The 100 Best Movies on Hulu (2017)

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The 100 Best Movies on Hulu (2017)

The movie selection on Hulu got a major overhaul after the streaming service cut ties with Criterion. Gone are the historic foreign films that served as a $7/month film school for aspiring cinephiles. In place of Ingmar Bergman and Jean-Luc Godard are a surprisingly deep catalog of quality blockbusters, engaging documentaries and arthouse films that made our Best of Movies of 2016 list. Unlike its competitors, which are putting more and more of their eggs in the TV basket, Hulu has recently gone the other direction. Only a few of these movies were on our 2016 version of the Best Movies on Hulu. If you initially signed up to stream your favorite sitcom or serial drama, you should take advantage of Hulu’s film collection.

You can also check out the best TV shows on Hulu. Or, for extensive guides to the best movies on other platforms like Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime and The Best Movies in Theaters, visit the Paste Movie Guides.

Here are the 100 best movies on Hulu:

47-Netflix-Docs_2015-queen-versailles.jpg 100. The Queen of Versailles
Year: 2012
Director: Lauren Greenfield
Lauren Greenfield only meant to take a few pictures of a very wealthy family in the midst of all their opulence. Her subjects were the Siegels—the self-made billionaire, the trophy wife, the eight not-as-maladjusted-as-you-might-think children, the monochromatic menagerie of animals. But once the family began opening up about their lives, the woman behind the camera decided to stick around a little while longer, positing that there might be more to this story than just infinity symbols for account balances. Her perseverance resulted in an alternately hilarious and heart-wrenchingly cautionary tale about the excesses of the American dream.—Tyler Chase


air-force-one-210.jpg 99. Air Force One
Year: 1997
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
One of the last palatable action films of Harrison Ford’s career, this too-long movie casts him as a president with a military record who handwaves away any realism we might try to impose on a situation where a graying POTUS has to shoot a bunch of terrorists. Made in the strange period when people weren’t sick to death of Bill Clinton and when action films were also “Die Hard but in an X instead of a building,” the film’s plot brings a group of Russians led by Gary Oldman and aided and abetted by (wait for it) a turncoat Secret Serviceman onto Air Force One in a bid to kidnap the First Family and hold them for ransom. Ford forgoes his presidential escape pod in favor of a tense game of cat and mouse, in which none of the wild sprays of automatic small arms fire seem to penetrate the hull of the aircraft and depressurize everything. It’s nevertheless worth a watch if Ford gets you weak in the knees. In addition to plenty of meaty fistfights and Oldman’s unhinged accent, the cast is also stuffed with no-nonsense character actors. Landing as it did in the midst of a political era in the United States whose obnoxiousness has only just recently ever been eclipsed, it joins the TV show The West Wing as the most shameless paean to the Clinton years—when people could at least agree that the president had a nice hairline and wasn’t stupid.—Kenneth Lowe


the-flat.jpg 98. The Flat
Year: 2012
Director: Arnon Goldfinger
When Arnon Goldfinger’s grandmother Gerda passes away, he’s left with the task of cleaning out her flat in Tel Aviv. A Jewish couple who moved from Berlin on the eve of the World War II for obvious reasons, Gerda Tuchler and her husband, Kurt, filled their apartment with enough German novels, furniture and knick-knacks to disorient any houseguest. It was a move of physical necessity, so they brought their physical environment with them and created a European oasis in their new locale. But as Goldfinger begins to go through the stashes of photographs, letters and assorted paper stowaways, he finds something even more disorienting: his grandparents’ closest friends, the von Mildensteins, contributed to the very circumstances from which the Tuchlers fled. While other family members play dress up in old furs and scoff at the antiquity of bookshelves lined with Nietzsche, Goldfinger patiently turns his eyes toward old newspapers and soon finds himself on a paper trail into a family history he didn’t know he had. An old clipping from a Nazi publication with the headline “A Nazi Goes to Palestine” stars none other than Leopold von Mildenstein, which gets Goldfinger wondering who his grandparents really were and why Nazis would be traveling to visit them after the war. Like many who take the time to research who and where they come from, Goldfinger finds that not everything is as linear as branches on the family tree, and the answers that he’s looking for aren’t always there.—Gabrielle Lipton


tales-of-the-night-210.jpg 97. Tales of the Night
Year: 2011
Director: Michel Ocelot
With similar animation and frame story to Princes and Princesses, Michel Ocelot continues to present audiences with beautiful animation and excellent storytelling. The six eponymous tales range from a werewolf in medieval Europe and a magic drum in West Africa to human sacrifice among the Aztecs and monsters in the Land of the Dead.—Madina Papadopoulos


wargames.jpg 96. WarGames
Year: 1983
Director: John Badham
Before Ferris Bueller took the day off, Matthew Broderick’s career was launched with WarGames, a film about an innocent, young hacker (Broderick) who plays with the computer in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal and inadvertently starts the countdown to World War III. This is all resolved with a friendly game of tic-tac-toe, an infinite number of computed stalemates, and the message that you can’t hug your children with nuclear arms.—Matt Goodlett


shaun-the-sheep.jpg 95. Shaun the Sheep
Year: 2015
Directors: Mark Burton, Richard Starzak
Can a viewer die of excessive cuteness? That’s the most concerning question plaguing the otherwise adorable, slight Shaun the Sheep Movie, which does risk being cloying but mostly moves along with a wry smile on its face. The stop-motion film from Aardman Animations stars Shaun, the bug-eyed lamb who made his debut in the terrific, Oscar-winning 2005 Wallace & Gromit short A Close Shave. As in his U.K. series spin-off which started two years later, Shaun doesn’t speak a word in his big-screen premiere. Writer-directors Mark Burton and Richard Starzak sometimes strain to sustain the dialogue-free conceit, but one suspects they know that, even when the momentum flags, Shaun has plenty of cheerfulness and good will in reserves.—Tim Grierson


escape-from-alcatraz.jpg 94. Escape From Alcatraz
Year: 1979
Director: Don Siegel
Clint Eastwood plays bank robber Frank Morris, who is sent to Alcatraz after already having escaped from several other prisons. Morris eventually realizes that some of the concrete in his cell can be chiseled away, so he and some of the other inmates he befriends start chipping away with sharpened spoons. The actual escape will have you looking at raincoats in a different light.—Ryan Bort


sister-act.jpg 93. Sister Act
Year: 1992
Director: Emile Ardolino
This Whoopi Goldberg-starring tale of a choir of nuns who can’t carry a tune is a pop culture staple—it led to a decent sequel and a Tony Award-nominated musical. It also boasts an incredible closing scene. That final song, “I Will Follow Him,” was originally a French song sung by Petula Clark and then by Paola Neri. Little Peggy March put a little groove in it in 1963, then the women of Sister Act got a hold of it and made it their own. The number’s church-friendly, soul-stirring introduction escalates to a joyous celebration of song. For some reason, it makes sense that a choir of sassy nuns would provide one of the best musical finales in film.—Dino-Ray Ramos


hunchback-of-notre-dame.jpg 92. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Year: 1996
Directors: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Based on the French, gothic novel of the same name, this film comes to us in Disney animated musical drama format. Definitely one of Disney’s darker animated classics, the film follows Quasimodo, the somber, deformed bell-ringer of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, who lives hidden from the exterior world. The score, composed by Alan Menken and written by Stephen Schwartz, makes the film’s lessons against superficiality a bit more uplifting than they would be otherwise.—Alexa Carrasco


legend-drunken-master.jpg 91. Legend of Drunken Master
Year: 1994
Director: Chia-Liang Liu
1994’s Drunken Master II (released in the US as The Legend of Drunken Master) is Jackie Chan’s best movie by far—it has everything that makes him uniquely awesome as a martial-arts movie star and each of his prime elements (fluidity of motion/technique, comedic timing, sheer athleticism) is showcased better than in any of his other films, including the original 1978 Drunken Master (starring a much younger Jackie Chan). Chan stars as Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung who utilizes his Zui Quan (Drunken Boxing) skills to stop the corrupt British consul who is illegally exporting Chinese artifacts out of the country. While nearly all the action sequences are impressive and memorable, the final fight is a real show-stopper.—K. Alexander Smith


pocahontas.jpg 90. Pocahontas
Year: 1995
On my seventh birthday, I got two identical Pocahontas Barbie dolls. My parents asked me if I wanted to return one of them and exchange it for something else. I opted to keep them both. That’s how obsessed with Pocahontas—or in my case, the two Pocahontii—I was. Of course, as with most Disney movies, as I got older I could recognize its whitewashing of history and the less-than-feminist ideals, but despite its problems, Pocahontas remains at the very least a conversation-starter, a jumping-off point from which to begin talking to your kids about race. Pop it in and then discuss it with them, warts and all.—Bonnie Stiernberg


hunger-games-mockingjay.jpg 89. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2
Years: 2014 and 2015
Director: Francis Lawrence
By now, the economic practicality behind the film adaptation “two-fer”—making two films out of a single book of source material—seems both obvious and inescapable. Overall shooting costs are lowered, release schedules become yearly instead of “every two-to-three years,” and a whole host of variables (actors’ age and availability not least among them) become less disruptive. Arguments can be made for it serving a legitimate storytelling purpose, as well. The first Mockingjay film is a bit slow, even as it played up the political intrigue of the “arena-less” book of the series. But the finale has more action. The cast, anchored by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, counts some heavy hitters in supporting roles. Critically speaking, the only relevant questions would seem to be whether the film suddenly veers from the path that was laid out (and has thus far yielded a billion+ in box office) at the beginning. Mockingjay – Part 2 does not. Do any of the actors show a shocking decline in acting chops? Nope. Will fans hunger for more? Yep. Let the prequel games begin.—Michael Burgin


eight-days-a-week.jpg 88. Eight Days a Week
Year: 2016
Director: Ron Howard 
The best documentaries, regardless of subject, give us something new. They teach us. They offer fresh perspective. That is really, really hard to do when you’re making a documentary about the Beatles. After more than 50 years, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone unfamiliar with the story of the Fab Four. Eight Days a Week, Ron Howard’s new Beatles documentary, focuses exclusively on the band’s touring years, from 1962-1966—and while it certainly doesn’t break any new ground, it’s a fun retelling of the band’s meteoric rise. What it does feature are new interviews with surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as a generous amount of archival interviews with John Lennon and George Harrison. Previously unseen, fan-recorded concert footage and some revealing studio outtakes are littered throughout, and while the film hits all the major points you’d expect it to (Beatlemania was crazy!), it’s so enjoyable you’re reminded there’s a reason this well keeps getting re-tapped. Just like the Beatles’ records will continue to spin across the world, from generation to generation until the end of time, we’ll keep poring over footage of these lads and talking about how they changed music—and pop culture as a whole—forever.—Bonnie Stiernberg


hunger-210.jpg 87. Hunger
Year: 2008
Director: Steve McQueen
Hunger exists in minutiae and mundanity and excruciating detail—in long takes and philosophical discussions with no end and lots of pain, both physical and existential. Director Steve McQueen’s (Shame, 12 Years a Slave) feature-length debut understands that the human body is the last battlefield over belief, that nationalism, politics, religion and civil rights will always, eventually come down to the flesh—to whether or not we have full control over ourselves—and so in this recounting of the 1981 hunger strikes by Republican prisoners in Northern Ireland, McQueen focuses on the visceral drudgery of political action. McQueen would go on to further explore the ways in which physicality can be expressed on film as thematically as it is immersively (especially in Shame, also starring Michael Fassbender, which is perhaps his most direct examination of belief and the limits of the flesh), but in Hunger he so seamlessly juxtaposes the quotidian with historic events that you can’t help but watch his film and feel it—all the way down to your guts. —Dom Sinacola


fish-tank-210.jpg 86. Fish Tank
Year: 2009
Director: Andrea Arnold
Andrea Arnold may have earned international attention as a cinematic Rosetta Stone for the aimless, underserved youth of America with 2016’s American Honey, but she practically did the same for British urban youth long before, shepherding a 15-year-old girl (Katie Jarvis) through the treacherous exigencies of both puberty and council estate life in Fish Tank. Meandering but pointed, Arnold’s film is both infuriating and freeing, nailing that precocious in-between stage of life when one’s deepest dreams seem as graspable as they do impossible, when all the stuff that is bound to get in the way as one gets older—socioeconomic reality, classism, the patriarchy—aren’t understood so much as intuitively felt. Also featuring Michael Fassbender at his most unnerving, Fish Tank is a beautifully intimate, lonely, heart-wrenching glimpse at a life typically overlooked.—Dom Sinacola


sound-city.jpg 85. Sound City
Year: 2013
Director: Dave Grohl
Sound City is about more than a piece of recording equipment. It’s the story of Fleetwood Mac. It’s the story of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It’s the story of drum tones and ’80s hair metal and Nevermind and Johnny Cash’s recordings with Rick Rubin. It’s a sprawling documentary that laments what’s been lost in analog recording without ignoring the benefits of technology. And as the legendary board leaves its original home and lands in Grohl’s studio, the documentary shifts to a celebration of studio magic. Grohl invites musicians like Rick Springfield, Stevie Nicks and Paul McCartney to join him in the studio and make new music. In the film’s best moment, Grohl and McCartney are in the midst of a particularly great jam, and Grohl turns to Sir Paul saying “Don’t you wish it was always this easy?” Macca looks at him and says, “It is.”—Josh Jackson


temple-of-doom.jpg 84. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Year: 1984
Directors: Steven Spielberg 
Yes, Kate Capshaw is incredibly annoying as Willie Scott, and no kind of match for the gruff, world-trotting Indy, but beyond her this much-maligned movie has always held up. Perhaps Short Round doesn’t do it for you either, but can you imagine how much darker still the film would be without him? By far the most dire movie of the series, it’s buoyed by gorgeous set design and a classic sense of comic-book pulp in the vein of Doc Savage. It’s got one of John Williams’ best scores, a scary villain in Mola Ram and some great action set-pieces. No, it’s not in the same tier as Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it’s not nearly so far from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as some people would like to believe. And by the way, if you didn’t remember—Temple of Doom is actually a prequel to Raiders. I find it amazing how many people don’t realize this, but if you’re wondering why Marion isn’t there and Indy hasn’t developed any faith from his experience with the Ark, that would be why. Temple of Doom takes place a year earlier.—Jim Vorel


joshy.jpg 83. Joshy
Year: 2016
Director: Jeff Baena
In the movies, when a bunch of bros meet up at a vacation house for some R&R, it usually results in a weekend blast of bacchanalia or somebody getting killed. Or both. Thankfully, Joshy isn’t like most movies. Yes, it has the trappings of a buddy hangout film, but it’s far more mature than the genre it leans on, and more entertaining, too. With five main characters, a host of cameos and a precipitous balance between comedy and darkness, Joshy gets a lot done, and does it very well. Writer-director Jeff Baena doesn’t have us thinking about partying at first. The title character (Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch) arrives home to his fiancée, unaware that by night’s end their relationship will meet its harsh, abrupt end. Months later, with the deposit to their Ojai bachelor party house in the balance, Joshy invites his pals to get together anyway. Only three show up, and they’re a study in contrasts: Ari (Adam Pally) is a stoner who’s married with a new baby, Adam (Alex Ross Perry) is a hesitant nerd, and Eric (Nick Kroll) is an overconfident, overly outspoken partier. Sure, there’s drinking and drugs and silliness in Joshy, but they’re rarely the focal point of the action. They’re a natural part of the environment, which makes sense once you’re in your thirties and dealing with the realities of life. For as much as I enjoy a good Seth Rogen pukefest, it doesn’t have to be the cinematic blueprint of what it means to hang with the guys.—Norm Schrager


american-bill-hicks.jpg 82. American: The Bill Hicks Story
Year: 2010
Directors: Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas
Some say that real humor is usually fueled by strong emotions. That may help explain why Bill Hicks was one of the best comedians our country’s ever seen, since at his best his comedy was fueled by his rage, ripping apart a world he saw as full of inescapable stupidity and laziness. One of the main questions being asked by American: The Bill Hicks Story is how exactly Hicks became so angry, not to mention how much of the anger was an act and how much was genuinely who he was. There’s more than a touch of hagiography in American, which isn’t surprising since the film is made for fans. But there’s also enough of Hicks’ actual material to illustrate why he’s so well-regarded, and while the film occasionally skims through years of his life a little quickly, it’s simply because what needs to be said about that period is said best through his jokes.—Sean Gandert


21-years.jpg 81. 21 Years: Richard Linklater
Year: 2014
Directors: Michael Dunaway, Tara Wood
Full disclosure: As a fan of Richard Linklater’s movies (two of them—Boyhood and Bernie are on this list of best Showtime movies) and a dear friend of the director (Paste movies editor emeritus Michael Dunaway), I can’t even pretend to be unbiased about this documentary. But if you love indie film, I can certainly recommend it. With entertaining anecdotes from Linklater collaborators like Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, Parker Posey, Julie Delpy and Jack Black, it plays like a love letter to the director from his actors, many of whose careers he helped launch.—Josh Jackson


american-graffiti.jpg 80. American Graffiti
Year: 1973
Director: George Lucas 
Before George Lucas started telling stories about distant galaxies, he wrote and directed a stellar coming-of-age film that plays beautifully off of the power of nostalgia. Set in the 1950s and chronicling a group of recent high school graduate’s last night in town before leaving for college, the film captures the striking time of a universal life transition nearly all can relate to. With heavyweights such as Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Mackenzie Phillips and Harrison Ford, this is a must-see for any teenager heading off to college.—Brian Tremml


page-one.jpg 79. Page One: Inside the New York Times
Year: 2011
Director: Andrew Rossi
The always entertaining Times reporter David Carr could easily have been the focus of the entire film but director Andrew Rossi smartly uses Carr as an appropriate voice of experience, albeit an unabashed defender of the paper. The grizzled, ex-drug addict journalist is a film editor’s dream as he speaks in sharp, insightful and seemingly effortless sound bites.—Tim Basham


48-Netflix-Docs_2015-source-family.jpg 78. The Punk Singer
Year: 2013
Director: Sini Anderson
The Punk Singer’s watchability is a testament to how important and necessary Kathleen Hanna was—and is—to music, to the relationship between women and music, to third wave feminism, and to riotgrrrl. Sini Anderson’s film is not so much a documentary as it is a tribute video, an hour-plus love letter to Hanna that features a lot of friends and fellow artists essentially saying the same things over and over. The Punk Singer certainly isn’t a holistic history of riotgrrrl, or even of Hanna’s place within that movement, since the (white) commentators within the film studiously ignore the problems that a movement which frequently invoked intersectionality had with race, class, ability, and gender dissidence. Still, this doc does do a solid job of exploring the way these women responded to Hanna and saw her as an embodiment of riotgrrrl physicality and personality. While The Punk Singer won’t tell you what riotgrrrl was, or what context it existed in, or what its limitations might have been, the film is a wonderful exploration of Hanna’s innate charisma. And though it may read like a video package for a lifetime achievement award, it’s the best possible version of that for a formidable artist who deserves such treatment.—Mark Abraham


fatal-attraction.jpg 77. Fatal Attraction
Year: 1987
Director: Adrian Lyne
If any movie character was ever going to scare married men into remaining faithful, it was Alex Forrest. Glenn Close’s portrayal as the crazy spurned “other woman” is terrifying, highlighting what Michael Douglas’ happily married protagonist is throwing away when he engages in a weekend affair. Nominated for six Oscars, the film had the highest worldwide box office in 1987, making men across the globe think twice about straying. Or eating rabbit stew.—Josh Jackson


sicario.jpg 76. Sicario
Year: 2015
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Denis Villeneuve’s considerable strengths and severe limitations are both present in Sicario, a Traffic-by-way-of-Zero Dark Thirty look at American drug policy along the Mexican border. This propulsive action thriller boasts a series of strong performances and is punctuated by some ace suspense sequences. As a piece of sleek, grown-up entertainment, it most assuredly succeeds. But it’s all the trappings around Sicario where matters get far more complicated. Even if the film doesn’t tell us much that we don’t already know about America’s drug wars, it tells it with abundant skill.—Tim Grierson


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