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The 100 Best Movies on Hulu (2017)

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love-mercy.jpg 25. Love & Mercy
Year: 2015
Director: Bill Pohlad
There is a curious, oft times transcendent harmony to the dissonance at the heart of Love & Mercy. In taking a page from his subject’s life and music, director Bill Pohlad (best known for producing credits like 12 Years a Slave and Into the Wild) largely rejects sentimentality in chronicling a reluctant pop star who wants to craft something more than shiny, happy hooks. (In one scene, Wilson argues the Beach Boys’ true “surfer” cred with his bandmates, knowing better.) Sure, that’s kind of the story—at least on the surface—but his approach unearths the layers of Wilson’s genius and torment. Seemingly straightforward classics like “In My Room” and “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” take on new meaning as the extent of his struggles come into devastating focus. (Read the full review here.) —Amanda Schurr


driving-miss-daisy-210.jpg 24. Driving Miss Daisy
Year: 1989
Director: Bruce Beresford
Directed by Bruce Beresford and written by Alfred Uhry based on his play of the same name, Driving Miss Daisy is a comedy-drama that explores racism and anti-Semitism in the South, but where it really hits home is as a frank and open-hearted exploration of human frailty. Set in 1948, the film centers on Miss Daisy Werthan, a wealthy, elderly Jewish woman (Jessica Tandy), and Hoke Colburn (Morgan Freeman, reprising his role from the off-Broadway production), the driver she reluctantly takes on when she crashes her car and has to confront the fact that she can’t drive anymore. Over a 25-year period their relationship shifts from somewhat adversarial to a genuinely earned loving kindness. The story is small and human; the performances by Washington and Tandy are absolutely enormous. Both received critical accolades for their masterful combination of theatrical drama and subtlety. It is a great example of a play adaptation that really leverages the advantages of the film medium rather than trying to compensate for its disadvantages: We spend much of the film in close proximity to these two people who are stuck with each other in a car, and the actors are able to accomplish immensely nuanced performances without having to lean on the dialogue very much. They deliver more information with glances and facial expressions and vocal tone than many manage to put forth in a discursive monologue. —Amy Glynn


rosemarys-baby.jpg 23. Rosemary’s Baby
Year: 1968
Director: Roman Polanski
The most famous of Polanski’s paranoid thrillers, not to mention the most inviolable. The film infiltrates a privileged space of middle-class entitlement and pollutes it with the most extreme evil possible: sweet, unassuming Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is pregnant, but could her baby already belong to someone else? The volatile climax has an answer, and the sequence has remained one of the most celebrated in horror history for good reason.—Sean Edgar


y-tu-mama.jpg 22. Y Tu Mamá También
Year: 2001
Director: Alfonso Cuarón
A road trip along the coast of Mexico turns out to be one of sexual discovery for two punk teenagers (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna). Meanwhile, the trip turns out to be the bittersweet final adventure for their older female companion (Maribel Verdu), as she struggles with a life full of regret and roads not yet traveled. Y Tu Mama Tambien is at times playful and seductive, but slowly reveals itself to be a substantive dual story involving both coming-of-age and coming-to-terms.—Jeremy Medina


talented-mr-ripley.jpg 21. The Talented Mr. Ripley
Year: 1999
Director: Anthony Minghella
Many doubted anyone could do justice to the Ripley novels on celluloid, but Anthony Minghella proved them wrong in spectacular fashion. Lushly photographed, exquisitely art-directed and impeccably timed (not a scene is a moment too long or too short), it intrigues and bewilders like Hitchcock’s best work. Career performances from Matt Damon and Jude Law, plus wonderful turns from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Cate Blanchett—and the last time Gwenyth Paltrow was bearable. A frightful—and frightfully overlooked—film.—Michael Dunaway


lethal-weapon.jpg 20. Lethal Weapon
Year: 1987
Director: Richard Donner
In Lethal Weapon—and particularly in Murtaugh and Riggs—we have the mother of all buddy-cop pairings. Through the years, this Mel Gibson/Danny Glover partnership went on to become a four-movie franchise, but it’s the first one that sets the stage for the entire genre. Both men hate working in pairs (a typical tropes in this type of movie), but set aside their differences to stop a gang of drug smugglers. Even though there were buddy-cop pairings before this 1987 film, Lethal Weapon became both the prototype and the standard by which all others are judged.—Christian Becker


crouching-tiger.jpg 19. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Year: 2000
Director: Ang Lee 
Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning epic is not only the highest-grossing foreign film ever, but also happens to be yet another foreign film that changed the cinematic landscape: a kung fu flick with heart and soul. Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi play 19th-century warriors whose loyalty and vitality are tested by a series events that lead each to contemplate their life’s decisions. Beyond the entracing and lyrical storytelling, Crouching Tiger stands as a rare, beautiful beacon of hope: a foreign film that was actually universally embraced by Western audiences. Here’s to hoping that happens more often. —Jeremy Medina


station-agent.jpg 18. The Station Agent
Year: 2003
Director: Thomas McCarthy
One of the early breakout roles for Game of ThronesPeter Dinklage was this warm, funny story of a reclusive man who moves into an abandoned train depot. Director Thomas McCarthy has made a career of caring deeply for his characters in films like The Visitor and Win Win, and here it’s to slowly convince Dinklage’s Finbar McBride that his low view of humanity might just be wrong. It’s a contemplative, tender, hilarious film that feels both real and uplifting. If only George R.R. Martin would give Tyrion this kind of break.—Josh Jackson


Groundhog1212.jpg 17. Groundhog Day
Year: 1993
Director: Harold Ramis
Bill Murray, director/co-writer Harold Ramis and screenwriter Danny Rubin take a Twilight Zone-esque comedic premise—a self-centered weatherman gets stuck experiencing February 2 again and again—and find unexpected profundity. A more conventional film would have love resolve the chronological predicament, but instead, it falls to Murray to become the best man he can possibly be. A Hollywood comedy that challenges middle-class Americans to better themselves, Groundhog Day doesn’t just elicit laughs, but leaves audiences more deeply moved than they ever expected.—Curt Holman


into-the-abyss.jpg 16. Into the Abyss
Year: 2011
Director: Werner Herzog 
Like all Herzog’s work, the film looks far beyond a single idea and, despite a transparent agenda, never sermonizes. Herzog merely puts his belief that capital punishment is wrong to the test, examining it from several angles. In typical Herzog fashion, he explores his subject through conversations between the filmmaker, whom we of course never see, and a plethora of related interviewees. Because it avoids didactic narration and biased statistics, this approach feels honest and reliable and, thus, humanistic.—David Roark


selma.jpg 15. Selma
Year: 2014
Director: Ava DuVernay
The right movie for the moment, or the right moment for Ava DuVernay’s new movie? Either way, Selma will be read by many in context with 2014’s slew of civil rights outrages and race-fueled atrocities, but even in a post-racial world, this film has punch. DuVernay has no stomach for bland hero-worship in her biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. (here portrayed in an inspired, and inspiring, turn by a never-better David Oyelowo), and instead invests her narrative in a specific time during the Civil Rights Movement. Her focus – the 1965 march for voting rights – gives her movie a sense of purpose, toward which it marches with impressive discipline. Come for contemporary importance, stay for the earnest, impassioned filmmaking.—Andy Crump


goldfinger.jpg 14. Goldfinger
Year: 1964
Director: Guy Hamilton
So many things make this one of the greatest Bond movies (and heist films) of all time. Sean Connery, the best Bond? Check. Pussy Galore, the ultimate in hilariously-named Bond girls? Check. Bond infiltrates Fort Knox with his piton gun grappling hook, complete with laser-cutter. Auric Goldfinger’s trusty bodyguard Oddjob became a staple of the historic franchise with his steel-brimmed bowler hat capable of much more damage than your average clothing accessory. This was also the first appearance of Bond’s signature Aston Martin DB5 equipped with tire-slashing hubcaps, a retractable bullet-proof shield in the rear, an ejectable passenger seat, machine guns in the headlights and an oil slick deployer. To top it off, Shirley Bassey belts out the character traits of the man with the Midas touch while the horns blare in the best Bond theme song to date.—Josh Jackson


untouchables.jpg 13. The Untouchables
Year: 1987
Director: Brian De Palma
Al Capone and Eliot Ness—the quintessential gangster and the original G-Man—lock horns during Prohibition in one of the greatest American cop movies ever made. The all-star cast is great, but it’s Sean Connery as Ness’s sidekick, Jim Malone, who elevates this film from standard shoot-em-up to high drama. Director Brian DePalma juxtaposes the stylized and slick with the violent and vulgar, and the contrast serves to heighten our awareness of each. The costumes are rich, the dialogue is a pulp-writer’s dream, and the fact that Capone is brought down by the office nerd makes everyone feel great.—Joan Radell


46.Snatch.NetflixList.jpg 12. Snatch
Year: 2000
Director: Guy Ritchie
Love or hate him, Guy Ritchie has redefined the gangster genre with his hyper-stylized touch. Snatch may be a lesser remix of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, but it boasts a multifaceted plot, frenzied action and dazzling eye candy. And how can you not love characters with names like Franky Four Fingers, Bullet Tooth Tony and Doug the Head?—David Roark


iron-man.jpg 11. Iron Man
Year: 2008
Director: Jon Favreau 
There are plenty of important moments in the development of the superhero film (all of them covered on this list, we hope), but the first Iron Man film boasts a few: It’s the first entry in Phase 1 of the MCU, and thus the easy-to-define dawn of the Marvel Age. But more interestingly, it showed that an actor could so overshadow the hero he portrays that he supplants that character, and it be a good. Before Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark, Iron Man was a great suit of armor with a pretty boring alter ego. Stark’s personal story arcs involved heart trouble, alcohol abuse and intellectual property disputes. Downey Jr. brought the quips and the irreverence, and made Tony Stark on film much more fascinating than he had ever been in the comics. And comic book fan and neophyte alike loved the result. On a more basic level, the casting of Downey Jr. represented what would be a triumphant trio of casting moves—Downey Jr., Evans’ Captain America, and Hemsworth’s Thor—that would set the tone for the entire MCU. While Evans and Hemsworth are their respective characters, Tony Stark is Robert Downey Jr. As for the film itself, Iron Man had what all the initial MCU brand launches have had thus far: a first-time-on-film freshness as an invigorating expression of the core character that had 40+ years under its belt yet not one good film to show for it. Add the increasing ability of CGI to handle the “super” of it all, and it’s pretty easy to overlook some of the film’s weaker plot points (e.g., the rushed “Wait, how does Jeff Bridges know how to operate that armor?” ending). As a result, even as we’re raging through an already strong Phase 3, the debut of the Downey Jr. show still ranks among the MCU’s most solid efforts.—Michael Burgin


chariots.jpg 10. Chariots of Fire
Year: 1981
Director: Hugh Hudson
Director Hugh Hudson demonstrates that great sports films are not about sports: They’re about athletes. The film chronicles Harold Abramson and Eric Liddell, British runners who competed in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. Liddell became famous for refusing to compete on Sunday, in accordance with his religious beliefs. Not only does the film follow the training and competition of both athletes, it explores the beauty of athleticism for its own sake. Liddell explains, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” Ben Cross and Ian Charleson star as Abramson and Liddell; Sir Laurence Olivier lends weight to the cast as legendary trainer Sam Mussabini. South African beauty Alice Krige makes her screen debut, and the score by Vangelis is instantly recognized to this day.—Joan Radell


amelie.jpg 9. Amélie
Year: 2001
Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
A delicate, delicious little French trifle, Amélie is easily one of the most romantic films on Netflix. The adorable Audrey Tautou launched herself into the American consciousness as the quirky do-gooder waitress who sends her secret crush photos and riddles masking her identity in order to make their first encounter—and first kiss—the most romantic moment of her life. Endlessly imaginative and beautifully photographed, Amélie is a film to be treasured.—Jeremy Medina


19.GosfordPark.NetflixList.jpg 8. Gosford Park
Year: 2001
Director: Robert Altman
Robert Altman’s ambitious murder mystery aptly demonstrates his signature style of filmmaking. He assembles a large cast of superb actors and allows them to act out their roles, in some cases even improvising, while the cameras roll. The result is an Agatha Christie-whodunit meets a post-modern exploration of the dying class system in England. Not unlike the British Sam Mendes’ treatment of American suburbia in American Beauty, no one but an outsider can so acutely skewer a culture’s idiosyncrasies as Altman does here. And only this famed “actors’ director” could have attracted such an illustrious and talented cast, who can make the tautly written lines sing and the emotionally fraught scenes hum with intrigue and tension.—Emily Riemer


thin-blue-line.jpg 7. The Thin Blue Line
Year: 1988
Director: Errol Morris 
Errol Morris’ first mature feature is perhaps the most famous case of a documentary having a life outside the silver screen. The Thin Blue Line focuses on the case of Randall Adams, who allegedly murdered a police officer. Combining his nearly obsessive concern for the truth with his experience as a private detective, Morris unearthed a plethora of misconceptions and flat-out lies that made it clear Adams was being framed. Publicity surrounding the film resulted in his case being re-opened, exonerating Adams.—Sean Gandert



Reservoir-Dogs.jpg 6. 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


No Country_Cover.jpg 5. No Country For Old Men
Year: 2007
Directors: Joel and Ethan Coen
What is it about the Coen Brothers’ inconsolable No Country for Old Men that still chills the blood, even under the South Texas sun? No doubt its inscrutability plays a role: Is it a Western, a noir or a morality play? And the Academy Award-winning performance by Javier Bardem disturbs because he himself remains a mystery: Is Anton Chigurh a merciless hitman or the Angel of Death? The story of a drug deal gone wrong soon reveals its true theme: the futility of being good and just in the face of abject evil. But the Coens also meditate on the faltering of the physical body. “Age’ll flatten a man,” Tommy Lee Jones’ Sherrif Bell esteems, and for this Texan, the evocation of my childhood landscape—right down to the tiniest detail—means that the specter of Chigurh will haunt not only the end of my life but stomp through its earliest remembrances as well.—Andy Beta


when-harry.jpg 4. When Harry Met Sally
Year: 1989
Director: Rob Reiner
Easily the most beloved romantic comedy of the ‘80s, the story of Harry (Billy Crystal), Sally (Meg Ryan) and their 12-year journey to couple-hood boasts a solid script by Nora Ephron that feeds and feeds off of the unexpected chemistry between its leads. (And with each new generation of lovers watching the diner scene for the first time, another woman laughs and another man sits silently, wondering what’s so funny.)—Michael Burgin


there-will-be-blood.jpg 3. There Will Be Blood
Director:   Paul Thomas Anderson  
Year: 2007
There’s a whiff of Citizen Kane about There Will Be Blood. Both Charles Foster Kane, the center of Orson Welles’ 1941 masterwork, and Daniel Plainview, the protagonist of Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2007 gem, are Shakespearean in their contradictions—too creative and too wounded to be fully condemned, and too ruthless to be fully admired. Like Welles, writer/director Anderson fashioned an original cinematic language to reveal Plainview’s strange mix of genius and monstrosity. Long stretches are virtually dialogue-free, but the close-ups of Daniel Day-Lewis’ glowering face—splattered with blood, sweat and petroleum—and the long shots of rickety derricks and shacks perched precariously on a savage landscape say more than words ever could.—Geoffrey Himes


raiders-of-the-lost-ark.jpg 2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Year: 1981
Director: Steven Spielberg 
A near-perfect distillation of the excitement and fun of the radio and pulp serials of yesteryear, Raiders of the Lost Ark established Harrison Ford’s wookie-free leading man credentials once and for all (with an assist from Blade Runner). The film also raises the question: Has anyone had a more impressive, more industry-transformative five-year run than Spielberg & Lucas did from 1977-1982?—Michael Burgin


annie-hall.jpg 1. Annie Hall
Year: 1977
Director: Woody Allen 
Annie Hall is the sole best picture winner in Woody Allen’s canon. The film is also one of the best romantic comedies ever, simply because it takes the time to show all of the moments that happen in a relationship—the wide spectrum of happy and sad, of bittersweet and just plain bitter. From fighting over which movie to see, to laughing while chasing down lobsters in the kitchen, Allen perfectly encapsulates the delicate beauty found in the highs and lows of a relationship. It doesn’t hurt that his wit and humor is perfectly matched by Diane Keaton, in her iconic, Oscar-winning performance. Funny with a perceptively intellectual undercurrent, Annie Hall is an enduring classic.—Jeremy Medina

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