit the leadership of this Maori village because of her gender. She’ll need to convince her grandfather she can lead just as well as the boys can, and she’ll need to do it before the end of the movie. But just when you think you have the film pegged, its sincerity manages to break through the thin characterizations and age-old plot. Young actress Keisha Castle-Hughes gives Paikea a richly expressive voice, and the turning point is an astonishingly heartfelt speech she delivers at a school program for parents. Castle-Hughes’ grace and beauty on the screen is probably the main reason Whale Rider became a surprise art-house hit.—Robert Davis

jules-jim.jpg38. Jules and Jim
Director: Francis François Truffaut
Year: 1962
Directed by French New Wave founder Francis François Truffaut, Jules and Jim was an early masterpiece for the filmmaker. The movie, about a love triangle spread out over a 25-year period, has influenced many directors, including Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese.—Wyndham Wyeth

Reservoir-Dogs.jpg37. Reservoir Dogs
Year: 1992
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Reservoir Dogs’ debut at the 1992 Sundance Film Festival launched not only the career of one Quentin Tarantino but an American indie genre unto itself characterized by extreme violence, profane dialogue, nonlinear storytelling and a curated soundtrack. Many have tried, but none of his imitators has achieved the visual and aural poetry at work in Tarantino’s oeuvre, particularly his magnum opus Pulp Fiction, upon whose release in 1994 newly minted fans went back to discover the aftermath of Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink and Mr. White’s botched diamond heist (but not the heist itself). This is where it all began.—Annlee Ellingson

g-washington.jpg36. George Washington
Director: David Gordon Green
Year: 2000
Hailed by Roger Ebert, along with Time and The New York Times, as one of the best films of the year, George Washington serves as a meditation on adolescence. A group of kids in the rural South are forced face a series of difficult decisions in the wake of a tragedy in director David Gordon Green’s debut film.—Wyndham Wyeth

wild-strawberries.jpg35. High and Low
Director: Akira Kurosawa
Year: 1963
Akira Kurosawa has been remembered for his samurai films like The Seven Samurai, Yojimbo and Throne of Blood, but the mystery of High & Low is worthy to stand amongst these other greats. High & Low follows a wealthy businessman who believes his son has been kidnapped and agrees to pay the ransom. When he finds out that it was actually his son’s friend who got kidnapped, he must decide whether or not to pay the ransom and attempt to find the child. High & Low is tense, ahead of its time with its real-time mystery and the ending is a starting revelation that makes it a Kurosawa great.—Ross Bonamie

22.DonnieDarko.NetflixList.jpg34. Donnie Darko
Year: 2001
Director: Richard Kelly
Richard Kelly was just 25 when he got funding for his first full-length feature, Donnie Darko, but it became a cult classic, thanks to mind-bending twists and a gigantic talking bunny named “Frank.”

wild-strawberries.jpg33. Wild Strawberries
Director: Ingmar Bergman
Year: 1957
Written while legendary director Ingmar Bergman was in the hospital, Wild Strawberries is a story of the self-discovery, life and death of a man who is forced to confront his past and accept his future.—Wyndham Wyeth

late-spring.jpg32. Late Spring
Director: Yasujiro Ozu
Year: 1949
Late Spring is a beautiful love story between a daughter and the father that she doesn’t want to leave alone. The 27-year-old Noriko is told by everyone she knows that she must marry and move away from her father, who is a widower. But Noriko follows her heart instead and sticks with her father, even through everyone tells her what she’s doing is wrong. This sweet film from Yasujiro Ozu shows that even if everyone says that you’re wrong, you may still be right.—Ross Bonamie

walkabout.jpg31. Walkabout
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Year: 1971
Walkabout’s narrative follows an Australian sister and brother who encounter an indigenous boy performing the traditional Aboriginal coming-of-age rite: the walkabout. Based on the James Vance Marshall book of the same name, Edward Bond’s original screenplay totaled 14 pages (barely enough for a short film). In Roeg’s hands, it became a meditation on modern rituals and ancient ones, conflicts between the native Aboriginal and invasive European cultures, human language and storytelling, female and male gender roles and the misunderstanding between them, the cruelty of nature and the madness of the modern world.—Andy Beta

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